by Anna Bright
Series: The Beholder #1
Published on June 4, 2019 by HarperTeen
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Selah has waited her whole life for a happily ever after. As the only daughter of the leader of Potomac, she knows her duty is to find the perfect match, a partner who will help secure the future of her people. Now that day has finally come.
But after an excruciatingly public rejection from her closest childhood friend, Selah’s stepmother suggests an unthinkable solution: Selah must set sail across the Atlantic, where a series of potential suitors awaits—and if she doesn’t come home engaged, she shouldn’t come home at all.
From English castle gardens to the fjords of Norge, and under the eye of the dreaded Imperiya Yotne, Selah’s quest will be the journey of a lifetime. But her stepmother’s schemes aren’t the only secrets hiding belowdecks…and the stakes of her voyage may be higher than any happy ending.
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I should be clear that the primary reason I was interested in The Beholder (beyond the beautiful cover) was that I saw it marketed as a re-telling of The Odyssey. Unfortunately the closest resemblance I found was a character named Homer. . . and that’s about it. I ALMOST made it halfway through the book before I completely gave up because I actually dreaded picking it up. I was bored and entirely disinterested.
Usually I DNF for either the story or the character. In the case of The Beholder, it was for both. The plot resembles a colonial-esque Bachelorette and reminded me a bit of The Selection meets The Glittering Court. Which is all well and good but I had issues with both of those books so seeing it mashed together really didn’t appeal to me in the least. And I wasn’t really sure what the author was trying to achieve with this world because there were too many different things going on.
The protagonist, Selah, was a hot mess. Honestly, how is this girl so sheltered?? And she’s eventually going to lead her people? Really? I wouldn’t trust her to be in charge of anything! She’s so passive. I saw zero initiative from her, no motive, no agency. Nearly halfway through the book she’s still just letting things happen to her. I struggled to connect with her until I finally gave up. Why should I care about what happens to Selah? It’s terribly unclear and I lost focus with this book. A lot.
So two strikes down, and the writing style makes three. As a reader, I don’t want to be told the entire story, how the characters are feeling, what they plan to do. I want to see their emotions through their actions, be surprised when they do something unexpected. The Beholder had far too much telling which only distanced me further from the book.
At 44% I DNFed this book officially. A beautiful cover it may have but this was absolutely not the book for me (though fans of The Selection may enjoy it).