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A Reader of Fictions: Review: Children of Liberty

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Review: Children of Liberty

Children of Liberty

Author: Paullina Simons
Pages: 576
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Source: Publisher via TLC Book Tours

Description from Goodreads:
At the turn of the century and the dawning of the modern world, Gina from Belpasso comes to Boston’s Freedom Docks to find a new and better life, and meets Harry Barrington, who is searching for his.

The fates of the Barringtons and Attavianos become entwined, on a collision course between the old and new, between what is expected and what is desired, what is chosen and what is bestowed, what is given and what is taken away.

As America races headlong into the future, much will be lost and much will be gained for Gina and Harry, whose ill-fated love story will break your heart.

First Sentence: "There had been a fire at Ellis Island the year before Gina came to America with her mother and brother in 1899, and so instead of arriving at the Port of New York, they had set sail into the Port of Boston."

From what I can gather, Children of Liberty is the first book in a new series, which leads up to her most popular series, the Tatiana and Alexander trilogy. I haven't read that series yet, though I plan to begin it in the next week or so, but my research indicates that the main characters in Children of Liberty, are the parents in The Bronze Horseman. Sadly, while an okay read, all signs indicate that Children of Liberty pales in comparison to Simons' previous works.

By far, the biggest problem here is the writing. So much of it is odd, sentences strung together in strange ways that don't add to the narrative. Much of the dialogue is stilted and unnatural. Characters will be discussing one topic and then suddenly veer off onto another one without any warning or natural progression. These weaknesses are especially prevalent in the first half of the novel, but continue throughout.

The novel is also quite slow to begin, as I did not care at all about any of the characters right off the boat. Gina is 14 when Children of Liberty begins, and she acts it, her thoughts and words childish and naive. Her mother, the annoyingly named Mimoo, never serves any purpose but to worry. Her brother, Salvo, is an asshole who treats everyone with disdain, especially his sister. Even worse, he turns out not to matter a whole lot in the overall story, not appearing once after about the halfway point. Why spend so much time on him if he doesn't matter? I suppose if the rest of the intended series is published he'll matter again, but it's awkward for now.

The historical setting at the turn of the century should have been enthralling. Ben, Harry's friend, is working to get the Panama Canal constructed to revolutionize exporting around the world. Radicals like Eugene Debs and Emma Goldman are often referenced and even make appearances. As a history nerd, these elements should have left me feeling more educated and curious, but they were poorly integrated and I found myself sorely tempted to skim. Ben just kept going on and on about his bananas. Ben's mom kept getting on her soapbox about anti-imperialism. Later, Gina becomes interested in anarchism. Yet, none of these seem to matter all that much in the grand scheme of things. So far as I can tell, the anarchism only matters because it loosened Gina's morals.

Speaking of Gina's morals, we're coming to the stumbling block that really mattered more than most of those other things: I really hate Harry. Gina wants Harry from the moment she first meets him, when she's 14 and he's 21. She pursues him for six goddamn years. That's pathetic enough all on it's own, but, worse, he's in a serious relationship the entire time, engaged for five of those years. Of course, since the book is about their romance more than anything, he eventually capitulates to her charms and they have a whole lot of sex. While he's engaged to another woman. There is nothing that can make this okay with me, and Harry was already a weak-willed, annoying, whiny liar to begin with. Gina's attraction to him made me dislike her, even though in every other respect her older self is actually fairly likable.

Still, Children of Liberty was a decent read on the whole. I appreciated the banter between Ben and Harry at least, and it was fairly fast-paced. I didn't quite dislike it, but there is so much room for improvement. I really hope The Bronze Horseman is better, but every review I've seen assures me that it is. If you're a fan of that series, don't embark on this one expecting it to be anywhere near as good.

Rating: 2.5/5

Favorite Quote: "'I know for a fact that the damming of rivers is enticing to young girls.'"

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Blogger Giselle said...

Oof not sure I'd like the narration a lot of it sounds like why I didn't like Period 8 much. It sounded very fake and forced.

His bananas? I don't even think I want to ask >.<

Too bad this wasn't more to your liking I know I wouldn't like this one since you're the history nut and I'm uber picky about which ones I actually end up enjoying!

March 20, 2013 at 11:58 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Oh lord. So I get to finish this one with forced narration and start another like that? X_X

BANANAS. He fucking loves bananas. No joke.

Yeah, this isn't something I would recommend to someone hesitant to read historicals in the first place. :-p

March 20, 2013 at 11:59 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

I don't think this is a book I would read, but your review is fabulous!! Harry sounds like a total tool and so does Gina. Lol!!

March 20, 2013 at 1:42 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Harry is the worst. Gina's annoying because she lives her whole life trying to make Harry love her. Just ugh.

March 20, 2013 at 1:58 PM  
Blogger Kat said...

Aaaaaand I started this one and kinda just sorta left it aside.

I'll defend The Bronze Horseman to the grave, but the part (10%) I read of this one had nowhere near the same feel.

And knowing what happens in TBH.......*censored*

I think Ms. Simons has lost some of her spark, her last book irritated me too.

March 20, 2013 at 3:06 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Oh dear. That's what I've heard from everyone who loved that series. I'm glad to hear that, and glad I didn't read this after or it would have been even more frustrating!

March 20, 2013 at 3:14 PM  
Blogger Sarah(Sarahandherbookshelves) said...

Well hopefully you enjoy The Bronze Horseman more. I really have heard only positive things about the book.

Gina and Harry sound like characters I would find annoying... I bet if I read this I would be frustrated with them just from what you wrote about here concerning their affair.

Thanks for the review:)

March 20, 2013 at 3:36 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Same here. I have every expectation that it will be an improvement on this one.

I suspect so. Gina and Harry just are not very admirable characters. Sigh.

March 20, 2013 at 3:41 PM  
Blogger Renae @ Respiring Thoughts said...


Like you, I've been really interested in reading Simons's The Bronze Horseman and its companions. I (briefly) contemplated about picking this up beforehand, since it's a prequel and I'm seriously anal about reading things "in order". But I'm thinking I should skip this and see how I feel about the more widely acclaimed series first.

March 20, 2013 at 5:19 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Yeah, you'll probably want to skip this one. You might want to skip it after too. Obviously, I can't say yet, but I suspect.

March 20, 2013 at 5:20 PM  
Blogger Belle said...

I've heard mostly negative things about this book, which is a shame, because I was really excited about reading it.

March 20, 2013 at 9:08 PM  
Blogger trish said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts as part of the tour.

March 21, 2013 at 3:48 AM  

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