This month’s challenge was to read a book with a preposition in the title, so it wasn’t too difficult to find something. It was a little more challenging, however, to find something that I actually wanted to read. I had some hopes of finding The Man in the High Castle (by Philip K. Dick), but, alas, it wasn’t to be, as all the copies my library had were on loan already… 😦 To comfort myself, I (naturally) took to the YA section, where I had a little more luck finding interesting-looking books, and eventually settled on…
ALL THE TRUTH THAT’S IN ME
When she was fourteen, Judith Finch disappeared from her village without a trace, along with her friend Lottie. Two years later, she reappeared – without Lottie, and without a tongue, leaving her incapable of explaining what happened to her or her friend, and an outcast in her own community.
The main characters I liked a lot, and felt were very realistically portrayed. Judith was relatable as a person, even if her circumstances and struggles were unusual, and I loved her relationship with her brother; how she was torn between loving him and finding him impossibly irritating. Maria was another brilliantly fleshed-out character, and seeing how she brought Judith out of her shell was wonderful. And, of course, there was Lucas… I felt that his character development was held back a bit by that fact that we mostly saw him through Judith’s thoughts and memories, but he was very sweet regardless, and I grew fond of him very quickly.
I also spent much of this book struggling to place it, historically, which I found rather distracting. Judith read like a reasonably modern character (and I went into this book expecting it to have a contemporary setting, which threw me off slightly), but the society and technology of her community are – while not ancient – much more old-fashioned. For instance, all the girls wear dresses, there’s very little modern medicine, and in the prologue, Judith talks about arriving at the village on a ship. None of these necessary place the book particularly far in the past, however, which is what confused me… I’m used to historical fiction making a big deal out of the time period it’s set in, and this one definitely didn’t. In retrospect, however, the historical setting makes a lot of sense, because if Judith had had fourteen years of modern education, she would have been much more literate than she was in this story, and therefore much of the plot – wrapped up in her inability to communicate with people – would have been negated.
In terms of the plot, it didn’t surprise me hugely – which is a bit of a shame for a story that relies so heavily on truths hidden and truths revealed – but it did have a fair few decent twists, and the eventual tale of what happened to Judith wasn’t quite what I expected. The pacing I found a little odd; near the beginning of the story, there’s some very climactic chapters involving a battle, which felt out of place with the slow-paced story that I was expecting to read. After the battle, things calmed down a bit, and the plot became more character-driven – and I started enjoying the book a lot more. Later in the book, it does become clear why that early false climax was necessary for the plot to progress, but it was still rather jarring (especially since it came so early on in the book).
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