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.
I feel like I am all over the place with my thoughts on this book, but there is just so much to talk about and I don’t know what to focus on. I mean this was a fairly long read so there is a lot of content that I could comment on, but I don’t know how to start! But the main point that I want to get across is that this book was a feast for the imagination. I have not read many books that could rival this one when it comes to beautiful and well thought out descriptions. The author painted a picture with her words, but the picture wasn’t abstract and difficult to interpret. When a book is full of world building, I need to be able to easily imagine the world that is being described or my eyes will glaze over and I will become bored.
This book was detailed when it came to so many different things so not only did it hold my interest, but I believe it would hold the interest of many different types of readers as well. I was more drawn to the animatronics, action, and politics than the machinery, buildings, and weapons; but all of these things and more were given plenty of time and effort by the author.
I have always enjoyed and been slightly creeped out by animatronics, and the ones in this book really spoke to my inner child. The idea, of something that is basically made up of all the same parts as a clock or a wind up toy being able to behave like a person or animal, has always been a pleasant one. It is difficult not to smile while imagining a little man mage of springs and sprockets dancing around and flirting with pretty woman. Lily also had a soft spot for these machines. On more than one occasion she felt sympathy for the hurt “feelings” or “pain” that it would seem these things appeared to be suffering, and I have to admit that I had a few moments of sympathy for them myself. I knew that it was irrational because they felt nothing at all and were just programmed to behave as if they were alive, but I think it is a testament to the writing that even with this knowledge, I still had a soft spot for the mechanical creatures.
The entire experience of reading this book was very immersive. It felt like opening the top of one of those old-fashioned doll houses and watching as everything played out for me. Only instead of a doll house it was an entire world that I was able to enjoy. I loved the way that Victorian fashions and manners were mixed in with futuristic weapons and machinery. There were also elements of Science Fiction and Dystopia that were weaved seamlessly into the story.
Considering you are reading this review, chances are that you also read the synopsis for this book. One thing you may have noticed were the similarities between this story and The Hunger Games. The main character is a young woman with an incredible ability to survive, and she enters a tournament where she has to fight for her life against other young people. I actually described this book to someone as a Steampunk version of the Hunger Games before I really got into the story because that is honestly what it seemed like. After completing it though, I see how wrong I was.
Yes the similarities that I mentioned are there, and I wouldn’t be surprised if The Hunger Games was an inspiration while writing this novel, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if Pride and Prejudice was an inspiration either. This novel was so much more than just another Dystopian trying to capitalize off of the trend. There are bits and pieces of several different things that make up this story.
Although I was very impressed with the world building, the thing that I enjoyed most about reading this is the same thing that I always enjoy about books where romance is not the focus. I enjoyed the action and suspense!
I really don’t like it when a story builds and builds to one or two big action scenes and the rest is just preparation and filler. I love action, I need action, action is what makes reading these types of books worth while for me, and it is so hard to find fun and inventive action scenes these days because it seems like everyone is more focused on Love triangles and heartbreak. Sometimes female writers get a bad reputation for not being able to write great action scenes as well as men, and female readers get accused of caring more about romance than action, but books like these prove that is a bunch of crap. It is possible to write a book that is filled with action and still manages to incorporate some lovey dovey every now and then.
Just when I thought that Lily and Xander would be given a moment to heal and prepare for their next trial, something would explode or they would be attacked by a giant animatronic beast! It seemed like Lily and Xander had a constant target on their backs. At one point or another almost everyone they came in contact with either attempted to murder them or succeeded in injuring them. Lily was bludgeoned, blinded, deafened, strangled, and pummeled, and poor Xander survived the type of beatings that Rocky would have been scared of. But no matter what they went through, they kept fighting because they knew that if they did not then the world they lived in would not change. They had a strength and determination that was very admirable and easy to cheer for because the weren’t just fighting for their survival, they were fighting for the rights of a nation.
The winners of the tournament that Lily and Xander entered are to be given the ability to rewrite the laws that govern the people, and both Lily and Xander desperately want to win so they will be able to change the way things are done. At first they both have some very personal reasons for wanting the laws to change. They have suffered a lot because of the way the world is run, but as they fight, they begin to fight for a cause that is bigger than just the two of them and their personal pain.
Lily has been raised her entire life to become apart of the problem. Both of her parents are higher-ups in the government, and right before she entered the tournament, she was going to be named as her mother’s successor. She knows that if she were to take over her mothers position as Mistress of Science, her power would be in name only and she would be expected to continue doing things the way they have always been done or risk death. SInce she would rather die than become a pawn, she decides to risk her life in an effort to bring about real change instead.
The relationship between Lily and Xander definitely had it’s cute moments, but because this book isn’t really a romance, I wasn’t wowed by it. They start out butting heads a bit, but even when they fought they still had respect for one another, and they fought with caring. I enjoyed their relationship a lot more once they stopped fighting their attraction for one another because it enabled them to focus on their more important task of surviving and winning the tournament. Once they learned to be open with each other, they were able to trust one another completely, and you need to be able to trust your partner especially when life and death are involved.
At first Lily spent a lot of time fighting Xander and trying to prove that she could take care of herself, and that annoyed me. Xander did border on overprotective at times, but he also put her in situations that were dangerous because he knew she could handle them. He respected her ability to take care of herself, he just wanted to insure that she was equipped to handle things. And when he was able to spare her harm by stepping in and fight alongside or even for her, he did. Not only did he have strong feelings for her, she was his teammate, and teammates are supposed to watch out for each other. That’s not something you should get angry with someone for. Lily does learn this eventually and, and I started to like her more when she stopped fighting Xander and let him be the who he was. He is built to look out for the people he cares about.
This book was incredibly imaginative and entertaining. It was longer than I wanted it to be, but nothing about it was boring. I liked the characters, the world that the author built was beautiful, and the details were intricate without being monotonous. I really can’t find anything to complain about.
The ending set the table nicely for the next book in the series. Lily is a lot more extraordinary than even I imagined, and I have a feeling that the trials she and Xander face in the future will be more difficult than the ones they faced this time, and that is saying something. I’m looking forward to reading the next book, and I’m going to make sure that I give myself more time to enjoy everything when I read it because if it is anything like the first, it should be read leisurely so I can enjoy all of the little details. Just like a work of art. 🙂
The book is appropriate for ages 10 and up, but the reading level is more suited to ages 12 and up. If your kid is a confident reader, than don’t worry about content and language.