I used to be the blogger called YAL Book Briefs, but I grew bored of the handle and changed my name to Howdy YAL. I also respond to MJ. I like to read, write, eat truffles, and watch bad Lifetime movies.
I imagine a conversation went like this when pitching this book:
Publisher: Well, Ms. Patrick the Russian Revolution idea is interesting. But we have to have something to compare it with.
Publisher: New trend in YA. Everything has to be compared to something else.
Patrick: Like Hunger Games?
Publisher: Waaay over done.
Patrick: Okay, what about Dr. Who?
Publisher: Are you serious? Dr. Who meets the Russian Revolution. That is even ridiculous for our company. Here, watch some TV I’ll talk to you in a few hours.
Ten days later which equals ten minutes in publishing land.
Publisher: So, have you came up with a mesh up for us.
Patrick: Yes, uh, Material Girls?
Publisher: Material Girls? Is that that bad Hillary Duff knock off of Sense and Sensibility that takes place in LA and has her sister cast in it (God, I love nepotism).
Patrick: Yep, that one.
Publisher: I love it.
MJ: I don’t love it.
To be fair, there’s nothing involving Material Girls in the plot synopsis. The comparison is only mine to make. But if you’ve seen that movie, you’re getting a good idea what Tsarina is about. Throw in a little Stockholm Syndrome, a McGuffin, and you got this book.
The only thing it really had in its favor is the concept and the setting.
However, the synopsis mentions the Romanovs. Other than a cameo at the beginning, you don’t get any Romanovs. Instead, you get the Duff sisters wearing pretty dresses and in this book essentially causing the Romanovs deaths by being stupid.
But don’t worry, there’s a new boy in town.
Handsome Leo who’s a brute for about 280 pages of the book.
Yeah, I really have problems with Stockholm romances. Especially when the so called love of your life died about thirty pages ago. Really? You know having a Stockholm romance already puts the book on shaky ground. That scene had me raging.
Though, given the fact that Natalya was already a frustrating character, a frustrating character who had little to no redeeming characteristics.
I really think that Patrick was trying for a riches to rags vibe with character development. But at the end, I didn’t feel like I sensed any character development from this character. She’s still the same selfish twat like she was at the beginning of the novel. And I don’t think her relationship with Leo (The Stockholm Induced Love Interest) helped.
However, sour characters and a romance that makes the early Disney princess’s romances look develop has nothing on how the Russian Revolution is distorted in this book.
I’ll be honest. Even though I had to do multiple projects and papers over the Russian Revolution, was coerced to reading Animal Farm, and watched the historically inaccurate animated film a dozen times in my youth, the subject matter can easily get confusing. Patrick’s novel doesn’ t make it that much better.
I think part of it is that I couldn’t sympathize for either side. I couldn’t see their sides of things. The Whites were portrayed as being like the Duff sisters and the Reds were just portrayed as murderous fiends.
And then there are the mystics…
Like with the animated movie, this book decides to go with semi-evil mystics. Though I’ll give it kudos for not having a zombie-ish Rasputin walking around. Just his…never mind for spoilers.
To be honest, I think Rasputin and the mystics always sort of get a bad wrap when it comes to fiction about the Russian Revolution. Never mind, that he played really no role to the tsar’s downfall he’s just an easy target-I don’ t think the beard helps. But I really don’t see why such a big deal is made out of them when there’s so many other historical figures to discuss.
I don’t know…it’s just I feel like the history itself is interesting enough where parties don’t need to be added or changed to the story.
And that might’ve been the worst thing about this story.
The whole faberge egg plot really didn’t work for me either. It really felt more or less like a McGuffin quest. The so called powerful object really wasn’t even that powerful.
I don’t even really know what it really did by the end of the book. Oh, I was told but I kept waiting for the stupid egg to show me the money…
The book never did.
I think for people who are wanting to know more about the Revolution or even expecting a fun Anastasia-ish themed novel, they’re probably going to wan to avoid this book. I think the best way to describe Tsarina is that Nelle was playing with Russian Revolution era Barbies.
Overall Rating: D as in disappointing.