Review: With a deft hand, Sabaa Tahir plunges the reader into a strange, harsh, and unforgiving world, where the mighty Martial Empire swept over the Scholar’s country and took them captive. Now, 500 years later, the Scholars live in poverty, as menial labors, or slaves, to the dominate Martial. But the Scholars haven’t forgotten their roots and seek to rise against their oppressors and free themselves.
Laia, born in a Scholar family, knows all too well the might of Martial law. Her family has suffered much under them. But her family was strong, courageous – and she is not. But she will need to be if she is to save the last member.
Elias is a Golden Son of the Martial Empire, seemingly the brightest and best – but he has a dark secret. One that will get him killed if he isn’t careful.
Through twisted circumstances, Laia and Elias cross paths, each changing the other irrevocably.
World-Building: Tahir’s world reminds the reader of Roman, if Rome had guns and magical creatures like Djinn. Without being heavy-handed, the author pulls the reader in and gives clear picture of the culture and customs.
Characters: Each character goes through realistic growth, albeit with the normal angst and if-you-just-talked-the-problem-would-be-solved issues normally found in your YA novels. The PoV shifts between Laia and Elias and Tahir did an excellent job of making them sound different.
Plot: Fast-paced, never a dull-moment. Several times things happened that were mildly unrealistic, obviously used to move the plot forward, but nothing egregious. It certainly didn’t hinder my read-it-all-in-one sitting drive.
Overall, this is a better example of the YA novels available and worth reading.
Bookmarks: 4.5 of 5
Awards: People's Choice Awards: Best Fantasy, 2016 / Amazon's Best Young Adult Books, 2015 / Indigo Best Books of 2015 / Suspense Magazine, Best Books of 2015 / NYPL Best Books for Teens, 2015
Year Published: 2015
Date Finished: 11-3-2017