by Pintip Dunn
Genre: YA Fantasy
Release Date: October 2nd 2018
In a world where nutrition can be transferred via a pill, and society is split into Eaters and Non-Eaters, seventeen-year-old Princess Vela has a grave dilemma. Her father, the king, is dying, and only a transplant of organs from a healthy Non-Eater boy will save him.
Vela is tasked with choosing a boy fit to die for the king, which is impossible enough. But then Carr, the boy she’s loved all her life, emerges as the best candidate in the Bittersweet Trials. And he’s determined to win, because by doing so, he can save the life of his Non-Eater sister.
Refusing to accept losing the boy she loves, Vela bends the rules and cheats. But when someone begins to sabotage the Trials, Vela must reevaluate her own integrity—and learn the true sacrifice of becoming a ruler.
This was my first book from Ms. Dunn, but definitely not my last! Though at times the world-building was slightly off-putting (a small segment of the population gorging themselves on food 6X a day to have the nutrients extracted from them and put into pill form to feed the rest? Ewwwww…at least that process wasn’t described in detail, thank goodness) the underlying story and the characters make it almost impossible to put down. When the cover says, “Only one can survive” they’re not kidding–and it’s heartwrenching at times…
I loved Vela, Carr, Astana, and Vela’s father, the king–such wonderful characters! (Though, quick question–what’s up with people’s names? There’s a weird blend of “people” names–Adam, Blanca, Viola–and “place” names–Brooklyn, Denver–I assume it’s to help them remember Earth? but I don’t think it’s ever explained, and it’s a bit strange…) The way Ms. Dunn sets up their conflicts so that they’re all i opposition to each other while still wanting what they believe is best for those around them is just amazing, and there were times I nearly despaired of her being able to find an HEA for everyone. (Spoiler: she kind of doesn’t…? But kind of does…) I loved watching Vela as she struggled with the task the council gave to her, trying to become the leader that she hoped (and her father was pretty sure) she could be.
Honestly–that last 15% or so? Couldn’t. Put. It. Down.
So–focus on the people and their relationships and don’t spend too much time pondering the world itself, is my recommendation here. The story will sweep you away, even if the world is a bit…weird.
And read more Pintip Dunn! She clearly has got some strong writing chops, here 🙂
Rating: 4 stars / A-
I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.
About the Author:
Pintip Dunn is a New York Times bestselling author of young adult fiction. She graduated from Harvard University, magna cum laude, with an A.B., and received her J.D. at Yale Law School.
Pintip’s novel FORGET TOMORROW won the 2016 RWA RITA® for Best First Book, and SEIZE TODAY won the 2018 RITA for Best Young Adult Romance. Her books have been translated into four languages, and they have been nominated for the following awards: the Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire; the Japanese Sakura Medal; the MASL Truman Award; the Tome Society It list; and the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award. Her other titles include REMEMBER YESTERDAY, THE DARKEST LIE, GIRL ON THE VERGE, and the upcoming STAR-CROSSED and MALICE.
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