Troll Mountain – book review

Troll Mountain

Troll Mountain is the new and intriguing YA novel, written by Matthew Reilly.

In a remote valley, a tribe of humans are being killed off by a terrible and seemingly unstoppable disease. The only hope for a cure relies on the rumour that the trolls of Troll Mountain have a miraculous elixir.

When Raf’s sister gets sick and his tribal leaders refuse to help him, Raf makes the courageous and possibly foolish decision to set out on his own for Troll Mountain and to steal the elixir. With trolls around every corner, will Raf be able to steal the potion to save his sister? And more importantly, does such a cure even exist?

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I’m really sad to say that this book just didn’t do it for me. I’d heard of Matthew Reilly before and I had heard that he was really popular, so when I heard that he had written a new YA novel, I was eager to read it. Little did I know what I was in for. Trolls, uninteresting plot and uninteresting characters were just a few of the things this book had in stall for me. I didn’t hate it, it’s just that I didn’t really feel anything for it at all. There’s a part of me that loves it when I hate a book, because it means I feel passionately about it and will likely remember it in the future, for better or for worse. So it makes me a little disappointed to find that this book didn’t make me fall in love with it or hate its guts. If books had guts. With this book, I couldn’t care less.

Okay, let me discuss one very important detail right now. Trolls. Trolls. I don’t like to think that I’m racist, or troll-ist, but there’s something about trolls that makes me cringe. I think it was my experience with Switched by Amanda Hocking. For those of you who haven’t read this book, or this series, I will explain it really badly in one sentence – boy troll meets girl troll who previously thought she was human and then takes her to a troll palace. At least, I’m pretty sure that’s what happens. I was a little distracted by the fact that… trolls. Okay, I’m getting sidetracked now, but you get the idea. I have kind of a bad relationship with trolls. And please, if any of you have read the Trylle series by Amanda Hocking and loved it, let me know! I’m willing to try and mend this relationship. It’s not beyond hope yet! At least, I hope it isn’t.

So obviously, this book has trolls in it. Duh. If you can’t tell that from the title of this novel, you’re a little bit slow. Sorry to break that to you. So I was willing to try and think positively, that I was most definitely in love with trolls. But there’s only so much you can fool yourself into believing. There was another aspect of the trolls that I didn’t like, besides me just not liking the general idea of trolls. I didn’t like their disjointed and childish way of speaking. I understand that trolls might speak like that, but it really frustrated me. It was clichéd and overdone and I just felt as though there was nothing original about this book, particularly in that area. Maybe I’m just not a troll person. I should have known better though before committing myself to reading this book.

Let’s get to discussing the human characters now, shall we? Raf, the protagonist, felt like a very bland character and like he had no real substance. I didn’t really see different sides to him and he seemed to get out of every single situation or problem he faced too easily. There was never any question as to whether he would survive. I was never on the edge of my seat, praying that Raf would live to see another day. Even if I thought he was going to die, I wouldn’t have cared much anyway because I felt like I didn’t have any sort of close bond to him. I didn’t hate him, but I didn’t like him either. He wasn’t particularly special or complicated and that annoyed me. I love characters with depth and intrigue, and I felt like Raf was lacking that.

I also felt like a lot of the other characters weren’t developed. Because of that, I found that I didn’t connect to them and I didn’t have any feelings for them. Another thing I didn’t particularly like about this book was the plot. I briefly mentioned it before when I said that Raf overcame obstacles too easily, but the whole general plot line was lacking. In particular, it was lacking in detail. When I started reading this book, I immediately realised that Matthew Reilly writes differently to any other author’s novels I’ve read. There were no beautiful and poetic descriptions. There wasn’t excessive detail. Sometimes I really love that. Sometimes I think that it’s good to just be straight-forward and to no lot lose what you’re trying to say in the way that you’re trying to say it. But with this book I just felt like a little more detail could have done it some good. Things happened in the blink of an eye and I felt like it needed some padding out to make these moments more memorable, or so that important events happened in more than the space of just half a page. It suppose it’s all down to personal preference, but isn’t everything? Reading is subjective and no two people read and interpret a book in the same way. And I think that’s a beautiful thing. Though sadly, this book was not beautiful to me.

I guess my main issue with this book was that it felt a bit young. I understand that YA has a wide audience, from kids as young as ten to adults, I really don’t feel as though there’s an age limit with these books, though some issues may fall short with an older adult audience. However, these books are most commonly read in the age group of 12 – 24, would I be right in assuming that? Perhaps this book would have appealed to me more if I was 12, but I just felt as though this book was trying to reach younger readers. I think the fact that I don’t read a heap of fantasy meant that I didn’t get into this book as much as I would have liked. I read a lot of contemporary and dystopian but hardly any fantasy. Perhaps I need to try some more fantasy. If any of you have any ideas of fantasy books that I might like, I’d love to know!

So ultimately, I didn’t really enjoy this book. I felt like there were some crucial things missing in both the plot and the characters and I felt like this book was a little young in comparison to all of the other YA novels I read. I’d give Troll Mountain by Matthew Reilly a score of 3 out of 10. If any of you have read this book, I’d love to know what you thought!

Thank you to Pan Macmillan Australia for providing me with this book in exchange for an honest review!