Monday, April 28, 2008

Enna Burning...random thoughts

Enna Burning, by Shannon Hale. I've been putting off jotting down my thoughts on this book. I'm not sure why. It's possible that part of the reason is that I didn't love it as much as I wanted to, or expected to. Don't get me wrong, it's not that I disliked it...I just wasn't carried away like I was with The Goose Girl.

Was that really the fault of the book itself? I don't know. But this was another one of those instances where I was forced to read in snippets of 5 minutes here, 5 minutes there. I think that's very unfair to most books, but you take what you can get, right?

Before I go on and share just a few of my thoughts, I should tell you to go read Nymeth's review, if haven't already. As she always manages to do, she wrote a beautiful review of this book. And I think it's fair to say that she enjoyed the book more than I did. (The last thing I want to do is discourage anyone from reading it just because it doesn't rank among my favorites.)

It really took me a while to get pulled into this story. While The Goose Girl captivated me from page one, Enna Burning didn't really have me hooked until close to half-way through. Again, this could be a matter of my reading style. But even once I did feel invested in the story, I don't think it ever held that same magic for me that The Goose Girl did.

As this book starts, we find that a couple of years have passed since the end of The Goose Girl. Isi/Ani and Geric are happily married and living in the capital of Bayern. But Enna has been living back in the forest for the past year. She moved back when her mother became ill, and stayed even when her mother died. She lives there with her brother Leifer. One day her brother finds a piece of vellum that teaches him to 'speak' with fire, in much the same way that Isi speaks with the wind. This gift eventually consumes Leifer, however. Enna feels compelled to learn fire's language after Leifer's death, despite the danger she knows exists. She feels it is her way to connect with her brother, and to help her kingdom escape from sure defeat in war.

As the title indicates, this book was told from Enna's point of view. And while I honestly do like Enna, I'm just not enchanted by her in the same way I am by Isi. But then, I think I'd have a hard time liking any character as much as I like Isi. Luckily, we really do get to see a great deal of Isi throughout the book. And we get to witness the strength of the girls' friendship, even in the face of some very hard times.

Isi had to find strength and learn to trust in herself in the first book. Enna must do much the same in this book. But they are very different people. And therefore, must conquer their fears and grow in very different ways. And while they both ultimately turn out to be strong, independent young women, it is lucky for both Enna and Isi that they had each other to help in their journeys.

So, while this book may not have been the treasure I was hoping for, I really did enjoy it. And I will most definitely continue to read the stories of Bayern. Now if only River Secrets would come out in paperback...


Ana S. said...

I definitely agree that the story doesn't grab you right away in the same way The Goose Girl does, and that Enna is not as likeable a character as Ani/Isi. But, for me, the fact that she wasn't as likeable made her story more interesting. Does that make sense? And plus I liked the darkness of the story.

I'm sorry that you didn't enjoy this one quite as much as you were hoping, and please don't hate me for enticing you to read it right away :P I hope you enjoy River Secrets when you get to it! The downside of that one is that there is very little of Ani in it :(

Anonymous said...

My copy of this arrived in the post today and I am really looking forward to reading it. I know that most people have been disappointed after The Goose Girl and I will bear your thoughts in mind when I get a chance to read it.

Debi said...

I'm afraid I made I made it sound like I didn't like, didn't I? I just couldn't quite figure out how to get my feelings across...I really did like it, but I just fell so completely for The Goose Girl, and this one was just so different.

And I do think I understand what you mean about Enna. She definitely a more complex character, and probably ultimately more real.

Melody said...

I'm still waiting for my copy to arrive!!!

Don't feel bad, Debi, I think most of us have this experience too and sometimes we just couldn't help but compare the other books with the first book. I'm also hoping that River Secrets will be released in paperbacks soon!

Kim L said...

I picked up Goose Girl based on seriously 20 recommendations I swear! I'm glad to hear you liked that one, and I didn't even realize that there was a sequel. Thanks for your great review!

Ana S. said...

Debi, you didn't sound like you didn't like it, don't worry! Just like you were disappointed because The Goose Girl made you expect something different, which I totally understand. I felt the same way myself for the first third or so of the book.

Joy said...

I haven't read this one yet, but hope to some day. Thanks for your thoughts.