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YA Fantasy Audiobook Review: Serpentine by Cindy Pon

Serpentine by Cindy Pon (Kingdom of Xia: Second Series #1)

copy courtesy of Audible Studios

Synopsis from Goodreads
SERPENTINE is a sweeping fantasy set in the ancient Kingdom of Xia and inspired by the rich history of Chinese mythology.

Lush with details from Chinese folklore, SERPENTINE tells the coming of age story of Skybright, a young girl who worries about her growing otherness. As she turns sixteen, Skybright notices troubling changes. By day, she is a companion and handmaid to the youngest daughter of a very wealthy family. But nighttime brings with it a darkness that not even daybreak can quell.

When her plight can no longer be denied, Skybright learns that despite a dark destiny, she must struggle to retain her sense of self – even as she falls in love for the first time.

  Audible US/UK | Amazon US/UK | The Book Depository


* * *
 Here is the thing. This is a very pleasant book to listen. The narrator is nice, the story is evenly paced and interesting enough. I also enjoyed the ever so fascinating Chinese mythology, but at the same time it feels like Middle Grade instead of YA. And not in a good way.

It's light, it skims through the real dangers and horrible moments in a way that doesn't allow the gravity of the situation to sink in. Even one sexual moment of the book is retouched to the point that you are not sure what's going on.

At the same time the world-building is static and shallow. Skybright finds out about her ability and starts conversing with the creatures of the underworld, but there is no real immersion here. No colourful descriptions or explanations about the levels of Chinese hell or interactions between gods and demons. There is hardly any back story or a sense of a greater picture. There is only here and now.

If I haven't been enamoured with Asian mythology for a long time and haven't read books like Eon, The Ghost Bride or anything written by Kylie Chan who describes a dizzying array of demonic and godly creatures in Chinese mythology, Serpentine would have been enough for me to enjoy without being picky. But it wasn't.

At the same time, there is a potential here for a deeper story, which I hope to see developed in the next book in the series; there are positive, strong female heroines and intriguing heroes in the background. While Serpentine won't fill your belly, it might still be a tasty snack for a nice afternoon. Let's just hope the next book in series will become a full meal. *wink*

* * *
В общем так. Змейка - это милая книжка с приятным рассказчиком, хорошим ритмом повествования и интересным сюжетом. Я также как обычно с удовольствием узнала что-то новое из китайской мифологии. Однако книга эта вместо подросткового фикшна читается как миддл-грейд, и от этого не выигрывает.

В итоге всерьёз её принимать не получается. Писательский стиль ретуширует до невозможности тяжёлые темы как смерть, потеря близких, уничтожение целых деревень, поиск сексуальной ориентации и даже секс до такой степени, что и толком не понимаешь что только что произошло. Написано очень наивно, и отсутствие крепкого построения мира этот недостаток очень подчёркивает.

Я думаю, что если бы не собирала никаких фэнтезийных книг по китайской и азиатской в общем мифологии, то слушала бы я Змейку не так критично. А получилось, что после Иона, Невесты Призрака и книг Кайли Чан, примитивность стиля мисс Пон меня только раздражала.

Ну вот жаль, ведь потенциал в книге есть. Хорошие, сильные героини. Два интригующих героя... Но очень хочется развития характеров и расширения самого мира, ибо написано очень лениво. От меня троечка с минусом, ребята.

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