Elias is a soldier.
Neither is free.
Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.
It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.
But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.
There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.
My Musings: Incomprehensible rant incoming.
Hmm okay, annnd this is why you don’t go into a book with crazy high expectations. I let myself get hyped because all of my friends loved this but unfortunately I couldn’t share their exuberance over this novel. While not bad, I didn’t find anything special about this book. It’s possible that this is a side effect of reading so much of one genre, so that when things are cliched they feel extremely stale.
As for our mc Laia, I didn’t mind her, she was alright but I have a feeling that she may get more annoying in future books. I feel the same about Elias. My reasoning for this is because I always have issues with self righteous characters. Maybe I’m just a harsh person but I’m more a fan of characters that do what needs to be done. These characters are usually deemed as the bad guys in YA.
I just really hate when characters are all “ I refuse to kill, I’m better than that”…which I mean yay for you if you’re talking about innocent people. But when it comes to killing murders and rapists, I’m all for going Dexter on their ass.
I just never understand the reasoning behind letting bad people live so that you can feel better about yourself. How can you feel better when your inaction is only going to allow this person to rape and kill innocent people? I suppose this is more a criticism on Elias character, but both of them annoyed me. Maybe I’m just a grumpy pants..it’s probable.
I also felt that there were too many hints for the twists…making the twists rather expected.
I know by now you may be thinking “ Okay Dana is there anything you did like?”
There is! Really! I enjoyed the setting of the book. I found the school to be interesting and the little tidbits of the paranormal aspects of the story were great. I gobbled them up, I just would have liked more of it. Elias relationship with his mother was intriguing and helped me to sympathize with his character. The tension in the resistance was also well done, but again I would have liked to see more of it.
TL;DR : Okay book , decent time-killer. Interested to check out the next book, but probably wouldn’t recommend buying if you read a lot of this genre. Worthy of a library check out though. 3/5
Buy, Borrow or Bin: Borrow