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Review: Scrap

July 22, 2013

Title: Scrap
Author: Emory Sharplin
Publisher: Green Leaf Book Group
Release Date: May 17, 2013
Format: eGalley

On the brutal streets of Hellip, a village in the vast empire of the cruel King Ibis, you either become good at running from the king’s Blackcoats or you die. This is the lesson that twelve-year-old Tucker Scrap, abandoned as an infant among the orphans of Hellip, learned early. Along with her friends Ash and Kally, Tucker spends her time keeping one step ahead of the unjust laws, stealing what she needs to survive, and pondering her own unknown origins—and those of the enchanted bracelet with which she was found.

Now, both Ash and Kally have vanished from the orphanage, perhaps headed for the faraway city where Ibis still rules. When a mysterious girl named Vivian arrives in Hellip with a strange invitation to Tucker, the leader of the orphans decides that this may be her opportunity to find her missing friends. But more than this: it may become an opportunity to recover her hidden inheritance, and to change the fate of an entire kingdom.

The introduction to a fantasy world rich with ancient magic, enigmatic gypsies, palace labyrinths, and deep woods haunted by strange and forbidding creatures, Emory Sharplin’s debut novel tells the story of Tucker Scrap: a bold, memorable heroine at the center of a centuries-old mystery, stepping into her destiny at last.—via Goodreads

Scrap had the potential to be really great.

In many ways, it’s a mix of Defiant by C.J. Redwine and Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas, both books that I enjoyed greatly.

Much like those books, the setting and world-building in Scrap are wonderful—the atmosphere is crisply described, hierarchies of class and ecosystem are described thoroughly, and the commoners’ ever-present fear of their king is palpable.

The plot is very well thought out, paced, and structured. But, the author uses one of my least favorite plot devices to move the book forward—withholding information from the main character and, thus, the reader.

Not like I couldn’t guess what the big piece of valuable information is—I could, and for the most part, I was correct. And I don’t mind authors not putting all their cards on the table up front in an attempt to create dramatic irony, but I very much take issue with the main character asking a crucial question and then the other character saying, “Be patient. I’ll tell you when the time is right. You have to trust me,” or some such nonsense.

Much of this book is based on that writing device. And though the writing in this book is lush and beautiful and the world is very well flushed out, that withholding of information until nearly the very end of the book really made me not enjoy reading this in the way that I wished I had.

Additionally, Scrap ends abruptly and on a strange note that will carry over into the sequel. I actually don’t mind an cliffhanger ending, but when a book feels like it comes to a jerky, OMG WE HAVE TO STOP NOW kind of end, it leaves me feeling unsettled and disappointed.

However. In many ways I think this book could be a great introduction to historical fantasy [I’m pretty sure that’s a category I just made up], especially for middle-grade readers. Though there is violence, devastation, fear, and paranoia in this book, I think that they are able to handle it and that this type of book is not too mature for younger readers.

Overall, Scrap is a rich, beautifully imagined world with dynamic, sometimes unusual characters and the potential to be a great book series. I have a very persnickety hang-up with it, but that does not mean that this book is less worthy of being read than others. So, if it sounds like your cup of tea, I absolutely recommend this one.

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