Secondborn

Secondborn by Amy A. Bartol is the first book in a a new adult dystopian series where your birth order determines your lot in life.

In the Fates of the Republic, firstborns are the ruling class, the elite–they make the rules and benefit from them. Secondborns are owned by the government and are responsible for all of the labor intensive jobs. And thirdborns… die.

On Transition Day, all secondborns are taken to begin their servitude to the republic, where they will remain until they die or are called up to take the place of a deceased firstborn. This story begins with Roselle St. Sismode’s eighteenth birthday and her transition to the Fate of Swords, a militaristic branch of the Fates. But Roselle’s transition is no ordinary thing; she was born to an elite family, a family of high power and she has been in the public’s eye since her birth. This puts her at a disadvantage and she it hated in the eyes of many of her secondborn brethren.

Can Roselle find an ally in secondborn Hawthorne Trugrave? Will she buckle under the pressure? Can she conform to rules that break her own moral code? And what will she do when her fate leads down traitorous paths?

I should kick this off by saying that I’ve never read any of Bartol’s books before and this one wasn’t really on my radar when I picked it up. I needed a new audiobook quick and Audible recommended this one so I thought I’d give it a go. I tend to enjoy books that I might not have otherwise when they are in audio format vs. print and I think that is the case with this one. The story itself kept me entertained while I drove but I found a lot lacking with it.

First and foremost, the insta-love. Roselle and Hawthorne meet and two sentences in they are talking about sex. He’s loved her since she was ten watching her on tv but he loves her more now that he knows her… and this was only a few days after they met. Hawthorne literally comes to Roselle’s rescue again and again. Yea, the banter is cute and I kind of like Hawthorne but it was just too fast, especially in a society where secondborns are only allowed to have relations through “date-night” and relationships are forbidden on pains of death. There were just too many cringe moments for me and frankly it became a little unbelievable.

I also felt that there were some lost opportunities with some of the side characters. Roselle has these intense conversations and interactions with some of the supporting characters and then they are never seen or heard from again. This is a series, so I am sure they will pop up but there were instances where they really should have at least been mentioned again.

There were some really great moments in the book, I will give it that, but the world-building wasn’t fully developed, there was no consistency with the flow/pace of the story and I guess the story just didn’t really do it for me. But it is a series and since I read the first, I will continue on for now. This one gets two stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

A Torch Against the Night

Hi Guys!

Last night I finished Sabaa Tahir’s sequel to her first novel An Ember in the AshesA Torch Against the Night.

A Torch Against the Night picks up where we left off in book one, only this time we have three narrators: Laia, Elias, and Helene.

Laia and Elias are on the run after a spectacular escape from Blackrock. They are bent on escaping the Empire all together and saving Laia’s brother from Kauf prison. But the two are wanted fugitives and trouble lurks around every corner. The empire, poison, and otherworldly dark forces work against them. Laia and Elias will have to call in old debts and beg for assistance from any allies they can find.

Chasing them is tortured (figuratively and metaphorically) Helene. Helene has made her oath to the Empire and to it’s new emperor, Marcus and she mustn’t let him down, her families life is in the balance. Helene is sent to find and kill Elias as a test of loyalty, but her heart and the commandant continuously get in her way.

Can Laia and Elias save her brother, the Scholar’s only hope of survival? Will Elias survive a fate beyond his control? Is there more to Laia than meets the eye? Will darkness reign? And will Helene foil it all by completing her mission and proving her loyalty to the Empire?

Wow. This book. I was totally not expecting the intricate web Tahir spun for us. There is just so much going on, just shy of too much. We get our expected storylines: Elias and Laia on the run, attraction, trying to save Daarin; and  Helene trying to catch them, survive Marcus and be true to herself. But we also get this bigger fantastical picture with ghosts, a trapped dark power trying to get free, a key that needs to be found and put back together, and oh so much more. Elias, Laia and Helene are caught up in this mess and they really don’t know it until the end…but we do. This book is really a build up for more and good thing too because two more books are in the works–next not out until 2018! WHAT!

I really liked Elias and Laia together; they are so much more interesting and stronger when they work together. At one point Elias goes off on his own and Laia loses the hardness she earned in book one and quite frankly gets annoying until she gets it back. Helene… well I’m not sure about Helene. I liked her at the end but there was something about her that made me want to speed through her chapters to get back to E&L.

There were a lot of things in this book that I didn’t see coming, a few big reveals that I did but so many that added a pleasantly surprised depth to the story. I was left with so many questions and yet, I was satisfied with the ending. If this was a duology, it could have ended with ATATN and I would have been mostly fine with it.

Overall, I liked this story. I’m not fangirl-ing over it but it was a good read and I will be interested in seeing what Tahir can do with the rest of it. Four stars for me.

That’s all for now!

-M-