Review: Roar by Cora Carmack

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Genre: Young-Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 380
Series: Stormheart #1
Release Date: June 13, 2017
Publisher: Tor Teen

3 Stars

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After three days of procrastination, I’m still not out of my review funk (it happens more often than you’d think) but since I’ve still been reading, the reviews are just piling up. And enough is enough. I’m doing this. Not sure if I’ll do it well, though.

Roar is the first Young-Adult Fantasy novel by Cora Carmack. I’ve read many of her New-Adult, contemporary, romances and she’s very good at those. This venture into a different genre, unfortunately, didn’t pan out very well. Ironically, it was the fantasy part that was the problem.

The book is set a world where sentient storms ravage the lands. The storms can only be dissipated by those with special abilities, abilities that you must be born with. Aurora (or Roar) is a princess and comes from a line of powerful Stormlings but she doesn’t have any power and because of that, she will not be able to protect her kingdom from storms. In order to keep her position as the future queen, she must marry a powerful stormling prince while maintaining the pretense of being a stormling herself, until the wedding.

But when the prince’s intentions seem harmful and Roar sees another way to gain the power she wasn’t born with, she runs away.

Now right off the bat, there was a problem. You see, if you’ve read as much YA Fantasy as I have, you would have seen a whole lot of princesses and I, personally, am really fucking sick of them. In fact, I’m taking a break from any book with the word ‘princess’ in the synopsis. But because I like Cora Carmack, I persisted; despite the unwanted-betrothal trope (because we haven’t read enough of those). I even tried to be okay with the female-MC-overhears-guy-saying-bad-shit-behind-her-back scene. I told myself that at least she hadn’t run away. That was good, right?

Then… she ran away, because God forbid we have a princess in a YA novel who isn’t either lost or running away from her betrothed.

That was the first quarter of the novel and it was bad enough that I almost stopped reading. I continued because the romance was about to start and the author is good with those. Except the romance sucked!

The whole time after she met the male protagonist, Locke, I was waiting for there to be something to root for with them, some connection. There was nothing. They just argued the whole time! And not in a good, love-hate relationship, kind of way but in a had-no-fucking-chemistry kind of way. Part of it was because Locke had the overprotective thing going on, which made him a douche. But even when he was being good, when he changed, Roar still had a problem with everything he said. Their interactions were basically:

Locke: *says something*
Roar:

After a while I started to think if maybe ‘triggered’ was her natural state. She was unreasonable, stubborn, annoying and completely useless, with a later added case of special snowflake syndrome.

And all of this is so disappointing because the novel has a good prose. Some of the side characters are really interesting and I cared about them more than I did about Roar (if only they were more prominent). The story had potential and the villain was intriguing. The world-building was really good. I could tell that the author had put a lot of thought into it. But the thing is if, to be in this world, I have to put up with Roar and the stupid romance that makes no sense, I don’t think I can do it.

In the end, I have a little rant that I wrote about a particular scene while I was read the book. Enjoy!

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I’m not fond of people force-feeding me feminism. I don’t need to be told over and over that women can be awesome just like I don’t need to told the same about men. If someone does something good and brave, that’s enough. Besides, if I was having doubts about how capable women are, I’d just go look in the mirror. So you can imagine my annoyance at this little conversation:

“Where did you get the horse?”
“I didn’t steal her, if that’s what you’re accusing me of.” At least … not really. She was Rora’s.
His jaw clenched. “I didn’t say that.”
“Then why ask?”
“I thought you were—”
“A helpless girl who needed you to rescue her? Did you expect me to show up with nothing but the clothes on my back, needing you for every little thing? While you might have helped me the other night, generally I can take care of myself just fine.”

Now, if the shoving feminism down my throat wasn’t bad enough, the dialogue is wrong in other ways too.

For one, his confusion at her having a house and a good amount of belongings has fuck-all to do with her gender and everything to do with the fact that half the people in her mother’s kingdom are paid so poorly that they can barely manage to keep a roof over their heads, much less own a horse and quality weapons.

Then there’s the insinuation that anyone who’s poor is somehow weak and helpless. As if growing up in a privileged household and never having to work a day in her life was such a chore. As if having a rich mother who provided her with everything, somehow made her better than the people who work themselves ragged just to earn a living. Know what? Fuck you, Roar.

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