The story started off interestingly. The prologue is titled preface but that’s nothing major. It was actually good in the sense that it sets up the idea of taking souls and basically leaving the populace as mindless, submissive drones. It’s after this that the story starts to dip a bit.
Firstly the intros were off. The scene with Kymar and her mother didn’t really divulge much and when we meet Kymar again a whole lot of time has passed but it isn’t mentioned. I read the whole thing thinking did this happen months, years later? And it isn’t told from her point of view even though she is the main character. So the author keeps referring to her mom as the woman, instead of her mom.
The other main characters intro was much the same. You kind of get a feel for who Garen is in relation to his friend Sciel but nothing really concrete about who he is in relation to the story. That and he calls his friend Sky sometimes. I left the chapter convinced there were three people in this scene because he also called his friend Sciel by his actual name. This made me believe Sky, and Sciel were indeed two different people.
The world and the plot are easy to understand and get but the execution was off. Garen seems to just think he can walk up to people and join their ranks cause humans are just out there trusting strangers. He has the exact same plan about evading the city to release the souls. And he somehow thought that he could do this without being able to read. Like how was he planning to understand how the soul jars work or conduct research once inside the city walls and… well there are just so many things writing would be needed to do. And this naivety keeps up through the entire novel as he spends most of the second half not thinking before he speaks and just shouting all the time.
As far as Kymar is concerned she was okay but it was hard to get on board with someone I am guessing is sixteen who has never held a weapon who is magically proficient right outside the door. And I actually found she wasn’t stubborn although apparently, Garen found her to be but that was just him saying so. He actually turned out to be the more stubborn ‘we must free the souls’ one-track-minded ‘don’t think through things’ character.
The following might contain a few spoilers.
Back to the point of execution. There is a lot that I could say but I’m going to skip to them getting captured in the castle. Without knowing where the room they need is, the layout of the castle, or even who the major players are, both the main characters decide that running away instead of getting intel is the smarter thing to do. No pretending to go along with the enemy. No asking about or if they could see each other as they had gotten separated during capture. Instead of adding a few more pages of them coming together and trying to formulate a plan, it turns into a big mess of them running amok without a real plan leading to chaos and confusion instead of the plot calculatedly moving forward. There’s no real plot, just ‘free the souls’ and that’s it.
Also, throughout the book there is a fair bit of POV shifts/head jumping and they tend to be quick so as soon as they happen you return back to the focus of the main character’s pov and it’s a bit jarring. And on a few occasions the next scene just sort of happens in the next paragraph without a page break. I had to reread a paragraph or two because it was in a different scene with a different character literally right after the present scene.
I really wanted to enjoy this, but the only movement was the scenes changing and the two main leads didn’t actually have character growth. Kymar was tolerable but didn’t change much and Garen remained naive and annoying right through to the end. In a world where most people have no free will and are basically nullified, he came across as less of instead of better than because of it.
This was a quick read and the idea behind it, was interesting enough to keep me reading but it never really lifted off the page and the ending seemed like it was leading to this big climax and then it just ended. I reread it a few times to see if I missed something, but it was indeed over. This story could’ve been great but, unfortunately, it gave me an underdeveloped feeling preventing me from enjoying it.