A determined teenager confronts a dystopian world and an unwanted destiny in this YA fantasy series opener.
Leonie, an Australian girl who attends community college, eats cold pizza for breakfast, and talks back to her father, struggles to get by. A few years ago, a tragedy stole her will to smile, and now she keeps a routine, just waiting to be a part of something bigger. When she feels “intense heat” blazing in her chest one day, she’s at first terrified, then disbelieving, until finally she starts to understand that she’s one of the Chosen, magical people of another realm. To them, she’s a Pulsar, the first of a group of warriors and protectors to be born after the rest were massacred 200 years ago. She travels to the new world to learn how to tame her gift—and to be granted a shield, a guardian creature she is assured possesses no will of its own. But this kytaen, Korren, turns out to be a person in his own right who has no desire to be subjugated by the Chosen. When rebels against the Chosen government come to claim Leonie’s abilities for their own cause, her decision to treat Korren as a friend gives him the power and will to defend her. In her debut book, Simlett, who lives in Australia, creates a realm that is full of wonder by day but terror by night and populates it with the type of political unrest that teenagers who love dystopian fantasies should gravitate toward. Leonie is a prickly narrator, at once sympathetic and suffering; she alternates between sarcasm and an optimistic wisdom that leaves others inspired. Korren, as a counterpoint narrator, allows readers to see just how much has deteriorated in the world of the Chosen while also providing a look at Leonie that shows her as tougher than she believes herself to be. This solid first volume registers a high death toll, and by the end, the protagonists seem to be facing even more complications—and dangers. This should be a surefire hit for fans of Marie Lu’s Legend and Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha trilogies.
An enjoyable, violent novel that delivers a strong-willed
heroine and a brooding hero.