Author: Linsey Miller
Published by: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication date: 5th September 2017
Format: KindleSource: Netgalley ARC
I have mixed emotions about this book.
It's probably more of a 3.5 stars for me.
I hovered over 4 stars for a while, but ultimately it was lacking a certain something that would have pushed it higher.
It was interesting and gripping at times, yet also quite dull and confusing at others.
These are our characters:
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, and 23.
Ruby, Emerald and Amethyst.
Characters 1 through 23 also wear masks over their faces, so we are given no recognisable physical features either. (Except for 23, who is our main character)
Throw in some background characters with long, similar names and my brain just gave up.
I mostly skimmed over who was who, and who was doing what until I got further through the book and we had less characters to deal with.
A tournament to the death will do that thankfully!
The plot was interesting though.
The story focuses on an audition for the job of 'Opal' - one of the queens skilled, deadly protectors and assassins.
23 people are trying to win this job and to do so they must attend lessons on fighting, poisons, healing, archery and such, all while trying to kill each other off and not get caught doing it.
The rules kept being changed and new tasks were thrown into the mix constantly. This kept the story interesting and tense.
The main character, 23, was also quite interesting.
I enjoyed how the book dealt with and explained the characters gender fluidity:
"Most everyone else wanted me to pick one, make addressing me easier on them my denying myself. I was already dressing so they could get it right. The least they could do was try. I didn't see why I had to choose."
"Address me however I look." I was both. I was neither. I was everything, but that wasn't exactly a friendly conversation between strangers trying to kill each other."I haven't come across this in a book before and it was refreshing and nicely done.
(at least in my opinion, but I have no real-life experience of this so please correct me if I'm wrong)
Yet, I felt like it didn't really add anything at all to the story. It didn't effect anything or anyone in any way.
It was simply mentioned a few times and then forgotten about.
23 also came across as quite big-headed and arrogant to me. This may have been totally intended, but I didn't like this aspect of the character so much.
"Emerald and Amethyst would fail. But I was more... I was a thief and a killer, trained by a childhood of fear and violence."Yes... because you're obviously going to be more skilled and deadly than the two characters who have shown throughout the whole book that they are better at everything than you.
The characters that have been training you.
23 needs a reality check!
I didn't feel like there was much character growth for the main character throughout the book, which I would have liked to see.
23 goes into the audition arrogant and overly sure of themselves, and they come out of it exactly the same way.
And I would have liked the chance to get to know some of the other auditioners a bit better.
I wanted to know who they were, why they were there, what their motivations were.
I understand this is probably hard when everyone is dying with masks on, but it would have been nice.
I am kind of excited to see what will happen in the next book though, so I'll definitely be checking that out in the future.
And hopefully it won't be full of numbered characters with sacks on their heads.