This book was super awesome and I am tempted to give it 4.5/5, but I think I am...moreA video version of this review also appears at: A Match Made in Heaven
This book was super awesome and I am tempted to give it 4.5/5, but I think I am gonna have to stick to 4/5 for a couple of reasons. The first being the major info-dumping that happened in the first 50 pages. I had some trouble getting through that, but I hope you will find it easier, after reading this and knowing that greatness is waiting on the other side. The other reason this loses half a star is because of the amount of different clairvoyants there are, and trying to keep track of them all, and their weird names and what they all mean. Some are straightforward; like soothsayers, and mediums, and necromancers. Others are not; like drymimancers, astragalomancers, and cleidomancers. These kinds of words kept getting thrown at us as if we were supposed to know what it meant. Eventually I had to just give up and skim over them. Although, you can sometimes pick up what they mean from the context.
One of the first things you need to know before starting this book is that there is absolutely no basis for any comparison to JK Rowling. That is a ludicrous claim that no one should have ever made. If Samantha Shannon's writing emulates anyone, it would be Veronica Roth. World and tone-wise, I would compare this to The Hunger Games. And characters and romance-wise, I would compare this to Shatter Me. I really dont think that this is genre breaking or anything. I thought it was absolutely engrossing, but its still just a YA paranormal as far as I am concern. A great YA paranormal. Story and mythology-wise there is nothing I can think to compare this to. Maybe the Covenant series by JLA, but that's a bit of a stretch since it's a completely different kind of mythology. Although they both feature forbidden romances.
The story starts out with Paige in Scion, explaining to us how clairvoyants have become feared and hunted over the years, starting with the alternate history of King Edward VII. The info-dumping explains Scion's underworld, but its not really that important. After less than 50 pages Paige is taken away to Sheol. Sheol is a hidden city where supernatural beings who have made a pact with the Scion government, take clairvoyants to enslave them. The Rephaim of Jewish mythology are giant, beautiful beings from the netherworld. Its a complex mythology and I am sure there is still a lot more to learn about them in the future books.
Paige's new master is Arcturus, usually called Warden. He is intimidating and a strict task-master as he taught her to use her gift to become a soldier fighting the Emim, creatures that followed to Rephaim from the netherworld. I hated him so much at the beginning. He never beat her like the other keepers, but he let bad things happen to her and other people, and he tried to force her to cooperate. But Paige's spirit was strong. She was a fighter. In that way she reminded me of Juliette and how she fought against Warner in book 1 of Shatter Me. How she refused to play his games.
But unlike in Shatter Me, there is no love-triangle in this. As much as I hated Warden in the beginning, I suspected he would become the love interest, and the book actually brought me around to that idea. I ended up rooting for Warden way sooner than I would have expected myself to, considering how much I hated him in the beginning. He was stoic, and mysterious, but you could tell how much he was watching out for Paige. He took care of her as much as he could get away with before it would become suspicious. And in that way, he reminded me of Warner, and I really recommend this book for fans of Shatter Me. I am very curious where their relationship will go in the end. It is a planned 7-books series, so they have a long journey ahead of them.
This series is a lot darker than the average YA novel, though. The Rephaim were torturing and killing humans left, right, and center. There was always a sense of danger and mystery, because we didnt know how much danger Paige was really in. How many of the Rephaim knew what she was up to? Did Warden know? What did he want from her? You never really knew, until it was too late. Its a really unique, complex world that captivated me. I highly recommend this book!(less)