When I begin reading this book I knew I had read something like it before. It took me a couple days, but I remembered that the Legend series by Marie Lu is almost exactly the same as this series, just with Patriots instead of “the Resistance” and the military brat is a girl and the from-the-slums character is a guy.
My Marie Lu reviews are here:
Where this book is concerned there are some magical elements added into the mix on top of the class distinctions and rebellion themes. To be honest I wasn’t totally smitten with the story but it was good enough that I’ll give the next one a chance (it’s already waiting for me at the library).
How do I explain what this book is even about? The Scholar class is enslaved by the Military class after an ancient war where the jinn (a mystical creature) are wiped out. The current dynasty has an Emperor that has issued no male heir, and so the immortal prophets the Augers have declared the trials of Aspirants to choose a new emperor, starting a new dynasty.
Laia is a Scholar slave whose parents used to run the Resistance but were killed, and whose brother is captured by a Mask and sent to prison for suspected collaboration with the Resistance. She escapes capture and begs the Resistance to fulfill a debt to her dead parents and help her rescue her brother. They agree and send her to the military academy to be the personal slave of the Commandant. They agree to help her as long as she spies for them and gets good intel.
Elias is a top military student in his last year of study and training to become a Mask, the most deadly assassin in the Military class of people. When the trials are declared, he is one of the 4 chosen to be an Aspirant for the throne. His mother, the Commandant of the military academy, is basically a bitch who hates her son and abandoned him as a baby in the desert, but he was discovered by the Tribes and raised apart…oh my god just go read the book. It’s so fucking convoluted but it’s pretty good so just save me some time and go read it. It’s one of those books that is impossible to summarize effectively.
Don’t rush to it, but definitely add it to your TBR if you like fantasy-themed, semi-dystopian YA.