Book Reviews

Review: The Reader by Traci Chee

I was utterly blown away by The Reader not only for its graceful writing, but its thoughtful details, thrilling plot, and compassionate characters. It celebrates the wonder and eye opening transformative power of reading.


Ever since her father was brutally murdered, Sefia has lived on the run with her aunt Nin. They move from town to town, hunting what they need and stealing what they cannot find. But as if losing her parents wasn’t enough, one day her aunt Nin is kidnapped and Sefia will do everything she can to stop her from becoming victim to her father’s fate. Without knowing why her aunt Nin was kidnapped, Sefia searches for clues and finds a precious object – a book. This is the key to not only finding her aunt Nin, but also the secrets of her family. Sefia embarks on a journey with a mysterious boy, some enigmatic pirates, and the necessity to teach herself to read to uncover the truth about her past and future.


I was absolutely entranced by The Reader from the very first pages. Chee not only lures us into this magical world with exquisite words, but also treats us to a visual feast. There are words hiding throughout the book, not to mention stunning touches throughout that make the words come alive. This book is immense beauty incarnate. Especially for all the bookworms out there.

book review The Reader by Traci CheeThe Writing and Power of Reading

But what utterly captivated me was Chee’s writing. The premise is enchanting and moving. Chee’s writing is complicated, but mesmerizing, as we are drawn into her web. There were so many times I thought I had things figured out, only to be surprised. By the end, there’s this total sense of satisfaction about the intricate threads that have come together and you have to stop and take a moment to relish in the sense of awe.

Not only are we exposed to those tender moments of discovery, but also the reality that these very treasured books are vulnerable to the elements. I’m haunted by a quote from Doctor Who, “You want weapons? We’re in a library! Books! Best weapons in the world! This room’s the greatest arsenal we could have. Arm yourself”. That may have been the moment I fell in love with David Tennant. But how aptly said. The Reader demonstrates time and time again the immense power of books to irrevocably change our life. They introduce hope, possibility, and the comfort that our lives have been remembered.

(There’s an absolutely tender exploration of a world without literature, without the possibility to be remembered in print. It seems so common sense to us, but it is the human plight to want to be remembered. When we can only rely on our legends, so susceptible to memory, to embellishment, to theft, it feels overwhelming in the face of the abyss. But with the comfort of words, we are presented with a concrete proof of our existence. These words are beautiful because they offer us the possibility of memories, pasts, ghosts, and recognition. They offer us a shred, a brief hope, that we are not alone. That we won’t be forgotten. A shred of paper that is proof of our brief spark of existence in the infinite cosmos).

At the same time, they are a formidable tool which can be used both for good and evil depending on the hands and words. They are entirely subject to the elements, at least the physical books of my heart. Subject to water and fire, they have historically been burned, drowned, and destroyed in acts of war and resistance. I should have known I would fall instantly heads over heels with a book that embodies the spirit of reading.

Characters – Be Still My Heart!

I am absolutely in love with Sefia and Archer, the mysterious boy Sefia meets. Their friendship is one of my favorite parts of the book as it relies on trust, support, and acceptance. But even more so, I was in love with each of the characters really, even Tanin. They are lifelike, bursting with color and flair, impressing themselves into your mind and memories. Immediately after finishing, you want to dive right back in and spend some more time with them, and you’re in luck since The Speaker comes out later this month.


Reading becomes an experience, one that is thrilling and makes you remember the first book you held in your hands. Chee transports you back to that moment of wonder, stepping through this glowing door into a world that has been forever changed – a world of possibility and legacy. If you love reading or feel passionately in the indescribable power of literature, this is the book you need in your life.

You need to bring The Reader into your life via Amazon(US), your local indie, and Goodreads.


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6 thoughts on “Review: The Reader by Traci Chee

  1. The youngster is scrawny and covered in scars when Sefia saves him. She is aware of his background in combat and killing. He ends up remaining with her; he is mute, she teaches him things and reads to him; she gives him the name Archer; he is lethal; they protect one another and kill other people; they are both amazing, wonderful personalities.

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