I thought I knew how I would start this review as I was coming to the end of, but that ending was a real brain scrambler. Not in a bad way, but in a way that what I thought was going to be revealed wasn’t exactly right. I was getting curious about the story’s slow pace since it felt like the ending would be rushed. Instead, it’s left on a fantastic cliffhanger with one of the best final lines that I’ve read in a long time. Very thankful that I read this after the sequel came out because of this.
The world that is painted is gritty and cruel from the beginning. It lightens up a little as Aster, the main character, matures and develops. Still, you never shake the sense that there is harsh classism in this world and a person can get beaten at the slightest provocation. Pain and death are almost a way of life in this world, which is enhanced through the perspective of Aster. I would have liked to learn more about the Reavers as the story progressed, but that’s more curiosity. I don’t think it would have added to the plot and probably would have been out of place there. After all, in a first person POV book, you can only know what the main character knows and Aster showed no signs of having that knowledge.
Getting on to the main character, I loved how she was written. It’s hard to discuss this without spoilers because I feel that Aster’s development is the main story. Her evolution isn’t a straight line either, which is what helped me get through the slower parts of the story. She had moments of immaturity, indecision, and irrationality, which made her come off as human. It was the steps back and how she handled them that made her endearing. It really helps the build up to the finale. That final line I mentioned locks in the fact that she is no longer the invisible girl you met on the first page of the book.
That isn’t to say the book is flawless and I’m not talking about a few typos because those were few and far between. I mentioned the slow pacing, but that wasn’t terrible. By the end, it feels necessary for impact. The big thing that bugged me is when certain objects or information are being brought up and the reader has no idea what they’re talking about. It happens a few times and I put attention trying to figure out what the important item or information was. It first happened with the demand that Aster use a character’s name, but I don’t remember her ever being told the name. So I was left wondering how she could use it. The revelations in these situations were rather casual and left me going ‘that’s what I’ve been wondering about for 10 minutes?’. This was the only thing that bugged me for the first two-thirds of the book. Thankfully, it didn’t happen once the final act kicked in. This could just be a nitpick on my part though.
Overall, a great story from a first time author and the ending definitely makes the read worthwhile.