Thank you to Netgalley for a chance to review this title.
It took me a few days to ponder how I was going to review this title-IF I was going to review it at all seeing as the publication has been ceased. But after reading the acknowledgments after I finished the book, I feel as though the author deserves at least my thoughts on it. Authors put in a crap ton of work into writing a book. This is not to say I will be discounting the voices of others who see parts of this book as problematic. I will be giving light to that as well in as fairly a way as I can.
First, I am putting aside everything and telling you about this story.
This is loosely (LOOSELY) based on the story of Anastasia. This is fantasy world Russia, where certain people have what we call Affinities or special magical powers. Ana is one of those. After being falsely accused of killing her father, the emperor, she runs away and devotes her life to finding the real killer. She stumbles upon a con man named Ramson and convinces him to help her. But Ramson has his secrets, and they may stop Ana from getting to the truth.
Okay, so the writing has minor issues. At some points, it felt like it was trying a bit too hard to make us care for characters. Even without reading the specific issues until after I finished, I did notice some quotes almost directly sounded like they came from somewhere else. It irked me a little, but not enough to let it affect my rating. I think Zao is a talented writer in this aspect and I cannot wait to see what she does in the future.
Let’s talk about the death of May, the PoC character. As a writer myself and taking out EVERYTHING that everyone else has said, I felt as though her death did not need to happen to advance Ana’s arc at all, because it didn’t. Ana cried, and it was over. Nothing about May drove Ana to anything other than killing the broker which still didn’t have much of an effect on her arc. Sure May saved the other slaves, but they did not even come to play in this book so what was the point? It was pointless. Focusing now on the scene resembling the Rue scene in The Hunger Games, yes, it was a bit too similar for my taste. Mostly for the fact that I cared about Rue and I didn’t see enough of May to really care about her. Personally, I was thinking of all the ways that May could have benefited Ana if she were still alive in the series. She could do so much more alive than dead.
I will touch upon this for a minute now: as a writer, you need to be aware of what YOU ARE DOING. You are not just killing a character for dramatic sake. You are killing the only PoC which has been a horrible trend, especially in Hollywood. The token black person, as one would say which was a running joke in horror movies especially. We need to do better. We need to recognize that kids are reading this and they see you. They see this trend that needs to stop. I realize my voice is small and shouldn’t even be taken into account. Listen to the PoC’s who are telling you (a general “you” since Amelie has already listened) there is a problem. They are loud, whether you choose to listen or not.
I also believe that everybody who had a hand in editing and reading this book needs to also take a step back. There have too many instances of this sort of thing and it needs to stop.
I think I will keep my rating of three stars and see if the book gets edited and rereleased. I will reread it then and edit this review.