Tuesday, March 18, 2014

DNF Explanation: The Shadow Throne by Jennifer A. Nielsen

Read 158 out of 336
Received: ARC via NetGalley

This is a review for the third book in a series. DO NOT read this review if you haven't read the series. It won't make sense and it may even spoil things.

Haven't read the series yet? Check out my review for the first book The False Prince, which I still HIGHLY recommend. 

Ok, so I'm barfing my emotions all over this review, and, like all barf, it ain't pretty.


It breaks my heart to DNF this book. I adored The False Prince. Sage was that perfect combination of cheeky and stealthy. The plot was brisk and always kept me on my toes wondering what Sage was really up to. Everything came together perfectly.

That is so NOT the case in The Shadow Throne. Where is the magic, wit, and cleverness? Why must I turn to words like "contrived," "silly," "predictable," and "illogical"??

Sage may have been awesome, but when he turned himself into a prince and got himself another name (Jaron?! I'm still not adjusting) he became a Mary Sue of epic proportions.

EVERYONE just loooooves Jaron. Everyone, that is, except me. See, Sage made me love him. Jaron just milks the memory of Sage without doing anything to make me like him, let alone love him. I actually found myself getting irritated with his stupid choices.

His antics are boring and juvenile. Jaron is an unreliable narrator, so of course he's going to pull some big twist out when we all least expect it! And knowing that really sucks any tension or peril right out of the story. I couldn't help my yawns and total lack of care whenever the "high stakes" were mentioned..again, and again, and again (how about a little more "show" and a little less "tell," hmmmkay?).

Plus, I mean, yeah, I get it, this is The War Book. I don't need to be reminded every other page. It's supposed to be epic and filled with awesomeness and danger, yada, yada. The war has only been dangled in front of me for the past two books, so I'm fully aware that it's Finally Here (and, yep, still ticked off by the detour that was The Runaway King).

Except it's all finally here and I could not care less. Characters I used to care about elicited not even the smallest of emotional responses. Mostly because it didn't feel like I was reading about the characters I loved but rather cardboard imposters.

It's like eating Domino's pizza when you've had proper NY pizza. It's so far from what it should be that the disappointing experience doesn't even warrant an emotional investment beyond mild disgust. It's so inherently lacking.

Plus, look, I get it, war is not pretty. Personally, I don't want to be in a war. But I DO like reading about wars. Reading about wars can be all action and battle and swords and fun stuff like that. So I really don't want to read a book about a war—a war for which, mind you, I have been wiggling in my seat in anticipation for the past two years—just to have Jaron yap on and on about how war is bad and stuff.

Sure he blew stuff up, and that was nice and all. I guess. But between all of Jaron's heel dragging combined with the totally incongruous and improbable Home Alone kiddie escapades, I just...I could not get into this.

Bottom line

The False Prince was fantastic. I could give that book to adults and make them YA converts. The Shadow Throne isn't going to win any converts.

The bar was set high with The False Prince. The Shadow Throne doesn't even come close.


Well, I know I'm in the minority here. Does the ending justify picking it up again? 

Looking for another book like this?
You might like:

Yeah, scratch that. If you're looking for a book like The False Prince but in a series that actually improves with each installment then do yourself a favor and read Megan Whalen Turner's series:


  1. Amen, sister. My thoughts exactly. Although I think I was a little happier with it than you. I still think it was a good book, but an ordinary good book whereas The False Prince was something special.

  2. Didn't read the review, but my jaw dropped when I saw you didn't finish it. I liked False Prince but not as much as you did and I see need to read the second book, but now I'm really curious to find out where this book felt flat for you. I'll have to finish it and then check out your review. I hope you're next read is much better, Smalls!

  3. Ain't gonna lie, all this review has made me do is want NY Pizza. I've never even had American pizza. I want pizza. Any pizza. Pizzaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa...

    ★ Under The Mountain is very hungry now. ★

  4. Damn, I can't read all of this one, but the just of it is, this book didn't do justice to the series. I still haven't read the first book....totally bummed out the series went south on you. I totally loved the barf analogy though - gave me a great chuckle.

  5. AAww, sorry, stuff like this makes me so sad, when a book tanks after an awesome predecesor, specially in the same series.

    May your next read be awesome, Small.

  6. :( No! NO! I rarely buy books as soon as they're released, but the moment this one dropped I made a mad dash to the bookstore - and even paid way more than I typically do! Our feelings toward the first two books were VERY similar, so your DNF worries me. How could such a fantastic first book fall so far?

  7. I didn't bother finishing Runaway King, so I'm almost cheered up to know I'm not missing anything in the last book! I wonder if this was a case of Nielsen having plenty of time to work on the first one but being rushed through the others because of publishing deadlines. I know Megan Whalen Turner takes years (and years!) to write each book, and we all wait patiently because we know they're going to be amazing. I hope Nielsen keeps writing and keeps developing the potential we saw in False Prince, because it really was very very good.


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