I tried. The book is written well and edited well, but every time I closed it, I had to force myself to open it again. Eventually, I gave up, even so I read some glowing reviews for this book. What bothered me?
1. The author cracked up the tension to almost unbearable heights. The heroine Kirit was terrified, frustrated, angry, and her inner monologues outlining her feelings lasted indefinitely, for pages and pages. Something that only takes a few hours to do in real life took more time to read about in this book. As a result, the action stood still. By page 119, when I finally decided to DNF, Kirit had a few conversations, passed an exam (a hard exam, but it was only one day) and made one dangerous mistake. The rest was all in her head. I started skipping lines, scanning the text to get the plot moving, and still nothing of note happened. Eventually, I got tired of her teenage histrionics and stopped reading. There is such a thing as too much detail in fiction.
2. I didn’t like the society Kirit inhabited, the world the author built. It was original but unnecessarily brutal. No mistakes were tolerated. After the one mistake I mentioned above, some authority guy threatened Kirit, bullying her into doing something she didn’t want to do. By the point where I stopped reading, she seemed completely out of choices. She would have to accept his horrible proposal (at least she thinks it is horrible), place her future entirely into his hands, or all her friends and family would suffer the consequences. And she was not allowed to talk about it, to discuss her mistake with anyone, even her mother.
I don’t understand his actions. Why didn’t he explain the situation to her? I’m sure there was a rational explanation for everything, but he acted like a merciless Gestapo officer, frightening the poor girl out of her wits, deepening her distress, hedging her with adversity – in fact applying a mental torture to an already terrified teenager.
I hated the guy and the direction the story took. In real life, there are few situations where we’re completely out of choices. They include a war, a fatal disease, a military draft, and a couple others equally calamitous situations. I loathe stories where the authors deprive their characters of even a semblance of choices. Democracy and freedom are all about choices. Of course, we also must endure the consequences of our choices, but that is what generations of western people fought and died for.
I lived in a totalitarian society before I moved to Canada. I know what it means not to have a choice, and I hate it with all my heart. I couldn’t read about it, not even in a YA fantasy novel. It made me so upset, my stomach hurt. So I stopped reading.