Official Review: The Governor's Daughter by Sambath Meas

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ALynnPowers
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Official Review: The Governor's Daughter by Sambath Meas

Post by ALynnPowers » 18 Jun 2016, 03:31

[Following is the official OnlineBookClub.org review of "The Governor's Daughter" by Sambath Meas.]
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4 out of 4 stars
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The Governor’s Daughter is the first book of The Scribes of Bramadhan series by Sambath Meas. Unfortunately, it is the only book of this series available at the time I am writing this review, which is quite a shame as I was very much looking forward to continuing the story. This young adult book combines several different genres: historical fiction, mystery, and suspense. It is also one of the most refreshingly unique YA books I have read in a long time, mostly due to the historical and cultural elements that I am certain typical Americans (or other Westerners) like myself know nothing about. Seriously, when is the last time you picked up a book taking place in 1920, French-occupied Cambodia (or Cambodge, as it was named by the French) that discusses the dynamics between the native Khmer people and the post-WW1 French colonizers?

Seventeen-year-old Anjali is the daughter of an esteemed detective, and the curious young woman is fascinated by his line of work and strives to build up her own career by following in his footsteps, though her age, gender, and race are all pitted against her in the current era. So far, she is only allowed to participate in simple cases, but she wants to get involved in the international case that has spread across Southeast Asia, to fight for the victims of rape and murder. Anjali is momentarily distracted from her future career when she meets Mith, a local peasant with an interesting past who has been studying abroad in France for most of his life, and believes she has met the man of her dreams. But Mith only has eyes for Esmé, the mixed-race daughter of the French governor who (regretting his own choice to marry a woman of different race and become outcast from his own society) does not approve of his daughter being involved with such a man. When Esmé becomes the next victim, Mith is the immediate suspect, and Anjali has no choice but to step in and find a way to prove his innocence.

My above summary actually seems a bit complicated, and, to be honest, I passed on reading this book several times because I thought that I would not be able to follow the complex story-line as it is written in the book’s description. However, in reality, the plot is rather simple, easy to follow, and nicely paced. The Cambodian names and occasional French words that come up throughout the text are presented in a clear, smooth manner that makes it easy to understand, even for those of us who have absolutely no background knowledge of either of these languages or cultures. In fact, learning the history and culture of this nation was my favorite part of this book, and I’m normally not a fan of historical fiction at all.

The lessons presented in this book are timeless and extend beyond all cultural and geographical boundaries. Pre-determined hatred and judgment based on arbitrary factors such as race, social status, and economic class were daily themes in the lives of the Khmer people, and I strongly appreciated the way that such themes were presented in this text: believable, unbiased, and straight-forward. Some people might be turned off by such themes and view them as racist (I won’t go into the specific details of why I claim this, so you’ll just have to trust me), but I find it to be quite the opposite. I would love to see more representation of different races and cultures in modern literature, and The Governor’s Daughter is the perfect start. We totally need more books like this in the world.

Without further delay, I give this book a rating of 4 out of 4 stars, as I could find nothing at all to complain about. Additionally, even though I thought I didn’t care for historical fiction, this turned out to be one of the best books I have read this year, thanks to the amazing knowledge I have gained about Cambodia. I recommend this book to all fans, not just young adults, of historical fiction and mysteries.

******
The Governor's Daughter
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Post by anatomy129 » 18 Jun 2016, 21:47

Hi I am not a great fan of historical fiction either. I usually find them hard to read and even harder to follow. However you have piqued my curiosity and I am looking forward to reading this one. Your review has me eager to learn more about Cambodia, and to explore the biases you have mentioned.
Thanks Anatomy129

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Post by ALynnPowers » 19 Jun 2016, 06:31

I live in Japan, so I noticed some overlap in culture... like referring to all people by familial terms... aunt, uncle, grandmother. That's so cool how that crosses over languages as well...

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Post by sashaaludbe » 19 Jun 2016, 15:04

This is a really unique read that is not boring definitely something to try out. The author is great at putting across her point of view.

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Post by ALynnPowers » 20 Jun 2016, 07:57

It sounds like you have read this one before! Awesome!

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Post by Rachaelamb1 » 20 Jun 2016, 11:39

I have a friend in Cambodia...it would be interesting to learn more about the country's history. I'm glad the author was able to present it in a way that is easy to understand. I'm not sure I'm up for rape scenes though.

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Post by melmo17 » 23 Jun 2016, 10:22

I love Historical Fiction novels! I don't have knowledge of Cambodia either so this book will be going on my "Want to Read" Shelf!

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Post by ALynnPowers » 25 Jun 2016, 10:47

Rachaelamb1 wrote:I have a friend in Cambodia...it would be interesting to learn more about the country's history. I'm glad the author was able to present it in a way that is easy to understand. I'm not sure I'm up for rape scenes though.
There was nothing graphic in the book at all!

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Post by hsimone » 25 Jun 2016, 16:33

Great review, ALynnPowers! I also saw this book and passed on it a few times for similar reasons. However, with your description and enthusiasm for this book, I'm putting it on my to-read list! Thank you! :tiphat: Congratulations to the author for receiving a great review!
"Love is patient, love is kind." -1 Corinthians 13:4

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Post by ALynnPowers » 25 Jun 2016, 17:39

Thanks for the kind words. Both to me and the author. :)

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Post by barb429 » 26 Jun 2016, 08:55

Great review. Just reading the description, I don't think this would be a book that I would pick up. After reading your review, though, I think that it would be a great read.

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Post by ALynnPowers » 26 Jun 2016, 09:48

Yeah, sometimes the descriptions don't do the book justice. You need an outsider's perspective ;)

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Post by hsimone » 26 Jun 2016, 11:53

ALynnPowers wrote:Thanks for the kind words. Both to me and the author. :)
:handgestures-thumbup:
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Post by kimmyschemy06 » 28 Jun 2016, 07:01

I love historical fiction and based on your review, I think I'm going to like this book. I would love to read about Cambodia and the plot sounds interesting. Great job on the review. I hope I get a chance to read this book. Congratulations to Sambath Meas on such an obviously well written book.

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Post by ALynnPowers » 28 Jun 2016, 07:59

I'm confused. Why is this book listed under the sci-fi and fantasy genre??

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