I absolutely loved Amy A Bartol’s Kricket series, so when I learned she had a new series out, I didn’t hesitate in snapping up the audiobook.
And I wasn’t at all disappointed. It took me a couple of months to get through it—not because I found it boring, but because it was so addictive that once I managed to tear myself away from it I was scared to pick it back up again lest I fall back into that sinkhole, never to be heard from again!
So, what’s Secondborn about? Well, it’s set in a kind of futuristic society; it’s never actually mentioned whether it takes place in a futuristic Earth or on another planet, it’s just in a place called ‘The Fates’, and in this place there’s a Caste system where first born children have all the power, while “Secondborn”’s are destined for a life of servitude (don’t even ask what happens to illegal third born children).
Living in this world is our heroine, Rozelle, the second born child of the Clarity (leader) of the Fate of Swords (the military faction). Unlike most other Secondborns of her Fate, Rozelle wasn’t given over to the military as a child, instead she was basically raised as a reality TV star, only given over at the age of 18 (when the book starts).
And of course, once she enters the military, that’s when her life becomes very, very interesting. She is targeted by a CENSUS agent—the horrible Agent Crow; caught up in the war against the Gates of Dawn—the rebel force trying to overthrow the Fates system; entangled in multiple plots (that I won’t give away the details of); and of course, falls in love—because this is YA so duh.
In lieu of a substantial review I’m just going to list the things I liked and the things I didn’t.
- The world – In true Amy A Bartol style, the world was so rich in detail and originality. Seriously, how does she think of all this stuff? You would think with her having written another series set in a kind of futuristic/interplanetary type world she might have recycled a few things. Nope. Everything in this book was completely fresh to this story.
- Rozelle – she was totally awesome. Smart, brave, loyal to her friends and even to her family despite them wanting to kill her. She was a really well-rounded character and I’m looking forward to seeing how she develops further throughout the remainder of the series.
- Raiken – MORE PLEASE! We only got the briefest glimpse of this character but I’m already a complete Team Raiken fangirl. *note – I could be spelling his name wrong, I listened to the audio so I’m really not 100% on how it’s spelled.
- Agent Crow – here we have one of those people that you just love to hate. He is a sadistic psychopath that has his eyes set on Rozelle. He’s horrible but a damn good villain.
I didn’t like:
- Hawthorne – Okay, to be fair I didn’t mind him too much, I just don’t really like him for Rozelle and I’m really hoping he’s a red herring.
- The shower scene – This is kind of an extension of above but I have a feeling even if I did like Hawthorne I would still have hated this scene (it is actually the reason I deducted a star). If you don’t want to know what happens, move on now because I’m getting into spoiler territory. Same goes if you’d rather not have to read my rant. Okay, now that the warning’s out of the way, here’s why I didn’t like this scene: Firstly, Hawthorne had just learned (like a day earlier) that his girlfriend had been brutally murdered by Agent Crow, then all of a sudden he’s declaring his love for Rozelle and they’re getting naked together? Come on dude, have a little heart. Personally, I think it was the wrong timing for them to get together, but if it was going to happen then I think the initial kiss in the aircraft was all that was needed. Secondly, when they were in the shower (and getting naked) all they did was kiss! Being naked was soooo not necessary and it was so awkward! I think what made it more awkward was Hawthorne being like ‘I’m not taking your virginity in a shower’ and then deciding to strip off all her clothes anyway and just stare at her. The fact that, as mentioned above, he had literally learned of his girlfriend’s murder only the day before just made it all the weirder. It all just moved waaayyyy too quickly for my liking, and as I said, it was just really awkward and seemed completely unnecessary. One of the biggest rules of writing is that every single scene should add to the story in some way—this just seemed ridiculously gratuitous.
Okay, rant done, spoilers over, you can look now!
All in all, apart from that one scene and Hawthorne getting on my nerves, I really loved this book and I particularly loved Kate Reinders’s narration.