Book Review: The Naming (The Gift) by Allison Croggon

ImageI was forced to read this book for a book report due in literature. We had to find the hero’s journey in a contemporary book. This project seemed like heaven on Earth to me! Read a young adult book?? Sure! I already formulated multiple books that I could have enjoyed while doing this project. The Naming wasn’t one of them.

Our lovely media specialist and my literature teacher chose books they knew would have a hero’s journey in them. My class and the period before us swarmed the book cart like flies to a carcass. Their greedy hands sneakily searched for the thinnest novels with the largest words. Once I eventually made my way to the cart, it was ransacked with a few pathetic books left and a couple unfortunate souls like myself who were behind the crowd. Our librarian suggested The Naming with a wholehearted five star review, and since she’s also head of book club, her recommendation led me to chose this book with no hesitation. Next time, I shouldn’t be so trusting!

The cover didn’t really appeal to me, but I’ve read a copious amount of books with dreary covers that were still fabulous. As the saying goes, don’t judge a book by its cover. Literally and figuratively.

The words were minuscule and the book was about 500 pages, so I wary about finishing in the time allotted. I reasoned that I could read fast if it was good, so I began.

The fist thing I noticed were the descriptions. Croggon described the simplest most mundane objects! There comes a point where I don’t care what every river looks like; the fact it’s there is enough of a description. It felt like she dragged her sentences to make them as elaborate as possible. If I can skim the last hundred pages (which I ended up doing) and not miss much, then there’s a problem. Her writing also contained a bunch of cliches. The figurative language didn’t enhance the book; it made it more ordinary. When an author writes, “eyes as big as plates,” or “red as a rose,” the book doesn’t draw anyone in (she didn’t actually use those similes, but you get my point).

The next thing that irked me is more nit-picky. She used the word “dubious” on almost every page. “…she said dubiously.” “She was still dubious…”

It drove me insane! Maybe Croggon could have gotten away with it if the word wasn’t so chimerical. Dubious is a fantastic word! Since it’s so wonderful, I noticed as she used it again. And again. And again. I’m not exaggerating when I say that word was on a page twice. On multiple occasions.

I’ll use a shallow and materialistic metaphor to explain. If I wore a cute outfit to school one week and got many compliments, people may remember the outfit the next time I wear it. This means I can’t wear the outfit back to back. On the other hand, if I wore a T-shirt and jeans, I could wear the very same T-shirt and jeans in a couple days and nobody would bat an eye. It’s equivalent to someone saying “like” so many times you can only focus on that one word. Every time I read, I constantly looked for the word “dubious.”

Now to the plot. The story is about a slave girl who escapes slavery and goes on a journey with a Bard man. A Bard is essentially some sort of wizard. He realizes she is a very powerful Bard from a long lost city, and they adventure to all these different cities to help train her. The whole book consisted of the two of them wandering around the forest! The plot was predictable and dull. I could find parallels from The Naming to almost any other fantasy book out there. It’s one thing if you have an obvious plot but add some spice to it; it’s another thing if the plot and the writing is insipid.

You can obviously see my distaste for this novel. It definitely didn’t help me enjoy the book with a due date swinging over my head. Many other people fell in love with this book (and series), so maybe I’m in the minority of people who didn’t. If you enjoy detailed and elevated writing, then this will be perfect. If you enjoy fantasy and journeys, then you’ve found yourself a winner. Other reviewers compliment the book in saying it’s the Lord of the Rings with a female protagonist twist. If you’re planning on reading it, have fun, but I surely didn’t.

1.5/5 Stars

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3 thoughts on “Book Review: The Naming (The Gift) by Allison Croggon

  1. Pingback: Top Ten books I almost put down but didn’t | Stealing Pages

  2. Hi – Alison Croggon here! I don’t have any argument with your not liking my book, you have every right to feel whatever you feel, positive or negative, as any reader does. But just to say, re your objection to my using the word “dubious” or “dubiously”: you prompted me to do a search on the manuscript in case my word use was really so egregious. I use the word (in either form) 14 TIMES! In 500 pages! That’s once every 35 pages! Not so bad, surely?

    • Oops, sorry I guess I just exaggerated! I think it was the level of the word that made it stand out to me. Like I said in the post, if you wear a marvelous outfit one day, then someone is bound to remember it the next time you wear it. My eyes always focused in on that word because the first time I read it I thought, “oh, that’s a great word.” Then I continuously noticed it throughout the book.

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