Thursday, 14 May 2015

DNF Review: Cleo by Lucy Coats

Cleo by Lucy Coats book cover

Title: Cleo
Author: Lucy Coats
Format: eARC, kindly provided by
Hachette Children's Books via
Netgalley for review (Thank you!!)
Publisher: Hachette Children's Books
My rating: DNF

Add to Goodreads

Her precious mother is dead - and it isn't an accident! The young Cleopatra - Pharaoh's illegitimate daughter - must flee the royal palace at Alexandria or die too. As her evil half-sisters usurp the throne, Cleo finds sanctuary at the sacred temple of Isis, where years later she becomes initiated into the secret Sisters of the Living Knot. But now Isis's power is failing, Egypt is in danger, and Cleo must prove her loyalty to her goddess by returning to the Alexandria she hates. She must seek out the hidden map which is the key to returning Isis's power - on pain of death. But will she be able to evade her horrible sisters? And will she find dreamy Khai, the ├╝ber-hot Librarian boy she met as she fled Alexandria years before? Cleo's powerful destiny is about to unfold...

Gorgeous and evocative, this captivating new YA novel imagines the life of the teenage Cleopatra before she became the icon we think we know.

-- As seen on Goodreads

My Thoughts

DNF @ 31%

I’m so disappointed! On the surface, Cleo has everything I should love: Ancient Egypt, its history and mythology are amongst my favourite historical topics, so I had VERY high expectations that I’d be swept away by so much awesomeness and find a new favourite read. Unfortunately, some things are not meant to be, and I’m completely gutted that I had to DNF.

The book is written in the first person, and Cleo is our narrator. When I read a book written in the first person, I need to form some sort of connection to the main character to fully enjoy the story. I don’t necessarily need to like them; I just need to understand where they’re coming from. I had expected to get a glimpse into the life of the famous Cleopatra in her early years before she came to power, but I wasn’t expecting to encounter a spoilt, whiny, immature, modern-sounding teenager. Unfortunately, Cleo continually grated on my nerves, and her dialogue and narrative felt a bit too modern and immature for the time period being represented. I didn’t feel any empathy or sympathy toward her when I knew I should be rooting for her to succeed.

I was under the impression that this was a young adult novel, so I was a bit surprised that the writing style had a very middle-grade vibe. (Personally, I don’t read middle-grade, and if I had known before starting, I would have skipped it.) The book begins when Cleo is twelve, but a few chapters later, she’s sixteen. Up to the point I read, the style of writing and Cleo’s narrative didn’t change to reflect this. Considering Cleopatra became co-ruler of Egypt at eighteen-ish, her immaturity and naivety seems a little… off, to me.

Overall, I really liked the concept of this book, but Cleo’s attitude and narrative style prevented me from connecting with both her and the story. With nothing to root for and a main character that grated on my nerves, unfortunately, I felt it was time to walk away.

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