Author: Melina Marchetta
Release Date: 2008
- Figured out the twist. This wasn’t much of a negative because I didn’t feel like Marchetta really did much to broadcast it (and honestly, I almost always seem to figure out the twists in books early on), but I had a feeling about one of the main twists in the book almost from the beginning. The sign of a great author, though, is when I figure out the twist and still can’t wait to keep reading!! (Which was the case here.)
- Strong characters. Oh my! Was there a character in this book that I didn’t love? I really don’t think so. Evanjalin is an amazingly strong female character – full of fire and passion, and yet also displaying an amazing emotional depth. Her strength of character is pretty much universally admired (but not immediately – she has to earn then men’s trust, which she does). The thing that struck me most about Evanjalin, though, was her constant sense of hope and perseverence. Sometimes things looked bleak, but she always believed with her whole heart that their people could be saved – and was willing to die trying if necessary. Finnikin is equally awesome. He’s also strong, but he does have his flaws, making him a realistic and sympathetic character. Add in some amazing secondary characters (LOVED Finnikin’s dad) and you have a recipe for an engaging story!
- The worldbuilding. I think that Marchetta did a fantastic job with the worldbuilding in this book. I felt like I had a good understanding of the political structure (which was very important) and the fantastical elements of the book – most importantly, Evanjalin’s dream walking. I do hope that I get to learn a bit more about the magic in the future books in this series, but I felt like this book had enough detail to keep me happy.
- The romance. I loved that the romance in this book was slow-building and that Finnikin had to overcome some personal hang-ups before he could truly admit his feelings for Evanjalin. This is the type of book that doesn’t always necessarily have a happy ending (especially not in book #1 of a series), so I was definitely in suspense, waiting to see if things would work out for the couple I had come to love.
- The mystery. I said that I figured out one of the main twists, but I still enjoyed the journey to see if I was right. And there were plenty of other smaller surprises that kept me engaged and, often, surprised!! I also loved that this book didn’t end on a cliffhanger – all of the central mysteries are solved. While I’m excited to read the next book, you could read this book as a standalone (but why wouldn’t you want to read them all?!).