I believe that the cover of this novel is what drew my interest. It was simplistic, yet bold and symbolic in ways I didn’t comprehend yet. I turned to the back and skimmed the summary, not wanting to reveal too much of the plot to myself. As I read it, I couldn’t help but feel surprised at the very small amount of romance that seemed to be discussed in this book. Usually, when I find a book with a crown on the cover, it usually ends up being about a princess choosing her future, which most often than not holds a prince. However, this story seemed to have more to it than that, and that thought was what pushed me to buy it. Well, I’m glad to say that I have good taste, for this novel was amazing, gripping, inventive, and breathtakingly beautiful in more ways than one.
I loved many aspects of this book, but perhaps my favorite part was the imaginative, amazing characters. Mare Barrow, the protagonist, is one of the strongest female leads that I have seen in a book. Although she has trouble controlling herself in some moments, she is far from weak. Her tough exterior, which shields the world from just how vulnerable she is, was amazingly written. Usually, tough characters are written to show little to know emotion, which leaves the development of the character to a minimum. However, the author strategically placed her weak moments and inner thoughts throughout the story, allowing the reader a full glimpse into who Mare really is.She’s strong to her beliefs, and doesn’t waver in the presence of fear. She is resilient, courageous, and everything that the reader should aspire to be without coming off as too perfect. When authors create these kind of characters, they also tend to make them more god-like than human, since they always seem to do the right thing and barely falter, which can have a negative effect on the reader. Book characters must feel authentic and realistic in order for the reader to relate, not like some supernatural being that they could never become. However, the author masterfully avoids this problem by not showing us the courage in all her right moves, but in the way she fixes her mistakes. We need more book characters like her for the countless amount of teenage girls reading these YA novels. Characters like Mare show teens that they can be brave and make a difference in this world, no matter how small it may seem.
However, I didn’t enjoy the rather confusing romances going on between Mare and almost every important guy introduced in the novel. She had many good qualities, but she was also very indecisive. A romance with Cal was first implied based on the path the plot was taking. Later, it seemed like a romance with Maven would soon blossom. And, somewhere in that mix, when wondering about who she would choose if she had a choice, Kilorn, her village friend, popped up. All of these male characters, who were all described to be attractive, confused me as I was unsure about which one she would choose. Sadly, she seemed to be unsure as well, which only annoyed me more. One of my biggest problems with YA novels these days is the indecisiveness of the female characters, which only leads to frustrating love triangles that don’t benefit the plot at all and may aggravate the reader. However, the worst part of her twisted romance was that there wasn’t even an established love triangle, just one that she had created in her mind due to her feelings towards them that are rarely acted upon. However, the majority of the blame doesn’t fall on Mare, who tried her best to avoid Cal and stay loyal to Maven. The main culprit for the confusing love aspect of this novel is the author, whose plot kept throwing her together with the very people she was trying to stay away from. If the storyline wasn’t so keen on alternating the men that she showed attraction to, I might have been able to enjoy the novel more and not have to allow breaks in between to cool off from the frustration I began to feel.
I loved the plot twist at the end, of course. Throughout the novel, the plot, although desperately trying to seem inventive, was predictable, and that bored me to a great length. I knew what was going to happen a few chapters ahead, because the path the storyline was taking was very conspicuous. If the author managed to throw in some plot twists near the beginning and middle of the novel, I wouldn’t have had to pretend like I didn’t know the obvious was about to happen. However, the only thing that caught me off-guard was the ending. I would never have predicted that extreme turn the plot took. I was happy that the author at least made an attempt to be unconventional and original in her story, but the foreseeable storyline of the majority of the novel shadowed the brilliance of the ending, stopping me from enjoying it as much as I should have.
However, the ending of the plot might have been anticipated if I had not deemed it impossible due to the development of the characters. Maven’s personality took a sharp twist, too sharp to be realistic. He was Mr.Perfect for one moment, then cruel killer the next. It is too hard to pretend to be something you’re not without allowing some of your real self to slip between the cracks. He gave little indication that he had any malice in him or that he and his mother shared some secret alliance. It was impossible to predict that his intentions lay elsewhere, and that shows a poor development of the character on the author’s part. She did a great job molding Cal and Mare into authentic people who may as well be real. However, in order to conceal the major plot twist she had in store, she turned Maven into someone who could never exist, someone too perfect to let any mistake slip up. Although it would have ruined the surprise, it may have been wiser to hint at his ulterior motives and allow for the reader to see him as a real person, not as a perfected book character. It is widely known that well written characters can pull off even the worst of plots, and I believe that the author forgot that in her attempt to be creative, which may have hurt her novel more than it helped.
I seem to have a lot of complaints with this novel, but that is usually the case with books I see potential in. This novel actually created excitement in me that I haven’t felt in a long time while reading. The plot, although predictable, was entertaining and left me wanting more. The slight cliffhanger at the end of the book only worsened my feeling of loss when I was done reading. I couldn’t stop thinking about it days after I finished it. By the way the ending was phrased, I anticipate a sequel or maybe even a trilogy. And when those novels do come out, I will welcome them with open arms, since books like this are rare and meant to be cherished when found.
I hope you decide to check this book out, because this is definitely one that has earned a permanent place on my bookshelf. If you haven’t read this already and are in need of a fast-paced, gripping novel that will leave you gasping for more, then I suggest that you go to your local bookstore as soon as possible!