By Cynthia Ayala
Sefia lives her life on the run from the people who murdered her parents. Parents who were murdered over a book that Sefia teaches herself to read, a book with secrets and ending and that reveals itself in secrets upon secrets to her, thrusting her into a world even more dangerous than before.
Published on September 13, 2016, by Putnam, The Reader by Traci Chee is the first in her new series Sea of Ink and Gold that takes a very interactive look as it begins to unravel a mystery and a story.Traci Chee has delivered a wonderful novel that astounds not just in the way it tells the story but in the way the story is stylized. It holds mystery in it within its pages, not just in the story or the plot. Holding the novel itself is just the beginning of the story because Chee makes this an interactive piece to read, a story that makes the reader want to finish the story because of the amount of mystery the novel has to offer for its readers and that’s where all the charm is for the reader.
This is a novel that is full of layers, that plays with storytelling in a unique way. The style and the texture mimics a second person point-of-view, putting the reader into the character’s shoes by use of that style. Pages are washed out, redacted, “torn,” and they all work together to make the piece something magical instead of taking the reader out of the novel itself. It’s a unique way to tell the story, to mimic another style of writing and bring the story to life in a magical way.
But other than the magical way of storytelling there are the characters themselves. Sefia is a brilliant character to read about and has a strong voice. There are times when her age is often overlooked by the reader as they lose themselves in the words of the reader, and her internal narrative, as well as the story itself. It’s imaginative and exciting to read and be drawn into the story and grounds the reader. Considering how the storytelling mimics that of the second person point of view, falling into the shoes of Sefia is very easy. There is magic in the novel, and Chee makes that magic a reality, makes it seep out of the pages and into the world of the reader because everything about the novel is magical. It is layered together, a mismatch of stories interweaving with other stories to create this masterpiece. It’s puts everything into perspective and unfolds with every page. Even those pages that make the readers eyes scrunch up in confusion don’t lose the reader, they draw in the reader’s curiosity, leading to those wide-eyed moments that will simply make the reader marvel at the depth of what they are reading; the extent of the novels magic and Chee’s imagination that extends past the pages. (★★★★☆ | A)