File Size: 3146 KB
Print Length: 317 pages
Publisher: 47North (December 9, 2014)
Publication Date: December 9, 2014
I wish this one had been different. Let me start by saying that the actual prose was solid, it was simple but it wasn't awkward or clunky. I never felt that the narration was talking down to the reader or treating them like they were stupid. I also found myself not hating Kricket, even if I felt like the author betrayed her more often than she helped. I love the idea of tackling the difficulties of being a kid who grew up in the pathetic excuse of a 'foster' system, and having a biracial lead could have been so powerful. Kricket is smart and ferocious, she doesn't like being used and often lets her independence get in the way. She is treated with a bit of special snowflake syndrome - I'm willing to look over it since she had actual faults and most of the 'special' was forced onto her by others (but really platinum blondes aren't really that rare, 5'10" is not short by any average, the college she was looking at offers scholarships and housing for foster kids and I'll get to the most beautiful thing in a bit) - but I felt like she had an honestly solid base character. I don't mind female characters who are tough and self dependent especially when it gets them into trouble when it needs to.
That said, for whatever horrible reason the author decided that it was completely okay to oversexualise Kricket to an absurdly creepy point. The only men who weren't interested in her were gay. Everyone else wanted a piece of her because she was just so beautiful they just couldn't help themselves. No one had any difficulty touching her - even after the author stated in lore that touching was something that was not acceptable between casual friends or with strangers. What's worse is when the boys weren't fighting over her bra and panties, they were using magical x-ray glasses to scan for her virginity. I can't even begin to talk about how creepy and wrong it is and how Kricket feels violated but it's instantly dropped and forgotten. I don't even know where to start my rant on this, because this is aimed at TEENAGE GIRLS. Why are we still writing and pretending like there is any way to tell if someone is a virgin or not?? Why are we still acting like it's okay to attach any value to something so pointless, and why do we insist on writing fantasy that is so incredibly sexist? I was beyond disgusted that it was brought up more than once and held over her head, it's beyond gross. On top of this, there is this suffocating romance that should not have even been included.
The lead male Trey pulls her around, forces her gaze, continuously reminds her that she's small and weak and female and she needs a man to protect her (a sentiment that is echoed by every other male around her). He is constantly yelling at her and derailing her, invalidating the way she thinks and speaks because it's not 'ladylike'. He kidnaps her and then spends the first half of the book saying he isn't and telling her that the other side were the ones who were going to hold her prisoner. His side was just going to punish her. He gets ridiculously over protective of her almost instantly, and at SEVERAL points he strips her down while she's unconscious. His role in the plot to be a man who protects invalidates Kricket's own characterization at several points and honestly, there is no sense in writing them into a romance.
What little plot there was could have been actually interesting, a little typical but it could have been so much more than it was. This book felt like a set up but it did very little world building aside from a few info dumps every few chapters. So much of the plot was interrupted by Kricket being treated like a piece of meat for literally every male character in the book. The universe could have been cool, some cross between Victorian and the ultra modern but it was so heavy in archaic sexism that there was never any time to explore it.
I'm too frustrated to even go on at this point. The author did a terrible job at writing what could have been a really amazing book. I am so sick of YA authors falling back on age old tropes that need to die out already, they are overdone and frankly disgusting. I am so sick of seeing fantasy and scifi universes being riddled with sexism, especially with female leads. It's been done to death and frankly I don't see why it's included. Kricket literally has magical hair and powers but women in the universe are just objects to be married.
If this book had spent more time on the plot and honest character developments and had fought against typical YA tropes it would have been so much better.,*I received a free copy of this title in a Goodreads giveaway. All opinions given here are my own*
I didn't love this book, but I didn't hate it. I enjoyed that Kricket was a foster child from a harder place than many people ever experience, but I thought that could have translated better into who she was as a person. This could have developed into a very interesting and character driven coming of age story, but it just didn't quite manifest.
Kricket's inner monologue indicated that she had hardened her heart, but she didn't seem all that hard-hearted to me, as she started to trust her captors far too easily. As a foster parent myself, perhaps I'm just more familiar with the trust issues these kids have and the attachment issues that follow, so it was very disconnected for me. Also, her naivete was unsettling. She would not have been that ignorant of how to play games she faced in her "home world." Foster children are survivors, and while she might have not known the details and specifics of the games being played, there is most often a well honed knowledge of how to play them.
I did not like the male-domination that drove the majority of this book. While Kricket herself seemed to be a feminist, as the reader, I could never quite tell when her feminism would manifest and when she would play the victim in need of saving.
Another aspect that I didn't quite understand was the complete fascination with her body. Kricket's body is lusted after constantly. And she is naked more than once in the presence of her love interest, but, perhaps because it is a YA novel and not an adult novel nothing happens. Most concerning for me (especially for an audience of young female readers) is that one of these times she actually falls asleep fully dressed in the arms of her love interest and awakens completely naked and lying next to him in bed. He is fully dressed, but explains that he cut her clothes off because it "...looked uncomfortable." This reeks of taking advantage of a sleeping woman and all my hackles rose, but Kricket is not appalled or offended or scared...Instead,
"Was it hot?" I ask between kisses. "Cutting it off me?"
Are you kidding me?!?! Was this supposed to develop sexual tension? Yuck...that whole scene. Yuck.
Overall, I didn't hate the story. I might read more in the series, but I won't search it out. If I come down to needing something to read and there aren't any better options available in the library, I may pick up the second book...we'll just have to see.
For conservative readers: See above...,I loved this story line. The world building was fantastic. I enjoyed how the descriptions were just enough to paint the picture of an entirely new world, but it didn't bog down the story by going overboard with them. It's hard to find a good balance when reading about a place that doesn't exist. Their world, and culture is vastly different from here on earth. Where it wouldn't fly anymore for men to act like they do in this book----I know i would be beyond frustrated at what the men think is okay behavior----I think it plays a big part in pushing the story forward. Kricket not only has to figure out how to play along with their rules in order to get what she wants in a situation she has little control over, but she also has to deal with the massive culture shock.
Only three things keeping it from being a 5 star for me is:
1. The fact that Kricket is the only female in the story (there are a few bit parts by 2 other females) but they are throw away parts.
2. The fact that she keeps going on about how strong she is, but then lets all the men push her around.
3. She's a bit of a mary sue character. Every male wants her, is in love with her, and her only "flaw" is that she grew up without family. Otherwise, she's BRILLIANT, sexy, and charismatic.
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