I wanted so badly to like this book, but there were a few things about it that just didn’t work for me. It’s supposedly a book about assassins, but the assassins themselves and their practices were hardly mentioned, and the main character, Zayn, spent very little time with them. I couldn’t shake the amateur feeling I got from this book—everything from breakneck pacing, insta-love, and the “super special” abilities the main character has (which weren’t explained very well). There was something about it that made it kind of interesting and compelled me to read, but it was not technically done very well—I would have liked it more if it didn’t feel so juvenile in its various components.
I admit it’s been a little while since I finished this book, and I didn’t take as many notes as I should have. What I say in this review will mostly be determined by the highlights I made in the book, the status updates I wrote about it on BookLikes, and the overall feelings I was left with when I look back on it. An ARC of this book was provided by the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.
What I Liked: Spoilers!
- I could feel a very special and interesting story underneath everything else, just trying to burst out. I really enjoyed the setting and the concept of this novel, and I must admit, the drive behind Zayn’s motivation to kill Guy de Molay made her a noteworthy character in that regard. Her thoughts and feelings were believable, and because of that, I wanted so badly to enjoy her story more than I did. Overall, I could feel something special lurking just beneath the surface, and I really do hope that if this book turns into a series, that the wonderful story I know is there will burst free through refinement.
What I Didn’t Like:
- The pacing in this book was all over the place. By the end of the second chapter (eight percent into the novel), Zayn’s powers had been revealed, her mother put to death for witchcraft, there was a flashback about Earic, Zayn was raped by Guy, and she had nearly killed herself. Chapter three is when the whole assassin thing begins to be introduced. It just all felt so…quick. Things happen very swiftly in this novel, and it just moves along in a way that reminded me of middle grade books that move quickly to compensate for the short attention spans of their readers. This is one of the major reasons this book felt juvenile to me, despite some of the heavy subjects handled in the text. I think the pacing was my biggest issue—I wish more time had been taken to really develop the story, instead of pushing the reader along to get to more action.
- I also had some issues with how generic this was. There was your standard bad guy (and “sub” bad guys); Zayn has unexplainable powers that she can’t control, but somehow learns to control very quickly (seriously, though, by the end of the novel, I still didn’t know what her powers actually were—super strength combined with super speed and other such stuff? It only ever described it as “better” than a normal person—and I’m not sure how she can’t control being strong…); her childhood sweetheart is a blond-haired, blue-eyed darling (his name was Earic Goodwin, for heaven’s sake), and they fall in love based on two chance encounters when they were children. Honestly? And I’m still wondering how Zayn reached the ranks of the most highly trained Assassins within just a few months (I think it was a few months—even if was a couple years, though, the book said it usually takes a lifetime of training to reach the status of the most elite Assassins—the Faithful Ones—but Zayn, of course, passes the Faithful Ones test with flying colors after only spending half her time physically training). There were just too many cliché and generic qualities for me to ignore, and I probably could have overlooked them separately, but when they were all piled on top of each other throughout the course of the novel, it really started to bother me.
Overall: I expected more out of this book than I ended up getting. The different facts that bugged me spoke of a juvenile and immature writing style, which I sincerely hope develops more in following books either in this series or from this author in general. The idea was incredibly interesting, but it just ended up getting overshadowed by individual factors that overpowered the rest of the novel.