The truth will test you…
For fans of Game of Thrones and The Hunger Games: high fantasy and dystopia meet in this high-stakes tale of a civilization built on lies and the girl who single-handedly brings it down.
When Eva’s twin brother, Eamon, falls to his death just a few months before he is due to participate in The Testing, no one expects Eva to take his place. She’s a Maiden, slated for embroidery classes, curtseys, and soon a prestigious marriage befitting the daughter of an Aerie ruler. But Eva insists on honoring her brother by becoming a Testor. After all, she wouldn’t be the first Maiden to Test, just the first in 150 years.
Eva knows the Testing is no dance class. Gallant Testors train for their entire lives to search icy wastelands for Relics: artifacts of the corrupt civilization that existed before The Healing drowned the world. Out in the Boundary Lands, Eva must rely on every moment of the lightning-quick training she received from Lukas—her servant, a Boundary native, and her closest friend now that Eamon is gone.
But there are threats in The Testing beyond what Lukas could have prepared her for. And no one could have imagined the danger Eva unleashes when she discovers a Relic that shakes the Aerie to its core.
Since we’re way past the time where Paranormal Romance was the trend, many have deemed it proper to attribute their dystopian books to the one and only that started this “Dystopian Craze”, the Hunger Games. However, when books get compared to this precious book in their blurbs and synopses, I instantly become wary and suspicious, not only because I’m against riding the success of another novel, but also because, more often than not, the excitement that was built would only result to mere and utter disappointment. “For fans of the Hunger Games!” “Like the Hunger Games!” “Similar to the Hunger Games!” I could just drown in the amount of blurbs that had these only to find out later that they were very subpar. I just find it absolutely sad that there are attempts to make a half-assed dystopian book just to ride the bandwagon.
I guess publishers has noticed this, so they decided to put in another great series to the mix to attract readers: Game of Thrones. My friends, if you’ve watched and read the books, you’ll see that GoT is very, very complex. It features an intricate and intriguing web of relationships and scandals that can even shock the hardest of hearts. It features twists and turns that would make a reader cry and throw the books in good frustration.
Relic doesn’t even come close. Did it frustrate me? Hell yes, it did.
I am utterly offended how it even dared to say it’s for fans of the Hunger Games AND the Game of Thrones when its premise is so ridiculous and simple. I am offended how the blurb said it’s a high fantasy when it’s nowhere near like it. I’m offended how it promised me a good read when throughout reading it, I was either a.) bored out of my frigging mind; b.) laughing my heart out because of how nonsensical it was.
Okay, first, the premise. It was ridiculous. I understand the need to give something original, but holy mother of god, this is not something I would’ve considered for any book even if I were high on drugs. So some apocalyptic event happened that killed billions of people on Earth (not explained what it was yet), and a handful of people evacuated to the icelands in the North and found a new settlement called New North. Two hundred years later, the community became more backward than forward with the women doing maidenly, demure roles who can’t possibly do hard work as the men, and the men being chivalrous and shit and blah blah blah. There is obvious marginalization and there are even classes where some are deemed higher than the others. Right, I’m expected to believe something like that when their ancestors just came from the world we have today. But alright, for the sake of this book, I’ll go along with that.
Then, we find out that this new civilization worships some sort of sacred book that dictates their laws and traditions called The Lex. And their leaders tell the people that the world has ended due to certain evils. What are these evils, you ask? They blame the end of the world on man-made medicine like Tylenol, Advil, Prozacs for ruining the mind; on sodas like Coca-Cola for weakening the bodies; on cards like Visas, MasterCards, American Express for toppling rulers; and on the super tech company Apple… yes… that Apple with a quarter-bitten fruit as a logo. They believed their ancestors worshipped this god, with the tablets like iPads as their altars and shit like that.
