Note: Book received from author in exchange for an honest review.
There are so many things I could say to start this review, but I will begin simply by saying I just loved this book. The premise itself sounded so interesting, but it became so much more than that the further into the book I got.
The beginning starts slower, mostly as it is focused on world-building the dystopian society our main character, Thia, lives in. Pieces of the world’s background and culture are scattered throughout, so the reader learns as they go on, rather than having all of the information dumped on them at once. I really liked this aspect because I was constantly curious about what more I could know about this world and I enjoyed piecing together the information. This incredibly patriarchial society that Thia is trapped in is so frustrating to read about, and I can feel the pressure that Thia experiences as I read. Although it is set in the future, the customs and expectations of this society seem to have been stylized after medieval times. The many details included about this setting really show how much thought, planning, and care that Alice Rachel put into this novel, and that made me appreciate it even more. One of my favorite parts of this book was the world itself and how interesting and different it was from other dystopian books I have read previously.
The characters of this book are all unique and have their own back stories and problems. Thia as a main character is excellent mainly because she is imperfect and has her flaws. She displays her anxiety to the reader and experiences anxiety attacks, which I really appreciated because it’s a mental illness that isn’t usually present in non-contemporary novels, and the way it’s included in the book doesn’t stigmatize it by mentioning it a bit more casually (in a way that mental illnesses are not usually treated in novels).
The characters of Chi, William, Taylor, Kayla, and Thia’s mother were all so three-dimensional, diverse, and intruiging to read about. I personally really love the relationship between Taylor and Kayla (and definitely ship those two very much), especially in the way they interact with each other and how they’re just very authentic. The bad behavior that various characters show is presented as such, and it isn’t romanticized at all (which is quite important in pointing out their problematic ideas). Literally every person in this society is a victim of the culture and the way they were all raised, and it’s sad but also a warning to people in itself to be conscious of where their thoughts and beliefs are truly coming from.
The plot of the book was definitely unpredictable, and there were many times I gasped out loud while reading. It was an emotional roller coaster, and I enjoyed every second. There were cute romantic parts, stressful parts, and intense action-packed parts. The book is narrated from a first-person persepective by Thia, which gives the reader a great glimpse into her thoughts during the events of the novel. There is comedic relief, and this was a refreshing read that was different from many other dystopians. So much happened in the past fifty pages, but it wasn’t rushed and it kept me hooked until I finished the book.
Overall, I really loved this book and I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in young adult, dystopian, and/or action-packed, intense books. I can’t wait to read the next in the series!
Rating: 5/5 stars