If you pay any attention to book publishing, then you will have heard the name Amanda Hocking. This 26 year old landed a $2 million dollar four book deal with St. Martin's Press back in March after self-publishing her novels as eBooks and selling over a million copies. Here is a link to a story on her in The New York Times.
So after reading this article last week, and hearing her name popping up constantly, I decided I needed to see what she wrote. What is so great? Is she a JK Rowling? Is she a Stephenie Meyer?
I didn't want to read about vampires, so her paranormal romance series My Blood Approves was out. I definitely didn't want to read about zombies so her Hollowland series was out. Her other series is about trolls, the Trylle series, so however odd it sounded, it was better than vampires or zombies.
I really, really enjoyed the Trylle series. Read it in 3-4 days. Couldn't put the books down.
On Kindle, the first book is $0.99, and the 2nd and 3rd are $2.99. Good deal.
Summary: Wendy learns that she is a changeling, a troll swapped with a human baby at birth to grow up in a human family. (Note: Trolls can be quite attractive in Hocking's universe. They are distinguished by their special abilities, picky eating, fiesty temperament, uncontrollable hair, and disdain for wearing shoes) When she finally decides to return to Trylle, the troll kingdom she is from, Wendy learns that she is a princess. But being a princess is not all ballgowns and handsome princes. The kingdom of Trylle is at war, the subjects are threatening treason, and the Queen fiercely believes that Wendy is the only one capable of bringing peace back to Trylle.
What I Loved: Hocking creates really memorable and lovable characters. At the end of the book, I wanted to go back and re-read from the beginning because I missed the characters. And the protagonist, Wendy, grows soooooo much over the course of the books. You really root for her. The pacing and suspense is excellent. The books were very hard to put down and the plot never dragged. This is a big difference from Stephenie Meyer, considered the queen of paranormal romance, who would write huge sections of text with very little plot development but a whole lot of description of Edward's eyes and hair. And finally the romance was much more true to life than a lot of teen romance out there. Some people won't like it, but I thought it was true to life. First love isn't the end all be all. A boy can only break your heart so many times before you move on. And when you grow as a person, what you look for in a partner changes. Hocking's romance reflected that.
Criticism: I think I'm a little too enthralled with the books right now to offer much criticism. There were some typos (she self-published, it was to be expected). I read on-line that people wanted more characterization of Tove and Loki. I can see that, but I still loved Tove and Loki and they definitely weren't flat characters. Some people said Rhys and Rhiannon just disappeared in the third book, and yeah they did. Maybe she could have integrated them into the plot. If you decide to read them, know that they aren't meant to be grand literary fiction. They are definitely aimed at the YA market. They are very much in the paranormal romance genre. You have to expect that going in. But in my opinion, they are a perfect summer read if you like that kind of stuff.