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A Reader of Fictions: Review: Prophecy

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Review: Prophecy

Prophecy, Book 1

Author: Ellen Oh
Pages: 320
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: January 2, 2013
Source: For review from YA Books Central

Description from Goodreads:
The greatest warrior in all of the Seven Kingdoms… is a girl with yellow eyes.

Kira’s the only female in the king’s army, and the prince’s bodyguard. She’s a demon slayer and an outcast, hated by nearly everyone in her home city of Hansong. And, she’s their only hope…

Murdered kings and discovered traitors point to a demon invasion, sending Kira on the run with the young prince. He may be the savior predicted in the Dragon King Prophecy, but the missing treasure of myth may be the true key. With only the guidance of the cryptic prophecy, Kira must battle demon soldiers, evil shaman, and the Demon Lord himself to find what was once lost and raise a prince into a king.

Intrigue and mystery, ancient lore and action-packed fantasy come together in this heart-stopping first book in a trilogy.

First Sentence: "People feared Kira."

Writing this review gives me no pleasure. I've been eagerly anticipating Prophecy for months, ever since I heard the comparison to Graceling. On top of that, Ellen Oh totally rocks and I've loved conversing with her on Twitter. Even more excitement stemmed from the Korean setting; I'm completely obsessed with kdrama, and Korea as a result of that. Perhaps I should stop adding books compared to Kristin Cashore to my reading list, as I think three out of three have been monumental failures for me.

Much as I wanted to love this, Prophecy just is not good, especially not as a book for older teens or adult crossover readers. Oh's simple writing might better suit younger readers, just transitioning to fantasy. Those readers, too, might be less familiar with fantasy tropes and thus less aware of where the plot was going from page one. 

Kira sounded like my kind of heroine from the blurb. There are so many books that I have loved that centered on a female with major butt-kicking powers, including Graceling. While Kira does successfully kick and punch and smite a lot of bad guys, she never does manage to develop any sort of a personality. When not killing things, she has no clue what to do with herself, bumbling along in a naive awkwardness. She has no interests aside from fighting and thinks about nothing but that and her family. She is single-minded to the point of unreality. Worse still, Kira whines constantly, misunderstood by everyone in her kingdom. In theory, I should have her back; I mean, I've been friendless and it's incredibly awful, and certainly being the only woman in the army cannot be easy either. Because of the aforementioned lack of personality, I couldn't muster any feelings but annoyance. She also read much younger to me.

Everyone calls her Demon Slayer, and loathes her, thinking her a murderer of humans, unaware that she is actually slaying demons, who secretly wander the kingdom in human guise. Anyone else see the problem in there? If the populace doesn't know demons exist, why would they be calling her Demon Slayer? Kira has increased strength, yellow eyes, and a powerful sense of smell to aid in her demon smiting. She mentions that the stench of unwashed people in a public house can give her a powerful headache, yet she wanders through several fetid sewer tunnels throughout the course of the novel without any ill effects. These plot holes irritated me greatly.

Sadly, none of the other characters really have any more meat on their fictional bones. Taejo, crown prince of Hansong, has to be one of the most irritating child characters I have ever encountered in fiction. What a freaking useless brat! He has all of the fighting skills of the chick in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, which is to say none; he exists solely for yelling, getting kidnapped, and needing to be rescued. Despite his inability to do much of anything, every one in the world is convinced that he will be the Demon Musado of prophecy, meant to slay the evil doer, and that he will be the king to unite everyone. All of his decisions are impulsive and cause more trouble, but no one seems to notice how incredibly awful he is or that, should they not start training him soon, he would be the worst king in the entire universe. Instead, everyone indulges his temper tantrums and does what he says.

The only characters I found remotely interesting were Kira's two love interests, though nothing much has been done with them yet, since Kira is too obliviously unaware to get involved in a romance. For some reason, both are attracted to her, despite her inability to hold conversations for longer than five minutes. Both guys have a bit more depth and show some glimmer of promise.

What really killed me, though, was how boring the action scenes were. If only the action had been great, the book could have been saved just a little bit. Unfortunately, everything happened too easily. Battles end in about a page and a half. People attack, Kira slices, Taejo gets grabbed, Kira chases and slices, and the battle is over. This formula plays out time and again. There's no sense of suspense. The style is very telling, and just does not give a good sense of what's actually happening or make me care at all.

The best part of Prophecy was that I made it into a kdrama in my head. This little movie got me through the book much more quickly. Also, even though I clearly didn't love the book, if they made this into a kdrama, I would watch it in a heartbeat. They should definitely do that. It could be my first historical!

A predictable plot, flat characters, and mediocre writing made Prophecy one of my biggest disappointments this year. Some may enjoy this, but it really was not for me. Hardcore fantasy fans will likely not be thrilled with Prophecy.

Rating: 1.5/5

Favorite Quote: "'That sheep-faced, son of a leper whore.'"

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Blogger Flannery Anderson said...

