Tess of the Road
November 30, 2018 3:29 PM - by Rachel Hartman - Subscribe

Award-winning Rachel Hartman's newest YA is a tour de force and an exquisite fantasy for the #metoo movement. "Tess of the Road is astonishing and perfect. It's the most compassionate book I've read since George Eliot's Middlemarch." --NPR In the medieval kingdom of Goredd, women are expected to be ladies, men are their protectors, and dragons can be whomever they choose. Tess is none of these things.
posted by snerson (2 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I felt like this book was a very interesting experiment, but it was one that didn't quite work for me. Both the episodic nature of the story and the often difficult-to-like nature of the protagonist were clearly intentional. But the two in combination made it difficult for me to connect to the book, especially the former, as supporting characters wove into and out of the narrative in a way that felt a bit disjointed.

I will stress once again that this was very much intentional on the author's part, and even in some ways was the point of the book, which in part because of its structure had a lot to say about the ways we are warped by our upbringing and how it might be possible to slowly overcome that. But I nonetheless felt distanced from the story by it.
posted by kyrademon at 6:41 AM on December 4, 2018

I really liked this book - Tess might be abrasive, especially at the beginning, and she makes a lot of mistakes, but she's also a teenager and has been through a lot of shit, so I've got a lot of patience that I might not have for a typical white male antihero.

It's an interesting fantasy quest that ends up being about growing outside of everyone's expectations for you, and how part of growing up is realizing everybody is dealing with their own shit, for better or worse. Tess doesn't really set out with a purpose other than escape, and whatever big quest she has, she finishes maybe halfway through the book. But Tess starts as pretty much Lydia Bennett, so she's got a lot of internal work to do. It does end up being interesting and exciting.

I haven't read the Seraphina duology, so I don't know how it compares.
posted by dinty_moore at 8:37 PM on August 8, 2019

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