'The Kingdom of Back' is a refreshing YA historical read aimed at music lovers
The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu ★★★½
“Speak for those less fortunate than yourself, who will need your help. Speak for the ones who will come after you, looking to you for guidance. Stay true, daughter. One day, you will see it all go up in flames.”
Marie Lu is such a talented writer. Her writing style is out of this world and she proves this once again in The Kingdom of Back. This was a magical slow read. The pacing was a bit too slow for me and I didn't really feel as much of a connection with the characters as I would've liked. I did get what Marie Lu was trying to tell us with this book and she did a great job conveying the message.
Born with a gift for music, Nannerl Mozart has just one wish: to be remembered forever. But even as she delights audiences with her masterful playing, she has little hope she'll ever become the acclaimed composer she longs to be. She is a young woman in eighteenth-century Europe, and that means composing is forbidden to her. She will perform only until she reaches a marriageable age—her tyrannical father has made that much clear.
As Nannerl's hope grows dimmer with each passing year, the talents of her beloved younger brother, Wolfgang, only seem to shine brighter. His brilliance begins to eclipse her own, until one day a mysterious stranger from a magical land appears with an irresistible offer. He has the power to make her wish come true—but his help may cost her everything.
In her first work of historical fiction, #1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu spins a lush, lyrically told story of music, magic, and the unbreakable bond between a brother and sister.
The plot of The Kingdom of Back definitely is an interesting one. When I first heard about it I was quite surprised to find out Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart had a sister. What drew me in was definitely the magical aspect of this novel. I am not a huge fan of historical YA, never have been but this one felt unique and refreshing. This book is very slow-paced and I did have the urge to put this book down, just because at times I felt like nothing was really happening. I wanted to see more fantasy.
Marie Lu is one of those authors that could publish her grocery lists and I would still want to read every single one of them. She proves her skills once again in The Kingdom of Back. This woman knows how to write. This book is so beautifully written. The way she describes certain things is astonishing and I can't get enough of it. It really adds to the magical feeling of this novel.
I did have a hard time connecting with the characters. I didn't love them as much as I thought I would. I liked them but that was really it. I liked the bond that Nannerl and Woferl had. This beautiful brother-sister bond was great to see. It still is a young adult fantasy novel and I like to really feel everything the characters feel but that wasn't the case with The Kingdom of Back. I also don't really have a connection to music like the characters in the book so I wouldn't understand the feeling of playing and composing music.
The world-building was amazing, which is to be expected since it is a Marie Lu novel. I could picture everything so clearly. The way the author describes certain things gives me goosebumps. Reading this book is like watching a movie, that's how neatly described everything is. The fantasy elements in The Kingdom of Back could've been more magical. I expected cool magic and didn't really get that in this book.
The ending of this book is just... I'm speechless. I don't know what to say about it. It was absolutely beautiful. I would suggest also reading the author's note because I feel like that explains a lot. After reading the author's note I felt like I finally understood The Kingdom of Back.
There were elements I liked and others I didn't like. This is a book that is targeted at a specific audience so I don't think everyone will like it. The Kingdom of Back is well-written and has amazing world-building. I wasn't invested in the character's lives and that was a bummer in my opinion. I did however love the message hidden in this novel and it is an important one. If you're planning on reading The Kingdom of Back I would suggest to keep reading until the end. It will change your view of this book.
Would I recommend it? I definitely wouldn't recommend this book to everyone. If you're into a slow-paced book about music I would suggest you take a look at The Kingdom of Back. This novel is very different from Marie Lu's other books and I prefer Warcross and Legend above this one. This book however is very motivating in a way and it gave me that extra bit of courage to pursue my dreams.
Marie Lu is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Young Elites series, as well as the blockbuster bestselling Legend series. She graduated from the University of Southern California and jumped into the video game industry as an artist. Now a full-time writer, she spends her spare time reading, drawing, playing games, and getting stuck in traffic. She lives in Los Angeles with her illustrator-author husband, Primo Gallanosa, and their family.