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The Reader (Sea of Ink and Gold) Hardcover – Deckle Edge, September 13, 2016
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"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
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From School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—"Two curves for her parents. A curve for Nin. The straight line for herself. The circle for what she had to do." This is the seal branded onto the book that was passed down to Sefia by her parents right before they were murdered by an assassin whose blade reeked of copper. Under the guidance of Aunt Nin, who is a thief, the teen learns to hide and hunt before her mentor is brutally torn away. In solitude, Sefia vows to rescue Nin. She is eventually joined by a strange, mute, and brutalized boy she saves. In a world where books and the very act of reading are limited to a select, powerful few, Sefia begins to understand the weight of her heirloom and what might transpire should it fall into the wrong hands. Sefia digs deep within herself and slowly begins to unlock the power of the written word. This work is deftly rendered in beautiful prose, narrated through three shifting time lines woven into an interconnected history of duty, honor, and magic. Chee provokes some resounding questions: What is there left to be remembered of us after death, and what must we do to be worthy of remembrance? This is a must-have for all those who value a good read with genuine character growth, mystery, unique world-building, adventure, unyielding bonds of loyalty, and pirates. Savvy teens will notice a message scattered through the page numbers. VERDICT A fresh, diverse fantasy; highly recommended for fans of Cornelia Funke's Inkheart and female-powered adventures.—Zeying Wang, School Library Journal
Praise for The Reader:
An ALA Top Ten Best Fiction Pick – 2017
A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year – 2016
Finalist for the 2016 Kirkus Prize
A Kirkus Best Book of the Year – 2016
An NPR Best Book of the Year – 2016
A Buzzfeed Best YA Book of the Year – 2016
A Bustle Best YA Book of the Year – 2016
Minnesota Public Radio Best YA Book of the Year – 2016
A Barnes & Noble Best Book of the Year – 2016
A 2016 Nerdy Book Club Award Winner
An ABA Indies Choice Honor Book – 2017
“I was spellbound from the first page. An utterly transportive tale of swashbucklers and sharpshooters, masterfully written. Traci Chee has penned a beautiful novel about the power of story, complete with a fantastic cast of characters and an expertly rendered fantasy landscape. This is a book you will not soon forget.”—Renée Ahdieh, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Wrath and the Dawn
★ “Deftly rendered in beautiful prose, narrated through three shifting time lines woven into an interconnected history of duty, honor, and magic. . . . This is a must-have for all those who value a good read with genuine character growth, mystery, unique world-building, adventure, unyielding bonds of loyalty, and pirates. . . . A fresh, diverse fantasy; highly recommended for fans of Cornelia Funke’s Inkheart and female-powered adventures.”—School Library Journal, starred review
★ “Commanding storytelling and vivid details, particularly of the magical process of reading, bring the story to life… the first of what promises to be an enchanting series.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
★ “Chee’s debut is an intricate, multilayered reading experience… An exploration of self-determination and the magic of the written word, Sefia’s story is an absorbing introduction to the Sea of Ink and Gold series.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review
★ “With evocative language, fascinating world building, multifaceted characters, and a compelling plot, this is a series fantasy lovers will want to sink their teeth into.”—Booklist, starred review
“Most world-building shies away from tackling the question of literacy within fantasy cultures, but here it serves as the beating meta-heart.”—NPR
"Those looking for complex fantasy will enjoy and look for the next installment."—School Library Connection
Top customer reviews
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I really loved how we got to see through multiple POVs that were seemingly unconnected until the end! The way everything tied together made so much sense and I liked that it wasn’t something that was easy to figure out sooner.
The characters and world building in this book are absolutely amazing! Everyone is well fleshed out and it really feels like you’re living through them. When you can feel the same emotions as characters and envision the world clearly, how could you not fall in love?
There is also TONS of diversity as well as strong female characters; what more could you want?
For some reason I thought the little extras and hints were printing errors in the beginning and I honestly feel so ridiculous for thinking it, haha. First I saw a fingerprint on one of the pages and was like, “wow, that’s a really big error for a Penguin book.” Then, about 100 pages in, I noticed the words on the bottom of the pages and finally realized that I was missing out on all kinds of clues and hints.
I did some reasearch and found that the author said there were 10+ hidden messages! I am not perceptive enough to find them all, even after going through the book twice; so if anyone else has found more than two please tell me. I need to know!
Overall, I really loved this book. It’s been a while since a book completely blew me away and this really did it for me. I’m absolutely amazed that this is a debut novel, since it was written so well! Also, the books are absolutely gorgeous!
A recipe unlike any, as Chee managed to gift us with fresh ideas despite using plot devices any reader of fantasy would recognize: the quest, deception, a child that is so much more than meets the eye, a journey over different lands, searching for people and answers. However, the author succeeded in making all of this new again.
So captivating. So strikingly beautiful. If I could award it extra stars, I'd do so in an instant. Get it. Read it. Enjoy this most rare love affair between yourself, and words on a page that become so much more than the mere sum of their parts.