Review: The Reader by Traci Chee

Posted March 5, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 13 Comments

Review: The Reader by Traci CheeThe Reader by Traci Chee
Series: Sea of Ink and Gold, #1
Published by Putnam on September 13th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 442
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating:3 Stars

Once there was, and one day there will be. This is the beginning of every story.
Sefia lives her life on the run. After her father is viciously murdered, she flees to the forest with her aunt Nin, the only person left she can trust. They survive in the wilderness together, hunting and stealing what they need, forever looking over their shoulders for new threats. But when Nin is kidnapped, Sefia is suddenly on her own, with no way to know who’s taken Nin or where she is. Her only clue is a strange rectangular object that once belonged to her father left behind, something she comes to realize is a book.
Though reading is unheard of in Sefia’s world, she slowly learns, unearthing the book’s closely guarded secrets, which may be the key to Nin’s disappearance and discovering what really happened the day her father was killed. With no time to lose, and the unexpected help of swashbuckling pirates and an enigmatic stranger, Sefia sets out on a dangerous journey to rescue her aunt, using the book as her guide. In the end, she discovers what the book had been trying to tell her all along: Nothing is as it seems, and the end of her story is only the beginning.

The Reader follows a girl named Sefia, who lives her life on the run. After she watched her father get murdered, she flees her home with her aunt Nin. Unfortunately, the very people who came for her father have finally caught up with them and now they have aunt Nin. What do they want? The book that Sefia and her aunt Nin are protecting. In this world, reading is unheard of, but not only can Sefia read she also knows how to write. Now she must save her aunt Nin and find out why the people who are hunting her, want the book so badly.

This was… Interesting. I am struggling with writing this review. I loved the writing, I thought the author’s writing was really beautiful and you could just picture the world so vividly with her descriptions, it was a pleasure reading this book as well as experiencing it on audio.

That being said, I found the book to be confusing and a little weird. I wasn’t sure what was going on for half of the book and we get randomly thrown around for a while trying to figure out what is going on because we don’t just follow Sefia, we also follow Reed in real life and his stories, and we also follow a librarian named Lan and how he ties into all of this.

My husband and I did have a discussion about the world in the book being advance, but not knowing how to read or write. We both wondered if such a thing was possible. He seemed to think it was, but not likely. Also, I could not think of recent civilizations in history who did not have record keeping that managed to thrive without having to research a lot of it.

I liked Archer, the boy that Sefia finds on her journey and who then follows her as she tries to find Nan. She saves him from people who raised him basically to be a killing machine. Of course Sefia tells Archer that he never has to fight or kill again, yet there are times that it was almost like she expected that of him without much of an argument.

I never felt like there was a real plan revolving around rescuing Nin. Sefia does not know how to fight and towards the end of the book, they don’t really have a plan when they find themselves in a dangerous situation. No plan, just walk in there and expect everything to work itself out. Maybe they planned on talking themselves out of the situation? I mean, these people killed her father, but Sefia was just like “okay no plan, let’s just waltz in there and see what happens…” umm, okay?

Overall, the writing was beautiful and this had so much potential, but I felt the execution was lost somewhere and the plot at points felt undeveloped. I will finish the series eventually because I do feel invested, but I do not feel in the hurry to do so.

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13 responses to “Review: The Reader by Traci Chee

  1. I have seen some really positive reviews for this one so I am glad to see your thoughts. The premise is interesting. I do think that an advanced society with no way of making records would be very difficult. I don’t like confusing at all. I am really not sure if I want to pick this one up or not.

  2. I just had a similar experience but you explained it so much better! The synopsis sure sounds good and a terrific cover. Too bad it didn’t all come together so well.

  3. I heard of this one, but I wasn’t completely sure about it for some reason, and now I get why . . . It does sound interesting and I love the fact the writing is beautiful, but the issues with both plot and execution would really put me down 🙁

  4. Aw, I’m sorry this one wasn’t as great as you’d hoped. It’s an interesting premise, but yeah, I think the main characters would drive me a nuts a bit…with no plan and all that. I’m glad the writing was beautiful though!


  5. So cute that you and your husband talked about this book! <3 Anyway, I love the concept behind the book, but if it's confusing I'll probably pass, since I'm a very shallow reader and don't like having to think too hard about complicated concepts when I'm reading. D:

  6. I have mixed reviews on this one, and I think I am skipping it because even though it sounds lovely, I think I would have the issues you did. Thanks for the helpful review.

  7. Ugh, I so dislike try to muddle through a book confused about what’s going on. And things like walking into a dangerous situation with no plan? Nope, not buying it. Sometimes not even great writing can make up for other issues.

  8. I really enjoyed this one and I especially loved all the marginalia etc. It’s a gorgeous book!

    I also enjoyed the story although it was difficult to image a world where nothing is recorded in words! But I managed to suspend my disbelief and really enjoy the story. I will also continue the series when I can. 🙂

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