“As beautiful as this world is, it’s just as dangerous. People who are not useful, people who make mistakes, they can be removed. You can be removed.”
So, this book. It was pretty engrossing. I got very swept up in the story. I’ve seen friends who loved it and friends who’ve hated it on my feed here at GoodReads this past year. I don’t think there was anyone who was “meh” about it. For me? I’m better than meh. I didn’t think it was over-the-top brilliant or anything, but I think that the author is a very good storyteller, and she caught me in her world, made me care about her characters, and built a world that I found both fascinating and believable.
If you know me, I have a hard time with fantasy novels that include magic. I get annoyed that authors use it as an “easy out” when they write themselves into a corner. I find it implausible in most situations and ridiculous in the rest. Here, for some reason (maybe the vague suggestion that it’s the result of some kind of nuclear war or accident) it was written well enough that I found it to make sense.
In this world, the populace is divided into Reds and Silvers. Reds are your everyday humans; they bleed red blood. They are poor, put-upon, conscripted as soldiers (male and female alike) at 18. They serve at the whim of Silvers, because Silvers have the power. They bleed silver blood, but more importantly, they have powers beyond that of an ordinary human. There are nymphs who can control water, whispers who can get right into your head to control you, and more. They have powers because… well, that’s never quite explained. But they have them in spades.
“The only thing that serves to distinguish us, outwardly at least, is that Silvers stand tall. Our backs are bent by work and unanswered hope and the inevitable disappointment with our lot in life.”
Mare is just an ordinary red girl. She’s 17, so about to be conscripted. Her older brothers are all away at war, and her dad was so injured by his own service that he’s wheelchair-dependent. Mare is an excellent thief and pickpocket and uses her skills to help support her family, however much they might dislike how she does it.
Through an accident of fate, Mare is thrown into the world of the silvers. To survive, she must masquerade as one, or risk not just her own death, but that of everyone she loves.
“In the fairy tales, the poor girl smiles when she becomes a princess. Right now, I don’t know if I’ll ever smile again.”
Unsurprisingly, this world is not as pretty as it seems, and is full of treachery and betrayal and hidden motives. As if mean girls in the world aren’t enough (and there are mean girls aplenty here, believe me), there are also mean queens and mean little royal asses. There’s mean everybodies.
My favourite part? Instead of the girl waiting for the boy to save her, which is what I thought was going to happen here, the girl saves herself. Awesomesauce.