Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Book Review: Prophecy by Ellen Oh

Release Date: January 2, 2013
(Thank you to ATWT for allowing me to participate on this tour!)
Published by: Harper Teen

Prophecy by Ellen Oh

The greatest warrior in all of the Seven Kingdoms... is a girl with yellow eyes.

Kira’s the only female in the king’s army, and the prince’s bodyguard. She’s a demon slayer and an outcast, hated by nearly everyone in her home city of Hansong. And, she’s their only hope...

Murdered kings and discovered traitors point to a demon invasion, sending Kira on the run with the young prince. He may be the savior predicted in the Dragon King Prophecy, but the missing treasure of myth may be the true key. With only the guidance of the cryptic prophecy, Kira must battle demon soldiers, evil shaman, and the Demon Lord himself to find what was once lost and raise a prince into a king.

Intrigue and mystery, ancient lore and action-packed fantasy come together in this heart-stopping first book in a trilogy.

Ten Likes/Dislikes:

1. (+/-) Kira, the protagonist - Indifferent towards her. On one level, yay for a strong female warrior and someone who does not crumble beneath the whispers of society! Plus, props to the author for including that element of giving power back to women (i.e. woman in a man's army/world persevering). But... indifference. Why? Because the hatred felt like a plot tool more than anything substantial. Because Kira's feelings were not real to me. Because Kira could kill things and be loyal to her family but it didn't matter, because Kira wasn't real. And this, I think, is because the writing was too superficial for me, as I will expand on later.
2. (+/-) World-building - On one hand, props for the research. Props for the diverse world created here. I like Asian mythology and reading about other cultures. I like that there was a lot to be offered here. Dragon warriors, quests to find side items of great power, shadow worlds and shamans and monks, tiger-spirits, traitors, self-fulfilling prophecies, political battles. But was it always done well? Questionable. SO. Much. Expository Dialogue! Monk enters the room, okay, children, it's time to learn some history about the prophecy. But Kira, if Jaewon and Taejo and the lot already know this story about the prophecy, why is it that you didn't know about it too? Was it perhaps because we as readers needed to find out so there was a huge explanatory dialogue section for us? And not for you? I also wish I had a map as I was reading... but that's the fault of a print ARC, not the book.
3. (--) Marketing - Another case of me disliking marketing. "Graceling meets Eon in this action packed debut." I haven't read Eon, so I can't tell you how accurate that comparison is, but I have read... and most certainly love Graceling... and this book. No, no, no. Not Graceling. What are the similarities? Girl with different colored eyes. This makes girl hated. Girl has trouble making friends. Girl is friend and protector to prince. Girl has to leave her city. King dislikes girl because of her unnatural power. Girl does not want to marry. Ever. And there's seven kingdoms, some sort of power struggle, though that's focused more on here than it is in Graceling. Also, Graceling is character-driven fantasy. Prophecy is plot driven, no doubt about it (just look at the titles, and what they represent, and you know that much). A more accurate comparison might be to Rick Riordan's novels, with prophecies and adventures and dreams and romance side plots, but even that's not accurate. Maybe a bit of Colleen Houck's Tiger Curse series, as it involves a side quest that's related to the giant prophecy, and it's about a girl learning to accept her power... Except the romance is a side-plot, not a giant love triangle. Obviously, there is no 100% perfect comparison, but equating it to Graceling, I think, is false beyond trivial details about the character/world. There are layers worth of differences.
4. (--) Characters - flat. The lot of them. The King, her brothers, her love interest, Kira, the villain, the other potential love interest, her cousin... There was not a single character who I honestly cared for, because all of them seemed two dimensional.
5. (+) Themes - I hinted at this in the section for Kira, but I did appreciate the themes within the story. A less radical version of feminism than in Graceling (i.e. Kira doesn't want to marry, but she's not like Katsa in the sense that her reasoning is due to court women, and not continuing her profession, whereas Katsa's is more about what marriage itself represents), the theme of overcoming hatred and being strong in light of not belonging or being persecuted, the theme of overcoming the barriers you place on yourself to reach your potential... all things that will resonate with the younger crowd.
6. (+/-) Plot - I touched on this in the world-building section, but there were a lot of plot holes. For one, yes, it says there are traitors so I'm curious: why didn't the traitors kill Kira and the lot when they had the chance? For evil, calculating people, they really didn't take their chance. There's also the fact that Kira is called the Demon Slayer when the city does not know she hunts demons, and thinks she is a demon. There are more, but this is already a long review. It's an exciting plot, yes, one that younger readers will like. I couldn't though. It does the chosen one typology justice though.
7. (+/-) Romance - The romance is more of a side plot here, which makes sense given that this story is more about fulfilling the prophecy and fighting this greater evil. What I appreciated about the romance was that how Kira became friends with Jaewon first before anything else, though there isn't really much else happening here. What I didn't understand was Jaewon's motivations to stay with Kira/his commitment. And also, for a book that is compared to Graceling, this sexual blossoming is not as developed... It's confusing for Kira to have feelings for Jaewon, but it's much more teen-angst like than what Katsa undergoes, I think. Also, there may be a love triangle in the future, which I think is just too much for a book like this that's already got a lot going on.
8. (--) Writing - The writing wasn't cliched, as I had thought of Fallen Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes, but it reminded me of that book in that its writing was also superficial. I could not get into the story, and I'm almost certain it's because the writing was surface level only. Expository dialogue and flat characters and constant telling. Even scenes that should be important (one of the side quests to the major prophecy) were not expanded on, as I thought they would be. Tension low, conflict high. But without the tension, without the feeling, why should I care about the conflict?
9. (+) Pacing - The pacing is done very well. Fast to match the action packed plot, and yes, the story is constantly moving...
10. (+) The Cover - Represents the side quest she and her friends go on as part of the prophecy. I like how it doesn't feature a girl on the cover, because this is a book that I think would appeal to both boys and girls. I also like how the title font is surrounding the author's name.

This book was "meh" for me, though it had so much potential. Probably more suited for younger readers. I'm sorry for the harsh review, and I truly do believe that others may like this book, though I did not.

Other reviews of Prophecy: Stephanie Sinclair's review & Ashleigh Paige's review.


  1. I have noticed lately a growing popularity of apples on covers. What do you think of that, Christina?

  2. Hey, Brooke. I haven't actually seen many apples on covers. If there are any apples, it's probably some sort of reference to Twilight or hoping to draw in the same crowd. This cover is supposed to be of the... Tidal Stone? I forget what exactly the stone's name was.

  3. I like the way you've broken this down, and I agree with you wholeheartedly. Prophecy came so highly anticipated for me, but I was not expecting this at all, even after a couple of warning reviews. The flat characters, uninspired writing, and some holes in the world building sealed the deal for me. With one aspect going strong, I can still enjoy a book, but with nothing, well, what can you do?


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