I feel like any passionate female reader takes one look at the title and thinks immediately, “I dare to think, maybe this would be a good read.” And I don’t think any of us would be wrong. Bella Forest builds a dystopian world where we refuse to accept the status quo with Liana Castell, our heroine. Usually I start my reviews with the “could be betters,” but there honestly aren’t a ton. Here’s the couple I really am stuck on:
- The book breaks the fourth wall a little. There’s are a couple points after Liana and Grey meet that the book calls out romantic story line tropes and tries to be self aware. Because it’s calling them out and still following them, it seemed awkard. I feel like we could’ve just ignored that there’s a formula that works and that Forest followed it.
- I honestly can’t picture lashing (a form of personal transportation in the book). I feel like it’s a mix between a carnival ride and having monkey skills? Maybe it’s my own fear of heights that makes it hard to catch on, so I’d disregard this call out as my grasping at straws to find problems.
Now, there are a lot more things that I really enjoyed:
- People die – this is not a spoiler because I’m not giving away who, how, or when. I’m totally aware of how weird it makes me to love that characters are gone, but it’s more about the fact that we’ve moved away from a Kindergarten story that leaves everyone safe and happy.
- Liana likes a guy, but she’s not stopping everything to be with him. Thank you for a truly strong female lead. She chides herself to get her head and the game and focus on what’s important. While I think it seems a little too easy for her to just drop, I appreciate her focus.
- The story pulls little threads throughout and starts to connect them. Very much like James Dasher’s The Maze Runner series, you can feel Forest building to something larger and the anticipation is delicious.
- Not to get super political on all of us, but I feel like this dystopian “fantasy” has real roots in things that are going on right now. I’m looking at you climate change and society/media that’s more focused on distracting us to shiny new toys than teaching us to think critically.
Overall take: I really enjoyed the first book, have already started the second, and if there’s a third, I hope Bella Forest reads this and lets me have an early copy.