I received this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
This book was very well written and the plot was original for the YA/NA genres, it just dealt with some things that frustrate me. A lot of them! But being frustrated while reading can be a good thing, it insures that the reader remains invested in the storyline, and causes you to become more personally involved with the characters.
I only really connected with one character, and that was the younger sister, Ryla. She was charming, intelligent, passionate, kind, and a little spoiled. (She was the youngest, of course she was spoiled!) I understood what motivated her, and I was able to easily root for her to succeed. Alanna, the older sister, was also a well written character, but I just didn’t connect with her. Alanna was the nurturer and the one who hated conflict. She just wanted everyone to be happy and safe. I’m the same way as Alanna in real life so I tend to like to read about characters who are my opposite. That’s why Ryla was my favorite of the two.
. Ryla can be impulsive, quick-tempered, and reckless, where as Alanna is the one who usually thinks before she acts/speaks. Alanna never pushes the envelope and never thinks to question authority, but Ryla is not content to just be told that everything is okay. She needs to see it for herself. However, both woman are strong, caring, and ready and willing to fight for what they believe is right, and those are character traits that I enjoy in anyone.
The dissention in their very strong relationship happens, when Ryla becomes aware of some corrupt practices of the government. That wouldn’t be such a huge problem, except the government is run by her father, and she is supposed to take over for him as leader some day. As a part of grooming her for her future, her father decides to allow her to know everything about how he rules the country. Suffice it to say, she doesn’t like what she learns.
This is when a whole lot of spying, plotting, and my frustration began. I didn’t have a problem with the suspense, in fact I enjoyed it. My problem was with the fact that when you spy, you also have to keep secrets, and because Ryla and Alanna are not only sisters but best friends, them keeping so many secrets from each other just felt un-natural! They both think that they are doing what is right, and It is difficult for me to get angry with either of them so I have to switch to my default emotion when anger is not an option, frustration.
At first, even one of the romances in this book was frustrating for me. Alanna is betrothed to a wonderful man named Owen. She has known that she will marry Owen when she turns twenty-five for most of her life, and she likes Owen very much. You’re probably wondering why that would frustrate me, right? Well, it just so happens that this book takes place during a time when loving the person you are married to is considered a weakness. Yep! You heard me right. Loving your spouse means you’re weak. Everyone in the country, including Alanna, has been taught that marriage should be looked at as no more than an arrangement between two people to live together and raise healthy children. Wether you love each other or not is of no consequence. Alanna fights against this belief throughout the novel. She wants to feel indifferent towards Owen, but she finds it nearly impossible not to be effected by his charms. Although her actions frustrated me, they also highlighted exactly how much control the government had over all these people. Even though she didn’t pick him as her mate, Alanna was free to be with the man she loved, but loving him still felt wrong to her.
Ryla also has a complicated romance with someone, but those complications come from the fact that the man she has feelings for is not the man who has been chosen for her.
I thought that both romances had their high and low points, and both were necessary for the advancement of the plot so even though they caused frustration at times, I liked them.
Before I go, I want to talk a little bit about the overall tone of this novel because it was what I enjoyed the most. Ryla and Alanna live in a world where truly everything is dictated for everyone, but it wasn’t done in an overexagerated and unbelievable way. Privacy is almost nonexistent. Ryla had to do quite a bit of sneaking around, but it wasn’t simple to accomplish. She had to contend with cameras, robots, and guards who constantly patrolled the entire city, but she also had to deal with the fact that it was common place for her whereabouts to always be known. No one has the luxury of just going for a drive and getting lost for a few hours. every minute of everyone’s day is to be accounted for, and in many cases, corroborated by someone else. In the age that we live in, it is not hard to belive that people would be willing to live that way. I am not saying that we are headed for that, but I will say that as someone who appreciates her right to privacy it was slightly chilling to read about a world where being a private person is considered to be suspicious behavior.
This book also had some very surprising twist that I never saw coming, and I appreciated the authors willingness to take those chances. I like happy endings where everyone understands each other and is in a good place by the time I finish reading, and this book didn’t give me that, but I respect it because of that fact. I have an idea where the character’s lives are heading, but I am not sure who they will become along the way so I am interested to read what happens next.
This book was very clean, but because of mild violence and minor profanities, I would recommend it for ages 12 and up.