Foreign to You by Jeremy Martin
Published: Nine Star Press (February 11th 2019)
Genre: young adult; fantasy
LGBT rep: mlm
Rating: 2/5 🍑
The harmony between humans and fianna, a species of shape-shifting deer, begins to wither as racial tensions and deeply rooted resentment turns violent.
Ruthless hunter Finn Hail and prophesied liberator Adelaide may be heroes to their own species, but they are enemies to each other. With war on the horizon, the reluctant pair must team up to find the most elusive of prey: the god of the Forest.
As enemies press in from all sides, true intentions begin to show. For Finn to save the boy he cares for most, he might need to aim his gun at the very god he seeks. And Adelaide, with her festering hatred for mankind, will have to determine if peace holds true salvation for her people.
I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
They tell you not to judge a book by its cover and they’re right. It’s just that they probably don’t mean “don’t assume a book with a pretty cover is good”… Which is exactly what I did and exactly why I’m disappointed right now. Honestly, this one’s on me.
So we got that out the way, now we all know Foreign to You isn’t a good book and we can focus on details. Why isn’t it a good book? Well, let’s start with the most obvious contributor:
THE WRITING STYLE OR JUST PURPLE PROSE
Frankly, I find it hard to call the purple prose a writing style since “style” has positive connotations for me. I know that’s not technically true but here we are anyway. I just kind of feel like people who write badly don’t have a style. And (almost!) anyone who uses purple prose, writes badly. Hence my conclusion.
The purple prose in this particular book is overwhelming, even more so than this thing is by definition. It’s not just sprinkled here and there, no. It’s in literally every sentence. I got tired after one chapter. And it’s not even enjoyable, either. I didn’t find any inspiring metaphors that shifted the way I see the world; any pretty quotes I might want to put on a wall of my new flat. Nothing. Nothing apart from overly long paragraphs that should have been trimmed in the editing process.
THE LABYRINTH OF THE PLOT
This has a lot to do with my previous point, unfortunately. Because it’s kind of hard to take control over your plot, when instead you put all your attention into producing the most convoluted descriptions of everything known to men. It’s hard for the author, but it’s also hard for the reader, when they have to look for the plot under all those useless words. So in the end, what is Foreign to You about? I have no idea.
I can list some events, very bloody ones since this book seems to thrive on that. But can I connect the dots? Do I have enough information to do that? Sorry, no. It’s just one big mess of forest descriptions and too long sentences about mundane stuff, disrupted here and there by murder.
THE TREES AND THE TREES AND THE SPACE BETWEEN THE TREES
(Quoting Siken in a vain hope of putting myself in the mood to talk about this book more? Why not.)
It would help if the characters were interesting. It always does. You can usually overlook most shortcomings of a book, if the characters are amazing and you love them, right? It’s not the case here… The characters kind of feel like all the parts of this novel: pretty & shiny on the outside, with absolutely nothing to offer on the inside. They are being described as great, interesting figures, but it all falls flat in the course of the actual story. The reader feels no connection to any of them, can’t understand (or even name) the things that are supposed to drive them, can’t root for any of them.
And I quoted Siken also because he’s a gay poet and I was promised gay rep in this book. But? I would need a microscope to find it. There are hints of a developing Feeling between the main character and his best friend, and because I’m a gay reader myself, I got excited. Only those hints don’t amount to anything. We not only never get an actual confirmation that either of the guys has a romantic inclination towards men, we also never get to see a relationship or even a start of one.
I’m hesitant to say that this book has the Bury Your Gays trope, not because a gay (I assume) character doesn’t die, but because there’s so little representation, it doesn’t even register. And okay, to be perfectly candid, a lot of characters die. I told you, it’s a bloody book. It’s just that, you’re not affected by any of those deaths.
All in all, Foreign to You is just that: a disappointment. It’s a highly forgettable book that doesn’t grab your attention even in the middle of what’s supposed to be a thrilling event. There’s some worldbuilding that looks cool as bullet points but can’t hold its own once the actual story is wrapped around it. There’s the purple prose that makes you wish you could be finished with the book the moment you start it. There’s just so much to complain about… The best part of this book is its cover.
Are you like me and judge books by their covers?
And are you disappointed because of that often?
What’s the last book which cover took you by surprise?