Sunday, May 27, 2012

It's the Journey that Matters: A Book Review on Finnikin of the Rock

The first time I read Melina Marchetta's Finnikin of the Rock it went by too fast for me to fully appreciate the writing, the characters and the whole of the story. I blame the fact that I originally bought the book as an early graduation gift. Of course, I was still in the process of completing my thesis which would then lead to my guaranteed graduation so I wasn't actually in the frame of mind to read anything EXCEPT thesis research materials.

But I was going a bit stir crazy by that point so when this lovely hardcover arrived in the mail I spent around 5 hours blazing through the book. When I returned to reading the research for my thesis, my opinion of Finnikin of the Rock was simply that it was a great book and Marchetta was an author I would continue to read. Anything more specific than that was more than I could possibly offer without admitting the whole truth of my sneaky reading experience of the novel.

When I sat down to reread this beauty, the first draft of my thesis was complete and submitted. I'd kept the book close for the time it took to finish my work so when I turned in that first draft, Finnikin was easily the first thing I had on hand to celebrate. I felt the book deserved a proper exploration and I was willing to put in the appropriate amount of time to devote myself to learning all about the lives of Finnikin, Evanjalin and Sir Topher. Since then, I've read this book in its entirety somewhere between 5 or 6 times. Take from that what you will.

When you open the hardcover edition (mine's the hardcover, so it's the one I'm familiar with) of this novel the first thing you are greeted with, besides the inner flap synopsis, is a map of Skuldenore printed on a beautiful midnight blue background, which is the world Marchetta has created as the setting for her novel. I love books that have these kinds of details added in. I can spend anywhere up to an hour, sometimes longer, exploring all the symbols and names provided on these maps before ever starting the story. And the novel, for me, definitely benefited from the addition of those wonderfully detailed maps (yes, plural, because a few pages in, the book has the original map repeated along with an additional map detailing the specific kingdom that our leads belong to printed on crisp cream pages which deserve an intent study before journeying into the world of Marchetta's creation).

The plot itself is extensive, with so many twists and turns that all make complete sense as you get further into the book, and really, what more could I expect after the humbling experience of plot and story that I witnessed in my previous Marchetta novel read, Jellicoe Road? The story about a young man and his mentor who have traveled the lands for a decade after a brutal massacre and horrifying curse destroyed their kingdom and the young woman who claims to have the knowledge of how to restore their lives and land was just...awe-inspiring. I teared up on more than one occasion as Marchetta carefully revealed more and more of her meticulous story planning.

As the tale unfolded, her characters continued to prove their strength, loyalty and honor in a way that was never hokey but just enough for me to become completely invested in the lives of those characters. I desperately wanted them to succeed, I needed them to succeed and what they manage to accomplish is enough to bring me back time and time again to reread the book. The ending is what I hoped for but their JOURNEY, the trials and tribulations they suffered over the course of the decade before the events of this novel and the many conflicts and obstacles they overcame during the time encompassed in the story are what make this book such an important addition to my library. Read this book; I highly recommend it. (Warning to family members: this may end up gift material as proof of my selfish intention to FORCE you to read this book. Smile when you see it and know that not only will I constantly ask you if you've finished it yet, I will know if you lie and claim that you did. Fair warning.)

This book has obviously been out for a while but I only read it for the first time in 2011 and this review is being published now in 2012 for one simple reason. Froi of the Exiles, the sequel to Finnikin of the Rock, was released this year and I am preparing myself to journey back with these characters once again. Not to mention that in a past review I practically promised to read Finnikin once I had the chance. In the end I read the book, multiple times, and here's my proof.

Rating: 10 Stars

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