Author: Amy A. Bartol
Genre: Teen, Dystopian Fantasy
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
This is a frustrating 4 stars for me because it should be 5. Secondborn is a wonderful dystopian teen novel that belongs alongside Divergent, Hunger Games and the Maze Runner; up until it shatters itself for no good reason.
Amy A. Bartol does a really good job of setting up her dystopian society (though a poor job of explaining why society is that way but I can overlook this miss) and helping us to understand the hierarchy of firstborn, secondborn and (god forbid) third or less born. She illustrates imaginative buildings that if shown on the silver screen would be gorgeous; and all the while keeping your attention because she shows us things instead of telling us. Our lead gal is strong, interesting, if a little consistent sometimes (but aren't we all?).
It all seems to be coming together beautifully. A villain is introduced, family dynamics are a mess and friends plus a romantic interest show up and things are really clicking. There's action that develops the characters forward and a lot of plot, but it's all easily understood.
And then Bartol makes a CRITICAL MISTAKE, that nearly ruins the whole book for me.
She takes this wonderfully set-up, moving forward group of people and jumps forward one year. Which means, we have to assume the relationships have grown (including the romance between lead gal and boy), catch up on politics, hear in passing about momentous battles and just assume the development of everything. UGH!
So, what should have happened?
This first book in the series should have ended with the major event that happens shortly after the year break. Having the story in that year be fleshed out and relationships developed would have been perfect. Then when our major event happens it would have everyone dying for book 2.
It's a calculated error, if you will, because I get that the time jump allows more exciting things to transpire in this book. But plot moving forward at the risk of the world and characters you've built is the wrong choice here.
Bartol has a compelling writing style. It did occur to me a few times that maybe the flow of the story was inconsistent; but by no means did it stop me from picking up the book.
I'm sorry to give this book only 4 stars but the gap in time just killed the momentum for me and makes all the relationship things that happen after it difficult to believe because I felt like it just skipped ahead and nothing felt genuine. I want to believe in the live and devotion these characters developed during that one year but I wish I had experienced it myself.
I will read book 2, but I think I'll always mourn that missing year. Maybe to fix the hole Bartol can write a novella to bridge the gap...
Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.