The Reader – Traci Chee

the-readerBooks are no longer used or even known about by most folks.  At a very early age, Sefia’s mother secretly  plays alphabet blocks with Sefia, attempting to teach her the dangerous skill of reading.  Her mother is killed and she is lovingly raised by her father and Aunt Nin.  She is taught to hide in a safe room if trouble ever comes.  It came.  Her father is murdered and her Aunt Nin is captured.  Sefia discovered a thick object, a book, in the safe room.  She tucks it into her pack and heads out to rescue Aunt Nin.  She lives in the forest for a long time, tracking Nin’s captors and honing her survival skills.  She rescues Archer, who is mute and held captive and routinely forced to fight to the death to ensure his own survival.  All this time, Sefia is teaching herself to read the mysterious book that people have died protecting.  It is a book full of stories.  Stories of the famous pirate who sails to the end of the world and much much more.  Meanwhile the story shifts to an elite school, training those in special skills.  Training assassins.  Assassins determined to kill Sefia.  The characters from the different story threads meet, help, and hinder each other.

Wow!  The plot reminds me a bit of The Neverending Story by Michael Ende but takes a darker path entwined with mystery, pain, and death.  The writing pulls the reader in and vividly describes the action, emotion and ever-changing scene.  The only minor plot line that bothers me . . . I understand that Sefia did not have a social upbringing so perhaps is naïve when dealing with people. Sure, she can read people and that is an amazing skill.  But towards the end of the book when she gets herself and Archer into a situation.  To go into the unknown without backup – when Captain Reed’s crew was still ashore and could act as backup, that wasn’t wise. This is a must-read of the year and I am eager for the next installment.  Adventure, action, mystery all wrapped into an exquisite plot!  Highly recommend

eGalley review                                            Publication date 9.13.16

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