Traitor Born by Amy A. Bartol
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
With young adult/teen books a dime a dozen these days, it's seemingly difficult to parse through the many major publishing house options; never mind the independent ones out there. I have been lucky enough to discover Amy A. Bartol's indie teen series Secondborn and even though there are so many cliche moments in this series I don't even care!
Note: This review is for book 2, there are spoilers for book 1 below.
Yummy Love Interest(s)
I feel like I need to disclose immediately how much I adore the main love interest for this series. This may mean that I am biased. There are also sooo many characters that could make for great romantic flings or engagements with our lead girl. In fact I found myself really wishing at times that she was bisexual so she could match up with anyone in the book! But I have no problem with the hetero choice Bartol has made here as it's very steamy; along with a healthy dose of teenage angst Bartol makes me feel like a teen having goofy puppy love thoughts again. This is quite the feat given that I'm approaching 40 years of age.
There is obviously something about the Romeo and Juliet set-up that holds larger than life appeal for humans. We instinctively want what we can't, or aren't, supposed to have. Now in this case, as our class system of first born, second born, etc. persists in this society, we know that if our rebels are successful they may create a new situation that allows them to be together. But first they need to survive getting there; both from their enemies and from hurting one another.
I do wonder, often, with teen books (and some adult ones) that include possible partners who are on opposite sides of a fence if there isn't an inherent biological need to reproduce that overpowers everything when we are attracted to someone 'dangerous' or 'unattainable'? I'm sure there is complex psychology behind the whole wanting what you can't have... At any rate, be prepared as the forbidden love from Book 1 continues at a heated rate here in Book 2 and gets tied up in other possible side romances.
So much happens in Traitor Born. We have many sub/side plots happening around our main gal; plus the occasional pop-up of scary, scary Crowe to be vigilant about. We see some of those we thought loyal to one side (or the other) begin to switch over to a new belief (for good or bad) and we see the evolution of our lead gal realizing she has to fight back as hard as anyone; and at great risk to her own life. Additionally the attacks and in-fighting with our lead gal's family, and those around her, intensifies and we find out some answers to mysteries in book 1. But don't worry Traitor Born leaves more than enough left unknown or to happen for Book 3 (Rebel Born) to tackle. And leaves us off on a huge cliffhanger!
While I would say Traitor Born is solidly in the category of cliche teen fantasy; it's also wonderful teen fantasy. Having read Book 1, and knowing what I was getting into, Bartol gave me exactly what I expected and wanted when I picked up Book 2. Never underestimate a good book that keeps you on your toes with plot; but has an atmosphere, characters, and emotions you are expecting. I don't fault Bartol for this cliche feel at all. In fact I commend her for having a teen fantasy series that is both totally unlike most out there and yet fits perfectly in the genre. This is what most readers want (in my opinion) or at least what I do; something unique but not too far outside what they expect given the genre and blurb provided for the story.
If you are craving some teen angst relationship drama, elaborate political scheming and a unique class-based society then Amy Bartol's Secondborn series is for you. If you enjoyed Book 1 even a little bit then you are sure to like Book 2 as I believe it is even better than it's predecessor.
Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.
Follow me on Goodreads