***I received a free e-ARC of this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review***
by Ellen Goodlett
Release Date: September 11th, 2018
(yes, I know I’m horribly late in posting this)
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
I’m not going to lie; I went into this book with low expectations. Though I didn’t particularly enjoy most of this book, I did find myself eager to see how it ended and quickly flipping the pages in the last fourth of the book.
Rule follows three half-sisters; Florencia, Akeylah, and Zofi. All three are called to Kolonya (the heart of the kingdom) by their birth-father, the king, when it’s discovered that he’s dying. As the sisters come to learn from their father and compete to be named his heir, each girl finds themselves haunted by a mysterious blackmailer. A blackmailer who knows each of their dark and deadly secrets and demands that they leave Kolonya. To protect their secrets and themselves, the sisters desperately try to uncover the identity of their blackmailer, learning hidden secrets along the way.
My favorite things about this book, and the only things that kept me reading, was the sister relationships and the mystery surrounding the blackmailer. I’m a sucker for sibling relationships, and I was so glad this didn’t go the route of “all the siblings plotting against one another”. I can’t quite remember all the girls’ ages, but their interactions all felt true to their age of 15/16ish years old. And as I mentioned, I was so enthralled by the mystery of blackmailer, who somehow managed to learn all three girls’ secrets. I won’t say anymore on this aspect because I don’t want to spoil anything though, but ahhh, it did keep me captivated at the end of the novel.
The biggest reason that I rated this book so low was because how cliché and trope-y the story came across, specifically in regard to Akeylah. Not only does she suffer from a history of parental abuse that feels as if it was put there for the sole purpose of attempting to flesh out her character (not the mention the portrayal of it felt shallow and weak, with lots of telling and not showing), but Akeylah’s romance resulted from EXTREME INSTA-LOVE. I adored that it was a f/f romance, but so disappointed that there was no basis for the attraction between Akeylah and her love interest. I couldn’t understand what the characters saw in each other (other than sexual attraction), but perhaps this was also a result of underdeveloped characters.
Luckily this was a relatively short book, because I also struggled with the pacing in this book. The beginning is extremely rushed, with the first chapter from each perspective being the scenes where the sisters find out they’re being summoned by the king. The audience is literally given no time to see the characters in their “ordinary world” settings and thus have little opportunity to get to know the protagonists. But what is even more frustrating after this rushed beginning was that the following one hundred-ish pages are super slow. I lost interest at this point, and alongside with the craziness of college, ended up setting this book aside for a couple of months.
I had a bunch of other minor problems with the book, including an unclear magic system and amateur writing, but overall, I found Rule to be a shallow fantasy with too many clichés. Of course, if the synopsis intrigues you, I won’t discourage you from picking up the book, but I will warn you to avoid going into the book with high expectations.
Rating: 2.25 stars
“…so, are you my book?”
“Nope, sorry, I’m not one to be crowned a new favorite.”