The writing was like magic. It was captivating. I really don’t know how else to describe it. It never got boring, and at times it was like poetry. I’ll include a few quotes later that illustrate my point.
First I feel like I must make something clear: There are two very different halves of the book. The first half follows Karou and her story. The second half is more or less a giant flashback. I don’t want to give anything away. But there it is.
This formatting may be distracting, but it wasn’t all that much for me, because I knew it was important and would circle around to the original storyline soon enough. Believe me, I’m well acquainted with multiple ‘timelines’, as I’ll call them, because of my familiarity (and obsession) with Homestuck
, a webcomic.
Also, toward the beginning, I remember thinking it had a LOT of backstory. Most books with that much backstory are really confusing when you’re just thrown in there in the middle of the story, but I felt like this story was really easy to follow and I accepted new things without question or confusion. That part was done very well.
The story itself was interesting, if a bit typical in theory. It had a few interesting aspects thrown in. But I confess I was a bit disappointed to learn that it was all about war. I had hoped it would, for once, not be about war. But of course there is a war. War is all there is. (that’s a quote from the book, can’t remember which page.) I was disappointed, but I guess there needed to be a basis for the story somewhere. A reason for Akiva to find her. A reason for there to need to be a change…
I guess the real mystery throughout the first book at least is Karou herself. Her past, who she is, how she came to be…and it’s an interesting discovery. It doesn’t disappoint. In fact, that’s the focus of the second half of the book.
I just want to ruminate on the setting for a moment. The fact that it is set in Prague just makes it that much more mysterious and exciting. I loved that setting choice. It also made the whole factor of languages all the more important and interesting. I would love to collect all those languages like Karou.
Zuzana: She is by far my favorite. She is just so full of life and fun and snarky and clever and beautiful and sweet and amazing and I could go on for hours. I really want her to be my best friend. She’s so accepting and helpful.
Karou: Karou herself is an addicting mystery. I loved her from the beginning. With her sketchbooks of beautiful, real drawings and blue hair, she was instantly the perfect heroine. I would have followed her anywhere.Not to mention she’s powerful and determined.
Brimstone: I know he was supposed to be super dangerous and important and all that, but I couldn’t help but see him as an appropriate father figure for Karou the whole time. He fit into that role very well. I liked him a lot.
Kazimir: What a jerk! Like, x100! Hated him.
Akiva: Liked him. He and Karou have a good thing going. I really can’t say much because of spoilers, but I approve. I’m also glad there was no insta-love. That might have ruined it for me.
I just first want to say that while I was reading, I noticed a lot of subtle (and probably unintentional) references to other popular books by their title, such as Insurgent, Requiem, and Pivot Point (which will be the next review!). That was kind of fun.
And here’s one from Akiva, about halfway through (page 210): “And I saw a girl…a girl with black eyes and gemstone hair, and…sadness. She had a sadness that was so deep, but it still could turn to light in a second, and when I saw her smile I wondered what it would be like to make her smile. I thought…I thought it would be like the discovery of smiling. She was connected to the enemy, and though the only thing I wanted to do was look at her, I did what I was trained to do and I…I hurt her. And when I went home, I couldn’t stop thinking about you, and I was so grateful that you had defended yourself. That you didn’t let me kill you.”