Finnikin of the Rock  - Melina Marchetta I loved this book.

On a purely mechanical level, the prose is fluid and elegant, and the author's style is very distinctive. But what makes this book worth reading is the story and message behind the words.

On the macro level, FINNIKIN OF THE ROCK is about a kingdom and its people who've lost their identity. At the beginning of the book, we see three children of Lumatere making three vows right before an usurper invades and overthrows the monarchy. Minority groups are hunted and killed, the tyrant king establishes martial law, and exiles flood out to wander homelessly at the fringes of foreign lands. As the years pass, the vows that the three children made echo hauntingly in the background as the Lumaterans struggle to reclaim their homes and identity.

On the micro level, this is also a story of Finnikin. The son of the former King's guard, Finnikin is tough, impulsive, and fiercely dedicated to his people. He's a wonderfully likable, fleshed out character. His foil is a mysterious girl named Evanjelin, who walks the dreams of her people. Together, the two try lead their people back to Lumatere and mature into wise adults in the process.

Melina Marchetta seamlessly weaves the two scenarios above together, and what results is a nostalgic story of great depth that condemns violence, abuse, and persecution but also hails the inner strength of people who try to put an end to conflict and persecution.

Truth be told, I don't know how she even planned this story out. All of the elements of this story somehow fit so coherently that nothing really seems contrived. Even the budding romance between Finnikin and Evanjelin felt natural and, while subtle, was a powerfully moving force of the story. In terms of predictability, I think I guessed the conclusion and how some plot twists would play out. But still, the path she made me walk to reach those conclusions makes me awed at her storytelling prowess.

Definitely give this book a shot. This is a book that does deal with serious issues, but in a respectful and digestible way.

Major props to Melina Marchetta for this book. I am solidly impressed, and I definitely will be picking up Froi of the Exiles.

4.5 to 5 stars and very highly recommended!