My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Going into this book, I had high expectations and hope that this wouldn't turn into a dominantly romance based story. Here we follow Zoe, and her journey to figure out who killed her neighbors and what actually happened to her dad. "X", a resident of the lowlands mysteriously shows up on the scene of a winter storm to harvest a soul. There begins a tale of coming-of-age, love, and sacrifice. As you can see from the synopsis, there's the line:
The first fifty to one hundred pages of this book were really solid, they could make me appreciate Giles as a writer. His craft is there, his descriptions are there, and up to my standards, and so I really enjoyed his writing style. Then we get to the part where the romantic subplot starts overshadowing the urban fantasy aspect of it. I had all sorts of problems with the romance.
For the perfect love, what would you be willing to lose?
First of all, it was insta-love, which as you may know is my number one pet peeve in YA. I honestly thought that in this situation, it would have been better to portray a slow burn than to jump on the first opportunity of romance. Some parts of this plot were underwhelming, and I really didn't like how they used the involvement of the father to further their own purpose. It was predictable to me at least, and I found it distasteful. Also, I found the whole romance to fall flat and be underwhelming in general.
My only favorite part about this was the sibling relationship between Zoe and Jonah. Jonah is an eight year old, who has ADHD and is a very sensitive child. Because of their single mother and mostly absent father, it has fallen on Zoe's shoulders to be the protectors of him. It's refreshing to see this healthy relationship portrayed in YA books, when usually if there's siblings, they're kind of brushed away as side characters. But truly, all of the character in this book were interacting with Jonah in one way or another.
I would like to see this worldbuilding be expanded. I honestly thought that what we knew of the "Lowlands" isn't enough to lead us on. I read this some time ago, and the only thing that I can remember is that it was like hell, but the author doesn't really describe the particular landscapes, or the rules that govern that society in them. The ending of this book does set you up right for the next installment, where I would hope that the author could develop the concept of "Lowlands."
Overall, although I could enjoy the reading experience for what it was, this just wasn't the book for me.
**Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy in exchange to my honest review. All opinions are my own**
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