Review: Kelsea is the long lost Tearling princess and rightful heir to the throne, which her uncle has wrongly been ruling from in her absence. Her mother, a less than admirable ruler during her reign, gave her only child to a couple that she trusted to be raised where she could be kept safe until she was old enough to take the throne. The truth of the current state of the realm she is to rule has been kept from her, and when she discovers the atrocities her people have been facing, all because of a deal her mother made with the wicked Red Queen, Kelsea has to decide what kind of ruler she wants to be. Will she try to put her kingdom to rights at any cost? Can she really know what the cost is going to be? And what the of the blue amulet around her neck?
Every once in a while, I read something that is considered YA and wonder about the genre classification. This is one of those books. The female protagonist is a teenager. Is that enough to make it YA? Is telling the story from a teenager’s perspective all that is required or does the audience matter, too? But then, this is also a kind of odd mix of fantasy and dystopian (a mix that has negatively affected the ability of some other readers to suspend disbelief) making it even harder to classify. Shall we just agree that it’s a bit of a genre bender? Excellent.
Upon beginning the book, you think it is so clearly fantasy. To me it smacks of A Game of Thrones lite. A little less complex, a little less gory and violent, but the world is equally treacherous, there are lots of political motivations (and consequent backstabbing), and the senseless horrors visited upon the most vulnerable…yes. Disagree with me if you like, but when attempting to compare, GOT is the first thing that comes to mind.
But then, we find out that this world, a world that appears to be set back hundreds of years from the modern world, a world that appears to be completely fictional, is actually OUR world years after some sort of cataclysmic event, the remaining population having moved to a different (newly formed?) continent. Nearly all scientific, medical, and technological advances have been lost, along with all the knowledge that created them (they burned almost all the books! AHHH!!!). I’ll admit that this version of dystopia, being very different from what is normally depicted, and therefore very different from what we’d assume, might be a little hard to buy into (why, for instance, would we go back to wearing Arthurian like garb?). BUT. All of the BEFORE stuff is only hinted at in this book. And while it doesn’t make sense now, it must be there for a reason. It’s called build up, people. And this is a trilogy. The entire story isn’t meant to be told in one book, so while I agree it’s a little off-putting, I trust that there will be answers by the end. If there aren’t, then I will throw my hands up and say WHY??? But now? Now I’m biding my time, trusting the author, and enjoying the ride.