It is readily apparent that YA fiction is overflowing with fantasy themes. From Harry Potter to Twilight, to the various vampire diaries and werewolf memoirs available, imagining oneself to be magical or capable of drastic personal change to be special seems to be something that kids are crying out for. Uprooted is not an exception: regular woodcutter’s daughter becomes magical and is an unexpected hero. There are three themes within this book I want to highlight, because at this point I am hoping that anyone familiar with this genre doesn’t need the summary. You can create that skeleton yourself.
First, this book takes place in a kingdom where magical people are highly valued and not feared. They are honored and their existence recorded in an official ledger. They each have special purposes and are afforded anything they need. So when our little village girl is discovered to be a witch she’s TOTALLY shocked (like, totally). But then she suddenly takes to it like she had always been working magic and shocks even her mentor, who has been alive and working magic for hundreds of years. A nobody becomes amazing talent overnight. Don’t we wish.
1B: The idea that she has never learned how to use magic, but then automatically rebels from “This is how it is done” and is able to “find her own path” and be successful anyway is inspiring, but definitely serves as a nice fictional escape.
Second, I am sick to death of the clumsy/dirty girl character. Oh she doesn’t like to wear dresses and be obedient so she must be weird. She comes home with ripped clothes and mud all over her shoes and everyone is disappointed. Better make yourself desirable kid, or you’ll never get a husband. See also: non-traditional woman set up for total shock in plot when she is the most special of them all. VOMIT.
Third, and I say this keeping lots of other mystical YA in mind, I am tired of reading teen porn. Man of over 100 years of age becomes seduced by 16 or 17 year old child. UGH. Ageless vampire fucks 15 year old girl. And don’t get me wrong, the writing is SUPER hot, but whenever I’m done reading it the realization that I basically just read about statutory rape hits me and I try to forget about it. This idea that girls must be paired up by the age of 18 to someone who is obviously so much older and wiser is a common trope in these fantasy YA novels that may be doing more harm than good.
All of this aside it was a beautifully written novel. I love the idea of the corrupted wood and the heart trees and how the kingdoms came to war with each other with the wood at the center. I chose to focus more on the theme that if you become corrupted by fear, sadness, anger, and hatred it corrupts more than just your own mind, it can corrupt all you touch. How Star Wars/Dark Side of Naomi Novik.
If you enjoy reading about magic and underdogs and love and war and overcoming evil, this book is definitely for you, but I would say that any book club or reader that is intelligent will challenge these themes and discuss them to better understand how these kinds of novels present our own world to us through the eyes of the characters on the page.