Book Review: First Test by Tamora Pierce

I just completed my assignments for my third term in SHU’s Writing Popular Fiction MA program. To celebrate not only the end of the term, but also the actual beginning of the revision process, I went to the library and borrowed a few books. One of which I just started and finished, which was First Test (Young Adult Fantasy 240 pages) by Tamora Pierce.

This is one of the really amusing things about me as a writer. Technically, I write horror. I’m sure at some point, I will post my thesis defense, which will occur in January 2011 if everything goes well. I’m certain that I will discuss why I believe that I write horror and what makes Accept Fire and Blood fall into that genre. The truth is, I had never read a horror book before January 2010. This past term, I read a variety of horror novels, short stories, and essays as part of my homework assignments.

The truth, though, is that I don’t really like reading horror. I don’t really like watching it, either.

So when I get the opportunity at the end of the term to read whatever I want to help me unwind from a very stressful several months, I choose to read books that are going to make me feel better about the world I live in, to give me hope that there are still good people out there who want to do the right thing.

It took me longer than I would have liked to slip back into Pierce‘s writing style, but once I did, I found myself easily engrossed in the story. It only took me several hours to get through the book, and I desperately want to crack open the next in the Protector of the Small series, Page, but it’s been a long and rough couple weeks.

I think what I like about Pierce‘s stories is that they clearly demonstrate that success in life comes not from how other people view you, but in how hard you work and how much you are willing to sacrifice to achieve your own goals, no matter how ridiculous they may seem to others. Kel doesn’t have an easy time at all getting the boys to accept her, but she never makes concessions and she never finds excuses. What she does find is the ability, desire, and self-discipline to find solutions to her problems instead of wallowing in self-righteous indignation. I think this is what makes me like characters like Kel so much, is that there’s nothing really special about her and she doesn’t really have any cool special powers. She’s just a remarkably dedicated young girl who knows her calling and pursues it.

I also like the arcs and how the kittens and the spidren in the beginning helps Kel with the spidren attack at the end of the book. I also like how Kel’s continued fear of heights has a real and valid reason and how Wyldon really was doing everything he could to make sure she was trained fairly.

I enjoyed this book very much, especially as a welcome break from everything else that’s been going on lately.

Works cited: Pierce, Tamora. First Test. New York: Bluefire, 2012. Original print 1997.

About C.A. Jacobs

Just another crazy person, masquerading as a writer.
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