Review: Children of Liberty

I received this book for free from TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Children of LibertyChildren of Liberty by Paullina Simons
Series: The Bronze Horseman #0.5
Published by William Morrow on February 26, 2013
Genres: Historical, Romance
Pages: 432
Format: ARC
Source: TLC Book Tours
Goodreads
one-half-stars

Children of Liberty, the much-anticipated prequel to Paullina Simons’s The Bronze Horseman, is a story of love and possibility in turn-of-the-century America.

Gina Attaviano travels from Sicily to Boston to start a new life with only the clothes on her back. Harry Barrington is the son of one of New England’s most successful businessmen. Despite their differences and the strong opposition of their families, their attraction is strong. Set against a time of transformation for a growing nation, Gina and Harry must find the courage to do what is right, no matter what the price.

Deeply emotional and satisfying, Children of Liberty features a cast of characters you’ll root for as they fight against their feelings, but discover that true love can never be denied.

First Sentence: “There had been a fire at Ellis Island the year before Gina came to America with her mother and brother in 1899, and so instead of arriving at the Port of New York, they had set sail into the Port of Boston.”

Review:
From what I can gather, Children of Liberty is the first book in a new series, which leads up to her most popular series, the Tatiana and Alexander trilogy. I haven’t read that series yet, though I plan to begin it in the next week or so, but my research indicates that the main characters in Children of Liberty, are the parents in The Bronze Horseman. Sadly, while an okay read, all signs indicate that Children of Liberty pales in comparison to Simons’ previous works.

By far, the biggest problem here is the writing. So much of it is odd, sentences strung together in strange ways that don’t add to the narrative. Much of the dialogue is stilted and unnatural. Characters will be discussing one topic and then suddenly veer off onto another one without any warning or natural progression. These weaknesses are especially prevalent in the first half of the novel, but continue throughout.

The novel is also quite slow to begin, as I did not care at all about any of the characters right off the boat. Gina is 14 when Children of Liberty begins, and she acts it, her thoughts and words childish and naive. Her mother, the annoyingly named Mimoo, never serves any purpose but to worry. Her brother, Salvo, is an asshole who treats everyone with disdain, especially his sister. Even worse, he turns out not to matter a whole lot in the overall story, not appearing once after about the halfway point. Why spend so much time on him if he doesn’t matter? I suppose if the rest of the intended series is published he’ll matter again, but it’s awkward for now.

The historical setting at the turn of the century should have been enthralling. Ben, Harry’s friend, is working to get the Panama Canal constructed to revolutionize exporting around the world. Radicals like Eugene Debs and Emma Goldman are often referenced and even make appearances. As a history nerd, these elements should have left me feeling more educated and curious, but they were poorly integrated and I found myself sorely tempted to skim. Ben just kept going on and on about his bananas. Ben’s mom kept getting on her soapbox about anti-imperialism. Later, Gina becomes interested in anarchism. Yet, none of these seem to matter all that much in the grand scheme of things. So far as I can tell, the anarchism only matters because it loosened Gina’s morals.

Speaking of Gina’s morals, we’re coming to the stumbling block that really mattered more than most of those other things: I really hate Harry. Gina wants Harry from the moment she first meets him, when she’s 14 and he’s 21. She pursues him for six goddamn years. That’s pathetic enough all on it’s own, but, worse, he’s in a serious relationship the entire time, engaged for five of those years. Of course, since the book is about their romance more than anything, he eventually capitulates to her charms and they have a whole lot of sex. While he’s engaged to another woman. There is nothing that can make this okay with me, and Harry was already a weak-willed, annoying, whiny liar to begin with. Gina’s attraction to him made me dislike her, even though in every other respect her older self is actually fairly likable.

Still, Children of Liberty was a decent read on the whole. I appreciated the banter between Ben and Harry at least, and it was fairly fast-paced. I didn’t quite hate it, but there is so much room for improvement. I really hope The Bronze Horseman is better, but every review I’ve seen assures me that it is. If you’re a fan of that series, don’t embark on this one expecting it to be anywhere near as good.

Favorite Quote:

“‘I know for a fact that the damming of rivers is enticing to young girls.'”

12 responses to “Review: Children of Liberty”

  1. Giselle says:

    Oof not sure I’d like the narration a lot of it sounds like why I didn’t like Period 8 much. It sounded very fake and forced.

    His bananas? I don’t even think I want to ask >.< Too bad this wasn’t more to your liking I know I wouldn’t like this one since you’re the history nut and I’m uber picky about which ones I actually end up enjoying!

    • Christina says:

      Oh lord. So I get to finish this one with forced narration and start another like that? X_X

      BANANAS. He fucking loves bananas. No joke.

      Yeah, this isn’t something I would recommend to someone hesitant to read historicals in the first place. :-p

  2. Amy says:

    I don’t think this is a book I would read, but your review is fabulous!! Harry sounds like a total tool and so does Gina. Lol!!

  3. Kat Balcombe says:

    Aaaaaand I started this one and kinda just sorta left it aside.

    I’ll defend The Bronze Horseman to the grave, but the part (10%) I read of this one had nowhere near the same feel.

    And knowing what happens in TBH…….*censored*

    I think Ms. Simons has lost some of her spark, her last book irritated me too.

    • Christina says:

      Oh dear. That’s what I’ve heard from everyone who loved that series. I’m glad to hear that, and glad I didn’t read this after or it would have been even more frustrating!

  4. Well hopefully you enjoy The Bronze Horseman more. I really have heard only positive things about the book.

    Gina and Harry sound like characters I would find annoying… I bet if I read this I would be frustrated with them just from what you wrote about here concerning their affair.

    Thanks for the review:)

    • Christina says:

      Same here. I have every expectation that it will be an improvement on this one.

      I suspect so. Gina and Harry just are not very admirable characters. Sigh.

  5. Renae M. says:

    Hmm.

    Like you, I’ve been really interested in reading Simons’s The Bronze Horseman and its companions. I (briefly) contemplated about picking this up beforehand, since it’s a prequel and I’m seriously anal about reading things “in order”. But I’m thinking I should skip this and see how I feel about the more widely acclaimed series first.

  6. Belle says:

    I’ve heard mostly negative things about this book, which is a shame, because I was really excited about reading it.

  7. trish says:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts as part of the tour.

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