Series: Court of Fives, Book 1
Author: Kate Elliott (site)
Publisher: Little, Brown BYR
Release Date: August 18, 2015
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Told: First Person (Jes), Present Tense
Content Rating: Teen (violence, tense and scary situations, birthing ick)
Format Read: ARC (publisher)
Find It On: Goodreads
Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository
Jessamy's life is a balance between acting like an upper class Patron and dreaming of the freedom of the Commoners. But at night she can be whomever she wants when she sneaks out to train for The Fives, an intricate, multi-level athletic competition that offers a chance for glory to the kingdom's best competitors. Then Jes meets Kalliarkos, and an unlikely friendship between a girl of mixed race and a Patron boy causes heads to turn. When a scheming lord tears Jes's family apart, she'll have to test Kal's loyalty and risk the vengeance of a powerful clan to save her mother and sisters from certain death.
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Review copy provided by the NOVL newsletter for an honest review.
Thank you, Little, Brown!
Thank you, Little, Brown!
In a Sentence: A fantasy with lots of potential but little execution of it that I just couldn't connect with.
This book, like The Fives, was an obstacle course of a read for me.
The Main Character: Jes was too simpleminded for the story. An immature young girl with very few skills or smarts, she just wasn't sharp enough to fit the plot for me. Her initial self-centeredness and later ineptness got on my nerves, and her logic was hard to follow and made little sense most of the time. I really only found her even halfway interesting when she was with romantic-interest Kal, which was a serious disappointment - a main character should not be interesting only when around the person they like, at least not for me in a book like this.
The Writing: I believe some of Jes's simplicity was due to the writing style, though. I couldn't connect emotionally or visually with it, which made empathy difficult and description hard to picture.
The Setting: A Grecian-esque fantasy world with a strict caste and some magic. But although the magical elements were really interesting, we unfortunately learned little about them and saw even less. The other interesting element was The Fives, but they were given little time or opportunity to shine and the time we did get lacked the excitement and thrills I'd expected (although probably another result of the writing style).
The Story: The story was a long struggle for me. It began slow as I failed to connect with Jes or The Fives, and only piqued a sliver of my interest with the introduction of Kal some fifty pages in. There was little to no foreshadowing, which proved unfortunate since my interest was already low and gave me almost nothing to look forward to. Luckily at least the plot was pretty simple and easy to follow... until a few chapters from the end everything became way too complicated as crazy family backstory was suddenly info-dumped out of the blue. The book did end relatively strong though, enough that I am a little intrigued where the story will go in the next book. But given my struggle with this book, I don't think I'm intrigued quite enough to find out.
All that said, the story did surprise and prove me wrong at several turns, although the surprise was more from relief than excitement. And I did like the story's strong focus on family - about halfway through I feared it would distill into nothing more than a revenge story, but the family aspect dug in and I was glad, even if it made for some rather disgusting and depressing reading.
Conclusion: While it had a lot of potential, the simplistic main character and disconnected writing style left me dissatisfied with the story, and the games and magic I read the book for were not given enough opportunity to shine. I doubt I'll be reading any more in the series.
For Fans Of: Game of Thrones?