I feel really conflicted about this novel! When I first heard about it and that it was about a world where the leaders of nations and governments have to send their children to be a war hostage, I was so excited!! I thought this would be a fantastic fantasy world, there would be a kickass heroine who saves the day with her equally kickass love interest, but I couldn’t have been wronger (is that a word? I don’t actually think so, but we’re just going with it). I reread the blurb after finishing this book to see if I just misread it the first time, I didn’t. This book is nothing like it’s blurb suggests.
The first thing that through me was that this isn’t a fantasy, it’s a dystopia / sci-fi, and it is completely lacking in the world building department. So many things are left for the reader to work out for themselves, like why this has happened, who the eff Talis is and why his word is law, and I DON’T KNOW??? MAYBE WHAT THE HELL IS AN AI????? Seriously, this annoyed the hell out of me. I am not a sci-fi buff you can’t just start going off about AIs and expect me to know what you are talking about. It’s Artificial Intelligence – robots. I spent like the first 50ish pages so confused why they were all so intimidated by the teachers, a bloody tree and always looking around.
Another thing that threw me was that I was expecting a kickass heroine to start a rebellion and break everyone out of the hostage camp, but nope. Greta is passive, pliable and (sorry) boring. I hated that she didn’t see a need for anything to change, that she would talk about herself, and her friends death as if it was nothing more interesting then what’s for dinner. But above all else I completely disliked that everyone idolised her. WHY? She doesn’t actually want anything to change, she likes the AIs that torture and intimate the rest of you, and yet you all think she’s the bees knees? I didn’t get it. I do expect big emotional and moral changes from her in the coming books.
I really like the side characters however, what Greta lacked as a protagonist was made up for by a sassy, determined Elian and a loving, caring and protective Da-Xie. Da-Xie was by far my favourite character, I loved how open and loving she is, while still having a back bone and being able to stand up for her friends, country and herself. Talis was also a fantastic character, if not a tad immature which I found a bit strange considering he’s meant to be hundreds of years old. I am interested to see how his character changes in the coming books, I think he is going to go through a lot of character growth.
One more thing that confused me about this book. The love-triangle. Now the blurb again only mentions Elian, so you go into this book expecting Elian to be her love interest – and he is for like 5 seconds – but then out of nowhere she has a switch in opinion and something else happens. I just have to say I had no idea what was going on! However, despite the fact that it is done in one hell of a confusing manner, I like that this book had an element of discovering your sexuality. I also liked how it wasn’t made into a big deal, it just kind of happened and no one really cared too much. But seriously, you as the reader are so confused as to what’s going on. For a while there I thought the three of them where going to start to have some three-way open relationship.
The thing that seriously salvaged this book was that it had an awesome ending. I have read reviews where people say that they loved the start, and disliked the ending but I’m the other way around, so maybe it’s a taste thing. The ending got me so intrigued as to see where this series goes. I am interested to continue to read on and get more Talis!
Overall, I’m not sure about this book. I think it had the potential to be fantastic but maybe just didn’t reach that level. The protagonist, Greta is a serious let down, but the side characters definitely make up for it. The world building, is pretty much non-existent, but again that may be rectified in the coming books. I liked the elements of discovering your sexuality but I hated that she strung Elian along. I don’t really know how I feel about this book, I do however plan to continue on with the series and see what it grows into.
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