[October 1, 2013]
Rough and tumble Saturday Woodcutter thinks she's the only one of her sisters without any magic—until the day she accidentally conjures an ocean in the backyard. With her sword in tow, Saturday sets sail on a pirate ship, only to find herself kidnapped and whisked off to the top of the world. Is Saturday powerful enough to kill the mountain witch who holds her captive and save the world from sure destruction? And, as she wonders grumpily, "Did romance have to be part of the adventure?" As in Enchanted, readers will revel in the fragments of fairy tales that embellish this action-packed story of adventure and, yes, romance.
I really loved Alethea's YA debut, Enchanted, so I was thrilled when I was able to pick this up last year at BEA. I was less thrilled with the book itself.
Alethea is an amazing writer, there's no doubting that. She's got these vivid descriptions and an amazing imagination unlike anything I've seen before in YA. The stories are always full of these gorgeous landscapes and incredible adventures and unreal creatures. It's a joy to read those, honestly.
I think my problem with Hero was that it was too crowded. There was a LOT of story packed into a relatively small book and what felt like a really small time period. It was also kind of confusing since there were so many magical aspects to it that I didn't feel were fleshed out as much as I would've preferred.
The other issue I had was with the romance. It was very sweet, but felt like it was crammed into the story. It was a MAJOR case of instalove and didn't really feel necessary to everything going on. Peregrine was a great character and he and Saturday had an amazing banter and their characters got a fantastic conversation going on about gender, but I didn't feel any chemistry between them and never saw how they could fall in love, especially in the time frame they had.
That said, they did have a great friendship. And while this was such a fantastical tale, there was a really creative look at gender in this book. Peregrine was in this because he was forced to pretend he was the witch's daughter and had to look the role, while Saturday ended up there because she was mistaken for her brother and had to stick to that. On top of that, Saturday was kind of a "tomboy" who got along with her brothers and her father more than her many sisters. It wasn't often brought up outright, but the way these things were woven into the story was thought provoking.
I also love how Alethea manages the family in these books. There are seven girls, two boys, and an adopted brother, plus their mother comes from a long line of sisters, so it's a really big family, but they're all distinct and all have their stories, even if they don't all have their own books. This family also clearly loves each other, even as they squabble and fight. I love reading about the Woodcutters interacting with each other and seeing how much they care.
Overall, it wasn't a bad book and I do fully intend to read the next book, Dearest. But I would've liked it more if there had been some better editing to flesh out the storyline and the romance.