Where is the line between fiction and propaganda?

Monday, September 04, 2017

The Waking Land by Callie Bates  a book review on Reading List



Do you remember Happy Feet? That movie about the penguins from a few years back? The story followed a penguin who manged to help save his home and the homes of all his penguin buddies because he could dance...

It was a big deal movie when I was a nanny - so I saw it a bunch... I should be able to remember the jokes, or the songs, or the dancing penguin's name (it was Mumble - but I had to look it up...). Instead, I remember the little break in the kid focus, where in the middle the plea to the adults was made to help give money to save the penguins foundations. The little break where the animation changed to show the reality of pollution in the sea, and the need for clean up and respect of the area... it was seared into my mind as it didn't fit the story...

Stories are supposed to make us see the need in the world for our attention... they are supposed to allow us to discuss topics that might go unnoticed otherwise, but I am not so sure that they need to slap us upside the face with a demand to act... then again...

So when Callie Bates new book, The Waking Land, came up in my list of books I was excited to see where a story that pulled energy from the land would go... and I am not sure what the point was in the end...




The Waking Land by Callie Bates  a book review on Reading List

The Waking Land

Callie Bates




Story Overview 

After being kidnapped from her family during dinner, Lady Elanna Valtai grows up in awe of the King who dragged her away from the dining table when she was 10.  She has never wanted for anything in her new residence.  She was treated well enough, was educated and fed and given the illusion that she had a future that she could decide on.

But the reality is she was a prisoner in a castle being taught a certain percentage of the truth of the world and who she was and who she should be loyal to. So when the king is suddenly killed, all the blame is put on her and she quickly realizes the world is much bigger than she was led to believe. And that she is more capable then she ever expected.

As she starts to realize her power, and her place in the world, she no longer knows who to trust. She doesn't know what side she should be, or where the future will take her. Or more importantly she isn't even sure she will survive the turmoil of the warring lands and have a future at all. 


Personal Likes

I really liked the aspect of Elanna suffering from Stockholm syndrome- the king literally holds her at gun point and steals her away from her family when she is young. And yet for a good half of the book she sees him as her best father figure, and does not trust her actual family. It was well done- granted it is annoying to see a character who flip-flops so much between who to believe and trust... but it fit.

I also appreciated the use of family in this story.  Elanna's actual family is still a main focus in the bigger story at play here, and as such there are many points to consider about how much a family should act in order to keep their blood family together or focus on the good of the people they are responsible for.


The Waking Land by Callie Bates  a book review on Reading List


Personal Dislikes

I was not a fan of all the push towards environmentalism that overtook many aspects of the story. I could clearly feel the push to act, even though the story was supposed to be a fantasy that pulled me out of this reality.  It read more like a social commentary on a population who does not at all care about the environment.  I'm not sure if that was actually the author's point... but if it was... it needed to be polished more so that readers don't feel the shove to act.

I'm also confused on where this is going as a series.  It felt completed.  If it is going to be a series that deals with the world, a collection of stand alone books that fit together, then maybe, but overall this story felt complete, so I'm not sure I understand the point.  Maybe there are aspects to the story that I just didn't' get, and in that way, I felt this was more of a piece of propaganda than fiction.


Reading List Rating


I am giving this a three heart rating because it has some great aspects to the story, and the adventure is interesting enough that I wanted to get to the end. But in the end, I was left unsatisfied, and not because this books needs to be a series, or even a duology, but because there wasn't enough character development to care about where they all end up. 





My Suggested Audience

This is certainly well suited for teenage readers. Elanna is a teenager, who reads very much like a high school student, even though the setting doesn't follow our world's standards of schooling. And for those who enjoy YA fantasy this is a story that you could easily get into.

There are ton of mythology and religion aspects in this story as Elanna's value to the king are because she is the steward of land, she is able to connect with the earth and convince it to act - grow new plants, move the water, open holes in the dirt... and as such she has the potential to be a grand ally or a formidable foe. So in that once aspect this could be a great story for those enjoy the magic such thing.

I am not sure this book translates well to adult audiences simply because it reads younger. There are not many surprises, the base story line isn't new. 






Wondering Questions to Consider

This book should allow for some discussion about the need to truly become educated. To know where to go for reliable information, and not just opinions. There are truths in this world, but with so many opinions written down every day in different forms, it can be hard to know the difference.  Elanna doesn't know what is true because she starts to realize that she was always a prison who was being told what to see of the world... but slowly she understands that she has a mind, and the ability to figure out the world around her to be true or false too.



The Waking Land by Callie Bates  a book review on Reading List


What are your thoughts on books that are presented as a work of fiction, but then read a bit on the propaganda side?  How often do you get sucked into someone's opinion without realizing they are not sharing any truths at all?

I'd love to hear from you, please leave me a little note!

Marissa @ Reading List






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***If you're interested in writing a book review on Reading List, please message me on the Facebook page! If you're curious about a book, ask me...  I love to hear from you! If you would like your book reviewed on Reading List, email me: the link is at the bottom of this page.

**** Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher, and netgalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”





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