With such mixed reviews, I was honestly unsure whether I would like this book or not. In the end it felt very…familiar…but I still enjoyed it.
Lei is forcibly taken from her home to serve as a Paper Girl…a concubine to the king. It’s her greatest nightmare come true, but amidst the horror Lei finds unexpected love, as well as new purpose in her role within a rebellion.
At its core, this is the kind of story I read a lot and almost always enjoy. Court training. Court intrigue. Rebel plots within the court. It’s a story that’s been told before in bits and pieces, but one I’ll happily read again and again. So what makes this one unique?
(Slight spoiler) There isn’t a big bait-and-switch twist at the end. For once everyone was as they appeared. There are minor surprises, but nothing huge.
There’s a caste system, which isn’t new, but this one is because it isn’t divided explicitly by wealth or superpowers. There’s the Paper caste–humans. The Steel caste–part human with slight demon features. And the Moon caste: full demons. This was an original set-up, and made for interesting world-building and descriptions.
For once, the reader doesn’t have to endure an info dump of the world’s entire history. Little bits of history are sprinkled in as relevant, and it always enhances the story.
Lei is a great heroine because she can be softer and feminine, but also has a lot of fire and passion in her actions. Those attributes are often mutually exclusive in YA, so it’s always nice to see both traits on display.
And I don’t say this as a “plus” per se, but do reference this so any potential readers are aware: this book has some heavy parts, particularly in regards to portraying sexual assault. Some parts were upsetting to read and I had to skim over it. Please keep that in mind before reading.
And finally: don’t read the last page. Trust me…