2017 releases · YA

Flat Characters, Clunky World Building and a Somewhat Fulfilled Promise of Dragons: The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli

This book checks all the reasons I hate YA Fantasy. 

I wrote about this one in one of my Judging Books By Their Covers post (pretty sure it was October) and when I heard it was about dragons, I immediately wanted to read it. We don’t see a lot of dragons, which is confusing, because dragons are super cool. The book then started getting a lot of buzz, and I was excited to read it even more. So I requested it on Netgalley, got approved and started reading immediately. So did I like it? Um, no. 

boooringI have to say this – this was so boring to me. When I first started it, I got to about 10 percent of it and I just stopped. I had other obligations, and the book did nothing to pull me in. It lacks the appeal, that compulsiveness to get me thinking “I need to know what happens, I need to read this NOW“. It’s just boring, especially in the start, when the author tries to set up the story and the world (more on that in a minute). There’s a really painfully slow start and if I hadn’t DNFed the previous 4 (I know, I know) ARCs, I would have put this down and never thought about it again. But I pushed through, and decided to finally finish it. The good news is that it stopped being boring. The bad news is that it got interesting to hate.
personalityI honestly can’t tell you anything about these characters. Our main character, Asha, is such a two dimensional, flat, typical YA heroine who is supposedly strong, but is mostly whiny and naive. There’s this whole thing where she was burned by a dragon, so she has some scarring, and she feels somehow corrupted and not worthy. While I think it’s great we’re seeing someone who is different, Asha never acts like we are constantly told she feels. She is this great dragon hunter (even though we see her kill a dragon once) and she is so gullible that it’s ridiculous. The only time her supposed low self esteem comes into play is when the love interest, Torwin, tells her she is beautiful and she refuses to believe him.

Oh, and Torwin. No depth whatsoever. He is just there. Their relationships sparks out of nothing, even though we know Torwin’s been obsessed with her since they were kids (weird). The tension between them builds solely on the fact that he is a slave, and she is the princess, so she is drawn to him and it’s FORBIDDEN. Do you feel me rolling my eyes? Because I am.

The rest of the characters have names, but no personalities. I couldn’t pin point a thing about them to tell you. And the villain is so laughable that it makes me sad.

world buildingMy main issue with this book is the world building. I am a huge Fantasy reader and Adult Fantasy books have such lush settings and interesting worlds and that’s my favorite part of the book. YA Fantasy, however, suffers here. I can’t name any YA Fantasy book that has world building that matches Sanderson’s or Rothfuss’ world building. This, however, was on a whole other level of bad. If you asked me if this is a mountain setting, or a desert setting or whether it’s in a freaking metropolis, I wouldn’t know what to say to you. Because I don’t know. There is ZERO world building. ZERO. I don’t know anything about this world at all. And the little world building we get is so clunky and clumsy and doesn’t really work. Since there’s a focus in this story on old stories that are forbidden, the author TELLS us those stories. BUT ACTUALLY TELLS US. She interrupts the plot and the book to tell a story in a separate chapter. But not even as if the story is happening. Nope. It actually feels like she goes “Okay, so I need to set up this next scene – this is what happened“. It’s so weird and it’s sort of lazy and it totally did not work for me.

Oh and the dragons. Not a lot of focus on them. There are supposed bonds that form between Asha and the dragons, but it never actually feels like a bond. No emotion there and it just happens out of nowhere. And the dragons keep telling these stories as well, but it’s never explained how. Do they talk? Do they project these images into her head? Do they put on a Broadway production of it? WE DON’T KNOW.

predictableThis book is so predictable. A ton of stereotypical and tropey YA things happen. I knew that things were gonna happen. There’s not a lot of originality there, even though the dragon aspect is so fresh and new. The story doesn’t have good world building, so it relies solely on these tropes. It’s readable (barely) but there’s just nothing to keep you interested. You can see the villain from a mile away, you can guess some of the things in the beginning and it’s just not that inventive.

verdictI really did not enjoy this one. I  would not recommend it. I’d suggest skipping it, there’s so many better YA Fantasies out there (try Leigh Bardugo or The Witchlands series by Susan Dennard).  If you’re thinking about reading this because of the dragons – not even a lot of dragons there. Just saying.

Final verdict: 1.5 stars

anythoughtsHave you read this one? Did you enjoy it? Are you planning to get to it? Let me know in the comments below!


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7 thoughts on “Flat Characters, Clunky World Building and a Somewhat Fulfilled Promise of Dragons: The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli

  1. I was a little underwhelmed by this one too. I didn’t hate it but I just never really connected with it. The concept seemed good at first but then the book turned out to be quite different than what I expected. I liked the old stories scattered through it but otherwise it was a bit clunky. Ah well, at least the cover is pretty. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I actually liked the book but I do agree with you on it lacking world building. After having read Jordan’s Wheel of Time – after which I got into blogging and didn’t get to explore more adult fantasy – I have trouble with YA fantasy’s world building. There are some that have done a good job but only in comparison with other YA. That’s actually a good idea for a discussion post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh god, I can only imagine how YA Fantasy compares to the Wheel of Time 😅 I have the same issue, reading Sanderson, Rothfuss etc., YA Fantasy just doesn’t compare. You’re right, that would make a good discussion post, let me know if you end up doing it! 😊

      Liked by 1 person

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