I've always enjoyed The Bachelor more than The Bachelorette. So maybe that's part of the reason why I enjoyed America's story much more than Eadlyn'sI've always enjoyed The Bachelor more than The Bachelorette. So maybe that's part of the reason why I enjoyed America's story much more than Eadlyn's .
Eadlyn was born minutes before her twin brother Ahren, making her the kingdom's heir. She is bitterly resentful about being the crown princess, and prefers to sketch dresses than learn how to rule the kingdom. She does, however, take her role seriously. So when her parents ask her to hold a Selection to distract the kingdom from the turmoil caused by ending the caste system, she oh-so-reluctantly agrees.
Eadlyn is, to put it simply, a brat. She has absolutely no friends and it is obvious why. She is arrogant, self-centered and spoiled. She thinks she is better and she has a harder life than everyone else. For instance, she simply cannot imagine why her maid would ever want anything more than being her maid. And she rudely and harshly interacts with the Selection candidates. Her little brother Osten is so clearly a better person and a better future ruler, I wonder why America and Maximum have not chosen him as the heir yet.
He rolled his eyes. "Don't talk to me like that, Eadlyn. I'm fourteen, not four. I read all the papers, and I pay attention at the Reports. I speak more languages than you, and I'm learning all the things you have without anyone making me do it. Don't act like you're better than me. I'm a prince."
I sighed. "Yes, but I will be queen," I corrected, sipping my coffee. I really didn't need this right now.
"And your name will be in a history book one day, and some bored ten year old will memorize it for a test and then forget all about you. YOu have a job, just like everybody in the world. Stop acting like it makes you more or less than anyone else."
Eadlyn cannot get over herself, and even her fourteen-year old brother knows it. If Eadlyn was really that upset about being the heir she could always...abdicate. And let Osten take over. But I suspect she likes being the most important person in the room. I didn't mind Eadlyn's unlikeability at first, because it gave her plenty of room for growth. However, by the end of this book, she is still the same selfish, spoiled, arrogant girl she was at the beginning. I'm hoping that she will finally grow in the next one.
Despite Eadlyn's poor attitude and self-absorption, she still manages to get several potential suitors to fall for her: bookish childhood acquaintance Kaden, sweet, Finnish-speaking Henri, and kindly, patient translator Erik. None of them have the spark that America and Maxim had.
Awkwardly, Eadlyn also had to handle a rapist and a volatile bully among her suitors. How did two such dangerous young men get granted such close access to their future ruler? BECAUSE THERE WERE NO EXTENSIVE BACKGROUND CHECKS ON THE GROUP OF STRANGE MEN BROUGHT TO THE PALACE TO BE IN CLOSE PROXIMITY TO THE ROYAL FAMILY. In fact, even after the rapist was kicked out there were no background checks. It took two dangerous characters for the royal family to even think about making sure that the men they had invited into their home were safe. I love you Maxim and America, but maybe this kind of lack of forethought is why your country is falling apart. Also, please disinherit Eadlyn so she can go off to become a fashion designer and let Osten be the ruler your country so desperately needs....more
Like Red Queen, this is a super-hyped 2015 YA dystopian trilogy. Also like that book, it is as generic as it comes. Evil empire, girl from the underclLike Red Queen, this is a super-hyped 2015 YA dystopian trilogy. Also like that book, it is as generic as it comes. Evil empire, girl from the underclass suffering a grave injustice/loss, her fight for rebellion, some love entanglements, all told in first-person present tense. Red Queen's twist on the formula was to give characters mutant powers. Ember in the Ashes instead goes for a vaguely Roman/Middle Eastern flavor.
Laia is a member of the oppressed Scholar people, who have been conquered by the Martial Empire. The Martial Empire has also conquered the Tribes who live in the Tribal Desert, but are much nicer to them. Creative naming is not this land's strong suit, but they get points for descriptive accuracy.
The Martial Empire is vaguely Roman and by “vaguely” I mean that its citizens have Roman names and that is it. Just like the Scholar (and the Tribal) people are vaguely Middle Eastern. And by that I mean they have legends about ghouls and ifrits and jinns. That is it. Otherwise, this is a generic fantasy land with a generic dictatorship.
Laia’s brother has been making forbidden sketches of forbidden weapons, which calls down the Empire’s force on Laia’s family. Her grandparents are murdered before her eyes (her parents and older sister having previously been murdered by the Empire), and her brother is taken away to be imprisoned and tortured. Laia escapes and manages to join the rebels. They assign her the deadly and impossible task of being placed in the notoriously sadistic Commandant’s household as a spy.
