I loved, loved, hated, loved... mostly, loved this one. Because WTF was that ending? By no means is this a “perfect” book, but its second half more than made up for the mess that kestrell initially was. so, she is a girl and he’s a boy, and together, they make star crossed lovers seem like a trifling thing, given all the FEELS that was going on here.
The girl: general's daughter, is split on who she's to become. it's this aspect that tried me most because liking kestrell? 'twas almost impossible. to wed or to follow in her father's footsteps? were it but those two choices plaguing her, i may have dropped this... but the confliction in her was not just in who she'd become; in fact, a lot of the moments with her become all about her internal conflict: what she wants versus what her father wants versus what every one else expects. sure, choices, choices, choices but truly? i was expecting a kick ass girl lead; i was waiting for her to live up to the brilliant strategist reputation she was said to have because there were hints of the same (brilliant, intriguing hints, in fact) but those moments would time and again get buried under her being... being so non-kickass! so another love-hate thing: loving the glimpses of smart tough in her then hating everything else.
The guy. I enjoyed his part despite the inconsistencies. he's like no other slave i've read of. and while in the end it's all given reason, as it was happening, i could not help but wonder how non-slave like he was treated, (the same could be said for kestrell, come to think.)
Save that, it's the story of how he became who he was at the beginning that sealed it. the details into his why and how had all these feels swirling in me. his snippets on pride and survival and fighting or not fighting? it all made him more than just her enemy... because there's this sameness to the two of them. it's that which drew me in, then had me wanting yet as well as wondering if/how an HEA could be obtained.
i came into this expecting something like Graceling... but frankly, fantasy (epic/high) this was not. it's political intrigue of plotting then confrontations, but in the midst of that: a romance. a romance that's not flash and burn, but slow and hesitant and even reluctant at times. yet, it's both these aspects (political and romantic) that won me over. Both are built up then built up so more, so that by the time I'd breached second half, nothing was going to pry me from my book, not even my job.
The hype, believe it (if only for the second half)