So I was sent this book without having read the first one, and when I went to read Fable to get myself up to speed, I was Not Impressed. That was a book that romanticized immature people making irrational choices. This sequel has the dubious virtue of being utterly consistent with its predecessor.
Here’s the deal: Fable has managed to make her way back from the cutthroat island where her father Saint left her to fend literally for herself as a pretty young 14 year-old (!!). She’s found a new, accepting family with the crew of the Marigold, helmed by her lover West. Only, as the first book ended, she was kidnapped by her father’s arch-rival Zola, for purposes unknown. Adding insult to injury is the presence of one of her parents’ closest friends on Zola’s crew. At first frantic with worry that West will think she’s abandoned him, she soon discovers that there are greater threats to her health and happiness on her new, unwanted vessel, as enemies old and new come out of the woodwork to menace her.
Not a terrible premise on its own, and Adrienne Young’s prose is lively and engaging. But honestly, it’s like this book was written with the sole purpose of showcasing several cool scenes, barely strung together by any writing as connective tissue, and certainly given no depth beyond the flashy set pieces. I didn’t understand Fable’s antipathy to Holland, which was couched as “oh no, Holland is such a good trader that she’ll stifle all competition” like, that’s not how trade works? Even inclined as I am to think that unfettered capitalism is bad, you HAVE to give me something more to work with than “she’s so rich therefore she is evil.” Yes, Holland is a murderer but so is everyone else in this stupid book! I didn’t understand why Fable had to be a mean, wasteful brat any time she was given a new dress — at least the pink one got repurposed! — and I didn’t understand… no, actually, I did understand all the West-Saint nonsense because it was really clear that Fable had daddy issues that she was transferring to her boyfriend, which was just weird and creepy to read.
Namesake felt like a book written for small-minded, shallow people, the kind who’ll agree with Fable when she calls her mother — who died when Fable was 14, mind — a liar because Isolde didn’t tell her about a certain detail from Isolde’s past that never came up in conversation. I don’t know who needs to hear this, but people are allowed to have secrets, y’all. They’re not liars until they actively dissemble when asked about something. It was also really hard for me to believe that no one knew Saint was her dad given how all Fable’s flashbacks were of how he doted on her aboard ship. Saint’s crew must have been too dumb to live… which is awkward of me to say since all the ones who “didn’t know” actually did die.
On the plus side, at least the sailing bits here didn’t feel as egregiously offensive as they did in the first book, but boy am I glad I don’t have to read any more of this nonsense.
Namesake by Adrienne Young was published March 16 2021 by Wednesday Books and is available from all good booksellers, including
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