I've got mixed feelings.
- The writing, from the start, is incredible. I stopped, read the opening paragraph aloud to Haki, and said, "And that is how you open a book." I continued to be floored by the power of the prose for the whole book. Respect.
- And the world-building?! Woah.
- Then there is the horror. I didn't see this coming. This book is dark. I like narratives that touch upon darkness, and perhaps lean to the darker side. This text crosses a line, for me, incorporating elements of horror that I did not see coming. The darkness of this novel is both something I love and dislike about the text -- I think it will stay with me for longer, for having this content, but I think I will hesitate to recommend it to some of my peers for having it. It contains violent content as well (with fairly graphic descriptions).
- A BIG BEEF: The love story. Not okay with me. I can rationalise the behaviour of one of the characters, sure, but I still am not comfortable with people basically being jerks and being loved for it -- especially if little to no redeeming tenderness is gradually uncovered. Yeah, I'm sure there's a precious soul buried beneath each grouchy exterior out there, but novels marketed to YA featuring Grade A Cruel Characters being adored in all their Cruelness? It's not to my taste. I know there are a wide range of romantic offerings and attractions out there, but this modelling risks too much, in this field, for me. I don't know how transmitting any variation of the message, "Someone can be really abusive towards you, and that is okay, in fact, it might make you feel pretty hot for him" can be okay I'm uncomfortable with this. Girls, you know what? Maybe there is someone worth loving in there, underneath all those layers. But please, please, when someone treats you like dirt, try looking for someone else maybe? There will be enough conflict in a healthy relationship without starting at first base with someone whose default mode is to criticise and disparage you. How depressing!
- Secondary beef: The sensuality is too much for my taste, for a YA-marketed text, especially. Ya ya, "Teenagers are having sex though." I know. I still won't be offering this book to my girls to read anytime soon, and the treatment of romantic relationships and sexuality is why, NOT because of how dark or scary it is!
- The narrative is worthy of Grimm or greater! It is something special. I did not feel a deep connection with any of the characters, nor many relationships (there is one female friendship I began to respect), but the story and setting? I felt very strongly about those and there was never any question I was seeing the development of the story and setting through -- they were engrossing, beautiful and worthy of my time.