Series: Court of Fives #1
on August 18, 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy & Magic, Action & Adventure, Survival Stories, Girls & Women, Love & Romance, Social Issues, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Prejudice & Racism, Sports & Recreation, General
Format: Advanced Review Copy
Source: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
I received this book for free from Little Brown Books for Young Readers in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Buy on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, The King's English
Jessamy's life is a balance between acting like an upper-class Patron and dreaming of the freedom of the Commoners. But away from her family she can be whoever she wants when she sneaks out to train for The Fives, an intricate, multilevel athletic competition that offers a chance for glory to the kingdom's best contenders. Then Jes meets Kalliarkos, and an unlikely friendship between two Fives competitors--one of mixed race and the other a Patron boy--causes heads to turn. When Kal's powerful, scheming uncle tears Jes's family apart, she'll have to test her new friend's loyalty and risk the vengeance of a royal clan to save her mother and sisters from certain death.
Much like with These Broken Stars a few years ago, I feel like the odd woman out on this one. I eagerly anticipated this book, with it’s cool cover and awesome premise (Little Women meets Game of Thrones), and even the first scene with Jessamy running the Fives, I was completely on board. But, then things started to unravel.
And once that thread was pulled I felt like it didn’t take long for it all to fall apart.
Let’s start at square one—characters. There were too many sisters that had too little personality. I’m the first to admit that I’m not great with remembering character names, and it’s not hard to get me all confused about who is who, especially when I’m blazing through a book. And that definitely happened here. I feel like the personalities of the sisters just didn’t have enough time to solidify in my mind before they really got muddled in with the story. The main character, Jessamy, felt like a templated YA fantasy heroine. Everyone was so black and white. I never had to question Kalliarko’s devotion to Jessamy. The villain, devoid of a true motivation to harm Jessamy and her family, purely exists to be evil and cause trouble. It just wasn’t enough.
Ultimately, I feel like this book suffered from trying to do way too much without giving the reader much to go on. The Fives game was confusing and almost irrelevant except for being something Jessamy had a passion for. Her travels to rescue her family slowed the story down, and the mysticism at the end just adding to the pot of confusion. By the end of the book, I was almost skimming, looking for a thread of story to cling to and coming up empty.
Disappointing? Yes. I had hoped for a lot more from this series, but it looks like this one will be the end of the road for me.