Getting ready to stutter through the teen years + “The Queen of the Tearling” & “The Invasion of the Tearling” by Erika Johansen

11358832_10206719288002214_733074956_nMy older daughter turned 12 on Sunday. 12. The big 1-2. That means just a year until the teen years. I’m not really ready for that.

I remember back a long, long time ago, when she was just a wee babe (actually, it was 12 years ago) and I knew these days would come. But I was sure it would be fine, because I was going to be a parent who taught her children that disrespect wasn’t okay. And I would be that mom that she could come to with anything.

I would have really great answers to all those uncomfortable questions, because I would be cool like that. And I would have had 12 years to come up with those awesome, pithy answers. And there would never be a question that my daughter would come to me with those questions. Because I was cool.

But I wouldn’t be her friend! I would be that cool adult with all the answers, but also the one that put structure in her life and said no sometimes.

Boy, those 12 years went fast. I’m not ready for the uncomfortable questions, and I don’t necessarily have cool answers. But, then again, she doesn’t come to me easily with questions, so there’s that. I do put a lot of structure in her life, and I feel like I say no a lot (apparently, though, I’m one of only a couple moms in my group who let my daughter have Snapchat, for reasons I’m not going to go into now).

The answers aren’t easy or cool. There are no pithy, smart comebacks to her uncomfortable questions. In fact, I have to drag the uncomfortable questions out of her by starting awkward conversations.

I find I’ve become a stutterer, unsure of where the conversation should go, hesitant in my questions and answers. And the worst part of it all? She’s not even technically a teen yet. She’s still that stupid made-up thing called a tween.

I figure these years are practice. I’m practicing my stutter. Because it’s only going to worse. I’m going to start realizing there are answers to questions I didn’t even consider when she was a baby. I mean, think about bath salts and that whole crazy drug thing. Who would have ever thought I would have to warn her about bath salts?! (I don’t even really know what to warn her about–I don’t really understand what they were or are, other than something my Grandma had under her bathroom sink). Things like this makes me STUTTER.

My stutter is getting pretty good. I can pretend I know what I’m talking about, pretend I know what’s going on. I can put her off for a half an hour, pretending to be really busy while I run to the Google machine in order to get a handle on what she’s asking about, when she actually asks.

I know she’s going to catch on. I know the stutter is only going to work for so long. Just give me a few years. Please, Lord, just give a me few years.

Because the last 12 weren’t enough.

And now, onto the beginnings of a great fantasy series by Erika Johansen-The Queen of the Tearling and The Invasion of the Tearling.

Fantasy, adventure, and a bit of mystery join forces in the first two books about a young girl who must learn the ins and outs of royal life all the while trying to defend her kingdom and find herself.

Note: These are listed on some sites as YA, but they are not really YA, unless it’s for older young adults. 16 and up, at least.

The Premise

At the onset of The Queen of the Tearling, Kelsea is a 19 year old girl in the forests of Tear, getting ready to be whisked off to the throne. Because she, of course, is the heir of the throne, the Queen, and 19 is the age of ascension.

She’s been raised in isolation by an older couple in order to protect her. They did the best the could to prepare her for the throne, but she arrives inexperienced and threatened. Luckily, Kelsea has inner strength and brains, and she does many of the right things in order to make her kingdom a better, if not safer, place.

Through the first book, all we know is this is a future world, one that has reverted to medieval, feudal ways. And there is magic, magic that is Kelsea’s by birthright (but she doesn’t know about it until she is queen, and until the end of the first book).

There is also an enemy kingdom, Mortmesne ruled by the evil, dark Red Queen. The Tearling people have survived with this threat by appeasing her with shipments of people to be used as slaves, but Kelsea’s not having any of that. Thus, war and invasion ensues.

The Invasion of the Tearling, Kelsea is a wiser queen, facing the imminent threat of invasion from Mortmesne. She’s learning there is a dark side to magic. And, through this magic and Kelsea’s visions, we also begin to learn about the world before ‘The Crossing’ to Tearling, a time we recognize as a dystopian future in America, seen through the eyes of people hoping for a paradise once they crossed.

My Thoughts

The Queen of the Tearling was highly touted as original, a mixture of The Hunger Games and Game of Thrones. The first book did not deliver this, although it was entertaining and fun. But it was not original–it was too much like most fantasy novels to be original. And there wasn’t enough explanation, enough ‘world building’ to make the world real. I did really like Kelsea, so I kept reading. And the ending paid off. I give it 3 stars, but that may be because I really liked the second book.

The Invasion of the Tearling picks up almost immediately, and immediately it is a better book. If the ‘touters’ of the book world read this one with the first one, this may be where they got the ‘Hunger Game of Thrones’ thing. Because the flashbacks to pre-crossing were fabulous, explaining how it is the future while leaving the mystery of what happened after the crossing in tact.

In The Invasion of the Tearling, we also get a better glimpse of the Red Queen and her history. And we get a bit of the history of the Tear crown. I really liked the second book, and I’m very glad I stuck with it. It is original and interesting.

I’m guessing with this series that the world building comes throughout the books, that we don’t understand the history because the history is part of the story, and part of the future? I know that makes little sense, but I can’t wait for the third book at this point, because I want to know!!! I give this one four stars. Here the originality is starting to come through!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s