Happy Friday, lovelies. I’m extremely tired after a very long week of traveling (and not the good kind) and I wish I had something peppier to share to brighten up everyone’s Friday afternoon, but unfortunately, I only have a review of a book I didn’t really care for or enjoy writing about. Not every book is going to have a glowing review, and in the interest of reviewing as many of my recent reads as I can, I decided it needed to be posted. But man, at what cost? Please, please recommend me some better fantasy books in the comments below. I’m going to need it after this one.
Title: Nemesis (Nemesis, #1) by Anna Banks
Release date: October 4th, 2016
Genre: Young Adult – Fantasy
Princess Sepora of Serubel is the last Forger in all the five kingdoms. The spectorium she creates provides energy for all, but now her father has found a way to weaponize it, and his intentions to incite war force her to flee his grasp. She escapes across enemy lines into the kingdom of Theoria, but her plans to hide are thwarted when she is captured and placed in the young king’s servitude.
Tarik has just taken over rulership of Theoria, and must now face a new plague sweeping through his kingdom and killing his citizens. The last thing he needs is a troublesome servant vying for his attention. But Mistress Sepora will not be ignored. When the two finally meet face-to-face, they form an unlikely bond that complicates life in ways neither of them could have imagined.
Sepora’s gift may be able to save Tarik’s kingdom. But should she risk exposing herself and her growing feelings for her nemesis?
I’ve been sitting on a review of this book for so long I’ve almost entirely forgotten both the plot and the characters in Nemesis – and being that easy to forget is pretty indicative of the book as a whole. If I had to summarize this book in 4 words, it would be “been there, done that.” Everything felt too familiar and overdone, as if someone put Throne of Glass, The Star-Touched Queen, and Red Queen into a blender and the messy, mushed together thing that came out was this. The Princess Sepora starts off as a pretty badass fighter with solid solutions to the obstacles that came before her, but this drive wanes shortly after she meets Prince Tarik, wherein everything starts to feel a bit too easy and way, way too predictable. Combined with Sepora’s stubbornness that has no outlet or discernible purpose on top of the continuous bad choices she makes, Sepora became a character who was difficult to care about or understand, inside a book that I didn’t care about or understand.
In addition to this, there is a distinct lack of background character development, by which I mean there are literally next to no supporting characters at all. No female friends, or really any women who aren’t there for more than a breath; barely any contact, much less conflict, between her and any of the men in the story; and a slew of pointless interactions between characters ripped straight from Of Mice and Men, general people in the marketplace, and even the royal adviser who is half there and half not. I don’t mind heavily plot driven books, especially in fantasy, but the unused potential causes this book to run on sheer will rather than any plot or character development.
Honestly? I gave it two stars because of the surprisingly great world building. I wasn’t expecting to like the world so much (especially with such a drastic blow to the characters + plot) but it’s intricate, well-shaped, and if I see some actual improvement with everything else in the story, I would genuinely like to read the sequel just to see more of it. It also got 2 stars because I read the whole thing without skimming or DNF’ing three quarters of the way in. It’s fast paced, and the writing really isn’t bad at all. I was able to stay somewhat engaged through it all, even after initially considering putting it to the side. I can’t promise that it’ll be the next great thing or a breath of fresh air in young adult fantasy, but if you’re looking for something superficial to breeze through that has enough to keep you busy for a few hours, go ahead and pick this one up.
Young Adult Fantasy That I Thought I’d Hate But Actually Enjoyed Reading: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge, Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor, and Eon: Dragoneye Reborn by Alison Goodman. And, of course, the 3 books that went into the blender to make this book possible.
What are some YA fantasy books you’ve enjoyed recently? Any that you didn’t expect to love but totally adored? Or, on the flip side, did you really enjoy this book and thought I was way too harsh? Let me know in the comments below!