The Marked Girl by Lindsey Klingele
Book One of The Marked Girl trilogy
Publication Date: June 7, 2016
Rating: 3 stars
Source: eARC from Edelweiss
Summary (from Goodreads):
Once upon a time, in a land far, far away (Los Angeles)…
When Cedric, crowned prince of Caelum, and his fellow royal friends (including his betrothed, Kat) find themselves stranded in modern-day L.A. via a magical portal and an evil traitor named Malquin, all they want to do is get home to Caelum—soon. Then they meet Liv, a filmmaker foster girl who just wants to get out of the system and on with her life. As she and Cedric bond, they’ll discover that she’s more connected to his world than they ever could’ve imagined…and that finding home is no easy task…
What I Liked:
I'm not entirely sure what to say about this book. It certainly wasn't what I had been expecting. Clearly I hadn't read the synopsis closely originally, because I thought this book was set in Caelum instead of L.A. (meaning, Liv gets transported to Caelum, and not the prince and friends get transported to L.A.). In any case, I was still extremely pumped to be starting the book, even after making this realization. But this book wasn't as good as I expected. Still, it's definitely good enough for me to want to continue the series.
Cedric, crown prince of Caelum, and his betrothed Kat, and his friend Merek, have been transported to present-day Los Angeles, from their home kingdom of Caelum. A sinister evil (Malquin) and monsters (called wrath) are after Cedric. When the trio are transported to L.A., it's fate that the first person they meet is Liv, who was filming at the river at the time. And two months later, it is her again that shows up and helps them acclimate to present-day life. But all four of them quickly realizes that the wrath are not just after the prince and his friends, but Liv as well. Armed with the truth and three Guardians (Cedric, Kat, Merek), Liv must save herself while trying to help the trio find their way back home.
This book is told mostly from Liv's POV (third person), but there are a few chapters (and sometimes, breaks in a chapter) that are in Cedric's POV. There was no rhythm to whose POV was next, no structure to this. I would have preferred if the author had stuck to one POV or the other, or alternated chapters if she really wanted to have both POVs in the book. In any case, I preferred Cedric's POV, but his POV scenes were usually very short. Liv was definitely the main narrator.
I'm feeling kind of ambivalent towards Liv. Most of the time, I didn't mind her, but sometimes, her lack of common sense annoyed me. Still, she has an interesting sense of humor, and she isn't afraid to fight (even though monsters and grown men are, well, not the best opponents for her (she's your average teenager with no self-defense training or anything).
I really liked Cedric. He's so prim and proper and worried about getting back to Caelum to free his parents from Malquin and save his kingdom. He's the crown prince and he is really feeling the responsibility now. Cedric is quite noble and protective. I also really liked seeing him acclimate to the modern world! I think Klingele did a really great job there.
Kat, I didn't hate or love. Merek was so annoying, and I didn't start liking him until the end. He's kind of stuck-up and selfish, and it's not until the end of the book (ish) that he matures some. I really liked Liv's friend Shannon, though her personality bothered me sometimes. It's also what I really liked about her though.
The story... well, I'll get to that in the next section. While I was never necessarily bored, I kept waiting for the point, or some greater action or something. Actually, I wasn't sure what I was waiting for.
In general, this book wasn't bad. I could see myself reading the sequel. I think my expectations were really high for this book, which is one of the reasons why I was disappointed.
What I Did Not Like:
Liv was both likable and annoying. Most of the time, I liked her, and agreed with her. But sometimes, I found her to be selfish and impulsive and annoying. She doesn't always listen to the voice of reason, and it gets her (and everyone else) into trouble.
The story itself was not boring, but I felt like there was something missing. This book is four hundred pages, and I feel like it probably could have been less, because there was fluff-ish scenes in there. I feel like the story meandered and didn't really start getting to a point until the climax.
The tone of the book is kind of silly, not as serious or intense as you would expect. This book read a little young to me, not a Middle Grade voice but not what I would have expected from a YA fantasy. I didn't love the humor, to be honest.
I wasn't a fan of the romance. Cedric has been engaged to Kat since they were young, but they're friends. Cedric and Liv start to fall for each other... honestly, I just wasn't feeling it. I could see why Liv fell for Cedric, but not the other way around. I hate saying that, but I also don't think the author did the best job of convincing me of the romance. Liv is also annoying when it comes to her feelings for Cedric. I don't see a love triangle happening, but I could see Cedric trying to do what is best for his kingdom. Which I could see Liv selfishly NOT understanding. They barely know each other - how can Liv act like she has a claim over him?
I think, overall, I expected more from the story, probably more FANTASY. Don't get me wrong, there are monsters and magic and Knights and swords - but this book is set in modern-day L.A. I thought the setting took away from the story, to be honest. I would have rather seen this book set in Caelum first, and then the second book in the trilogy might be set in L.A. Basically the exact opposite of what is happening currently.
Would I Recommend It:
Ehhh, this isn't the most impressive novel out there. Certainly not the most impressive debut I've read for 2016, which is sad for me to say, because it was one of the ones I was most excited to read. It's barely even fantasy, so don't pick this one up if you're expecting an epic fantasy novel. Certainly don't pick it up if you're expecting a swoony romance (NOPE). Perhaps I'd recommend this book once all of the books in the series are published.
3.5 stars -> rounded down to 3 stars. I don't regret reading this book, I don't think it was awful, and I WILL be pursuing the sequels, but I think this book could have been much better. I don't know if this is just me or if it's the book, but the book didn't work for me as well as I'd been hoping!