book battle: the art of saving the world
the art of saving the world by corrine duyvis
thank you to netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a free ebook in exchange for an honest review! this has not affected my review in any way, all opinions are mine.
2.5/5 stars rounded up to 3 on websites without half stars because i thought most of the ending of the book was engaging and fast paced enough to warrant it.
hazel spent her entire life confined to a 1.5 mile radius to keep a dimensional rift under control, until her 16th birthday, when the rift moves, more hazels appear, and everything hazel thought she knew changes drastically.
we're starting with the things i liked because that's easiest. i did end up liking the conflict with the powers that be. i wasn't sure how deep that line would go, so i appreciated where it went and the characters' reactions to it. without going into any spoilers, i thought that aspect was really interesting and THAT was a part of the story i really liked and wished it hadn't taken so long to get to. (the resolution i'll talk about later) i liked how the hazels were so different but similar, but maybe that's because i'm in a child psych class and interspersed reading this and reading about how we develop from our environment as well as genetics. i liked the hazel dynamics! i thought they were a fun group and got attached to them very quickly. i thought how the magic weapon came about was interesting. and, hey! dragons are fun! the sexuality rep was pretty good, and there were some funny lines and moments!
but also.. there were so many frustrating moments where it was just...an exposition dump. both the reader and hazels have information hidden from them for so many pages and then it's just all revealed because ??? we're given a reason, but i personally didn't find it satisfying, and it made hazel prime passive for a huge chunk of a story where she was meant to be becoming MORE active after a life of passivity. i'm ALL for passive characters, but the way hazel's active- or passiveness was handled became frustrating. i think it just fell a little too much into the telling over showing for me. it also made the pacing feel really uneven. the first 2/3rds were really rough in that regard for me, while the ending really picked up the pace and i found to be the most enjoyable part.
also i think this was an attempt to subvert the "chosen one" trope, but it fell flat to me. while i truly did enjoy a lot of the anxiety scenes around the concept — the clapping scene in particular i found i really liked — it didn't really feel like ALL that new of a take on the chosen one. maybe that could've gone further? i'm not sure.
this is a tiny thing, but it really bothered me that four never got a name. i can't say colors are all THAT much better, but they at least were identifying factors (before red changed out of her dress). even alpha got a different name. but four was just...four. and four NEVER got a distinct personality in my mind. i can think of one (1) difference between her and prime, and that really bothers me. there was so much exploration of how the hazels were different and a few identity crises, so it felt like four n e e d e d to be more distinct by the end and she just! wasn't! like what did she add to the story other than being fourth? i literally couldn't tell you. i get that there's l i t e r a l l y a conversation about this about 2/3rds through the book but it doesn't matter because it still deeply bothered me
the resolution to the climax made me mad and the ending just left me...sad and empty feeling. i wasn't expecting things to end perfectly, or tragically. they honestly ended very realistically but it just didn't....hit right? it felt not impactful enough and just a touch too real for there to be anything satisfying about it. i got the point but...i don't know. it was sad, but not cathartic. if hazel prime had changed more i'm not sure if that would've been a better ending. i don't know if there IS a better ending. i'm just left feeling like...yes this is how anxiety works. this is realistic. and i struggle with it every day. maybe that's why it's upsetting, because it's just too similar to me. there isn't enough of a change, it's just some small steps. maybe i'll feel different about the ending tomorrow but right now, right out of this book, i feel upset and conflicted
i think, in the end, the struggle this book has is that it both wants to be plot driven and character driven. and it can be both — there are plenty of stories that have adventurous plots entertwined with deep character exploration — but i think this book missed the mark for the majority of it. it came together toward the end, but that means you have to get through the clunkier beginnings to hit the smoother parts. for at least the first half, to explore hazel, or the hazels as a collective, the action would stop dead. i think there was a way that this exploration could happen alongside the action of saving the world without the sometimes jarring switches between action and character, but unfortunately, we didn't get it
while reading this book, i spoke to friends about it, as it's kind of in my nature to liveblog things i read and watch. and at some point around halfway through, one of my good friends said "ngl i cant tell if you hate the book" and that might be a good stance to stand by.
it was interesting. it was fun to talk about. i don't know if i actually liked it, and so i've had to look at it more from a craft point of view, which i don't actually do for most books. most of my ratings are based on my emotional reaction and mine to this one was just sort of... eh. so a 2.5/5
(also random fun fact, i know they're all blonde but rainbow, but i literally couldn't stop imagining red as dahlia hawthorne from ace attorney because they paired dress with the word red. i know her dress is red. i know she changes out of it early on. i tried so hard to unsee it. i failed miserably)