Good ideas – predictably executed, Alex Collings
Restoration Day, by Deborah Makarios, is a fantasy novel set in the nation of Arcelia. It follows princess Lily, a completely useless girl who can’t traverse stairs without help, as she escapes from her safe haven and travels out into the world. Restoration Day is disturbingly predictable. It follows so many clichés and uses so many crutches that I felt I knew what was going to happen as soon as I started reading, and I did.
Lily is trapped in a castle for reasons neither she nor the reader is given. She believes her parents died winning a war 18 years ago, and never receives any human contact except for her guardians. The revelation of what actually happened is set up like some enormous twist, but anyone could see it coming a mile away.
There are many examples of clumsy writing in Restoration Day, but I’ll limit myself to just two.
One: the days of the week, an important thing to keep track of while reading, are renamed. Their new names never have any plot importance that couldn’t be conveyed with the original names and just add needless clutter to the book. It’s like the author wanted some way to make the setting more different from our own, but decided to do so in the worst way possible. The weeks just get in the way of my reading, like a traffic light in the middle of a motorway: completely useless and mildly annoying.
Two: the pacing is like a rugby ball bouncing. It’s completely erratic, hops over important things, and spends long tracts of time doing nothing useful. There are so many scenes where nothing happens, which could just have been cut entirely. The day before the final showdown is written about in no small amount of detail, and nothing actually relevant to the story happens. The author could just have skipped through that day in a paragraph or, even better, made it so that the finale happened a day early and there wasn’t that day of boring downtime.
Speaking of the finale, it’s absolutely, positively, stupendously pathetic. It’s barely five pages long, and it’s completely uninteresting, with absolutely no tension or suspense. It’s not actively counterproductive to the themes established earlier, but it’s not a good sign if the best thing I can say about the ending is that it doesn’t actively ruin the whole book.
Something that is done well are the book’s themes. It has many references to the evils of consumerism and does a good job illustrating them in a way that makes sense to the setting. The villain is enforcing a “great leap forward”, similar to Mao Zedong’s attempt in the late 1950s when traditional growing methods and the like were rejected for short-term efficiency gains. But I didn’t like how one-sided this theme is. The villain is pretty stupid, doing things like enforcing monopolies on various commodities, something a capitalist consumerist society is meant to prevent. The theme, while clear and consistent, is pretty obviously biased, which really took away from my enjoyment of the book.
Another small warning I have before ending this review is about the blurb on the back cover of the book. It talks about manipulation: “Princess, pawn – or queen” might be a wonderful tagline, but there is no instance in the book where Lily isn’t working toward her goal, even unknowingly, and the end goal isn’t twisted in any way at all. There’s no hand behind the scenes directing her, no hidden villain waiting for her to complete her mission. It’s totally absurd to imply any sort of manipulation, leading me to believe that the person who wrote it never even read the book; lucky them, because it’s not exactly the highest of fiction.
Overall, Restoration Day has good ideas, but falls victim to some of the most cliched and erratic execution I’ve ever seen, which means I really can’t recommend it.
Alex Collings is a 16 year old student at Wellington High School.