Friday, 21 August 2015

The Harvest


Book Title: The Harvest
Author: Chuck Wendig
Series: The Heartland Trilogy #3
Date Started: August 18th 2015
Date Completed: August 21st 2015
Genres: Dystopian, Adventure, Sci-Fi, Action
Quality Rating: Three Stars
Enjoyment Rating: Three Stars
Final Rating: Three stars

◆ Thank you NetGalley for this eBook copy for review ◆

The Harvest wasn't nearly as enjoyable for me as the rest of the series and I don't feel was particularly effective in concluding the story. I'm all for things getting serious in the last book and stepping up to some of the harder realities or conflict, but The Heartland Trilogy is built on rapport and agendas - and there didn't seem to be any of either this time.

I've really enjoyed Wendig's ability to make entertain me in quite frankly some very bizarre situations (living corn; people made out of vines and leaves as tongues; genetically engineered pegasus' to name a few), but somehow it didn't quite work in this book. I have a feeling it's partly to do with the fact things got a bit more serious, but for a series that for me has honestly only really been about the sarcasm and ceaseless determination of the characters, it made the writing sort of bland.
There is also the issue that far too much was going on: the multiple storylines has worked brilliantly in past books, but this time there were too many new characters and plot lines introduced right at the beginning on top of everyone else that it was hard to keep up. I was already trying to muster some attention for a few of the current characters and having even more thrown on that didn't have that much relevance didn't help.

The main storyline for The Harvest was the relationships - and most of them romantic. It shouldn't have been. It should have been about the group finally having a victory against the Empyrean, or something other than the love triangle. This is the big problem with love triangles: they completely overwhelm everything else. And they turn the person at the center of it into a very unrealistic and unappealing character; it was okay for Cael to be conflicted at first. But it got to the point where he was playing them off of each other and just going for whoever he was more attracted to a certain point in time. It wasn't only out of character for him, but it was so unfair because he had other things going on in his plot line, but the girls didn't. Cael had other things to distract him and think about and decide, whereas Gwennie and Wanda weren't characterised to have any other priorities.
This leads me on to the female portrayals in The Harvest. Now I've always mentioned that Im not happy with how women are presented in these books, but I was aware it wasn't exactly deliberate and there were efforts to make them more fair and realistic. I can see that happening again this time, and in theory they've come a ridiculously long way. But I feel like 'actions speak louder than words' is a very appropriate phrase for this writing: though the girls are, in the grand scheme of things, stronger and more independent and more powerful and sure of themselves and complex. But when you really look at it they're still mainly concerned about their possible romances, and they're still told what to do by the boys, and are usually saved by them too.
Towards the end, The Harvest became a little melodramatic and I didn't like the twists it took. It was heading in the wrong direction for me quite early on, but I think the choices made weren't particularly practical or realistic for the situation they were in. The conclusion itself felt cut short in some places and dragged out in others (of course Cael and Wanda got three times the amount all the others got put together) - and not even with much result. Even the epilogue didn't make much sense, and there are more loose ends now than at the start of the book. [SPOILER FOR REST OF PARAGRAPH.] I mean they didn't even take the Empyrean down; there's still those genetically engineered ants that could destroy every food source available to them; Wanda's still crazy with the Blight; there still dangerous people after them that will almost certainly be determined to kill them now that they broke a whole flotilla. But then in the epilogue it's years later and all the other problems have magically disappeared and everyone lives happy ever after - oh but of course Gwennie's still jealous that she didn't get Cael. [END OF SPOILERS.]

I like the diversity of characters in The Heartland Trilogy, but without the rapport some of them feel kind of unnecessary.
Cael has been heading towards darker places since we started and he's finally got to the point where he's not so sure what right and wrong is. Now don't get me wrong, I love characters and stories that involve these moral decisions or whatever you want to call it, but Cael to me as been heading in more selfish directions. And I just don't really like it. And while I appreciate that where his characters has gone it made it much less enjoyable for me to read his parts.
Similarly, I really don't like Wanda. I've never really liked Wanda, and the ways she's gradually changed have in fact made me dislike her even more. So naturally reading her parts was also incredibly tedious.
Now Gwennie I've been growing to like more and more; in the last book she was completely awesome. She took the situation into her own hands, she wouldn't let anyone push her around, but she still had that understandable indecision in what she had to do. She really came into her own person - and really into her own story. But then suddenly all the boys are back again and all she's really given the opportunity to do is deal with her relationships with them. That would be fine - if she had other things to do as well.
We then get to the collection of characters that all started off with promise but ended up getting left behind when it came to significance in favour of the horrific love triangle. A lot of the time I've been a lot more interested in Balastair or Lane over the the protagonists, but they're only there to give the odd important bit of information or a touching monologue. Then characters like Boyland are demonised to make us like one of the protagonists, but are then written like we're supposed to feel sympathetic for them later. They were plot devices rather than characters and I think it's a real shame.

There was a problem with the pacing for me because I never felt like anything was happening. The Harvest is definitely the most 'typical' of Young Adult storylines in the series, and so I expected the common 'we're going to overthrow the government' conclusion, but there's no point where they're actually heading for that. Admittedly I was to blame for assuming that's where the story was going, but looking back I can't actually see what it was progressing towards, or any point where they seemed to have something to work for. In a book like this, where there's so many characters all the time, there needs to be something driving forward to regulate some sort of pacing.

I was really disappointed by The Harvest and it didn't tie anything up particularly satisfyingly for me, though it does compliment the rest of the series because I wanted it to be good so badly. I just feel like too much was taken on in this last instalment and wasn't able to be maintained whilst still having that trademark wit and entertainment - and as soon as that enjoyment was taken out for me it crumbled a little bit. I would completely recommend the first book books in the series, and depending on the stretch of you own imagination you could skip this last book to be perfectly honest.

Image Source -

No comments:

Post a Comment