Series: Waxways #1
Published by Margaret K. McElderry (3.8.2023)
Genres: Fantasy, Thriller, Young Adult
Format: Audiobook, 368 pages
Length: 11 hours, 12 minutes
Narrator: Jesse Vilinsky
Source: I own it
Ren Monroe has spent four years proving she’s one of the best wizards in her generation. But top marks at Balmerick University will mean nothing if she fails to get recruited into one of the major houses. Enter Theo Brood. If being rich were a sin, he’d already be halfway to hell. After a failed and disastrous party trick, fate has the two of them crossing paths at the public waxway portal the day before holidays—Theo’s punishment is to travel home with the scholarship kids. Which doesn’t sit well with any of them.
A fight breaks out. In the chaos, the portal spell malfunctions. All six students are snatched from the safety of the school’s campus and set down in the middle of nowhere. And one of them is dead on arrival.
If anyone can get them through the punishing wilderness with limited magical reserves it’s Ren. She’s been in survival mode her entire life. But no magic could prepare her for the tangled secrets the rest of the group is harboring, or for what’s following them through the dark woods…
I am so incredibly disappointed. This was one of my most anticipated 2023 releases.
The concept was super cool and unique! Reintgen always writes books unlike anything I’ve ever read before. I loved the scientific magic system and thought it was interesting how there were wands and other vessels used to store basically magic, and they had to be recharged with a kind of points system (it sounded like ‘ocklies’ but I have no idea how to spell it) to enable the wielder to use magic. Magic isn’t indefinite, it’s a consumable source that can run out and has to be replenished. I thought it was interesting (and credible!) that class and wealth made such a difference in magical society – it makes sense that magic would be more attainable to the rich than the poor. The revenant part was pretty cool, too, and I liked that it was kind of a slasher/thriller mixed with a fantasy. The concept is where this book shines!
However, just about everything else about this story fell utterly flat for me. I think the main issue for me was that the feeling just wasn’t there. I never connected to a single one of the characters, thus I didn’t care what happened to them. View Spoiler »Characters were dying left and right and I did not bat a single eyelash. I literally did not care about one single death. Which is quite sad considering only 2/6 of them made it out alive. Yikes. « Hide Spoiler Third person almost never works out for me because it creates a disconnect. The main character, Ren, was also quite emotionless and the narrator didn’t bring any emotion to the story to compensate. Even when crazy shit was happening it never seemed like Ren felt much of anything. Yeah, she’d be panicking, or sad, but it all felt superficial to me. Like a puppet faking emotion. Ren was extremely detached and clinical.
The romance was also terrible. It moved WAY too quickly and lacked chemistry for how quick it moved. If there’s a clear attraction with great chemistry, I don’t mind if it’s a little bit insta-lusty. But Ren hated Theo’s family for getting her dad killed, and even when she did start to act like she liked him, it was completely unfeeling and only to further her own future. She was kind of a sociopath, come to think of it. I usually like a morally grey MC, but she was straight up cold and apathetic. Which is probably why I felt nothing. View Spoiler »The big reveal about Ren intentionally sabotaging the waxway would have been a lot more shocking if she had actually acted like she felt anything about it. She said she was responsible for the deaths but never acted like she was responsible. « Hide Spoiler
The pacing was off for me, because even though lots of things were happening, I found myself bored through most of the book. It didn’t help that it took almost 30% to get to the event in the synopsis. Maybe it’s the lack of feeling, but I felt like the audio took forever. By the end of the book I just wanted it to be over. I doubt I’ll pick up the second book.
Writing style: 3.5/5
Overall rating: 2.5/5