My rating: 2 of 5 stars
This book had a lot of potential, but didn’t quite pull it off. Or maybe I didn’t get the same download all the five-star reviewers did.
Bookshelves: advance-review, alternate-history, fantasy, magic, multiple-povs, my-dystopia-utopia, ya
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE:
The writing seemed to be trying too hard and it couldn’t decide what style it wanted to be. Describing someone grabbing someone else by the lapels as “an unanticipated development” is an overblown way to say “surprising” (and that it’s surprising should go without saying anyway), while the narrative referring to someone’s “little sis” is trying too hard to be hip-casual. The characters weren’t developed well enough to attribute that to their different voices.
Flat characters, particularly regarding the love interest. It seemed that Abi and Jenner had a thing for each other just because the plot outline called for it. No feeling, no spark.
Lots of telling as opposed to showing, making the narrative choppy and jumpy.
Twice, someone “spat expressively.” How is that done? (Don’t answer that. It was rhetorical question. I don’t spit.) And I can’t figure out how a dog can be “unconscionable.” I’m talking about a pug, not Dog Man (which was a really good bit, by the way).
Plot holes and contrivances. How can nobody be able to think of a good use for a strapping 17-year-old boy on a huge estate with a crapton of buildings, grounds, vehicles, and so forth, all in need of maintenance? Why does anyone assign a ten-year-old as full-time, sole nanny to an infant?
WHAT I LIKED:
The writing sparkled at times, such as the beautiful woman described as “a single immaculate snowflake fallen into Millmoor’s filthy streets.” Nice. “Millmoor changes people, Luke Hadley. But what most folk never realize is that you get to choose how.” Even slaves have some free will.
The world was original, a mix of alternate history, real-world technology, magic, and dystopia.
No gratuitous language or sex scenes for their own sake. All books do not need them and they were pleasantly absent here.
Multiple pov’s. I always enjoy hearing from a villain, particularly when his/her perspective helps make them sympathetic.
The story line itself was interesting.
The cover. Elegant.
Great concept, but the execution was wanting. This could have been a lot more than it was, with more rewrites and fleshing out of characters, Skill, and the alternate/dystopian Britain setting. Frankly, the only reason I finished it was because it was an ARC (my thanks to Net Galley, Random House, and the author for the free copy in exchange for my honest review) and I feel obligated to finish those. The climax was a rushed and unsatisfying cliffhanger, and if I’d known ahead of time that it was the first in a series I wouldn’t have requested it.
And now for my rant, and I’ve ranted about this before. WHY DOES EVERYTHING HAVE TO BE PART ONE OF THE SOMETHING-OR-OTHER SERIES? I am so tired of that gimmick. Seriously, writers, here is some advice from a Devoted and Constant Reader: Quit with the money grab. Come up with a good world, a good story, good characters. Write it, write it well, and get out. You can best guarantee I’ll read your next book if you satisfy me with this one.
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