Traci Chee’s THE READER is a mesmerizing fantasy about the power of words, stories, families, and friendships. Sefia is easily lovable, kind, and strong, and her story is anything but easy. She carries the grief of losing her family around with her and often feels that she could have prevented Nin being taken in the first place. Readers will see something of themselves in her as she discovers more about written words and the book she carries. Throughout the story, there are brief excerpts from the book she carries around, allowing you to really connect with what Sefia is experiencing.
Though romance is a small portion of the book, it demands to be discussed. Sefia and Archer have the sweetest slow-burn/friendship turned to love relationship I have ever read. There are some slow romances where you want to characters to kiss at every turn, and there are some, even more rare for me because I love kissing scenes, where you would happily revel in any scene with both of them, whether they’re just hunting for food or sitting silently, enjoying each other’s company. Sefia and Archer are both heartbreakingly vulnerable, and the way they learn to lean on each other is nearly tear-inducing.
A book about a book, a young woman learning to read while saving her remaining family, a boy whose hands are tough but heart is soft, and an endearing and existential pirate crew come together to make the fantastic experience that is THE READER.