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Switched (Trylle Trilogy #1) by Amanda Hocking

January 9, 2012

Wendy Everly knew she was different the day her mother tried to kill her and accused her of having been switched at birth. Although certain she’s not the monster her mother claims she is – she does feel that she doesn’t quite fit in . . . She’s bored and frustrated by her small town life – and then there’s the secret that she can’t tell anyone. Her mysterious ability – she can influence people’s decisions, without knowing how, or why . . . When the intense and darkly handsome newcomer Finn suddenly turns up at her bedroom window one night – her world is turned upside down. He holds the key to her past, the answers to her strange powers and is the doorway to a place she never imagined could exist. Förening, the home of the Trylle. Finally everything makes sense. Among the Trylle, Wendy is not just different, but special. But what marks her out as chosen for greatness in this world also places her in grave danger. With everything around her changing, Finn is the only person she can trust. But dark forces are conspiring – not only to separate them, but to see the downfall everything that Wendy cares about. The fate of Förening rests in Wendy’s hands, and the decisions she and Finn make could change all their lives forever . . .

 

You may have heard of Amanda Hocking before, due to her Trylle trilogy originally being self-published and have been available to download as a Kindle e-book for some time now. Hocking is now a self-publishing phenomenon – having sold almost a million books, and having secured a publishing contract with Tor, an imprint of Macmillan. Being the owner of a Kindle, I have often toyed with the idea of purchasing her e-books many times in the last year, but something always held me back. Could it be that I was being a little bit snobby towards self-published books on Amazon? Let’s face it, there are hundreds of them out there – and more often than not, they turn out to be extremely dire. But Amanda Hocking had been receiving rave reviews across the UK and the US, and that was enough for me to put my worries at ease.

However, looking back, I think what ultimately stopped me from purchasing the e-books was the fact that it is a series based on trolls. I love fantasy, but there was something about trolls that didn’t seem very appealing. So, when Tor offered to send me a proof copy of the lovely new paperback edition, I jumped at the chance, knowing that if I was ever going to read it, this was the time, and what can I say? I’m really glad I did!

What first struck me with Switched, the first of the Trylle trilogy, was the quality of writing. It was much better than I anticipated, and reads perfectly for the young adult market. Wendy is a brilliant character, with a very individual personality. She has suffered a rather traumatic childhood after her mother accused her of being someone else’s child, and then attempted to kill her.  The truth is, Wendy has never felt like she belonged with the rest of her family, or even in this world. She has always felt different, and she soon discovers why. Wendy is actually a trylle – or better known to you and I, as a troll. She may be short-tempered, picky with her food, and a little demanding, but she’s certainly not the image of a troll that you probably have in your head right now. The trylle’s live in a gated community, away from the suspicious eyes of humans. The thing about Wendy is that the person she thinks is her mother, isn’t. Her mother is the Queen of the trylle’s, and a rather stern Queen at that. The wealthy trylle’s swap their children for human children, so that the trylle royalty get a better education than what can be offered in the trylle community. This makes Wendy a changeling, and soon her whole live is changed forever.

I absolutely adored the characters which Amanda Hocking has created. Each one is individual, full of their own unique personalities. Wendy makes a great protagonist and her relationship with her “brother” Matt is perhaps my favourite of the whole novel. Wendy may have just discovered that they aren’t related at all, but they have a bond that will last, I hope, through all three books in the series. Finn, Wendy’s inevitable love-interest, and one of the Trylle, is also a very endearing character, and one I was rooting for all the way. I’m looking forward to seeing how his character will develop as the series goes on.

Amanda Hocking clearly has a wonderful and lively imagination, one that I’m definitely envious of. Her representation of trolls is fantastic and original to read. It certainly makes a change from all the other dark fantasy books out there at the moment. Sometimes I felt a little silly reading about trolls, but other times I simply loved it. However, the story isn’t without its faults. I failed to understand the whole changeling business and it was so necessary for the trylle’s to swap their children with the human children – for a good education just didn’t seem enough of a reason, or very applicable to the world they live in. I thought this idea could have been much more developed than it is. My other criticism is that I thought it was a bit of a shame that the trylle lived in a gated community. It sort of stole some of the magic from the story, for me, and I would love to see a bit more of a departure from the palace-life of the trylle royalty in the next book – the life of a new-found Princess living a life of royalty is nothing I haven’t really seen before. My last criticism is that the ending felt far, far too rushed, and I would have liked to have seen the final scenes play out just that little bit longer.

Ultimately, I loved Switched much more than I ever thought I would, and it’s easy to see why Amanda Hocking has endured so much success. It just goes to show that self-publishing really is the answer sometimes, and can often be a great way to discover someone new. I can’t wait to find out what happens next in book two of the trilogy – Torn, due for release in March this year, so not too long to wait, which certainly makes a change!

Switched is out now in paperback in young adult and adult editions, published by Tor, an imprint of Macmillan. A big thank you goes to the publisher for sending me a copy for review.

Rating 

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. January 10, 2012 15:23

    Thanks for reviewing this. I recently wrote an essay about self-publishing and obviously Amanda Hocking’s name came up a lot but always as an example of a bad writer who achieved success because she kept her prices low. I’m surprised but also very glad that your review is so positive – now I want to read her myself.

    • January 10, 2012 18:35

      That’s a shame she’s received attention as a bad writer…it’s always easy to assume people who self-publish, especially on the kindle, will be bad writers…I’ve definitely been snobby about it in the past. But sometimes there are those writers out there who just deserve a break and self-publishing is a great tool to get their work out there. I certainly don’t think Amanda is a bad writer at all – of course I’m not sure how much the book has been edited from the e-book version to the paperback version. That would be interesting to find out! I hope you enjoy Switched as much as I did, anyway :)

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