Confession: I love young adult literature.
That wasn’t always the case. For a long time I wouldn’t even consider a book that had so much of a whiff of young adult associated with it. I’d use some rather broad brushstrokes to justify not reading those books. They’re not complex enough, they’re poorly written. At one point a friend pointed out to me that my complaints about young adult fiction could really be applied to any form of literature. What matters is the context and execution. More importantly, if you skip out on young adult fiction, you run the risk of missing out on some excellent novels.
Take, for example, War of the Seasons: The Human by Janine Spendlove.
What I really appreciate about this book is that it’s very accessible to readers who perhaps aren’t the biggest fantasy fans out there. I certainly don’t go out of my way to read books in this genre with the last fantasy novel I read being The Wise Man’s Fear. Spendlove succeeds by not falling into the trap of bludgeoning readers over the head with her universe’s lore and mythology. This is largely a function of telling the tale exclusively through Story’s eyes. As she learns more about Ailionora little by little, so do you. This sort of gradual world-building keeps the prose from getting too dense, which is a problem I’ve had with fantasy in the past.
Speaking of Story, I absolutely adore her. She’s mature for her age, but not unreasonably so. Someone who has gone through what Story has in her life will inevitably be forced to grow up faster than they want to and Spendlove’s choice to portray Story in that light was a smart one. There’s also some spunk to her personality* which immediately endeared her to me.
*I could also go on at length about how much I love that she’s a spelunker, but then I’d just ramble about outdoors-y things that would bore everyone to tears.
If there is a complaint to be had, it’s that the pacing is a touch slow at the beginning. For me (and this is an entirely subjective thing), it took a bit of time to really get into the novel. Of course, once I was hooked in I couldn’t put it down. If you do pick this book up, keep that in mind. Once I was far enough in to know Story better, I couldn’t put it down.
Down to its core, War of the Seasons: The Human is a fun, engaging, and surprisingly deep novel. I didn’t think I would be picking up a book that would investigate how one deals with the loss of loved ones, what the damage is, and just what goes into the recovery process. As a fantasy novel, it’s incredibly accessible to any reader and it crafts a unique world that I can’t wait to return to. Most importantly, this book is a character-driven tale that features a great cast and a fantastic protagonist.
And to think, I would have missed all of this if I’d kept up with my silly refusal to read young adult novels.
War of the Seasons: The Human earns a 4/5
Note: War of the Seasons: The Half-Blood is now available for purchase as well.