Justine's Reviews > Crown of Oblivion

Crown of Oblivion by Julie Eshbaugh
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really liked it
bookshelves: book-tour, edelweiss

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Stars are for people safe enough to enjoy them.

Crown of Oblivion is author Julie Eshbaugh’s newest publication, and is an intense and brutal tale of social injustices, and the essential fight to balance the scales. Astrid Jael is an Outsider, as well as surrogate to the Lanorian Princess Renya – when the princess misbehaves, Astrid is the one to be mercilessly punished. After the death of her father, she enlists in the Race of Oblivion to secure citizenship for herself and her brother, so they are able to receive the same benefits of those who are rightful members of this society defined by abuse and oppression. This story is one of remaining steadfast if the face of adversity, standing your ground regardless of the cost, and most notably, the importance of family and true friendship.

The world Eshbaugh builds around us is remarkably whimsical, intelligently weaving magic with technology – crowded market squares, serene sea-lined shores, deadly deserts of black sand, quaint logging towns hiding terrible secrets, fantastical forests, the places we’re delivered to are endlessly beautiful. The world itself contains a population that is divided into Enchanteds and Outsiders, and the latter is broken up into the slaves of society and various rebel groups. The Outsider Liberation Army proactively fights for the rights of their people, often viewed as domestic terrorists, while the Third Way are those that have withdrawn from society, attempting to live peacefully out of sight of their oppressors. This turmoil is the driving force for the entirety of this story, leading to pleasantly unexpected twists and turns. My only criticism would be that there are so many places visited, and not enough time is spent in all to truly discover what each has to offer.

Courage gets a few to the summit, my father is saying, but fear convinces most to choose the mud. Don’t you choose the mud, Astrid, he continues. You are far too strong for that.

The characters take center stage in this narrative, and although the tale is solely told using Astrid’s voice, a well-rounded cast, and the the precursor to the Race of Oblivion being the temporary removal of memories, we’re able to view the continent anew. I very much appreciated learning about the world and what makes it spin alongside the racers as they began to regain their memories. Tragedy spurs Astrid into entering the race in order to save what’s remaining of her family, and we witness a determined, adept, and supportive character emerge from the amnesiac fog. The consequences faced as a result of cruelty and arrogance is also highlighted brilliantly throughout. There are heroes, there are villains, there are those in between; each working towards separate goals using various means, allowing the reader to easily pick sides.

Another major aspect touched upon in this story is magic. A well-planned magic system called the Three Unities, namely Cientia, able to read emotions, Projectura, able to physically harm others without leaving visible wounds, and Pontium, able to build psychic bridges as a means of communication. At birth, Outsiders are inoculated, preventing them from ever developing these abilities since they’re only reserved for the Enchanteds. We learn Astrid is capable in these skillsets, which injects a new mysterious factor into the story that kept me guessing until the end. My only wish is that this system was further examined to convey the what and the how, as I felt it was slightly lacking.

Crown of Oblivion is a harsh and vivid account of a deadly scavenger hunt, leading us from one obscure clue to another at a breakneck pace. Simple prose made this a fun, easy read – however, there are aspects that felt overly-simplified, and would’ve benefitted from just a little more depth. The conclusion was also a bit lackluster, as I felt things tied up far too quickly, leaving me with more questions than answers, so I’m hoping this isn’t the last we see of this world. All things considered, I thoroughly enjoyed my journey through this book and would recommend it to anyone on the hunt for a YA tale of survival and pure conviction.

NOTE: A huge thank you to HarperTeen for providing me a complementary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review, and to the Fantastic Flying Book Club for inviting me to take part in the Crown of Oblivion Blog Tour.

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Reading Progress

October 10, 2019 – Shelved (Hardcover Edition)
October 29, 2019 – Started Reading
October 29, 2019 – Shelved
November 5, 2019 – Finished Reading

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