4.5/5

Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu

Kingdom of Back got stuck on my currently-reading shelf for more time than I’d care to admit.

This book started with some pacing issues, and it wasn’t until the middle of the book that I really became invested in reading it…and finished it all in one night. The opening is a lot of emotional set up that is difficult to read, especially for me.

I come from a culture that has highly categorized roles for women, so Nannerl as a character really spoke to me. I usually enjoy books with unique characters that I can relate to on some degree. But in a lot of ways, I am Nannerl, and I think many of Lu’s readers will agree. The protagonists’ desires are so real and raw, yet her unselfishness is achingly right. Somehow Lu managed to capture a whole lifestyle in a book.

Part of that evocative feeling was brought on by her choice of wording and imagery, which is lush and beautiful, especially in this fantasy Kingdom of Back that she’s brought to life. This book feels like…how do I describe it? It’s like a dessert at a fancy restaurant, where the serving size is small but the taste is nuanced and lasting.

There’s a lot of other things I could discuss: the relationships, the plot, the symbolism (because I do believe there is a lot to be found). I was confused a bit by some plot points at the end, and as I said, it’s paced a little strangely, but I think her goal in this piece was to create a character that resonates across time and even race or gender.

I have to say that I believe the Maria Anna Mozart that was on the page. I don’t know what her real motivations were, but at least in me, she and this book will be remembered for a long time.