That was… intense. I’m giving it 5 stars because I couldn’t put it down and I can’t stop thinking about it. I did end up reading it before bed and I absolutely wish I hadn’t because it was hard to calm myself down from all the adrenaline. Also the Ghosts are even creepier than I at first thought.
Excellent beginning. This story grabs you from the first page and doesn’t let up. The writing is clear and doesn’t get in the way of the action – and there’s plenty of action. Also, the Ghosts? Creepy as hell. Not sure I’d want to read this book before bed.
You really feel for Talin, for her loss and grief at losing her Shield / partner and her fear that she will no longer be accepted as a Striker without him to speak up for her, as she is a refugee.
I can see this book being an adrenaline-filled blockbuster, and would not be surprised if it’s picked up for a movie deal.
My favorite thing about this book is the characters. I cared about all of them – even the ones with very little page time. They all had distinct personalities and goals and histories.
Talin is fierce and determined and I really felt strongly for her. Even though she’s looked down on for being a refugee who dared to join the Strikers, she never lets it get to her or dampen her resolve to fight for justice. I really loved how she lost her voice as a child (and the reasons for that) and how most people just accept that she uses sign language instead – and learn to speak with her that way. The only people that try to put her down for it are the ones who are generally contemptible characters.
Adena and Jeran and Red all grew on me quickly, as well as Talin’s mom and the Firstblade.
The story is basically a nonstop action sequence (hence the adrenaline) with a lot of fighting and a lot of sneaking into enemy territory and then fighting to get out again. The horrors of the massive Federation lab were intense and grotesque.
It’s such an interesting take on the “group of teenagers fights a hopeless war” trope. While parts of it felt familiar from reading a ton of YA, there’s so much attention to detail that the story feels uniquely its own.
It would definitely make an excellent movie, but one I might not want to see. I’m not even 100% convinced I’ll pick up the sequel, just because it’s a little too intense and creepy for my comfort. (Oh, who am I kidding… I’ll pick up the sequel).
Politicians definitely don’t come off well in this story. The ruler of the Federation is intriguing in a way, as is the Chief Architect who has created all the horrors in this story.
Just all around excellently written and compelling.
*thanks to Bookishfirst and NetGalley and Roaring Book Press for providing a copy to review