Published: HarperTeen, May 3rd, 2016
Source: hardcover, purchased
How I Felt: I'm not sure how I feel about this book. This is one of those books where I put down and just felt confused. And not confused about the story or what was going on with the plot, just confused because I felt like I was playing a game of tennis and I was the ball. I honestly don't know how I feel about this book as a whole.
This book was told from 2 P.O.V.s, Em and Cas in alternating chapters told in third person narrative. I honestly felt like each character was completely different when they were being described by the other. For example, when Cas would talk about Em, I just felt like there was a total disconnect because that wasn't the vibe I was getting from reading her perspective at all. I don't know...it just felt a little weird, to be honest. There was also this one scene where the chapter was in Em's P.O.V. but then all of a sudden in the SAME PARAGRAPH, was a single line with a thought from Cas's perspective and that made me so confused I had to go back a few pages and start reading again but yup, he just decided to bust Em's brain bubble, say a line of thought, and then let her continue. Again...weird.
Also, there was little to no world building. It was just like, here are some people with powers, and here are some humans. They don't like each other. Cue the battle sequence. I have no idea how the Ruined developed their powers or how these different cities came to be and I don't know if I missed it but I'm pretty sure it was never mentioned.
There was also just so many mistakes and typos within this book as well. I understand that it happens occasionally with the first printing of a book but there had to have been at least three or four per chapter and it was just getting on my nerves after a while.
A lot of the writing/characters also fell flat to me. I felt like it was trying too hard to be this rich, lush, magical and mysterious fantasy world but the writing and the world-building/plotting just let it all fall flat. Also, many of the characters just felt one-dimensional and were only there to serve a specific purpose and then who cares what happened next. Damian especially. He was just there to provide drama in Em's past and then he was just cast aside. Justice for Damian. Aren as well, his only characteristic is that he's Em's protector friend who will be there for her no matter what. I wish there was more depth to his character; that we got to see more of his emotions and learn more about his past.
And Olivia...another weird thing in this book. We are literally told by the author for like 90% of the book how amazing Olivia is and how Em must save her because their sisterly bond is eternal and they need each other. Then we meet Olivia and the only way I can describe her is deranged. She's just so blood-thirsty and power-hungry and I couldn't understand how the person we've come to know as Em, someone who wants peace and change and acceptance among Ruina and Lera and all other kingdoms, can be so obsessed with the idea of rescuing a person who's just going to go on a killing spree when she's released. Olivia is just so similar to Wenda to me and something is just off about this for me. Even though Em has proved herself to be a butt-kicking female lead, it just didn't seem like it fit her character and something about this whole situation just felt a bit off to me and didn't flow right while I was reading.
Speaking of Wenda, I wish there would've been more flashbacks about her and her husband so we can learn more about Em's upbringing. Usually, I want less flashbacks in books because they tend to be boring, but I felt one was necessary here because again, we're constantly TOLD how scary she is and how bad of a person she is but we really only get one flashback and it isn't even her in action.
Overall, I didn't really like this book too much. It's a good, quick read if you're looking for something to get you out of a slump but I wouldn't go into this expecting an amazing fantasy read. I will be continuing on with the sequel because I'm interested in seeing where this continues. All in all, it was a little disappointing and very weird but I did like this author's previous series so I'll give this one a second chance.
Thanks for reading!