Published by GP Putnam's Sons (2.26.2019)
Genres: Dystopian, High Fantasy, Young Adult
Format: Hardcover, 432 pages
Seventeen-year-old Keralie Corrington may seem harmless, but she's, in fact, one of Quadara's most skilled thieves and a liar. Varin, on the other hand, is an honest, upstanding citizen of Quadara's most enlightened region, Eonia. He runs afoul of Keralie when she steals a package from him, putting his life in danger. When Varin attempts to retrieve the package, he and Keralie both find themselves entangled in a conspiracy that leaves all four of Quadara's queens dead.
With no other choices and on the run from Keralie's former employer, the two decide to join forces, endeavoring to discover who has killed the queens and save their own lives in the process. When their reluctant partnership blooms into a tenuous romance, they must overcome their own dark secrets in hopes of a future together that seemed impossible just days before. But first they have to stay alive and untangle the secrets behind the nation's four dead queens.
What I liked:
The storytelling. It was absolutely brilliant! I love how things were unveiled and it kind of throws you for a loop. View Spoiler »You totally think that the queens are already dead before Kera gets to the palace. BUT THEY’RE ALIVE. I thought that was a cool twist, because I had no idea wtf was going to happen by that point. I also didn’t see it coming that Kera killed the queens herself. To be honest, I had started to suspect Varin. It was a nice twist, really. BUT I kinda wish that she had legit killed them and not just been mind-controlled into it, that would have been even more interesting to pull off. I also thought that she was the lost daughter of Queen Marguerite. The real daughter was just kind of randomly thrown in there toward the end, deus ex machina. SURPRISE! « Hide Spoiler
Secrets, lies, and betrayal! I love how each of the queens had something to hide, and their secrets slowly came to light. They were each breaking the queenly law in some way. View Spoiler »Iris and Corra were secretly in love (which I loved, btw!), Marguerite had a daughter that she kept secret to protect, and Stessa was also in love, with her advisor. I like that they weren’t supposed to have love as queens but they all did in some way anyway. « Hide Spoiler
The world. The concept of the world was really interesting, albeit a bit vague – four distinct quadrants of Quadara, four ruling queens. I’ll continue that thought in a minute, because the world is also in my “what I didn’t like.” Confusing, I know.
What I didn’t like:
The romance. Good lord, it was terrible. No chemistry whatsoever. They barely even knew each other, actually. And for the fact that Varin was an Eonist – not supposed to show any emotion – he certainly warmed up to her quickly. Not to mention Kera was throwing innuendos at the most inappropriate of times (um, like when she was drowning?) and acted like a 12 year old boy that responds to everything with “that’s what she said.” I think it was supposed to be funny? Endearing, maybe? I just found it immature and annoying. Also, how about that time when lives were on the line and our two main characters were making out? Or sleeping? Like seriously? View Spoiler »The queens were dying and they were trying to find out a way to stop the murders, but they stopped for a nap in the broom closet. Wtf? Then they were kissing instead of trying to solve the mystery and when they came up for air another queen was dead. *eye roll* Kera was all “we were too late” YEAH IF YOU HADN’T BEEN SUCKING FACE MAYBE YOU WOULDN’T HAVE BEEN. Dumbasses. I can’t stand when the romance gets all mushy when characters are in mortal peril. Sorry but death and dismemberment doesn’t exactly put me in the mood, pretty sure making out would be the last thing on my mind. « Hide Spoiler
The characters. Especially the main character. Kera grated on my nerves and totally rubbed me the wrong way. She was kind of a little shit, really. She was an unapologetic thief with morals that pushed the boundaries of gray, and I found her to be immature and petty. I usually like antiheroes, but only when they have depth and she did not. None of the characters were really all that inspiring. Varin was rather vapid and I didn’t care about him at all. The queens were okay, but I felt zero connection toward any of them which resulted in zero emotion. I didn’t really care about anyone or anything in this book.
The world – or rather, the lack of world-building. I was a bit fuzzy on the details of how it came to be four queens ruling when it was once one king, and sometimes I got the quadrants mixed up. The only two that really stood out were Ludia and Eonia. Archia was only mentioned in vague passing – they are only identified for their agriculture (which for some stupid ass reason is the ONLY quadrant that can grow anything at all, umm sure ok) and Toria was the quadrant that had no personality at all because the only thing we get is that they are the trade and commerce quadrant. Which is sad because the main character is actually FROM Toria (I think? Right??) and we know basically nothing about it.
Eonia as a quadrant. I see what the author was trying to do, and sure it’s a scary thought of what the future could be like, but Eonia was totally fucked up. The citizens are groomed to perfection – they don’t follow love and don’t condone any type of intimacy or feelings. No touching, no emotion, nothing. Couples are chosen specifically for the best breeding (eugenics). Gag. The worst part? People have their “death date” chosen for them. Based off of genetics. In other words, if they’re not what society deems as perfect, they are to be killed. The main character’s death date was set at 30 years old – because he was going blind. They were going to kill him because he was fucking blind. That’s right. I found that very distasteful, and I could definitely see that this would be offensive to many people. Which brings me to my next “did not like” –
Disrespectful of disability. The whole quadrant of Eonia and it’s disturbing “let’s fix genetics and breed out ‘imperfection’ by killing off those who have any kind of disease or disability” was just a big fat no. Oh, and when Varin tells Kera he’s going blind, her response was: “But your eyes are beautiful.”
Basically everything else, honestly. Which sucks, because I really did love the way the story was told. I like when a mystery plot can throw me for a loop. Sadly, this one fell flat.
Writing style: 3/5
Overall rating: 2/5