Thursday, September 17, 2009

Forest Born by Shannon Hale

Genre: YA Fiction

Author Website:

One Word Review: Hmmm

First Line: “Ma had six sons.”

Synopsis: “Rin is sure that something is wrong with her…something really bad. Something that is keeping her from feeling at home in the Forest homestead where she’s lived all her life. Something that is keeping her from trusting herself with anyone at all. When her brother Razo returns from the city for a visit, she accompanies him to the palace, hoping that she can find peace away from home. But war has come to Bayern again, and Rin is compelled to join the queen and her closest allies—magical girls Rin thinks of as the Fire Sisters—as they venture into the Forest toward Kel, the land where someone seems to want them all dead. Many beloved Bayern characters reappear in this story, but it is Rin’s own journey of discovering how to balance the good and the bad in herself that drives this compelling adventure.” –GoodReads

Kathy’s Review: I had really high hopes for this one. This is one of my favorite series and I was so excited to read Rinna’s story. So, I was surprised that I just didn’t like this one as much as the others. I’ll start by saying that if you read and enjoyed the first three books than you should read this one. Rin is Razo’s little sister and the main character of the story. She has spent her entire life in the forest living in the shadow of her mom. She finally decides to visit the big city and to try and figure out who she is. Rin was always comparing herself to those around her, especially the strong Isi, Enna and Dasha. She has the ability to people-speak, although she doesn’t know what that is until the end of the book. She thinks there is something horribly wrong with her and is constantly down. With the example of her mom and the other three girls she tries to be good and to do the right thing. She learns to have confidence in herself, trust her abilities and learns to stop looking at others and to be her own person. I loved meeting up with Isi, Enna, Dasha and Razo. I also liked the cover.

I don’t want to give away spoilers for those die-hard fans, so I’ll list the things I didn’t like about the book in the comments section of this post. I’ve read a lot of reviews where people loved this book and thought it was their favorite, so I think my opinion will be in the minority.

Reading Order:
Book One: Goose Girl
Book Two: Enna Burning
Book Three: River Secrets
Book Four: Forest Born


  1. Below are some of the things I didn’t like about Forest Born, it does contain spoilers so read at your own risk.

    First, there is no romance in this story. All the other books had that aspect and I really feel that Hale messed up by leaving that out. Each of the previous books have a fairy-tale feel to them, especially Goose Girl. Although it’s not the main point of the stories, it really adds a lot to each one. Leaving that part out made for less interesting reading. We hear about a neighbor boy Wilem throughout the story, I kept hoping maybe something would happen with him at least, but NOTHING. And come to think of it, there really wasn’t a lot of closure with that storyline either. I would have appreciated an additional chapter where Rinna has to face Wilem.

    Second, it felt like the book was mainly recapping the previous stories. Even the “villains” were characters from old books, and so the whole thing felt repetitive and kind of unoriginal. I love Isi, Enna, Dasha, and Razo but they really stole the show from Rinna. It was more their story than hers, and because of their overshadowing I really didn’t feel like I got to know Rinna, or appreciate her growth.

    Third, the whole ending was kind of anticlimactic. Maybe because of the missing love element, or because her abilities were so weak, it just felt blah for me. So the overall feel of the book was just kind of boring for me.

    Maybe I’m being too harsh, and I do think if you’ve read the other three books you should read this one as well. I just had my expectations too high.

  2. That's to bad you didn't like it. I was looking forward to reading it. I agree a book without romance is definitely lacking. I'll probably still read it when it comes out, just won't hurry. Goose Girl was the best one of all of them. I reread it recently and I am stunned by how beautiful the writing is. I liked Enna Burning too. Can't even remember what happened in River Secrets.

  3. Mary- I loved Goose Girl as well, its one of my favorite books. I even bought the audio version awhile back, it was so fun listening to it as well. Maybe you'll like Forest Born, a lot of people seem to enjoy it. I think I'm just the odd duck out. =)

  4. I think that Shannon Hale is an incredible writer but for me her last few books have been just "eh". I loved Goose Girl and I liked Enna Burning but after those books she hasn't written one that I've been wild about. That graphic novel was just plain weird.

  5. I've been averting my eyes of the comments above. :) I just started reading part two of Forest Born, and I also found that this isn't my favorite Bayern book. Yet. I'm finding Rin a little hard to connect with. It's difficult for me to understand why she could think she's a 'bad' person for a few mistakes she made in life. hmmm


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