The Sundered Paperback – Jun 22 2012
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About the Author
Ruthanne has lived on both US coasts, owns dust-covered degrees in music and religion, and has a serious thing for popcorn. Her first stories were all about characters from her favorite books, which was a pretty good way to fuel her love of writing. Then came years of pursuing a "responsible" career, which led to little writing, much madness, and a determination never to do that again. Ruthanne's love of Middle Earth, vampires, and deep space birthed a strange world populated by both elves and aliens, and she only hopes her universe is as interesting to you as it is to her. Ruthanne lives in Seattle, shares writing space with a husband, housemate, and two cats, and can often be found at church (yes, for real) or Grumpy D's coffeehouse. Twitter: twitter.com/ruthannereid || Facebook: facebook.com/thisreidwrites || Tumblr: ruthannereid.tumblr.com || Official Site: ruthannereid.com
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Despite what a few other reviewers have said, I LOVED the main character's internal dialog, every bit of it! I didn't find it too childish at all. I mean, have you talked to a 19-year-old lately? The author did a great job of showing both his maturity at trying to be a leader and his insecurity at being so young--a well rounded character! Thank you, RuthAnne, for providing me with some real enjoyment. Oh, and I loved the ending.
The only thing I would have changed is removing all the "adult" material. I would have loved sharing this story with my pre-teens, but because of that, I can't. Everything else about it would have made it a great read for them, and I know they would have loved it.
P.S. I'm a professional editor by trade, and I've done a lot of book reviews and previews. Yes, this book had quite a few typos, especially near the end, but the overall story more than made up for that. RuthAnne, don't let anyone belittle you for self-publishing. I'm glad you did.
The book encourages a lot of philosophical introspection. In almost every sci-fi I've read it's assumed that there is always some goodness in humanity; maybe evil humans are in control, but there's a plucky band of good guys out there that redeem the human race. But in the Sundered, things aren't so cut and dry, thus making the premise of the book all that much more interesting. The book is written from the perspective of it's protagonist, and throughout I found myself wondering who I would trust or how I would act in a given situation.
The only thing that didn't quite work for me was being in the mind of a 19 year old boy, Harry, and having him serve as my narrator for the duration. Harry, like most 19 year olds, is not all that eloquent and I found his view of the world and his thoughts often a bit childish. ("Yeah, he's a douche." etc.) It was like I was in the head of a 19 year old kid, which was the point, but I did find it mildly grating after awhile.
However that minor distraction didn't take away from the well constructed world, and the satisfying way in which the story unfolded and led us deeper and deeper into said world. At the Kindle price, it's a steal.
With that in mind, the narrator is an adolescent, I get that, but that only buys you so much leeway in terms of employing a rather juvenile writing style. It gets a little intolerable at most points in the novel. I mean, if we're expected to believe that this kid is capable of running around the globe with his peers and is able to shift through the social strata making the deals he needs to to support his ventures, then his voice shouldn't be or sound so typical. I don't believe that a kid who thinks and talks like this is capable of actually surviving the first leg of this wild goose-chase but apparently he's been to all corners of the globe? I don't buy it.
The main character is an uninteresting exploration of the tired old trope of trying to live up to the family name vs. carving out a different path; so the character just feels like a 2-d cutout. This lack of depth was most aptly revealed in his (supposed to be?) central emotional conflict: are these sundered really that much different from us? How can humans be superior if we treat them so poorly? Maybe WE are the monsters, not they! *tear tear*. But it is approached in such a ham-handed, uncompelling way. What was so special about this boy that he just ended up being more compassionate towards the sundered? There's no rhyme or reason to it beyond his simplistic internal moral assessment, but really no impetus behind his ultimate conclusion other than oh gee, I guess he is just specialer than the rest of us plebeians, which again I can't buy into because everything about him screams typical teenager. The author had an opportunity to show a real grappling with the moral issues but the character's progression, if you can call it that, was entirely unbelievable.
Also agree with other viewers who said this strange world is underdeveloped. It sounds like cool place, and I was really intrigued by what it looked like and how it operated, but other than a few nebulous visual descriptions the reader is left to fill in the gaps, and those gaps are huge. It's like a painting that stopped at the thumbnail sketch. Again you could attribute this to the first-person narration using a teenager, but that can only be taken so far. The mechanics and rules about how to claim the sundered seem to be pulled out of air with no rhyme or reason as to why things work the way they do (this is not resolved in a satisfying way by the end either). It's a world that's hugely undeveloped, so when you reach the conclusion instead of being a shocking revelation (which it had the potential to be) it was more like a deflated "oh, so that's what it was."
However, despite how irritating this reading experience was, I was able to slog through to the end because the world was moderately interesting and I wanted to see how it ended. Without giving it away (and keeping in mind I'm TERRIBLE at solving for mysteries) the concept actually turned out to be fairly unique. It's too bad the book as a whole didn't take advantage.
The Sundered is fabulously different to anything else I've ever read--the mark of a strong new voice--and a totally unique story that had me completely enthralled.
The story takes place on a world flooded with black water that is deadly to humans. People share this world with the Sundered, magical creatures humans have enslaved. The Sundered are dying out, but since there is no arable land and they are the only ones who can go into the water, they are the ones that produce food. Once the Sundered are all gone, the humans will eventually die out.
Harry Iskinder is a salvager who paddles around in a small skiff looking for the Hope of humanity, a possibly mythical object that he hopes will save humans from extinction. No one knows what exactly it is or what it does, but Harry discovers that finding it will give him a choice; either the Sundered survive and humanity ends, or humanity lives for a while but the Sundered are wiped out.
The story is written in a snappy way that immediately drew this reader in. Harry is trying to live up to his family heritage of the ones who search for the Hope. He's tense and terrified of failing to adequately lead his travellers, the gang that travels with him, and when he manages to claim a first tier Sundered, he is as surprised as anyone. Did the Sundered allow himself to be caught? And if so, why? Or does Harry simply have more power than he thought? Either way, Aakesh, his first tier Sundered is an extraordinary being and the conversations between him and Harry are brilliant.
I loved Gorish, the cute little Sundered. His simple ways were endearing and his love and loyalty for Harry, more than anything else, made me empathise with the Sundered. Aakesh was drawn so well, I could almost feel this incredibly powerful, noble and mysterious character. Other than these two, the only other character we really got to know (or needed to know) was Harry, who quickly became out of his depth. Sometimes I wished he would calm down a bit, and it would have been nice to have seen some kind of maturing in his character over the period of the story, some of Aakesh's calm intelligence could have rubbed off on him. Also, I didn't quite get why Bek was blowing up cities or how his weapon worked, so maybe that could have been clearer.
I really enjoyed the author's descriptions of the perception of the Sundered and the concepts behind it, and the interrelational politics between Harry, his friends, his Sundered and his mentor were very well done. All in all an excellent book that I highly recommend to anyone who likes science fiction or fantasy.