Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Mini-Review: Foundling

by D.M. Cornish
Series: Monster Blood Tattoo #1
Hardcover, 434 pages
Published May 18th 2006 by Putnam Publishing Group
Age Recommendation: Young Adult

Summary (from Goodreads):
Set in the world of the Half-Continent—a land of tri-corner hats and flintlock pistols—the Monster Blood Tattoo trilogy is a world of predatory monsters, chemical potions and surgically altered people. Foundling begins the journey of Rossamund, a boy with a girl’s name, who is just about to begin a dangerous life in the service of the Emperor. What starts as a simple journey is threatened by encounters with monsters—and people, who may be worse. Learning who to trust and who to fear is neither easy nor without its perils, and Rossamund must choose his path carefully.

I really enjoyed nearly everything about Foundling, except for one complaint that tainted every other aspect: just as the reader was beginning to get familiar with the characters, something would happen that moved the plot on and away from those characters. Most of the time, they didn’t return before the end of the book (although I’m told some of the characters left behind in Foundling reappear in later books). This prevented me from ever feeling like I knew the characters, and left me a little unsettled for much of the story. Rossamund, the main character, was forever adjusting to new people and new situations, which meant that the reader had to adjust two.

That said, I did like all of the characters, if only I’d been able to spend more time with them. A few pages after each character is introduced, there is an illustration of that character (done by the author) which did help a bit with the large cast of characters coming and going. I looked forward to the illustrations every time I picked it up, and I admit that I skipped to all of the illustrations far before the story got to them. I would have liked to see more and/or other illustrations, but I was quite happy with the ones included.

The most special part of Foundling was the world Cornish created, called the Half-Continent. It was clear from the very beginning that he knew every corner of the world, all the intricacies of the society and the people living there. Cornish was not discovering the world as he wrote. He had been writing stories and creating illustrations from this world for years before he wrote Foundling, and it definitely showed in the writing. It was obvious to me that for every detail that made it onto the pages, there were tons of pages of diagrams and sketches and notes that weren't included.

Overall Thoughts: The characters in Foundling were difficult to connect to, which definitely made it tougher for me, but the incredible world-bulding made up for a lot of that. I've been told that the series only gets better as it goes on, so I might come back to it someday, but for now I am happy with what I got.

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