Originally published on my previous blog – this review has been edited for spelling mistakes/clarity
Kaspar has grown up in a world founded on peace and harmony after a bitter and destructive war that destroyed much of the world. The rebels on the outside of the city still attempt to cause war and take back the land that they think is theirs. Kaspar is part of an elite fighting force called the Guardians who protect the city, its inhabitants and the High Council but without destructive or violent weapons. Soon after Kaspar joins, he meets a rebel face to face – a girl called Rhea. From this moment, he is haunted by memories and visions that do not belong to him as he starts to realise the secrets that have been hidden about the rebels and what Kaspar is actually fighting for.
I was first introduced to Malorie Blackman when I stumbled across Noughts and Crosses in a bookshop, really loved the first few pages and then fell in love with that series. I actually met Malorie Blackman at my local library in 2011 which was like reliving my childhood – she was so lovely too. She mentioned at the time she was working on something a lot like Noughts and Crosses, but a bit different which I knew would appeal to me when it was released.
With the amount of dystopians on the market, you would think another one – like Noble Conflict – would get boring. But in all honesty, this is one of the most original I’ve read. Everyone would like a peaceful world where society was based on non-violent actions and this is what Blackman plays upon.
I think the writing in this book completely justifies why Malorie Blackman was Children’s Laureate. I mean, some of the surprises I didn’t see coming at all, some I did (mostly because she hints SO MUCH along the way). There are so many twists and turns throughout the story that do keep the narrative moving as well as interesting. There are some really thought provoking moments and I think Blackman has a skill of interweaving many current issues into her stories – much like in Noughts and Crosses.
The characters are well-built and react well off one another. The novel is written in third person which for some I can see they would not particularly connect with Kaspar then. However, I found this didn’t hindrance anything and actually allows the reader to see the action from multiple points of view. I found Kaspar engaging, strong, determined. Actually, he reminded me a lot of June from the Legend series by Marie Lu.
In spite of this, not every book is perfect. The thing that stood out for me was that this book was slow in pace and in all fairness, the real action happened in the last quarter of the book. The first part was great with the superb world-building, but then there’s a lull. I actually found some of the middle part quite hard to read because in all honesty, I got a little bored. I don’t know – maybe I just anticipated this book too much.
I did like this book, I assure you, and it was great to read another Malorie Blackman novel. Despite some of my issues with it (as well as the humour seeming quite forced at times), this novel (literally and metaphorically) explodes in the final chapters turning everything on its head. This is certainly far from Noughts and Crosses (but can anything be better than those books?) but it’s not far off.
It’s just so great to see a British author finally on the young adult dystopian scene!
I give it a 4 out of 5