Our Final Foray into the Tearling | The Fate of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

The Fate of the Tearling (Queen of the Tearling #3) by Erika Johansen

Hardcover, 496 pages
Published November 29, 2016 by Harper
Please note: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher for review as part of the book tour. Please also note: This review may contain slight spoilers for the previous two books. However, this does not contain spoilers for The Fate of the Tearling. If you are looking for a review of either of the previous two books, check out some of the other stops on the tour.
This series holds a very… strange place in my heart. When I’m reading it, I’m completely engrossed and totally obsessed. When waiting between installments, I certainly am eagerly anticipating the next one, but I have no problem waiting. And by the time that next one comes out… I seem to have forgotten all the pertinent details. This doesn’t usually happen with books I love, but love these books I do.

 Sadly, this is the final book in the trilogy.
When I began reading The Fate of the Tearling, I sort of wished I had re-read the previous books to refresh my memory. Unfortunately, I didn’t really have the time to do that, so I took to the internet. Luckily, this time around there were plenty of reviews and synopsis floating about (this was not the case when I reviewed The Invasion of the Tearling).
As I read, the important things generally came back to me. And man, I was sucked in. When I wasn’t reading it, I was thinking about reading it. It’s such an interesting world with complex and flawed characters. I was always longing to get back to them and their fate.
If I’m being honest, there are flaws in these books and things that, upon reflection, I don’t love. However, when I’m reading them, none of those matter. I get so caught up in the story and the characters that my emotional side takes the reins and my intellectual side takes a bit of a break (but only a bit).
Kelsea is a really interesting character. She is a young woman with so much riding on the success of her reign. There is so much she wants to do for her kingdom, but all of that comes at a price. In this book, payment comes due as the Red Queen takes Kelsea off to Mortmesne. She must face the reality of her decisions the decisions of those that came before her. Is there anything she can do to save the Tearling from its fate?
This book continues the trend of switching back and forth in time and back and forth between characters. We read chapters from Kelsea’s perspective, the Mace’s, the Fetch’s, and characters from the past such as Katie, and Row Finn. We learn more about the Tearling and how it came to be the way it is.
This time around, these changes in perspective sat much better with me. In The Invasion of the Tearling, I found that the changes were jarring and brough me out of the story. In The Fate of the Tearling, however, I thought it was executed much better. I never felt myself pulled from the world of the book.
One of my few qualms with this book is the same as in The Invasion of the Tearling: there wasn’t enough of the Fetch for me! He is such an interesting character and I don’t think he’s used nearly enough! In this book, he was in it much more than the previous one. But most of it was backstory. And honestly, I didn’t love his backstory.
Another qualm I have with this series as a whole is its treatment of religion. It makes sense to me that the Church would become corrupt, and this in itself is not what I have a problem with. I don’t particularly care for the way the characters talk about religion as a whole, as if only the ridiculous, gullible, and uneducated follow any religion. It was treated as a cult. And yes, in this story, the religions are more like cults. But this felt like a blanket judgement of all religions. That didn’t sit right with me.
Finally, this is only kind of a qualm: the ending. I think it’s a fine ending and it was really quite brave of Johansen to do it this way. It makes sense with the plot and it rather fitting of the series. However, when I finished the book, I didn’t feel satisfied. And I know that maybe that’s not the worst thing, especially since the ending was true to the integrity of the story. But still. I wasn’t satisfied.
 
Overall, I LOVED this book and completely devoured it. This series is definitely one of my favourites. If you haven’t read it, you need to!
 
Thank you to TLC Book Tours and Harper for the opportunity to read and review this book! For more reviews, tour stops, and author information, check out the rest of the book tour here

How Reading Made Me a Feminist (Or Realize I Kinda Already Was One)

I’m a twenty-five-year-old woman, and I consider being a feminist a large part of my identity. Ten years ago, that wasn’t the case. Hell, five years that wasn’t the case.

Growing up, I fell victim to the narrative that many people do—feminism was an ugly word used to describe man-hating, overly sensitive, “politically-correct” (as if this were a bad thing), crazy people.

I believed that feminism sought to destroy the nuclear family, force women from the home, and spread anger and bitterness. I was ignorant to the real meaning of feminism and what it sought to do.

Privileged and sheltered, I grew up mostly ignorant to the fact that women are treated differently and that this is a problem. Was sexism was even a thing anymore? Surely that was over. It’s the twenty-first century after all. Oh, little me.

I have always been a huge book nerd. Since I was small, I have rarely been found without a book. I have always seen the value in women’s writing and narratives, and I was naïve and self-centered enough to think that other people saw things the way I did.

Later, while selecting the subject of my undergrad thesis, I realized something. When left to my own devices, I read almost exclusively female authors. I seemed mostly interested in women’s stories and struggles. Overtime, I also found myself vicariously experiencing the oppression of women through those stories.

As I chose my topic and began my research, these thoughts became more concrete. I decided to write about Edith Wharton and her novel The House of Mirth. The goal of my thesis was to highlight parts of the novel that coincided with the feminine literary tradition of American Sentimentalism. This tradition describes fiction written by women and for women, with female relationships and domestic life at the forefront.

During Wharton’s time, the Sentimental tradition was viewed as “trashy” by the great American writers (i.e. some white dudes). Instead, those writers were part of the school of Realism. Wharton, too, was part of this school. However, I argued that she also made use of feminine tradition, and that feminine did not mean lesser.

As I researched Wharton and her work, I became increasingly interested in the plight of women. For one, it was—and is—much harder to be taken seriously in your field when it is dominated by men.

Furthermore, as I dug deeper into the novel, I found many parts of the main character’s story standing out. One of the novel’s main themes is the woman as a beautiful ornament to be consumed. The importance this theme held for Wharton was made clear as I learned the book’s original title: A Moment’s Ornament.

The journey of reading Wharton and writing my thesis solidified many feminists beliefs in me—but I still didn’t know what to call them.

I, like many young people (I assume), learned that feminism was actually an okay thing when Emma Watson made her speech about gender equality at the UN. That same year Beyoncé performed at the VMAs in front of a large sign reading “FEMINIST.” Feminism was becoming “cool” and more accessible (and consumable, but that’s another story for another day).

As I had already been forming these beliefs and contemplating these issues, I was particularly receptive to Watson’s message. I eagerly and proudly began labeling myself a feminist. After a while, however, I was not content to leave it at that.

My feminism became especially real to me when I learned the term rape culture. I first read about it when prominent universities in my city were in local and national newspapers for the horrendous behaviour of some of their students. I was shocked and appalled. The more I looked into rape culture, the more I realized that while yes, I should most definitely be appalled, I shouldn’t be surprised. It’s a huge, widespread problem.

This is how author Emilie Buckwold defines rape culture (emphasis mine):

[Rape culture is] a complex set of beliefs that encourage male sexual aggression and supports violence against women. It is a society where violence is seen as sexy and sexuality as violent. In a rape culture, women perceive a continuum of threatened violence that ranges from sexual remarks to sexual touching to rape itself. A rape culture condones physical and emotional terrorism against women as the norm . . . In a rape culture both men and women assume that sexual violence is a fact of life, inevitable . . . However . . . much of what we accept as inevitable is in fact the expression of values and attitudes that can change.

The idea of rape culture enraged me, and rightly so. That anger became a driving force behind much my reading. I continue to educate myself on these issues daily. I write things like this and sometimes post them on my blog.

Reading has expanded my mind, grown my empathy and compassion, and given me a peek into experiences I may not have otherwise seen. With an open mind and a critical eye, I think reading has made me a better person.

And a feminist.