Meanwhile, the Commandant’s bastard son, Elias, is on the brink of becoming a Mask (the Empire's elite special forces). He is about to graduate from the Empire's brutal school for Masks-in-training - the very non-Latin sounding Blackcliff. Elias is supremely angsty about being at Blackcliff and becoming a Mask. He hates it all, and hates the Empire, and has a plan to desert. But of course circumstances interfere and he ends up getting picked for the Trials which will decide who will be the new emperor. Super conveniently, only Elias’ graduating class is eligible for the Trials and EVEN MORE CONVENIENTLY, there are only four candidates: Elias, his best friend/love interest Helene, and the class bullies, twins Zak (the slightly less evil one but too weak to stand up to his brother) and Marcus (the really evil one).
Laia gets abused by the Commandant, but endures it for the sake of her brother. Elias is supremely conflicted about his entire life and life choices. Elias and Laia run into each other and it is lust at first sight. Which gets complicated for Elias, since his comrade-in-arms Helene is in love with him (and he has a maybe-more-than-platonic love for her back?).
While events are not easy on Elias or Laia, their survival appears to depend on nothing but blind luck. Or maybe destiny, if the vague predictions of the mysterious Augurs are to be believed. Laia in particular - while certainly a tough lady to survive the Commandant's constant abuse - is terrible at hiding her feelings. The Commandant's cook immediately recognizes Laia as a rebel and a spy. And yet it appears that the Commandant - an extremely suspicious, trigger-happy lady - did not figure out that Laia was a spy from the get-go. Laia is also constantly being told that she holds herself too proudly and needs to look more beaten down and broken to make a convincing slave - I'm not sure if she ever manages to play her role convincingly. Elias is also terrible at hiding his feelings and clearly detests the Masks and the Empire. I have to assume that it was his grandfather's influence keeping him alive (or possibly the Augurs, who seem to have big plans for Elias). Otherwise, there is no way that an organization as ruthless as the Masks (they whip ten-year olds to death for attempting to run away!) would not cull a student clearly as seditious as Elias. Elias and Laia are good people who are trying their best in a harsh world - but they lack the ruthlessness and cunning that make Darrow of Red Rising and Katniss of The Hunger Games such compelling characters. ...more
An insect dystopian that didn’t quite work. Watership Down and Animal Farm make far better use of animals to talk about human society.
Part of the proAn insect dystopian that didn’t quite work. Watership Down and Animal Farm make far better use of animals to talk about human society.
Part of the problem is that Paull couldn’t seem to decide if she was writing about bees that were a reflection of human society, or some kind of cartoon version of bees where they had pastries (whaat) and chalices (seriously, whaaaat). Sometimes the bees were very bee-like. Sometimes they were humans using bee words.
Flora 717 is the heroine of this novel. She’s a worker bee, one of the oppressed underclass, but somehow is more intelligent than her compatriots. Flora 717's hive is a theocracy-matriarchy with a strict caste system. The hive is controlled by the Sage caste, although the Queen is a figurehead beloved by all the lower bees. The bees are also mindreaders and there’s a Hive Mind. The motto of the hive is “Accept. Obey. Serve.” It’s all very dystopian. But they are BEES so I kind of expected their society to function like this.
Flora 717 becomes a nursery worker, which is usually for a different caste of bees. She also somehow later migrates to the fliers, another caste altogether. For a society with such a rigid caste-system, Flora 717 seems to move around the classes pretty easily. And the other bees accept it with minimum fuss after the first time.
The thing about animal fables is that they are supposed to tell us something about human society. But I'm not sure if The Bees says anything about humans or societies that a host of middling YA dystopian books haven't already said. I guess it could be considered a commentary about caste systems/social classes. But Flora 717 was barely bound by the social classes. Maybe it was about the wrongness of mindless obedience? But the ending made it seem that obedience to a queen would continue with (view spoiler)[Flora 717's daughter as queen (hide spoiler)]. Because, let's face it, THEY ARE BEES. And Flora 717 is more concerned with stability than freedom anyway. She’s much more upset that the hive itself is unstable because there’s not enough food than she is about the fact that there’s a limit on breeding.
I also didn't understand the point of having the human POV in the prologue and epilogue? Except to show the reader that the lot with the hive was going to be paved over soon and that is supposed to be sad because you are supposed to love the bees at the end. But by the end I still didn't care for the bees. And the destruction of the hive seemed like a good thing, if it was an oppressive dystopian society. It was like DO YOU WANT THIS DYSTOPIAN SOCIETY DESTROYED OR DON’T YOU?!? ...more