io9 Book Club Is In Session: Let's Talk About Naomi Novik's Uprooted!

Illustration for article titled io9 Book Club Is In Session: Lets Talk About Naomi Noviks iUprooted/i!

Welcome to the monthly meeting of the io9 Book Club. This month, we’ve read Uprooted by Naomi Novik. Jump into comments to get started talking about it!

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What is this io9 Book Club all about? We meet once a month to discuss a book we’ve all read together, and then we have an online chat with the author — see our past meetings here.

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For those unfamiliar with the io9 book club, here’s how it works: You read the book. We create a special book club post on io9 when the meeting is in session. That would be the post you’re reading. Then everybody talks about the book in comments for a few days, starting right now.

We hope Novik will be joining us soon to talk about the book. So, what did you think of Uprooted?

In September, we’ll be talking about Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson. We’ll be discussing it on September 1.

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DISCUSSION

qdefenestration
QDefenestration

I absolutely loved it. It was enchanting, fun, immersive, had a strong female friendship at the heart of the narrative over and above the romance, and was the first magic system I’ve read since Rothfuss that felt not just believable but in its own way true. And the world felt real. It felt like Poland. And the Medieval Stuffs all were handled incredibly well. The lower classes, instead of being mindless reactionaries like in many novels, and dooped idiots in others, realized that the feudal system was not morally awesome, was objectionable, but also *tolerable* if they wanted to survive (but tolerable, notably, only up to a certain point). The Church of the society was handled similarly (and again, felt very much true to Poland), and the incorporation of a fourth Class of Magician into the whole system could have thrown everything off, but no, everything fit. Also, I’d never read Novik before, so I was expecting standard mediocre fantasy workmanlike prose, and was so pleasantly surprised to have my expectations [sorry] uprooted.

BUT. There was one element that really bothered me. It felt like Nieshka was very much a straightforward Manic Pixie Dream Witch in her relationship with the Dragon. She’s a girl that’s not like the other girls of the village, always getting dirty, climing trees, etc etc. She’s not prim and proper! She’ll splash in mud! What’s more, she just can’t wrap her mind around the Dragon’s academic, intellectual magic— but that’s a *good* thing, because her Free Spirited Magic breaks through his limitations and shows him a world of magic he’d never expected to reach before! The fact that their sexual relationship is tied up in this magical relationship only strengthens my discomfort.

I think the fact that the narrative puts the romantic subplot on the backburner, instead emphasizing Nieshka’s female friendships as the primary relationship of the novel, really saves it. And again, I love this book. I really, really love it. At a certain point I just couldn’t stop reading and stayed up till Dawn to finish it. But this one Manic Pixie Dream Witch thing still bothers me. I wonder if anyone else picked up on this, or if Novik employed it intentionally, for some specific purpose?