I'm a huge fan of historical genre so anytime YA historical novel with interesting premise pops up on my radar, I feel this need to check it out. Last month, there were two good looking YA historical novels released and here are my thoughts on both of them.
(check my Rating System for detailed explanations of my quick rating)
And I Darken (The Conquerors Saga #1)
Written by: Kiersten White
Published by: Delacorte Press
Genre: Young Adult Historical Fiction
Release date: June 28th 2016
No one expects a princess to be brutal. And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.
Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.
But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.
And I Darken was unexpected, unique and smart YA historical novel. Forget all YA tropes before reading this book! I am not fan of comparisons, but I have to admit that whoever called this book „teenage Game of Thrones“ hit the nail on the head.
I can’t deny that this retelling of Dracula story, while trying to fight against gender roles that were so common for Ottoman Empire in 15th century, impressed me immensely. Told in dual POV of Lada and her younger brother Radu, And I Darken has the best anti-heroine that YA genre has to offer at the moment. My only problem was that even though both main characters had plenty of admirable characteristics, there were many other things that made it very difficult for me to truly connect with them.
All in all, story was fascinating, exciting and surprising in best possible way. Intrigues, lies, games, betrayals...I had never had an idea where would author take me with every new chapter. It was great reading experience and I can’t wait for sequel!
Ivory and Bone (Ivory & Bone #1)
Written by: Julie Eshbaugh
Published by: HarperTeen
Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Release date: June 7th 2016
A prehistoric fantasy—with allusions to Pride and Prejudice.
Hunting, gathering, and keeping his family safe—that’s the life seventeen-year-old Kol knows. Then bold, enigmatic Mya arrives from the south with her family, and Kol is captivated. He wants her to like and trust him, but any hopes of impressing her are ruined when he makes a careless—and nearly grave—mistake. However, there’s something more to Mya’s cool disdain…a history wrought with loss that comes to light when another clan arrives. With them is Lo, an enemy from Mya’s past who Mya swears has ulterior motives.
As Kol gets to know Lo, tensions between Mya and Lo escalate until violence erupts. Faced with shattering losses, Kol is forced to question every person he’s trusted. One thing is for sure: this was a war that Mya or Lo—Kol doesn’t know which—had been planning all along.
I'm sure that everyone is familiar with that terrible situation when you are reading the same paragraph over and over again for minutes and there's no connection at all. That is exactly what happened to me with this book. I picked it up 5 times and I was never able to read further than couple of first chapters. So I gave up.
Ivory and Bone is a story about teenager living in prehistoric age when his only worries are how to get food and whether he can meet at least one female of his age so his clan doesn't dwindle. I can't deny that premise for this novel is very original.
However, writing style discouraged me from reading this novel, no matter how many times I tried. Narrator, Kol, is telling the story to the girl called May directly, always addressing her as "you" in the text. I don't remember reading a book written like this one ever before. And... it didn't work for me. I just couldn't get into the story and I had no other choice but to DNF this book. I blame the mixture of narration and storytelling.
I think that it is perfectly clear that in this battle of YA historical novels I have only one winner - And I Darken. The only disadvantage is that now I have to wait who knows how long for a sequel...
HAVE YOU READ THESE BOOKS?
WHAT WERE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THEM?