Wednesday, June 5, 2013
Soulbound - Heather Brewer
Goodreads: Tril is a world where Barrons and Healers are Bound to each other: Barrons fight and Healers cure their Barrons' wounds in the ongoing war with the evil Graplar King. Seventeen-year-old Kaya was born a Healer, but she wants to fight. In Tril, and at Shadow Academy, where she is sent to learn to heal, it is against Protocol for Healers to fight. So Kaya must learn in secret. Enter two young men: One charming, rule-following Barron who becomes Bound to Kaya and whose life she must protect at all costs. And one with a mysterious past who seems bent on making Kaya's life as difficult as possible. Kaya asks both to train her, but only one will, and the consequences will change their lives forever.
*Fangirl squeal*!!! Can I just say how much I LOVED THIS BOOK?!? There are so many reasons why I shouldn't automatically add this to my favourites list, but I just can't bring myself to care about things that usually turn me off. The story is set in a fantasy world very similar to Kristin Cashore's if any of you are familiar with her writing (another author I absolutely ADORE). Unlike Cashore's heroines, who are a bit more misunderstood, Kaya absolutely knows who she is and what she believes. Kaya totally kicks ass, and what I loved most about this book is that despite the love triangle (it wouldn't be teen fiction without a love triangle these days, would it? Here's hoping that trend burns itself out soon), Kaya's worth is not dependent at all on either man (boy?), and she is definitely not a damsel in distress needing a white knight to rescue her. She clearly cares about each character and values their opinion, but if they have a disagreement she doesn't wallow in self-pity and try to commit suicide (Twilight anyone?).
Here's what I didn't like, but why it doesn't matter:
Trayton vs. Darius - I've been pretty clear I'm not a fan of the love triangle. Ooh look, two hot guys vying for one girl. Unfortunately it's a big hit with the teen audience these days, so it looks like for the forseeable future, most teen fiction is going to have this - especially if it has paranormal/fantasy elements. BUT here's why I forgive it in this novel. Despite feeling a connection with both men, Kaya doesn't consider herself in love with either. Potentially in love, yes, but she has much bigger problems to worry about outside of her love life. She doesn't spend the entire novel debating who she loves, how it is oh so morally wrong, etc, which seems to be a major plot point with teen novels. In fact, she doesn't even admit more than a passing attraction to Darius - she finds herself attracted to him (honestly that's not strange at all. He's terribly handsome - if I spent a lot of time next to a hot, hot man I too would probably be attracted. But not in love, and that's the key here), and some time is spent on feeling a connection with him, but her focus is training. Her source of guilt is that she is hiding her training from the man she's bound with, not that she's secretly shacking up with the other guy. I didn't like that she allowed her issues with Trayton to be glossed over, but she wasn't agreeing with him - she just acknowledges he disagrees and there isn't a point in trying to fight over it. It's a little strange for someone so confrontational, but also probably exactly how I would act with someone I was just getting into a relationship with.
Maddox - Another trend I hate in teen fiction is the tendency to create a best friend solely to move the plot forward - usually specifically for romance. Best friend's are there to explain to the reader how the main character is feeling about the love interest/how she is pretending to feel. Maddox has a little bit of that in the story. She isn't used just for romance, but she is a big plot mover. Luckily she isn't just a two-dimensional character who exists solely for Kaya to bounce ideas off of. I have so many questions about her! Why does she have a soft spot for Trayton? Why is she so scared about fighting? Why doesn't she just train with Kaya and Darius (this is touched upon, but not really explored)? Why do the other Barrons seem intimidated by her if she doesn't have fighting skills?I have hope that her character will be developed more in the other books, because Brewer created a character in Maddox who is just as epically badass as Kaya is.
Setting - I'm a big fan of exploring the fantasy world. It's a big part of why Harry Potter was so successful and why I am a big fan of Cashore's novels. I don't even think this falls into the negative category really. I would have loved to know more about the history of the war, but I have a feeling this is also coming in the next couple novels. I also feel like the descriptions of the area were slightly glossed over. On the flip side, this novel was extremely fast paced (I read it in about two hours despite the fact I am SO BUSY right now. I just couldn't put it down!), and any sort of lengthy description wouldn't have fit in with the pacing of the book. Brewer doesn't ignore the world, in fact I think she did a fine job with this novel (clearly as I'm pretty enthusiastic about it haha), I just have a weird predilection for very detailed settings.
Overall, if you are a fan of any sort of paranormal/fantasy teen books, you should definitely read this. Even if you aren't...you should just read this! I think fans of the Hunger Games and Kristin Cashore's novels will definitely love this book, and even the fluffier Twilight/Mortal Instruments lovers will easily fall into this as well.
Hunger Games Review Graceling Review