I was given a free copy of 'Coal' in exchange for an honest review as a part of a blog tour with Diverse Book Tours.
Coal, the main character, is a teenaged human living in a fairly world where humans are more or less considered lowlifes, except that he's the fairy princess's best friend. Of course that's part of the conflict, but don't worry, there's more to come. The book springs from there and stays pretty fast paced with Coal's life and the adventures that result from his relationship with the princess and an ill-advised trip to the human realm. His character develops as a good character's should, and although he's not the brightest at times, he does resolve to do the right thing despite many pressures not to. When I say 'not the brightest', I don't mean to say he's especially daft, just that he's a teenaged guy with little experience and… did I say teenaged guy? I don't mean for anyone to take that personally, just take it the way you want.
Anyway, he has some interesting experiences, and some of the secondary characters are pleasantly mysterious (good, bad, just immature? We don't know for sure, and it's nice to wonder) and some are just plain weird. The story didn't go at all the way I might have expected it to, which I appreciated.
My complaints are typos and some scenes where the writing becomes very 'telling'. I lost connection to the characters in the lists of statements about things that were happening. At times this made the writing awkward, and it felt like I was reading an early draft of scenarios that had been pounded out but then not reworked to their fullest potential. Despite this, I never felt so annoyed that I considered putting it down (and I've done that a couple times lately; I may or may not bother to write about them) and I came away from the story feeling that it had been a good use of my time. Also, the ending was too abrupt for my taste, but don't worry, not a dreaded cliff hanger.
'Coal' was odd in that although it was primarily told from Coal's perspective and was named for him, I found more attachment to the world itself than to him. The world is super cool, creatively designed and intricate with magic, creatures, and sentient trees. Coal is kind of a shallow (or maybe just clueless? Not sure) guy, even if he is honorable, and that made him hard for me to relate to. But hey, at least he didn't spend all his time pining away for romance and worrying about his appearance, like most YA heroines do.
Language: Some mild foul language.
Sexual Content: Nothing more than a couple of kisses.
Violence: Pretty mild, and nothing that seemed like it would feel scary to anyone.
Overall Plot/Message: I guess you could say there were some messages, like: 'do the right thing despite pressures to the contrary', 'don't be so naïve', and 'crazy people can still be good'. As for plot, it was pretty straight forward, unlike some of the characters, and I enjoyed it. Also, marks for diversity and dealing with class issues. If you like young adult fantasy and magical worlds, you may enjoy 'Coal'. 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 because it was a nice diversion.
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