Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Novice by Taran Matharu: Review


When blacksmith apprentice Fletcher discovers that he has the ability to summon demons from another world, he travels to Adept Military Academy. There the gifted are trained in the art of summoning. Fletcher is put through grueling training as a battlemage to fight in the Hominum Empire’s war against orcs. He must tread carefully while training alongside children of powerful nobles. The power hungry, those seeking alliances, and the fear of betrayal surround him. Fletcher finds himself caught in the middle of powerful forces, with only his demon Ignatius for help.

As the pieces on the board maneuver for supremacy, Fletcher must decide where his loyalties lie. The fate of an empire is in his hands. The Novice is the first in a trilogy about Fletcher, his demon Ignatius, and the war against the Orcs.


I like this book, but it took me quite a long time to get through it. It reminds me of the early days, of me reading YA novels for the very first time. Not the struggles of understanding English though, but the sheer innocence of it. The nostalgia is endearing and also weird at the same time. In fact, I have mixed feelings about pretty much everything in this book.

The fact that the language used in this book is so innocent that it actually tickles me and annoys me at the same time. It's a little bit childish, of course, because of the abundance of exclamation marks (yes, there are a ton of them) and other details. But it also fits the status of Fletcher, who is a 15-year-old boy. A headstrong and reckless and smart boy. Sometimes Fletcher just says something that is both funny and random at the same time. It's actually quite clever in a way, but it also annoys me a little because I'm a little bit past the point of innocence. 

Speaking of Fletcher, he's one of those characters that fits his status. I mean, his behavior really matches his age. In terms of modern-day kids. The nice thing about it is that a lot of main characters in YA novels are more mature than their own age. Given some of their past experience, I completely understand that and appreciate it (a lot). But sometimes, their maturity is a little bit overrated in that they are never quite young in the first place. Fletcher is a teenage boy that is exactly who we expected: stubborn, a little bit arrogant, but also unorthodox in a good way. His emotions and reactions to things are very similar to teens, especially when he encounters something unfair. Sometimes, it's a bad thing though, because his actions are questionable at times, and I often find myself frustrated by his actions. 

The book is set in a background of summoning demons to do the deeds of men. It's not exactly what I expected. On the bright side, I really enjoy the story. I like the fact that there is rivalry between everyone. Of course, there is always rivalry in every YA novel. But for the first time, it's not so complicated that I can't even sort through everything. I also like the fact that the plot is quite straightforward, easy enough to understand, but not too straightforward to be entirely predictable. On the flip side, though, there are quite a number of things that I'm not satisfied with. Although there is rivalry, the whole aspect is also a little bit childish. (Empty threats? I mean, seriously?) The excitement is kind of lacking, despite having the potential to be epic. The whole aspect of summoner and demons also reminds me of Pokemon for some reason. I know there is a world of difference between the two things, but it's actually hilarious and weird at the same time. However, these are not big problems, and it has a short and sweet plot.

If you want to have a nice, relaxing read, The Novice may do that just for you.

Rating: 7/10

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