I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
4 Stars. I really enjoyed this book. The publisher describes this book as appealing to readers that enjoy Kiera Cass and Victoria Aveyard, and I would agree. The story is set in a dystopian modern England. The monarchy has been abolished and the country is run by magical aristocrats called Equals. The Equals have very powerful gifts, including controlling people’s minds and actions, reading their thoughts, blowing things up and even killing people with their minds. Everyone else must serve the Equals for a term of 10 years as slaves at some point in their life before they turn 55 years old. Most slaves serve in slave towns as laborers in manufacturing and call centers. Some slaves also serve as house servants in Equals homes.
The story follows one family that decides to serve their slave term together. Abi, the eldest girl, has arranged for the entire family to serve as house servants for one of the most powerful Equal families in the country, or so she believes. On the day Abi’s family begins their term, they discover that everyone in the family will serve on the estate, except 16 year old Luke. He is sent to a slave town to work in a factory.
Once at the slave town, Luke befriends a young girl who is part of a secret rebellion and begins to commit minor offenses to improve the lives of the slaves in the slave town. Meanwhile, Abi finds herself having feelings with one of the sons of the Equal family she serves. He is the middle son and black sheep of the family because he’s born without magical powers. His eldest brother is the heir, who is slowly buckling under the responsibilities that title brings. His youngest brother, who is very powerful and secretive.
As in most dystopian fantasy novels, there is plenty of intrigue, treachery, betrayal and action. There is minimal worldbuilding in this book, so the question of where the Equals got their powers, why society is run in the manner it is and why the commoners must serve 10 years as slaves is never really explained. The characters are written fairly well, however, so the reader doesn’t dwell too much on these missing elements. The story alternates between several character’s point of view, which is an effective way of telling multiple stories that occur simultaneously. The ending has several characters in limbo, which makes me anxious to read the next book in the series.
The writing style in the first couple chapters of the book is a bit overwrought. The author goes a bit too far in trying to cram every descriptive, earnest term in the sentences. Initially I thought I wouldn’t be able to finish the book if the writing didn’t improve, but luckily, this problem disappears in later chapters and thankfully doesn’t reappear anywhere else in the book. So, if the writing bothers you in the first couple of chapters, hang in there and push through it. It gets much, much better! This was a very fun, quick read and I recommend you read it.