Thursday, January 15, 2015
Book Review: Kat, Incorrigible (Kat, Incorrigible #1) by Stephanie Burgis
Kat, Incorrigible (Kat, Incorrigible #1)
by Stephanie Burgis
Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11735957-kat-incorrigible
Read from 01/09/15 to 01/14/15
Recommended to Stacy by Gail Carriger
Recommended for fans of Gail Carriger, Victorian England, magic, precocious Middle Grade narrators
I read Kat, Incorrigible (Kat, Incorrigible #1) by Stephanie Burgis because it was the January book of choice for Gail Carriger's Book Group. I just adore Gail Carriger and her books, so when I saw this book, I decided "if it's good enough for Ms. Carriger, it's good enough for me" :) Now I must admit that she has been selecting books for her Book Group since June 2014, but I haven't read any of her suggestions in the past, mostly just because I was always in the middle of some other book or series. This time there was just something that struck me when she posted this cover, and I had just finished Changeless, and I decided that I would read along. And it was a fun read.
Kat (short for Katherine), the main character, is quite the precocious little know-it-all. And while I didn't always like, her the story was really fun to read. There were heaps upon heaps of action - it never got dull. Most Middle Grade books, and that is the age-level I'd assign it, have to be loaded with cover-to-cover action because it's challenging to maintain the attention of a tween. And even as an adult, almost 3 times older than the 12-year old narrator (yes, I just admitted my age), I can't complain about constant action - no one wants to be bored, tween, adult, or otherwise. But this book even had more than just action, which was nice.
The character development was fairly well done. Each character was clearly unique from the others - even the dialogue of each character was distinguishable, which is very difficult to do - I have read many YA & adult books in which every character sound exactly the same (example of a culprit: Allegiant by Veronica Roth! In that book, it switches narrators every chapter between Tris, a girl, and Four, a boy, and yet Roth failed to differentiate the two. It was so difficult for me to figure out/ remember who was talking when in Allegiant, and it made a huge difference). But in this book, luckily, I could easily distinguish Kat from her sisters, Angeline and Elissa, and Sir Neville from Mr. Collingwood, etc. Every character had a unique diction and tone, and that takes massive amounts of writing talent! Major kudos to Ms. Burgis for pulling that off.
But as you saw from my rating, I only gave it 3.5 stars. And that was for Kat. I, unfortunately, was not a fan. She was so precocious and cocky and bossy that it was downright annoying! I mean even in the life-or-death scene in the forest (won't go into details for fear of spoiling it), she was overly confident. And in Victorian era, when children, especially female children, were expected to be seen and not heard, her bossy nature seemed anachronistic. Even now-a-days, I don't think I could think of scenes in which the character's life is in danger, and yet he/she is still brash enough to boss the assailant around. But Kat did! And I'm all for an empowered female character, great example for young girls to read, but Kat was just so smug all the time - "I've got this completely under control" was her main mantra. But real life, especially in Victorian England, would not have worked out so easily. And yes, I know this is fiction, and fantasy fiction to boot, but there has to be some level of believability, even in fantasy. She was way too cocky, and it was irksome.
But the plot line was great: always something new happening. And the magic system was interesting - there are Guardians and witches, and the Guardians are the ones who keep the bad witch magic under control. And of course, Harry Potter addict that I am, I had to love a portkey, in this case a magic golden mirror. I won't give away too much about that, but it allows for teleportation through a magical portkey (by the way, I know that "portkey" is J.K. Rowling's own term, but for me it has become like the word Kleenex: portkey now applies to all forms of teleportaion).
I think Middle Grade and Young Adult readers will love this book. And for the most part, I did enjoy it as well. I would recommend it to a specific audience. And I do actually plan to read the other two books in the series: Renegade Magic and Stolen Magic. Both of them have higher ratings on Goodreads 4.06 & 4.25 stars, respectfully, which are higher than Kat, Incorrigible at 3.97 stars. But the ratings for sequels are always deceptively higher than the first because only people who liked the first book are going to be willing to continue to read the series, so sequel scores are from established fans. But I did like the setting, the magical system, and the sisters. I only hope that Kat gets taken down a few notches as she grows.