Novel fails to deliver on promised adventure

By Rita NicholsonT

Tess of the Road resounds with a message of endurance, and surprisingly enough, I had to use that lesson to get through this book.

Tess of the Road, by Rachel Hartman, is about a young girl, Tess, who runs away from her home when her family threatens to send her to a nunnery. She runs into an old friend, Pathka, who also happens to be a type of dragon. She and Pathka then journey across the kingdoms, meeting new people, making new memories and running into all sorts of trouble.

Intriguing as it sounds, Tess of the Road is not quite as exciting as it seems. It is incredibly slow paced, and not enough happens to warrant 500 pages. What little does happen, though, does not flow realistically. The different events do not necessarily build off each other. Instead, the plot is somewhat jagged, as are the interactions between characters. The relationships between characters are shallow most of the time, yet there is so much potential for the author to create deep, meaning relationships. Several conversations in the novel feel forced and are very awkward to read.

The author’s writing style is better than average. There are enough details for the reader to easily imagine the story without being overwhelmed. However, the author uses several words that belong in an academic essay and not necessarily a novel. Having to stop on almost every page and look up a word was extremely frustrating, and I found myself almost giving up on finishing the book.

Despite its flaws, Tess of the Road does have some great aspects, like the setting. The world is very developed, and the different cultures are unique and do not resemble the others. I do, however, wish that the book contained a map because all the different places are hard to keep track of without visual help. Another great aspect is the character development. All of the characters changed for the better, even the ones I didn’t expect.Tess of the Road has its good and bad sides, yet it is not that bad of a novel. Despite requiring quite a bit of patience to read, it’s worth a read to check out the world building, writing style and character development.

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