This is one of those Young Adult books that I think all kids – especially girls – should read. It features a classic heroine who acts as the savior in the majority of the novel while also being in touch with her femininity. For instance, her love of the loom and sewing is extremely important and even saves lives throughout the novel. Anyone who likes young adult novels, fairytales, or strong heroines should read East.
East is a retelling of the fairytale “East of the sun and west of the moon” and also has some Beauty and the Beast similarities. I personally believe the retelling is done really well and Edith Pattou created a beautiful, thoughtful, and entertaining story.
The novel is long – about 500 pages – with five different view points. While I think Pattou could have done without all the different point of views, I also think she utilized this tool well. Readers get to see the thoughts not only of Rose, but also Neddy, her father, the Troll Queen, and the White Bear. This gives more humanity to the Troll Queen and the White Bear and also keeps readers connected to Rose’s family. The set up also keeps the different plots connected well, which is perfect for a YA novel.
There is also a lot of narrative in the novel that I think Pattou could have cut down on. The prose and narrative sometimes can feel slow and a bit too much of showing rather than telling. However, this makes sense for the majority of the novel and didn’t bother me too much, but enough for me to give the book 4.5 stars rather than 5.
The character evolution in the book is incredible, for every single character except perhaps the Troll Queen, though we do see the way she cares, loves, and overcomes struggles. Even though I fell in love with Rose immediately, I still got to watch her grow and discover the world and learn new things, making her an even stronger and more well-rounded character. There are few moments of weakens in our heroine, however, making her an almost goddess rather than a flawed hero.
The White Bear also went on a very literal identity-search, which I loved seeing in his chapters. I also enjoyed how their love story was handled. It was not an easy feat and Rose was not a character who was dependent on the prince in order to live. In fact, they have moments where they are unsure of each other and their future. And the true hero of the story isn’t the man, but Rose herself.
Anyways, I highly recommend the book. Even if it gets slow at some points, I would say push through it because it will be worth it. While the ending may feel a bit fast (depending one what you are including in the ending) I still found it satisfying.