When everything that defines you is stripped away, who do you become?
War has come to Atalanta, infecting its quiet villages and lush woodlands, igniting whispered worries in its glittering capital.
All across the dominion, young men are being Selected for Military and sent to the front lines…and eighteen-year-old Aris Haan’s childhood sweetheart is one of them.
Pyralis Nekkos, Atalanta’s leader, has kept the truth from his people, that their dominion will fall…and much sooner than anyone could guess.
Galena Vadim, his reluctant ally, wishes she could forget their shared past…until her future seems to depend on it.
For the boy she loves, Aris, a talented wingjet pilot, will give up everything – her home, her name, even her face…
…only to become the key to her dominion’s survival.
(book blurb and picture from Netgalley)
The publisher gave me a copy of this book to read and review (from NetGalley). This has, in no way, altered my opinion of the book and what is written below is a 100% honest review.
So, it may be considered cheating, but I looked up the reviews for this book before I started it. I just had to make sure that it was going to be good! It’s midterms time… I need a FABULOUS book to distract me from all of the emotional trauma… 😉
There is a set rule: No women may participate in the military. Aris Haan dares to defy this rule so that she can be with her boyfriend, Calix. Many reviews say that this novel seems like a modern take on Mulan. Yes, Aris Haan changes her appearance and undergoes training to look like a man and fight/walk/talk like a man. But, this is more than just another “Mulan” story. Tracy E. Banghart creates lovable characters and a female protagonist that you really root for. She also creates a whole complex setting for the story that adds an extra dimension of awesome. I would describe the plot, but I feel like it’s too complicated for me to do it justice. Read the above blurb, yeah? 🙂
PG: There’s one mention of “making love”, but nothing happened. Also, a man makes a suggestive rape-y comment (it’s all an act and it’s not serious). Don’t let that stop you from reading this book. I’m just keeping all of you informed.
I thoroughly enjoyed Aris Haan. At first, the reader views her as physically impaired (she has a limp from a disease she barely survived during childhood) and she views herself as impaired. She does not allow her disability to stop her, though. She trudges through life’s difficulties and perseveres. Also, I really loved how she joined the military for her boyfriend, Calix, and then, after some time, continued her military service for herself. That girl don’t need no man! Yes! Love it! I don’t really know if I totally felt the romantic connection between Aris and her second love interest (no spoilers here!). I liked what Banghart was trying to do (the second guy actually valued her for her and treated her with the respect she deserved), but I felt like it came out of nowhere and seemed forced at times. That being said, I felt okay with their relationship by the end of the novel. He’s a sweetheart and he doesn’t deserve Aris, but he’s trying. That’s good enough for me. The conclusion wrapped up in a very nice way. I was really scared that certain important concluding events weren’t going to be explained, but they were! This novel is written well and has a good balance of description/dialogue that kept the pages turning for me. There was split narration – mostly Aris, but also some chapters from Ward Galena’s point of view (something I really enjoyed). I didn’t become bored at any point in the book! In fact, I was sneaking glances at my Kindle every second that I was able. I even tweeted the author about my situation:
Sometimes I felt like the world that this novel took place in was too complicated. Keep in mind that I’m also not very good with names. Toss in a bunch of otherworldly cities and it’s a recipe for disaster. Trust me. All of the characters’ names are pretty creative (Aris, Calix, Pyralis, Galena, Laakon, etc.), so I often had to stop and remind myself of who was who. That was a bit annoying, but I was able to deal because I enjoyed the plot. Also, the author kept referring to many of the characters as having “purple-blue” or “blue-violet” eyes and I thought that that phrase/description was overused. Something else that generally confused me was the “veil” that they wore to transform into a man. I only have an ARC copy of this book and I just looked up the book cover. Apparently, there’s a picture on the back of the book that shows what it looks like (which I find super helpful). I was just confused as to how one small rectangle can change someone’s appearance so drastically. Maybe I just needed to have a little suspension of disbelief?
I’ll give this book 4/5! It seems like it’s a series of some sort and I would definitely read the next book in this series when it is released. If you’re interested in Sci-Fi, BA heroines, and a tad bit of romance – check this book out! It’s only 2.99 on Amazon for Kindle… so, GO GO GO!