Reading, Ranting, Raving, Roaring | Lila Reviews Roar by Cora Carmack

Title: Roar

Author: Cora Carmack

Format: Audiobook

Narrator: Soneela Nankani

Running Time: 13 hours, 25 minutes

TRIGGER WARNINGS: Some violence, anxiety, panic attacks, depressive behavior

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Goodreads Summary: In a land ruled and shaped by violent magical storms, power lies with those who control them.

Aurora Pavan comes from one of the oldest Stormling families in existence. Long ago, the ungifted pledged fealty and service to her family in exchange for safe haven, and a kingdom was carved out from the wildlands and sustained by magic capable of repelling the world’s deadliest foes. As the sole heir of Pavan, Aurora’s been groomed to be the perfect queen. She’s intelligent and brave and honorable. But she’s yet to show any trace of the magic she’ll need to protect her people.

To keep her secret and save her crown, Aurora’s mother arranges for her to marry a dark and brooding Stormling prince from another kingdom. At first, the prince seems like the perfect solution to all her problems. He’ll guarantee her spot as the next queen and be the champion her people need to remain safe. But the more secrets Aurora uncovers about him, the more a future with him frightens her. When she dons a disguise and sneaks out of the palace one night to spy on him, she stumbles upon a black market dealing in the very thing she lacks—storm magic. And the people selling it? They’re not Stormlings. They’re storm hunters.

Legend says that her ancestors first gained their magic by facing a storm and stealing part of its essence. And when a handsome young storm hunter reveals he was born without magic, but possesses it now, Aurora realizes there’s a third option for her future besides ruin or marriage.

She might not have magic now, but she can steal it if she’s brave enough.

Challenge a tempest. Survive it. And you become its master.

Oh, Roar. *sigh*

We were supposed to get along so well…

Roar was a book I was really anticipating. With a unique premise of storm based magic and a plot that sounded like a fun adventure, I thought Roar and I would get on great. Well…I was half right, I suppose…

Roar was a fun (though, in the end, forgettable) time, but I did have quite a few issues with it. Let’s not beat around the bush any longer, though. Here are my thoughts on Roar

What Had Me Raving About Roar

Let’s start with the good. Roar was a fun read, despite my issues with it. The plot moved along quickly enough and Carmack balanced Roar being plot driven and character driven fairly well.

I enjoyed that Aurora wasn’t the typical Strong Female Heroine™. Instead, Aurora begins the book timid and weak. She’s physically strong, but her confidence in herself needed work. She grew across the novel from that timid, insecure girl to a stronger, more confident young woman (though not yet totally devoid of her insecurities).

I also enjoyed the secondary characters. They all had unique, individual personalities. I loved the snippets of banter between the group that we saw. They all drove Aurora’s character development well, so that was good and in that way they played their part well.

But despite the things I liked about Roar, there were still a lot of things that I thought weren’t done so well…

Arriving Fashionably Late

One of the main technical issues for me was that the main villain is introduced over halfway through the book! And he was introduced in the most awkward way: a random, totally new, third person, nameless POV that just popped up out of nowhere. Like…what??? It was really clunky and jarring. Not only that, but also the late introduction left me wondering what the rest of the book that I’d just read had been for? And it also made the villain seem more mustache-twirling and less like he had any real motivations to drive him. The whole thing was just…weird

Pointless Plots

The issue of the missing villain played into the larger problem of the plot stalling. When there’s no villain, there’s no motivation for the characters, so…what was the point of what we read before the villain showed up??? I mean, we did get to know the characters a tad bit better, but at the same time the plot kinda stalled in the middle of the woods while the same training sequence played on repeat. I get that we needed to get to know the characters better and that Aurora needed to train, but couldn’t we have also used that time to hear anything about the villain and their motivations? It would’ve helped to move the story along better.

A Feminist Fiasco

There has been a bit of recent controversy over Roar in regards to the romance and feminism and toxic masculinity. While I can say that I agree with most of what was being said, I do feel that an important piece of the puzzle was left out of the discussion: Aurora’s reaction to Cassius’s and Locke’s actions.

First off, there is no doubt that Cassius is a villain and that his actions are portrayed in a villainous light, thus condemning them as Not The Right Thing To Do. So I don’t consider his actions to portray any kind of misogynistic or toxic message, because they are so clearly shown as Wrong.

Now, let’s talk about Locke, the main love interest.

To be honest, I really disliked Locke. He pushed Aurora, emotionally, mentally, and physically, at all the wrong times and in all the wrong ways. He’d “manhandle” (his words, not mine!) Aurora when she clearly didn’t want to be touched, he’d manipulate her for the sake of his “lessons,” he’d demand personal information that he had no right to simply because he wanted it. Clearly, he overstepped several Boundaries.

But and however. Aurora does push back (physically and verbally) when Locke oversteps. And in that way, Carmack does kinda show that Locke’s behavior isn’t right.

The problem for me is that it wasn’t enough. Locke still remains a love interest and his overstepping clear boundaries is chalked up to him being “protective.” And I want to say here: If your version of “protecting” your partner includes overstepping clear boundaries, then you’re doing it wrong and you are possibly the thing that your partner needs to be protected from.

A Fun, But Forgettable Fantasy

Ultimately, while Roar had a lot of issues, it was a fun time; however, it was also an easily forgettable book. Just days after finishing it, I have trouble recalling what happened and I feel no emotional connection to the characters. I know this is Carmack’s first time writing YA and her first time writing fantasy, so I’m willing to give her a second chance. I might pick up the sequel when it’s released, but I’m pretty on the fence. 2.75/5 stars, rounded up to 3 stars.

Have you read Roar? If so, how did you like it? If not, are you interested in it?

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Lila is a 25-year-old college student studying physics and a lover of literature. When she's not busy reading or saving the world through science, Lila can be found singing jazz and blues and obsessing over hedgehogs (a.k.a. the cutest animals in the multiverse!)

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