Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.
Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha…and the secrets of her heart.
The world-building was out-of-this-world intense. It’s very much a learn-as-you-go-along book; it takes awhile for you to learn everything, but the depths that the world-building goes to are unreachable. From the magic, to the different classes of Grisha, all the different towns, the scenery, the descriptive passages—even the clothing and food was developed to the utmost detail. But it never felt overdone. I never felt like I was reading too much description. There is a map on the author’s website if you are interested in seeing the world as she envisioned it to be. And it is spectacular. I have not read a book this special in a really long time.
I know that she drew a lot of her inspiration for this book from Russian culture. And to be honest, before I started reading, it turned me off. It’s just not a country that I was ever interested in visiting. But I made a mistake. A huge one. While I still don’t really want to visit Russia, the unique ways in which the author used the subtle nuances of the culture truly made all the difference in this book. It’s something new in young adult literature that I have not seen before. And because of that, this is a new author I am very much interested in following. I trust her imagination and where she is going with it. She’s brilliant!
As for the story, not much I can or want to say there. To me this is one of those books that needs to be experienced blindly. I don’t want to spoil anything. Just go along for the ride and enjoy it. It did start a bit slow for me, but give it a chance and don’t quit. This book was just so different. Because of the way it was written, even when there wasn’t much going on, I was never really bored. One thing I can tell you? There isn’t a cliffhanger. This is a series, so expect some hanging loose ends, but there will be no throwing the book across the room. As a temporary reprieve, I found the ending pretty satisfying. I loved the characters, I loved the story, I ADORED the world-building. This is pretty much my top read of 2012 so far. And I am not thrilled about how long I have to wait for the next one.