I know exactly what you mean with the Graceling books. I think a lot of us are always on the lookout for a series that can fill the void of the end of another series we love. For that one, I haven't found it yet, but I'm still trying. I've got a lot of backlog fantasy to go for. It's disappointing to hear this one didn't meet your expectations.

November 21, 2012 at 12:34 PM  
Blogger Wendy Darling said...

Oh dear. This sounds like very simplistic writing and characterization, which is a shame since the book sounded so promising! I've seen several reviews mention that it might be better for younger YA readers or even 10-year-olds, which is not a great sign..

Btw, comparing a book to both EON and GRACELING aren't marketing decisions that do most books any favors. That's a lot to live up to.

Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

November 21, 2012 at 1:14 PM  
Blogger Sarah(Sarahandherbookshelves) said...

I loved Graceling so when I saw that this was being compared to it I got really excited. But sadly I have only seen negative reviews. I think they have to be a little more careful when comparing any book to Graceling.
Great Review:)

November 21, 2012 at 1:36 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Yes! I feel just like that. I can't quantify precisely why I love Graceling so much, but I really, really do. Flannery, this one will definitely not make you happy.

November 21, 2012 at 2:36 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Wendy, this writing definitely would not please you. It's not quite as simplistic as Veronica Roth or Lisa McMann's YA, but it's very much not impressive.

Agreed. You'd be better off comparing to bad ones, so that it would at least improve on them.

November 21, 2012 at 2:37 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Most definitely. *weeps at disappointment* I probably would have been interested in this anyway, but I would have waited for reviews and maybe passed on it, if not for the comparisons.

November 21, 2012 at 2:38 PM  
Blogger Gina @ My Precious said...

Well shoot! I was excited about this one, too. I haven't seen any raving reviews. Adding yours to the pile, I'll have to say I'm thankful I didn't request a review copy. I have way too many other obligations to read books I don't enjoy. Thank you for your honest, detailed review.

November 21, 2012 at 4:33 PM  
Blogger Renae @ Respiring Thoughts said...

The general consensus with this one definitely seems to be negative. I'm not a big reader of fantasy, but I'm always looking out for one I might enjoy. But it looks like I might have to pass on this one.

November 21, 2012 at 4:46 PM  
Blogger brandileigh2003 said...

Aw, so sorry you didn't enjoy this one, it has been on my wishlist too.

Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog

November 21, 2012 at 5:00 PM  
Blogger Steph Sinclair said...

"'That sheep-faced, son of a leper whore.'"

^Best quote of the novel.

November 21, 2012 at 5:02 PM  
Blogger Nori said...

Yikes. This does not sound good at all. It had so much good hype too. I hate reading major contradictions within a story like what you said about everyone calling the main character a demon slayer, yet none of them believing in demons...So not cool.

November 21, 2012 at 5:29 PM  
Blogger Shelver506 said...

Oh noes! I won an ARC that I haven't read yet, but I was decently excited. Ugh. Plot holes and simplistic writing drive me up the wall.

November 21, 2012 at 6:53 PM  
Blogger kara-karina@Nocturnal Book Reviews said...

Oh noes! Like you I was looking forward to that, but now I'm pretty sure I won't like it. Taking it off my wishlist. Thank you for such a thorough review, Christina! This is a second negative review of Prophecy for me and it just cemented my decision. :(

November 21, 2012 at 9:27 PM  
Blogger Kat said...

Nooooooo not another slapable heroine. I cannot take it anymore!

November 22, 2012 at 4:40 PM  
Blogger Kara_Malinczak said...

Sigh. After reading Steph's review and now yours, and you both having a lot of similar complaints, I think I am going to skip this one. Those plot holes will be a problem for me. Plus, I don't like being told a story. That keeps the reader from building a connection to the characters and plot. I trust both of your reviews so much that I am pretty much guaranteed to not like this one.

November 23, 2012 at 11:23 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Be glad that you didn't. *sighs* I had so many hopes, but they are dashed. If you're still curious, by all means check it out when you have spare time, but I wouldn't put off obligations for it.

November 25, 2012 at 3:26 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Oh Renae, I can pretty much guarantee that you would not approve of this one.

November 25, 2012 at 6:23 PM  
Blogger Christina said...


November 25, 2012 at 6:27 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

No, no, it wasn't, sadly. Perhaps that part was explained in one of the bits missing from the ARC? I heard these ARCs had some random deletions and stuff, so maybe?

November 25, 2012 at 9:41 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Oh dear, I'm sorry I rained on your ARC-winning parade!

November 25, 2012 at 11:04 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

I don't think you would like this one. :(

November 25, 2012 at 11:07 PM  
Blogger Christina said...


November 26, 2012 at 12:56 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Eh, I don't know. I would definitely slap her cousin first. He was awful.

November 26, 2012 at 12:56 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Oh yeah, you definitely will not like this. I can guarantee that one hundred percent. The telling alone will make you rage.

November 26, 2012 at 12:57 AM  

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