I read Secondborn by Amy A. Bartol via Amazon Kindle First reads, and since this was the only fantasy/sci-fi option, it was a no-brainer choice. AND it has a beautiful cover. (I do love me a beautiful cover!)
I found the book very like other popular dystopian books about teenage girls—almost to the point of not finishing the book. Select people get all the privileges, and the rest are basically slaves in need of a savior/hero.
Naturally, our protagonist is blessed with incredible fighting skills, she is reluctant to fill the hero position, and she doesn’t have any choice.
Neither, apparently, does she have any choice but to fall madly in lust with the ubiquitous insanely- handsome-guy. At the risk of spoiling the read, his loyalty does become questionable at one point, and maybe I’m reading things into the story, but maaaaybe he’s deeper than he’s painted. One can hope.
I am frustrated that so many of our so-called “heroines” recently A) need to kill people to be considered strong women, and B) must have a man. This gal has two.
“I need you!” she cries.
“BLECH!” I grumble.
I mean, I love a good romance as well as anyone, but I don’t find romance a necessary part of every plot. It misses completely in this book. “Breathlessly handsome” does not a true love make. Nor does having Mister Good Looking happen to appear conveniently.
She’s a teenager full of hormones, I know, but…
What if it the ho-hum stereo-typical scenario were flipped? What if the need didn’t involve shoe-horned or contrived romance, but a gal’s brains and wit? And how about using people with ordinary looks?
Cliché as the plot is, the writing itself is good, with no glaring typos or editing faux pas. The writing style is a little choppy for my taste, but not horrible by any means. The characters and world-building are interesting, and the plot pace is smooth. I do wish less time had been spent on describing clothing (Cinna, anyone?) and more on the political machinations. With a story revolving around a war, I’d like to see more of the fight than a couple of brief pages, though I must give kudos for the lack of gratuitous blood and gore. There’s lots of potential there, and perhaps it will be better utilized in the next book in the series.
The theme of societal choices is handled well, even strongly. The technology was fairly intriguing, going easily from futuristic buildings to cyborg dogs to advanced weaponry and flying machines.
Overall, I give this 3.5 stars, rounding up for good pacing and genre standards.
Firstborns rule society. Secondborns are the property of the government. Thirdborns are not tolerated. Long live the Fates Republic.
On Transition Day, the second child in every family is taken by the government and forced into servitude. Roselle St. Sismode’s eighteenth birthday arrives with harsh realizations: she’s to become a soldier for the Fate of Swords military arm of the Republic during the bloodiest rebellion in history, and her elite firstborn mother is happy to see her go.
Televised since her early childhood, Roselle’s privileged upbringing has earned her the resentment of her secondborn peers. Now her decision to spare an enemy on the battlefield marks her as a traitor to the state.
But Roselle finds an ally—and more—in fellow secondborn conscript Hawthorne Trugrave. As the consequences of her actions ripple throughout the Fates Republic, can Roselle create a destiny of her own? Or will her Fate override everything she fights for—even love?
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Have you read it yet?
What did you think? Share in the comments!