This was a book that, once on my radar, I was dying to read. I looked forward to this one for months. And it was good…but it was nothing like my expectations, and ultimately ended up a bit of a disappointment. Kind of like reading Renegades. Maybe I would have enjoyed it more had my expectations not been so high. This review is mildly spoiler-ish.
Two women living a thousand years apart are the answer to a long foretold prophecy of the Blood Queen and Sun Queen, who will bring destruction and restoration to their world.
Good things first. For once a YA book pulls out all stops to give a good, unexpected reveal, and doesn’t try to make the usual kind of reveal a big deal. The Simon Past vs. Simon Future is pretty obvious from the get go. (Also in a book full of the usual fanciful fantasy names…how did Simon become a major character name?) Eliana’s reveal is not surprising. Even the Emperor reveal is expected. For the big shocker Legrand went for something subtler, then doesn’t hugely affect the plot like most YA twists, but does change the game for the entire universe. I was impressed.
There’s a lot of suspense, even if some of it is undercut by the alternating POVs. Rielle and Eliana are more antihero than hero, and though they both have assholery to bemoan, I felt a begrudging respect for both.
The downside to this book, ultimately, lies in execution and in romance. The alternating POV was repeatedly jarring at the start. It sort of flowed by the end, but ultimately I was wishing for a part 1/part 2 type deal. Or a Rielle book followed by an Eliana book? I appreciate the attempt at something new (multiple narrators isn’t, but multiple narrators experiencing different stories is), but thought the execution was weak.
And then there was the romance. Lots of sex isn’t inherently bad, or even unexpected, for YA today but I’m very done with characters having such uncontrollable sex drives that they have sexy times in public and get caught by an enemy witness. Furthermore, I think this book is evidence of new adult fading as a genre. I would label this as the new adult I know, kind of a la ACOTAR, but saw it only as YA in marketing. Interesting decision. Sometimes I am excited for book relationships rooted in sexual desire (see: Jude’s simmering, hatefilled sexual attraction to Cardan in The Cruel Prince)…but it wasn’t my cup of tea this go around. It kind of brought me back to the disdain I felt reading Graceling, except I liked Furyborn a hell of a lot more than Graceling, and Furyborn didn’t have a pseudo-feminist BS message that the only women worth their salt are the kind who reject all forms of emotional entanglement and femininity.
This review isn’t meant to be a soapbox moment against Graceling, but rather an expression of disappointment in Furyborn. I liked it, I’ll definitely read the sequel, but it’s a lesson in getting hopes too high for a book I don’t know much about.
And, oh yeah, now I really want some more Jude and Cardan stuff. Hopefully The Wicked King is full of some good stuff. 😉