I love when I’m reading a book and I know I’m near the end, but I’m still surprised when the ending comes. I found myself staring at the Acknowledgements pages asking “that’s it?! I NEED MORE!” That’s a good thing. It means that I really loved it. Thanks to Epic Reads and Booksparks for the gifted book.
This is what they deserve. They wanted me to be a monster. I will be the worst monster they ever created.
Fifteen-year-old Sloane can incinerate an enemy at will—she is a Scion, a descendant of the ancient Orisha gods.
Under the Lucis’ brutal rule, her identity means her death if her powers are discovered. But when she is forcibly conscripted into the Lucis army on her fifteenth birthday, Sloane sees a new opportunity: to overcome the bloody challenges of Lucis training, and destroy them from within.
Sloane rises through the ranks and gains strength but, in doing so, risks something greater: losing herself entirely, and becoming the very monster that she ahbors.
Following one girl’s journey of magic, injustice, power, and revenge, this deeply felt and emotionally charged debut from Deborah Falaye, inspired by Yoruba-Nigerian mythology, is a magnetic combination of A Song of Wraiths and Ruin and Daughter of Smoke and Bone that will utterly thrill and capture readers.
This is the most adult YA book I’ve ever read and honestly, I love the book because of that. And while I picked this up because I wanted to read something more fun and fast, I’m actually enjoying the slower pace. The deeper world building and the character development really brings a sense that this is an epic story and not some flash in the pan that I get with many recent YA fantasy books. I was truly enamored from this story and will try my best not to gush entirely in this book.
The story follows Sloane, a young person who at the age of 15 was recruited into the Lucis army. The only caveat; she’s a Scion with magical powers and Lucis has been systematically killing every single Scion they come across. But from the advice of her grandfather, she joins the army in hopes of finding out the truth behind her mother’s disappearance.
While she’s there, she spends a month in the intensive training program, forced to kill or be killed despite not wanting to cause anyone harm. The brutality of this book was visceral. If you thought Sabaa Tahir is brutal in the Ember in the Ashes series, then you will be surprised by what Deborah Falaye is able to do.
The first impression I had was this felt like The Hunger Games; young children forced into an army and defend people who you don’t even care about while they extort your resources and force your people to live in hiding, poverty, and/or be killed. It has a bit of that hopeless feeling to it and it gets even deeper as you read what Sloane endures in the army.
I was so taken by the magic as well and learning how it works. I think the most fascinating part was reading that the gods of the past were connected to the Scion through their magic and how that manifests in the characters. It was so richly built and it’s always that X-factor that makes me more intrigued with the story.
I also absolutely love the inclusion of so much reality into this story as well. For Sloane, being a Yoruba born with Scion powers meant hiding a lot of herself in order to avoid being killed. There’s the Lucis who came to Nagea only to take over, kill the natives, and claim power over a land that doesn’t belong to them. I don’t know about you, but that sounds extremely relevant and something that is blatantly obvious from the writing. I love how it’s so obvious throughout the story. You can understand Sloane’s frustration with it. You can see barefaced how contradictory it was and how it must feel for those who have to endure it.
The second half of the book moved much faster than the first half for sure. But I loved the first half and the overall pacing of the book. It took its time to dive into the world and really presented a character with flaws and extremely relatable. I loved that nothing came easy for Sloane and the brutality she faces felt so obvious for the world that she lived in. It really brought the character to life and really made me root for her even harder. The ending was probably the most surprising component of the book as it all finally comes together. I honestly didn’t expect to read what I read. If I could find a flaw in any of this, it would be that some things were a bit repetitive and mentioned a few times. It didn’t bother me, but it was enough to be present in my mind.
Overall, I’ll probably be hyping this book up for a while because it was so good. I can’t wait for the next one mostly because this one left you wanting a bit more. It’s a story unique on its own and while you can get caught up in how it reads like one story or another, I think that Deborah Falaye’s written something special here and I can’t wait to read the next one.