Reusing a photo because e-books don't photograph that well.
I have so many questions.
- Why didn't anybody tell me how bad this was?
- Why did I fall for the pretty cover yet again?
- Why didn't I DNF'd it?
- Why YA fantasy isn't really fantasy at all?
- Why did I spend $2 on it?
I do have to say that this had tons of potential. Tons! But sadly it was all wasted away. Partly because of the super Insta-romance, and partly because of the very detached writing.
I have never read a book where writing was both very good and very, very bad. The beginning pulled me in because I liked the writing - it was simple, yet it did the job. For few pages at least. But the more I progressed the more I felt detached from the story. It wasn't telling, it was showing and there's nothing worse than that in a fantasy novel. It also felt second hand, as if the story was being re-told. Details were glazed over, there was no world building whatsoever and the fight scenes were non-existent.
For a book that for the bigger portion of it focuses on a tournament - the actual tournament was so short and so under-described that I had to read over again to make sure I didn't miss it. The fights were explained in 2-3 sentences tops and they all ended as soon as they began. I was flabbergasted! The book wanted to show these women as awesome warriors yet it skipped and glazed over all of the fight scenes? I could have used way less fawning over "his pretty chiseled chin line" and more of actual fighting.
Which brings me to the romance. The romance was more instant than the instant coffee and I couldn't care less about it. Curiously enough there was no actual romantic development, despite the main character always thinking about "her lover". There was no connection, no tenderness and no apparent reason for that romance to bloom. She saw him for the very first time and boom she knew he was the one! Bullets left the gun slower!
If we ignore the nauseating romance the book still doesn't have that much to offer. Cool magic concept that wasn't explored nearly enough. Side characters that didn't get enough page time. World that didn't get any world building at all. And the only details we got were as to which color sari she was wearing and how thick her eyes were lined in kohl.
I also wasn't a fan of the "religion" in the book. The author's note states that it was tweaked from an actual religion, and I don't like that. You either create your own completely unique religion, or you follow an existent one to the tee. Also the whole thing was undeniably disgusting - a "king" who's got hundred wives and over two hundred "whores" and he would "spend time" with 4-5 of them at once. Ewwwwww.
The plot did have some interesting turns here and there, but it just wasn't enough to make up for how atrociously predictable the whole book was - every YA cliche possible - this book got it. If you strip away the fantasy setting this was pretty much Shatter Me by There Mafi (it just popped into my head and now I can't unsee the similarities).
This should teach me once again not to trust pretty covers. I don't know if series get better or worse after this and I don't know if I will be picking up the rest. Not soon that's for sure.
Freelance BETA reader.