27 Apr 2018

Review: Looking for Dei


★★☆☆☆

From Goodreads:
Fifteen-year-old Nara Dall has never liked secrets. Yet it seems that her life has been filled with them, from the ugly scar on her back to the strange powers she possesses. Her mysterious father refuses to say anything about her origins, and soon, she and her best friend must attend the announcement ceremony, in which youths are tested for a magical gift.

A gifted youth has not been announced in the poor village of Dimmitt for decades. When Nara uncovers the reason, she uses her own powers to make things right. The decision sets her on a path of danger, discovery, and a search for the divine. In the process, she learns the truth about herself and uncovers the biggest secret of all: the power of broken people.

All the way through, the plot kept me interested. (And then there's the but.) But I didn't like any of the characters. I didn't like the way the narrative jumped from one person to the other. And what bothered me the most, is that there seemed to be separate smaller plots that had nothing to do with each other, and towards the end, they were mashed together.
We all want to read good books, right? I don't think there is a person in the world who picks up a book or watches a movie that they know they despise in the end. Why would we do that? You are more prone to reading slumps if you do it. And when it happens, the moment you realise you are not enjoying what you're reading, you start to feel bad. And I don't know about you guys, but I begin to feel a bit apologetic of what I'll be writing in my review afterwards.

Ultimately, the entire book felt a bit rushed. There weren't those moments where the story took a breather and slowed the pace. It went on and on with a consistent run. Contrasting to this, the feeling I had when I read Looking for Dei felt like sleepwalking. Like the entire time I followed the story behind a transparent curtain or through a slight fog. I was never in the book, but always on the sidelines, watching from afar. To me, it's really important to be involved in the story. To be sitting on the edge of my seat, anxiously waiting what would happen next. Unfortunately, there was none of that.

I wrote all the other parts of the review first, then came back to this part. I dreaded this moment. A deep breath, and here we go. The characters. Oh, how I wished you weren't the way you are. Nara is naive, unresponsible of her actions, doesn't know what's happening half of the time. I know. She's fifteen. Cut her some slack. No. Her entire being irritated me from the beginning until the end. Whatever happened there was the same response: Petrified mouse, then a reckless decision, remorse, and catatonic state. Every time. She says she wants to know the truth, she wants to know all the answers, yet she does nothing to uncover those answers. She just sits there, waiting, that someone else does the work for her. Then there's Mykel. I feel really bad saying this, but if he would've died in the beginning like he almost did, could that have spurred Nara to grow a bit more as the supposed heroine of the book? Mykel is shaped into this supernatural being that is supposed to guard Nara against all evil. Does he do that? Kind of. What else does he do? Uh, nothing? And that was something that made me see red. Most of the characters weren't there to create depth to the plot. They weren't there to form relationships that could bring anything of their into the book, anything More. To make the characters relatable, to make them people, the reader would root for. I felt no emotional connection to any of them. Sometimes, it felt more awkward to be reading about their struggles and just stand there on the sideline.

Earlier I mentioned the feeling I had about the plot development, how they felt separate and then they were mashed together. This really, really bothered me. I could draw the connection between the different plot lines, but they didn't feel connected, there wasn't the climactic moment when you realised how everything was connected. There were no apparent (or non-apparent) glue in the story, that could have made the mashing of the plots justifiable. Now that I am thinking about it, it felt like there was no common thread keeping the book as one entity.

For a long time, I bounced between one and two stars. Would there be enough material to call it a two? Then again, I did not hate the entire book so one wouldn't be justified. In the end, I went with two stars, since I am not comfortable with half stars.

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