Sadly, this book was stuck on my to-read shelf until I won a giveaway through LibraryThing's Member Giveaway Program,in order to give an honest review. This is one of those books.
One of those, "Why didn't I read this sooner?!?"
✔ the romance wasn't all consuming,
✔atmosphere (I felt frosty and heard the snow crunch)
✔ beautifully written,
✔ loved the internally strong, and externally brave heroine with her varied support characters,
✖ the dystopian/post apocalyptic feeling wasn't there (felt more medieval/paranormal though I’m hoping/thinking in the next books this won’t be an issue)
✖ could see some things coming ahead of time
✖ tight focus on these events without depth into the bigger picture (yet..and this was done on purpose due to the naive and sheltered first person narrative but it can be a drawback for some)
✖ cliff hanger (but not a major rage inducing one)
✖ wish it was longer
✖unanswered questions that I better get the answers to in the next book
Okay, so those last twoaren't really cons. :)
There’s a lot in this compact book but it’s not light on plot or development or world building. It’s setting up for bigger and better things and I can’t wait to see where it goes. I loved the character progression and development. I’m really curious to find out more about this world and how our characters fare.Sure, I could see certain things happening from a mile away but I wasn't itching with irritation because the pace was great and I was enjoying the ride.
On Writing & the Quotes to Prove It:
I loved the writing and style. Seriously, it’s keep tight yet descriptive as needed.
This is the opening,
It was cold, the kind of cold that made bones feel brittle and hands ache. My breath streamed from my lips like smoke and my feet made wet, crunching sounds in the snow as I slipped through the forest.
Then there’s this on page 20 about fear,
Most of the time fear was just like a rat in my belly, gnawing and gnawing a hole in the same place day after day whenever I let it. But now the rat had turned into a lion, and it was tearing me apart from the inside out.
And I love the paragraph about the blue wing on page 75, that starts with “Why does it live in a place that could kill it?”
As for the Romance Aspect:
For those of us dismayed, queasy and downright bored at the prevalence and focus on YA romance in books not in the romance genre (sometimes to the detriment of other great elements of a book) I say this, don't worry. The romance is relevant but not dominating. Nothing is sacrificed to make it work and doesn’t obliterate everything in it’s wake. Lia has reasons other than just quickly growing love for the things she does.
Okay, the love is quick but NOT the insta-ramen-noodle love where she sacrifices everything because he’s sooooo hot and she drools over him like an idiot. It’s more of naturally occurring event when two people from different places are thrown into a dangerous situation. It's not all consuming and they don't make a huge stupid mistake over it. I would have been SO pissed if the ending was changed to accommodate a fairy tale romance ending.
Thankfully, that didn't happen. The romance was one of those things I knew was coming and am happy with the way it was handled. I mean finding a hot stranger and saving his life, when all you've know is your own small village is a situation where I could see falling in love with said stranger. Sure, it went to love quick but really there's no room for crushes and dating. It's official courting and marriage in their world, in their situation, in their fight for survival. It’s really all or nothing.
That One Thing:
I wouldn’t necessarily call this a flaw for me, since I loved the book as is. However, for those looking for dystopian/post apocalyptic/end of the world as we know it feeling or atmosphere, you aren’t going to find it here. As it is in this book, our main setting country is medieval, maybe colonial, like with looming threat of an industrialized country and the paranormal monsters fluttering in between.
We don't really get even a hint of fallen city/country/time or big disastrous past until the very, very end. And even then, it’s just a hint. It could go a different way. So I’m going with paranormal with a sci-fi twist for now.
However, as we delve more into this world and learn more how this world works and how it came to be I have a feeling this aspect is going to get stronger. I’m hoping it gets stronger. My guesses as to the continuing story arc from the ending certainly leads me down that direction but I can’t be sure until I read the next book, Thorns.