This book has been making the rounds much more than I would have thought, considering it's published by a new indie publisher. But honestly, The Assassin's Curse is one of the best debuts I've read all year.
I've been saying for quite a while that what YA needs more of is pirates
. There just really aren't that many. And I mean, come on. Who doesn't love a good pirate?
And the pirates in Ms. Clarke's book are epic. Think Pirates of the Caribbean #3, with all the different pirate lords getting together. Our MC Ananna is the daughter of one of these pirate lords, and she's about to get married off to the son of another pirate lord. Too bad she's not much into arranged marriages.
I really liked Ananna because she's spunky and feisty, but she also had genuine fears and weaknesses. I don't like a lot of kickbutt heroines because I feel like they turn into Wonder Woman, and who wants to read about that? But Ananna could kick butt AND she had personality.
*cue "Hallelujah Chorus"*
I also really liked Naji, although he falls into the category of mysterious, brooding boy. But, y'all. He's a freaking NINJA!
Why has no one thought to mix pirates and ninjas in a YA book before?! It's like the quintessential question: which is better? Cassandra Rose Clarke answers with, "Who the eff cares?! I used them both!"
This story was just so original. And the worldbuilding was AWESOME. I tried to figure out what sort of folklore she could have used to base her world in, but I totally gave up. It's like a mixture of Arabian Nights and "Pirates of the Caribbean"...with Japanese ninjas. There are also some rather steampunk elements in the story, thrown in for good measure.
Yeah, mind = blown.
The adventure took prominence over the romance, as well, which was refreshing. Ananna and Naji sort of hate each other at the beginning of the book, so I was worried that the relationship between them wouldn't be developed very well. But it's actually very slow, which was great. I also liked that the love triangle was opposite from what we're used to: there were two girls vying for one boy.
At first, I thought this was going to be a standalone book and I was sort of pissed. The ending is a definite cliffhanger, and I REALLY want to know what happens next. But it's since then been announced that this is the first in a series, so YAY!
This is a book like no other YA book I've ever read, and I'm really hoping that it'll start a new trend. Please bring more pirates into YA! And ninjas! And Aladdin-esque settings!
We shall all thank you. :)