The Shock of Survival by Nicole Field
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
[actual rating: 4.5]
In this story, we follow three main characters that all have their unique scars after they've won a bleak war that changed their lives forever. Ophelia is a stubborn kick-ass character who won't back down and is trying to just find herself and her own way in the world (a.k.a exactly my type of character). Then there Ben (short for Benedict) that is guilt-tripping himself into faults but stands as the leader of the threesome group of special magic users. I loved his character probably the most, because he's mysterious character that seemed undecipherable in my eyes. Alyxx is an intimate friend to our MC, who lives in a tree in the woods and has an adorable tail and pointed ears. She really reminded me of the "mother character" who was always out there trying to be protective to the MC, even when she necessarily didn't need that protection always. Then there's Dylan, who although he isn't that well-developed plays a key role in the war efforts and what happened in the plot line.
I think that this book did a brilliant job of subtly introducing us to the idea of polygamous relationship(s), and a real representation of the main bisexual character was excellently done. Why is this so rare? Because this book is #ownvoices we get a story that has personal experiences, which just enhances the diverse representation that I was looking for within this book.
Personally, my favorite stories are those intricate emotional shock stories after something traumatic happens, because: I think that we know that we can imagine what happened during the war, but the afterwords if just as important, if not even more to experience. This is a wonderful journey, that doesn't end when we end it there with them, and spans throughout the whole story in such a profound way that it really moved me. Because these characters were mainly 18 or 19, I got a distinct feeling that these were almost vets of the war and I felt like I could greater relate to modern day soldiers who come out of serving during wartime.
One of my favorite tropes was utilized here, the "best-friend-turns-to-lover" because I absolutely adore seeing a blossoming friendship grow and develop. It just absolutely warms my heart and gives me a fuzzy feeling. Although, to be clear the romance wasn't the "central" part of the story to my interpretation, rather a side plot that flowed into the river of the main plot.
My only big problem with this story in general, was that was some lacking backstory. All the mentions of the "war" were very vague and generic. I just didn't get the history of what exactly had happened and what a big deal or not this was and I think that would have been beneficial to the world-building. I do understand that there was some back and forth skipping between the time periods (5 years before, 2 years before, etc.) but that wasn't enough to give me a mental map of what happened during that dark gap in these characters' lives, which by the way, played a very central theme.
Overall, would absolutely recommend this brilliant book to everyone. Thank you so much Nik, for writing such a moving masterpiece.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me a copy of this book in exchange to my honest review.
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