Almost flunked the “fifty page test.” The story starts slow—skip the Prologue—and exhibits many logical and storytelling gaffs. But the hook finally sets and the reader is pulled along by the inner urgency of several characters, if not the story itself.
Needs a serious editor. “Half a mile underground”? “stumbled and nearly tripped”? “slid the gun to her feet” thirty yards away? Investigating a murder and never checks the pile of books at the body’s feet? My favorite: “guards gripping bayonets” Ouch. Too many very convenient coincidences. Even as they become more improbably, the reader comes to expect them. Too convenient; too easy.
I’m serious about skipping the Prologue. It detracts rather than adds to the story. It also raises a question which is never again addressed in the entire book.
Why read it? Because it has a ripping good story line and excellent characterization, though this reader cared more about Jane and Rafe than Liesl and Roman, the presumed main characters. Too bad, especially since … but that would be telling.
The story seems aimed at Young Adult readers, maybe even Middle Grade, except for the casual acceptance of violence and death. I realize that the Hunger Games and Twilight series, not to mention Harry Potter, have lowered the bar, but the off-the-cuff dispensing of mayhem (and the characters nonchalant acceptance of it here detracts.
Like the cover art.
I read this book based on the blog recommendation of John Scalzi, whose writing I enjoy. His credibility as a referrer has diminished.
In keeping with my policy of encouraging freshman efforts, I boosted the rating one star. (Do the math.) Patel will be a good writer. Book Two (Cities and Thrones) is done, though this series has so much baggage that I’ll wait until she starts afresh.
Keep your eyes on her.