An apology is needed here, I think. Usually I like to make sure I read books in order because I’m ridiculously type A, but I just grabbed this book from a picture one of my fellow book club members posted and started reading. I should have done more research. Leigh Bardugo wrote this fantastic book, but prior to this she also wrote the Grisha trilogy, which would have given me more information and background on this universe and the Grisha specifically. Please understand though, that I was able to keep up with the story and lore without having read this prior trilogy. So if you think you would enjoy having that background and these other stories under your belt before busting out this series, visit Bardugo’s website to get the full list of books: http://www.grishaverse.com
There are humans and Grisha. Grisha are humans with powers, and those powers are very specific. The Grisha are divided into types, and then subtypes, and are trained as they grow. Most are found in the country of Ravka, but can be found throughout this universe. There are slavers who capture Grisha for sale, and an entire nation in the north dedicates themselves to hunt and kill Grisha because they view them as unnatural.
The plot of this first book centers around Grisha being drugged, their skills heightened and used as weapons. The drug is called parem jurda and the creator/scientist responsible is being held in the north in a supposedly impenetrable fortress. Our team of six is hired to retrieve him to prevent the northern nation from having this power and to return him to Ketterdam. Relationships form, histories are revealed, and daring plans and twists bring the team to the fortress to earn their reward.
It is difficult to express how much I enjoyed this book. It had a little bit of flavor from many of the things I enjoy. A little X-Men, a little Lord of the Rings, some Ocean’s Eleven and Mission Impossible vibes as well, and I’m always here for an underdog story with dark pasts which feed character development and a love story that makes you want to say “JUST KISS ALREADY!!” There are also some hints that there may be some LGBT representation in the series, which I think is nice. You will love all these characters and root for their success.
I get that this is a young adult novel. I also understand that the characters in YA are usually teenageers, as is the case here. A strength of this book (and perhaps a weakness if you’re looking for continuity) is that you forget they are teenagers. It is only mentioned two or three times that they are 16 or whatever, so as you are reading you can see these characters as adults and the story stays just as impressive and enticing. In fact I enjoyed the book more because I read it that way.
It ends with a “cliffhanger” and just picture me using finger quotes there for sarcasm because really it’s just the story stopping for a minute so you don’t have to read a 600 page book. You’re not really left in suspense, but you do want to know what happens next. This was a fun, intense, interesting read and I highly recommend it.