This fast-paced political fantasy centers on teens coming into their abilities: magical, physical, or mental. At the elite training academy of Tildor, the senior year is full of challenges for Renee who MUST succeed particularly since her father has disowned her. She desperately wants to be a fighting Servant for the new king. The king is full of promise when he vows to fight the corruption of mafia-like families that control the country but his actions lead to disappearances and death. Renee decides to chuck her career when her young friend is captured. Things go from bad to worse. Fighting, from the training spars to the gladiator fights, punctuates the storyline that features a strong cast of characters. Even though the story line and characters really are nothing new when it comes to YA political fantasy, this book succeeds.
It seems like I’ve read so many books where page after page of character introspection drag things down, but this author shows, explains, and moves on. Great! Throughout the day (school holiday) I kept being drawn back to the story and put off other chores so I could see what happens next. When I have a problem putting a book down, that’s the mark of a book my students will enjoy. The main protagonist is female and it is so difficult to get boys to read books with a female protagonist, but this doesn’t drag the reader into chic lit so I hope boys will pick it up. The majority of the characters are male and Servant Commander Savoy is a heck of a role model. If Renee can be accepted into the Academy of Tildor by her male classmates, I hope young teen boys can accept reading about their battles. Very good!
NetGalley review Publication date 1.10.12