Reading Level: Young Adult
Length: 368 pages
Publisher: Del Rey
Release Date: February 14, 2017
Stand Alone or Series: 1st book in the Dark Gifts series
Source: eGalley from NetGalley for Review
Rating: 3/5 stars
“Our world belongs to the Equals—aristocrats with magical gifts—and all commoners must serve them for ten years.
But behind the gates of England’s grandest estate lies a power that could break the world.
A girl thirsts for love and knowledge.
Abi is a servant to England’s most powerful family, but her spirit is free. So when she falls for one of their noble-born sons, Abi faces a terrible choice. Uncovering the family’s secrets might win her liberty—but will her heart pay the price?
A boy dreams of revolution.
Abi’s brother, Luke, is enslaved in a brutal factory town. Far from his family and cruelly oppressed, he makes friends whose ideals could cost him everything. Now Luke has discovered there may be a power even greater than magic: revolution.
And an aristocrat will remake the world with his dark gifts.
He is a shadow in the glittering world of the Equals, with mysterious powers no one else understands. But will he liberate—or destroy?”
I got this book to review through NetGalley. It ended up being nothing like what I thought it was going to be and I struggled with it right from the beginning. The book jumps around a ton between many different characters. While this wasn’t hard to follow it broke the story up a lot and made it hard to stay engaged in the story.
The premise was also a bit unbelievable to me. Basically anyone who isn’t an Equal and doesn’t have a magical gift has to serve as a slave for 10 years. Many of the people serve in awful slave camps with little to no food or shelter. Some serve on the Equal’s estates. The people seem to have been basically okay with this for many years despite the fact that normal people are way more prevalent than Equals.
The book takes place on an alternate sort of Earth, so it’s set in modern day (I thought it was supposed to be a Victorian setting). The books ends up being more of a YA dystopian than anything else (it seems more like a fantasy based on the description but it’s not). The blurb on the back does a very poor job of describing what the reader is getting in this book.
The book bounces between the Abi’s family members (focusing mainly on Abi’s and Luke’s POVs) but also bounces between the POVs of the three Equal brothers Abi ends up serving. In addition to this we occasionally hear from the POV of other Equal members outside of the Abi’s serving family.
The constant jumping around between all these points of view (POVs) honestly makes the story a bit of a mess. For the first part it was just tough to follow what was going on. As the story continued it was easier to understand what was happening but I was still frustrated by how little I understood the world and how little I engaged with these characters.
This whole book was a bit frustrating for me because I feel like the author is on the edge of something really great but never actually gets there. I think the characters could be amazing if we weren’t jerked around between so many of them…but we just never get to know them well enough to care. I feel like the world could be amazing if we were able to focus on a few areas rather than jumping around. I also feel like the concept of Equals could be an awesome thing if only the author had explained it better.
Overall this ends up being an okay book that I think could have been something really great with a bit more editing and cohesiveness. Although there are bits and pieces in here that I found intriguing I don’t plan on continuing the series. This book was just too all over the place.