Granted, the book explains later on (albeit rather shakily) that things are not what they seem and that there is a huge (gasp) lie, but sweet baby jesus, what the flying fuck is this??!! Sure, I’ve never seen something like this before, but there’s a good reason why it has never been seen before, and it’s because it’s just beyond ridiculous. Am I supposed to take something like this seriously? When you’re making a dystopia, the book has to make sure the premise is believable. You have to make sure that the reader would also think the setting is feasible in the future, and that you instill an internal fear of what is going to happen and what may happen. Tylenol, Advil, Coke, Mastercard, Apple… yeesh, yeah right. Take all of that and forget about wars of conquests, or religious wars, or attempts of making nuclear energy and weapons, just blame it on poor Santa Clause Coke for making us all obese and unhealthy.
The book tried to be serious and different, but it still read like the same formulaic books we’ve been given throughout the years. There’s a hierarchy, some Triad leaders, and of course, there’s the competition where the brightest of the generation go against each other in the cold wild to look for relics from the past that would remind the community the role these relics had in the destruction of the world two hundred years past. Eva, the main character, who only had a few months of training compared to the others who have prepared for this all their lives, go against them and all odds, to win for her deceased twin brother. Okay.
Here’s the thing. The internal first-person narration of Eva was awful. Absolutely horrible. It was very monotonous and robotic, and very telling than showing. Paragraphs upon paragraphs, pages upon pages, I’d been given descriptions of what the main character was seeing, the description of the surroundings, what she was doing, etc. etc. that her personality, if ever she had one, wasn’t shown. She was as bland as a cardboard, and as interesting as watching paint dry. Usually, when we have first person narratives, it should be more personal, more intimate. I should be given a deeper relationship with the character, but because it was so fucking dull, I didn’t feel for her and didn’t even root for her. I just wanted to get this book over with already. And the times where there were personal thoughts, it would be in the form of questions. ALL THE FREAKING TIME. Question after question after question, giving the impression that she’s really deeper than what we think her to be, but I’ve always found this a cheap tactic.
There would be questions like (non-verbatim):
Is Jasper really who I think he is? Or did he just come up to me to make me believe he was really hurt or was he just spying on me?
What did Eamon mean when he said he must do what he must? Was he going to do something unthinkable?
There were a lot more but I’ve forgotten most of them. These are just some of the questions that I thought from the top of my head, but probably aren’t the questions word-for-word. But, in any case, the deal here is the narration never felt personal to me. It was too formal for my taste. It was dull, it was lifeless, and I skimmed so much that I didn’t even miss anything vital. And did I say she had no personality whatsoever? Yeah, that and kept on mentioning her twin brother all the time.
“But I’m stronger now because I have Eamon’s strength with me.”
“I struggle, but I remember that I have Eamon within me, too.”
“This is not just for me, but for Eamon’s dream as well.”
And seriously though, the competition’s supposed to be the hardest thing ever, but she’s conveniently winning challenges after challenges without ever finding any real obstacle. As a character, she didn’t grow at all. She was monotonous and dull from start to finish, and the scenes that were supposed to be exciting were dragged along by her lifelessness. It was just mind-numbingly boring.
And lol, the entrance of the romance in the end was so anti-climactic. Here we are, talking about lies and scandals and then, “Can you not see my feelings for you?” Dudes and dudettes, have you ever heard of the word “transition”?
Also, what is up with the jargon of words sprinkled all over the book? There were a lot of unfamiliar words placed here and there that I never really understood and never really thoroughly explained, like “upernagdlit”, “inuit”, “nunassiaq”, and “quiasuqaq”. DAFUQ, MAN?!
Overall, I’m sorry to say but I cannot recommend this book. You’re free to read it for yourself and form your own conclusions, but I, personally, did not enjoy it, and would not wish my family and friends to endure the same torture. Do not let the blurb fool you – aside from the competition theme, it’s not similar to the Hunger Games, and it’s not even half as close to the Game of Thrones. If you’re going to read this book with the expectation of reading something like those series mentioned, you will be sorely disappointed.
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