Sunday, February 24, 2013

Review: The City's Son by Tom Pollock

Title: The City's Son (The Skyscraper Throne, #1)

Author: Tom Pollock 

Rating: 2 Stars/DNF

You need to know one thing before you delve into this review: I am making a conscious effort to not continue books I don't feel much for. Ever since I joined GoodReads last year, I've felt incredible guilty about DNFing novels, but on every account, I've either finished a bad book and given it a bad rating or finished a good book that just didn't work for me and given it an indifferent rating. Either way, by reading just over half the novel, I am able to discern whether the book is worth my time or not and usually, it isn't. Thus, I told myself this year that it really is okay to put down books unfinished and use that time to read another book, one that I will preferably love. Well, with The City's Son, this is the situation. Pollock's debut is a good novel, certainly, but it just isn't one for me and the flaws I found within it were too egregious for me to ignore and enjoy this story.

The City's Son, being a YA Urban Fantasy read, seems like something right up my alley - and it is. Where this novel falls flat, though, is in a lot of small aspects that, when combined, totally lost my attention. First and foremost, the story is told from the dual perspectives of Fil and Beth. Beth is a graffiti artist, a normal girl like any of us, only tougher for the death of her mother and subsequent grief of her father has made her fend for herself. Fil, on the other hand, is the son of the goddess of the London streets where this story takes place. From the very beginning itself, Pollock thoroughly immerses the reader in the world he has created - only, without much of a rope to hold on to, leaving them flailing about in the dark, drowning waters.

You see, Fil's perspective is littered full of strange names and weird remarks which begin to make a little more sense as the story wears on, but is initially extremely confusing. Furthermore, the manner in which his story arc crosses with that of Beth's is rather unbelievable. Beth, who has been betrayed by her best friend who ratted her out and now suspended from her school, has her life saved by Fil and then proceeds to join him on his quest to defeat the Crane King, the powerful lord trying to kill him. What I found strange about this was the fact that Beth never stopped to question or wonder why a Wraith, a mystical creature, was attacking her and she accepted the reality of Fil's magical life with ease. In addition, beyond a few initial doubts about Beth, Fil quickly takes her on as a partner, despite the fact that she is a liability to him.

Thus, the set-up of this story itself is very strange and was difficult for me to grasp. Over and above that, though, I found the dialogue to be awkward and the writing wasn't all that remarkable either. I will give Pollock credit for a rich and imaginative world, but with such little foundation of world-building - or simply world-building that emerges too late - I was unable to enjoy his unique take on London. Nevertheless, there are redeeming characteristics. For one, I just adored Beth's best friend, Pen. Pen is a Muslim and is constantly picked on by her maths teacher (not because of her nationality though - the true reason is far worse), which is why Beth is constantly sticking up for her. We are witness to a few scenes from Pen's PoV and these I simply loved! Pen is a strong, resilient character who has been through a lot in life. She looks up to Beth and tries her best to be just as powerful as Beth is, although she lacks the exterior aura. Unlike Beth, whose method of coping is to ignore them and shove them to the back of her mind where they fail to interfere with her adventures, Pen is much more damaged and nuanced.

Although I do really like Beth, I didn't find that she brought anything wholly new to the realm of kick-ass heroines. Fil, in my eyes, was forgettable as well. In addition to Pen, though, we see a few scenes told from Beth's father and his guilt, remorse, and worry for his daughter was very moving. After the death of his wife, Beth's father became a mere shell of himself and although he tried to be there for Beth, he simply couldn't. It is clear, though, that he cares very much for his daughter and is extremely proud of her artistic accomplishments. I loved how his story arc, Pen's story arc, Fil's story arc, and Beth's all came together, making for a very intriguing plot.

So, really, The City's Son has a lot going for it. Unfortunately, I didn't feel much for its two main characters and the world-building was truly lost on me, making this the type of book I kept feeling as if I needed to go back and re-read, just because I was so confused. Nevertheless, Pollock's debut has a lot to offer for fans of UF, so I'd urge readers to check it out - despite my low rating.


  1. I still can't find it in me to DNF books, but I'm starting to think that it's something I should do more.

    Ah I know what you mean about books with a not so good world-building - I don't like them so much either.

    Lyra @ Defiantly Deviant

  2. How sad. This sounded like a really good book too. I too hate DNF-ing books but then I think about how I will never get the time I spent on a bad book back and I just put my foot down. Or in this case, the book itself.

    Great review, Keertana :D

    Gellie @ A Discombobulated Balladry

  3. Hmmmm. I don't like being confused when I'm reading Keertana, especially with regard to the world-building. When I can't quite figure out how the world works, I get all flustered and have trouble settling in. Despite that though, the premise does sound interesting, and hopefully the world will become a bit clearer in the next book if you decide to continue on!

  4. I have to say, good on your for marking books as DNF since I seem incapable of doing it myself that much unless I really can't get into a book.

    This one sounds like it won't be my thing, despite the world building and Pen who sounds like a fabulous character.

    I hope your next book you enjoy much more! Although I'm sure you've already read a dozen other books by this point. :-)

    Great review, dearest!

  5. Ahhh, this has been on my reading list for ages but I can't summon up the urge to actually find a copy and read it. And your review makes me not want to. I think I will, however, give it a try. Eventually. But you know, I agree with not finishing a book you don't like because time is finite and there are other books to read.

  6. I really need to learn to DNF books. I usually say "Hey, I'll read this one later!" I'm sad this one didn't work for you!

  7. I am terrible at abandoning books most of the time (I tell myself it might get better and that pretty much stops me from giving up). But in the last week alone, I've had to DNF two books. I guess I am running out of patience! I'm sorry this was a let down for you, Keertana. I haven't heard much about it, but the premise doesn't have my full attention anyway. Plus awkward dialogue is something I cannot deal with it all. It's why I stopped reading my last book.

    I hope your next read is better, Keertana!

  8. Keertana, I used to feel the exact same way about DNF'ing books, I used to force myself to read all of the book as much as possible, but I used to always be left with a bittersweet taste in my mouth, and I used always be in a glum mood going into my next book. So I try to DNF much more quicker than I used to before, and it seems like you made the right decision with The City's Son. It does sound like this book has a lot going for it, but like you a lack of connection with characters normally results in a disappointing read. I hope your next book is a lot more enjoyable! :)

  9. I wouldn't feel bad for not sticking it out on this one. Why waste your time on a book that's not working for you? To be honest this description never appealed to me in the first place. Hopefully your next read will be more pleasurable. :)

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  11. I have a hard time DNFing and usually stick with a book until the bloody end.

    Anyways, I am not much of a UF fan, so I feel totally fine skipping this one. The summary doesn't particularly grab me either.

  12. Excuse me while I catch up on everything I missed from you last week...

    Okay I'm STILL tempted to read this one because I've also heard so many good things, but I'm very glad to have had your review temper my expectations (like knowing it's dual narration, which I hate), so that maybe it'll work out.

    I just want to say GOOD FOR YOU for DNF'ing books. Seriously, life's too short to read bad books. Though sometimes I feel like I do give up to quickly (usually my minimum is 50 pages). I refused to give up on Strands of Bronze and Gold because I was determined to read Bluebeard, and I was glad I didn't in the end...but I still question if it was worth my time since I didn't like the first half at all.


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