4.5 out of 5 stars.
The book is a dystopian/fantasy novel where the people are separated by the type of blood that they have. We have the Silvers who are the God-like human elites who posses cool abilities like controlling elements and people’s minds. They are also the one who regulates and controls the government. Then there’s the Reds who are the cursed to the life of servitude. Being the lower class or the normal people they serve as the slaves, servants and soldiers for the government.
We follow the perspective of the main protagonist, a Red named Mare Molly Barrow, an unassuming and resourceful lady who lives with her family in the slums part of the world. Having no skills of her own to support her family, she resorted to stealing things from other people where she’s good at. She’s into pickpocketing people to help her family make ends meet.
In their world, once you reach the age of 18 and you’re a Red and you still have no job prospects you’re destined to be conscripted. Which means that you’ll be sent to the forefront of the war to fight in the battles that is not their own and be in the army like what happened to Mare’s three brothers. Knowing that and nearing that age, she already prepared herself for that destiny. Hiding or running is not an option because once they caught and it’ll cost you your life.
An unexpected acquaintance though brought her to the palace of the Silvers. Her plans of buying her and of her friend’s safety away from being conscripted took a turn and she meet a guy whom she plans to steal from but eventually caught her then later helped her. Her world abruptly changed from foraging their area looking for people to steal from to walking the halls of the palace. Later did she learned that the person who caught her and helped her secure a job at the place is the crown prince, Cal.
During the Queenstrial, which is the ceremony where Cal is to choose her queen by way of deciding who among the princesses of the different high houses of the kingdom has the best powers, Mare accidentally discovered that she has powers, which is to control lightning. And of all the places where it could happen, it happened in front of the eyes of whole of the monarchy as no Red before has possessed any form of power. With a looming rebellion going on (by a group called Scarlet Guard) in the backdrop and believing that it’ll coast them their throne, the king and the queen decided to keep Mare in the palace, change her identity and make the other houses believe that she’s a Silver and engage her to Cal’s younger brother, Maven. The Palace also believed that they could use Mare to quell the growing uprising. Mare made a bargain telling that she’ll accept it if her brothers will return home from the war and her friend, Kilhorn, will be waived from going to the war.
With all agreed upon, we then follow Mare’s life in the palace coming to terms with her new life with her powers and environment and adapting to the unforegiveness and cruelty of the king and the queen. In the palace, she struggled to fit into the royal family while at the same time making plans to overthrow them. Along the way she meet allies and friends. We also follow her as she avoids herself from being caught of helping the rebellion where she became a key player. The book then unravels the allegiances that were formed to truth, lies and deceits that you won’t know which is which.
The author provided its readers a world with a basic setup. It’s a world where the old mixes with the new. I later learned that Aveyard took inspiration from Greek society with the present day modern technology. I somewhat pictured it that way. Setting is well-planned out. I believe though that the world building could’ve been explained or enhanced more. Hopefully the author could give us that picture on the next books. And I also hope there would be a map in the next book because a book with a map can never go wrong. 😉 I also like how creative the author was in creating each “high house” in the kingdom by colors and by powers.
Character development is also where the author is good at. She provided a set of characters with believable backgrounds. She made the characters realistic in a way that they have flaws but their flaws were superseded by uncanny abilities. The main character, Mare, is very raw and genuine in her actions which made me understand her actions of being quite annoying and her too much complaining.
Supporting characters are also something where the author capitalized upon. I like Julian and his back story with the woman she loved and also Lucas who is Mare’s assistant in the castle. It will be no surprise if a novella will be released about it.
The love story was kind of forced for me though. I didn’t feel any connection to the love stories of the major characters. The love triangle (or quadrangle) came to be very confusing for me. To be honest, it’ll be better, I believe, if Mare will just be Mare without any love partner. The book will live without the love story as it is only a subtle part of the book and not the main focus. But I’m expecting that the love story will become developed come the next installments.
For the writing style, it came to me as concise, short and balanced. I also liked how solid and flawless the writing is.The movement or transition between chapters was well executed. The author knew well how to end each chapter. It’s always on queue which kept me wanting to read more. It’s easy to read and fast paced. The storytelling is also easy to follow and narration is commendable.
Amazing plot. I went into the book with a lot of expectations and I must say that the book didn’t fail me. There are a lot of good twists and turns. It has A LOT of surprises. It’s filled with intrigue and action that kept me guessing. The action scenes are so well written and easy to visualize. The last few pages are the best part for me. The battle at the last part is so surreal and is on point. It kind of remind me of the tournament part of the Japanese anime Ghost Fighter. I devoured it. Totally thrilling. Fluid writing. Perfect pacing. Engaging.
The book overall talks about the complexity of the society. How the disparity and inequality in the classes within that society affects the whole. The book tells what happens when there’s an imbalance of power in that society and when there’s power struggle. It talks about the complications of politics and how allegiances move in that arena.
Living in a cruel world, where Red’s life are not valued, this book has an interesting concept. The book showed how sometimes inner strength with determination is all that it takes achieve your goals. It also made me even more understand the dark side of every human being because of the different desires that we want to achieve and how badly we would like to achieve it. Know whom to trust and when to trust.
Surely this novel has loose resemblance to other young adult novels but I still enjoyed it. It took some of the best elements from other young adult books and compiled it.
Waiting for the sequel is a torment.
Since this is the first in the series, I see a lot of potential for this book. Kudos to the author for pulling up a read-worthy debut novel. Certainly this book has some questions that were left hanging and one of the questions that I’ll expect to be answered on the second book would be: Why do, in the first place, Silvers do have powers and Reds don’t have?
4.5 out of 5 stars.