Review: Nightingale by David Farland

by David Farland

ISBN-13: 9-781614-757870
Publication: October 2011 from East India Press
Rating: 3 ♥ / 5 ♥ – I liked it

Bron Jones was abandoned as a newborn. Thrown into foster care, he is rejected by one family after another, until he meets Olivia, a gifted and devoted high-school teacher who recognizes him for what he really is — what her people call a “nightingale.”

But Bron isn’t ready to learn the truth. There are secrets that have been hidden from mankind for hundreds of thousands of years, secrets that should remain hidden. Some things are too dangerous to know.

Bron’s secrets may be the most dangerous of all.

Nightingale by David Farland is an intriguing fantasy novel presented in a very unique package – an enhanced e-book, with pictures, animations, music, video interviews with the author and more. My review will of the story itself goes along with my 3 heart rating. I’ll talk about the presentation of the story at the bottom, since I feel the format needs to be mentioned.

Our main narrator is Bron Jones, a foster kid who’s been shuffled through the system into increasingly unsuitable home situations. But it’s not until he comes to live with Olivia that his entire world changes, and not really for the better. Bron is a masaak – not human, he has powers available to him that he can only begin to control. When he stumbles across others like him, Bron and Olivia are in a race against time to hide their whereabouts and discover just who Bron really is, and what he can do. The chapters alternate between Bron, Olivia and a few other characters. The ones narrated by a character other than Bron tend on the shorter side and give glimpses into how Bron’s presence is affecting those people around him.

I found it difficult to connect with the characters in Nightingale. Bron is very hard to pin down, and though we see most of the story through his eyes you’re never quite sure of his motivations or mindset. Olivia does what she thinks is right, and the best course of action, but I think she’s in over her head and making decisions for Bron that may backfire when he finds out the extent of her ‘helping’. The two female characters that are, of course, immediately in like with Bron are just that – in like with Bron. There’s a sinister male classmate, Bron’s father and mother and a few more characters who advance the plot and are probably important down the road. I enjoyed the story but felt some parts were a little rushed, or missing details that would have given a better picture of some events. A few of the details about masaaks, their powers and such were a bit confusing. I definitely enjoyed the story and want to see where it goes – especially with Bron, since he seems to be something new to the masaak groups (Aels and Draghouls) – but it didn’t suck me in and keep me hooked from page to page, and the ending was a bit too abrupt for my tastes. I’m thinking the sequels will delve more into Bron and his decisions regarding the two factions of masaaks and the main villains big plans.

I think Nightingale has a strong young adult/adult crossover appeal, and that the enhanced web/iPad version of the book is amazing – but not the best for my reading experience. I don’t own an iPad, so had to read the web version. Which means that I had to wait until when I had long enough moments to sit in front of my computer to read it. I really loved the chapter heading illustrations, music and animations and then the fact that the rest of the chapter was regular e-book. The videos from David Farland were informative, as were the highlighted words or sentences throughout the story that could be clicked on to provide information from the author about why that particular word or phrase or thing is in the book – but they could be distracting and break the flow of reading. Eventually I just stopped clicking and kept reading. Also, by about half way around the book, the chapter headings were just blank white pages with a quote. This may be because I was reading an advance view of the book, but it left me unable to fully appreciate the media aspect of the story.

Although I did not connect with the characters as much as I would have liked, and the format of the story was not my favourite (I still prefer traditional print over e-books), Nightingale by David Farland is a fairly solid fantasy that I think will appeal to fans of Davids other work and those who enjoy a fast-paced, detailed fantasy world.

Online copy provided by East India Press in exchange for my honest review. Thank you!