Thursday, February 6, 2014
Scholastic Press, 2014
Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Who doesn't crave a good YA fantasy every now and then? (Or more frequently?) That's what I was in the mood for when I picked up this debut and I will say that it certainly hit on some beloved tropes for me. The primary one is girl disguised as male soldier but the use of magic and the prince also had their charms.
Alexa has been in hiding as Alex for years, following the death of her parents and her decision to masquerade as a boy supported by her brother. Her options were join the king's army or his breeding houses, making the choice simple. Fortunately her spirit also led her to this work and she now serves in the prince's guard. However when a powerful sorcerer kidnaps her, the prince, and another guard, her entire world is again upended as no one is what they seem and their greatest threat may come from within.
Unfortunately the overall presentation didn't really work for me. I'm not sure if it's my mood, which has not been conducive for reading or if it's the books I'm choosing but I was decidedly not impressed. I thought the book had some intriguing moments but that the girl disguised as boy has been done better (most notably Tamora Pierce's Alanna series) and the romance that emerges did not captivate me at all (hint: it's got aspects of a love triangle though there is obviously a clear preference.) The most captivating relationship to me was between main character Alex(a) and her brother, which does not last for the entirety of the book.
As I think back on my reading experience, I am most struck by how much I had to force myself to keep reading. I could easily read just one chapter and then put the book down. When I'm engaged with a book, that is so not the case. I also saw myself losing interest the more time Alexa spent thinking about the love interests. Though her fighting is demonstrated on several occasions, it seemed overshadowed by romance in the end to my disappointment.
In conclusion, I feel like this book was partly victim to my disinclination to read but I also feel like it doesn't quite deserve a place at the top of the YA fantasy pantheon anyway. Read it if you absolutely love the genre and tropes presented but I don't think it's a must-read by any means.
If you have read this book, what do you think? Was I just in a crabby mood and unable to appreciate this book's charms?