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Presented by State Library Victoria

The Girl Who Fell (The Chess Raven Chronicles #1) | A Live Reading

The Girl Who Fell (The Chess Raven Chronicles #1) | A Live Reading

By bookwithbane

36985967

Disclaimer:

Although I’ve actually already read all of the book, I’m re-reading it and so I’m just acknowledging that my view on things might be influenced by that fact. Also, updates may be slow and it will not show up on the feed as changed, so just check every Sunday, and I should have gotten a few chapters in by then. Bolded, italicized and underlined sentences like this are commentary by me after reading the novel.

About the Author:

Violet Grace is the pen name of wife-and-husband writing team Kasey Edwards and Christopher Scanlon. Kasey is an author and columnist and Christopher is an academic and social commentator. They live in Melbourne with their two daughters.

Before Reading:

It’s exciting to open the parcel in the car. I rip open the packet (and got told off my mum in the process) as we waited for my siblings to get out of school. I like the pin, but it’s not like I’ll be able to wear it anytime soon 🤔. I look at the synopsis on Goodreads as I log it:

The first book in a thrilling fantasy series about a girl who learns to embrace her inner power.

Chess Raven is a hacker who has grown up with nothing and no one. Her parents died when she was three and her foster care situation turned out badly – very badly. But on her sixteenth birthday, her life is turned upside down.

Chess learns her mother was Queen of the Fae and her father was a brilliant physicist. The unique blend of her mother’s fairy blood and her father’s humanity gives Chess – and Chess alone – the ability to unlock a mysterious vessel that will unleash unimagined powers – with devastating consequences. Thrown into a new world where nothing is at it seems, Chess must work out who to trust as vying forces race to control her. Or kill her.

Reunited with her childhood friend Tom Williams, an enigmatic shape-shifting unicorn, Chess discovers love for the first time and is prepared to risk her life for it. But first she must learn to overcome a fear of her own power and stop waiting for other people to save her. She is the one she’s been waiting for.

and the blurb on the back of the book (quick refresher):

I’m an orphan. A hacker.
I grew up with nothing and no one.
But it turns out my whole life has been a lie.

All of a sudden, I’m a hero, a villain, a weapon, a puppet, and the last great hope. There’s only one person I can trust – but even he is not what he seems.

I am not the girl who fell. I am the one who got back up.
I am Chess Raven.

Reading the blurb, it sounds cool, although I hope they represent hacking well and not just use it as a plot device. The blurb sounds a little cliche, but it sounds well constructed. The synopsis intrigues me. Now for the cover (scroll up to see it). It looks pretty simple, so there’s not much to glean from it or to pick at, the only thing I can comment on is that same emblem from the pin we got is present. Is it a dragon, sea dragon, or a unicorn? Guess we’ll find out further into the book.

 

Chapter One

Something I immediately like about the book is that immediately launches the reader into the story with dialogue.  Violet Grace cleverly introduces us to Chess’ workplace and the (criminal) background of Chess through Janine the Labeller.  But pretty much in the first few pages, I’m already faced with a writing technique I don’t like. The cringey reflection in the mirror cliche, used to show the character’s physical attributes. Whilst it’s not exactly a reflection off of a mirror, the reflection in the computer screen is a lazy and uncreative way of showing us Chess’ physical attributes(her long auburn hair, her sixteen years of age, her green eyes and boots). Furthermore, she describes herself as “ethereal” and “incomplete”, which pretty obviously against the nature of “show, not tell” and doesn’t exactly add much mystery to the text. Anyways, throughout her commentary, the reader gleans that Chess is very cynical, untrusting of authority (and people) and is very “the rest of the world versus me”. She also is fortuitous in many ways. For example, her luck is exercised by having Marshall Musgrave as her sponsor and Gladys’ free rent. We also see that she is very bad with people. I can’t put my finger on it, but her character is reminiscent of other characters I’ve read, and not in a positive way. Remember how apprehensive I was about the bad portrayal of hacking in fiction? Well hello there, writing sin! Although in the blurb hacking seems very integral to her identity, hacking is seldom mentioned unless used as a (lazy) literary device with no extrapolative info given [SPOILER ALERT: No change in that throughout the novel, bleurgh] (e.g how she hacks, where she learnt and a lack of hacker friends or communities, which is not at all reflective of the real world). She even says that her laptop is a “piece of junk” (is it typical for social workers to give out laptops? I feel like this could have made a heartwarming moment to explore, but nope). I find it unbelievable that a famous, multi-millionaire company somehow gets hacked by a sixteen-year-old with a piece of junk laptop. The whole hacking fiasco seems unbelievable from start to finish, especially considering that there is no information on how she hacks into the company or how she gets caught. Okay, I’m laying off now. I legitimately laughed out loud (not a mere sharp exhale out the nose!) when I read the hilariously graphic description of the police officer, although it spotlights her quick judgements of people and her bad people skills. Presumably, Gladys has been visited by Chess over the years, but there is no background on how Chess first meets her or how the subject of living with her was broached [SPOILER ALERT: And this isn’t explained at all throughout the book] (and Chess doesn’t question the fact that Gladys [illegally] harbours a fourteen-year-old for no monetary gain?). My thoughts about her trust issues are later confirmed in the chapter by Chess on Page 7. When Chess helps Neville, a homeless man, with her “heavily-modified phone”, I legitimately cringed. Again another plot device with no information on how she modified it, afforded to do so or learnt to do so (all presumably with no support from a community). And she can get into a secure police computer easily (like what was the need for this, does she use it again and does she even mention it again? [SPOILER ALERT: She doesn’t EVER use this phone again, it has no other capabilities and we never find out why she made it in the first place])?. When she has her (convenient) flashback moment, I’m confused as to how she can never have sat on that bench while working at her job???

 

And that concludes our first chapter.

 

Chapter Two

(IN PROGRESS)

Thumbnail sourced from Luke Pennystan via Unsplash. Book cover image sourced from Goodreads.

2 comments

inky Centre for Youth Literature

Bring on Chapter 2!

1w ago
lauraamabel

I'm excited! This is such a cool way to do this! I left my copy of the book at school over the long weekend, but I'm almost finished. I made notes on my thoughts for each chapter but I haven't typed them up into coherent sentences yet. I look forward to reading more of your thoughts. In relation to Chapter 1, I agree, there was a lot of writing (like the ethereal and incomplete description) that felt clunky and uncreative.

1w ago