Book Review – VIII by H.M. Castor (or, Hey Honey, check out my new sword!)

Destined for greatness; tormented by demons… VIII is the story of Hal: a young, handsome, gifted warrior, who believes he has been chosen to lead his people. But he is tormented by the ghosts of his family’s violent past and, once he rises to power, he turns to murder and rapacious cruelty. He is Henry VIII. The Tudors have always captured the popular imagination. In VIII, Henry is presented afresh for a new generation of teenage readers. – Goodreads Synopsis

Let me just say in advance, I feel guilty about this review. I hate giving bad reviews…it hurts my soul. When I say it hurts my soul, I mean it hurts my soul on a “Sound of Music Live” scale. It’s that bad. That being said, here we go.
I had a lot of issues with this book, but I’ll list the top three because I don’t want you to be Hal’s age by the time we finish here.

Issue #1 – Being 55 doesn’t make you a young adult.
First off, we got it at our Media Center as a teen book. It starts with Hal, otherwise known as bats*** crazy King Henry VIII, around the age of maybe seven. And it progresses until the time of his death at age fifty-five. I personally classify young adult as happening between the ages of twelve to twenty-five, which is a pretty generous range. This book is really unrelatable for someone my age, much less teens. Seriously, what teen wants to read about the countless miscarriages of Hal’s five wives? It is sad, but it isn’t something teens care about. I feel like the book would have been a lot more interesting if we covered from the time his brother, Prince Arthur, died (1502) until he actually took the throne (1509). The story could’ve been totally made up for all I care. It would have been more interesting.

Issue #2 – If you’re going to be crazy, go all out.
Throughout the whole book, Hal is followed around by some creepy blonde kid. Creepy blonde kids have unlimited scare your pants off potential. But I won’t spoil the end for you, in the event that you make it that far. Crazy characters are awesome. Everyone loves Bellatrix Lestrange, right? Hal’s kind of crazy was just kind of meh. I wasn’t afraid at all. If I met Brother Justin Crowe in a back alley, I’d be out of there faster than Honey Boo Boo can eat a chicken nugget. If I saw Hal in an alley, I would probably just hope his creepy little friend didn’t sneeze on my shoe.

Issue #3 – Henry’s Wives
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Oh my goodness, his wives. There were like six of them—none of which had a personality. Well that’s a little harsh. But really, I felt like he was married to an amazing ventriloquist that could whine in six different voices. They all had the same story—they were super supportive, and then they died. And I was really creeped out by the fact that his wives were all like teenagers. (Hey, that’s where all the young adults were!) I know that is probably true for that period, but yeesh. Hugh Hefner’s got nothing on Hal.

On a positive note… ignore the gif (that’s how I feel about Hal), read the part below it.
Kudos to the author for historical accuracy. The book being so heavily based in reality allowed me to learn a lot about the real Henry VIII…and man was he annoying. Seriously, take the most whiney, self-righteous jerk you can find, add C-3PO, and you’ve got Hal.
On a side note: After killing six wives for not being able to have sons, he would’ve been pretty embarrassed to find out that they weren’t the problem. Oops!

Star Rating: 2/5

Overall Impression


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