About the book:
My name is Z, and if there is one thing I know, it’s that amnesia sucks. I have no memories of my life before I was found practically freezing to death in the snowy streets of Detroit, Michigan. Within a year, my foster family—the Torrezes—adopt me and my kick-ass brother, Toby. Everything seems perfect, which of course means it all has to fall apart. Once again orphans, we are now on the run for murder. On my eighteenth birthday the unthinkable happens. Pulled from this world by a familiar stranger, I find myself in another dimension, where magic is reality. Faced with my forgotten past and a terrifying future, I must accept my role as princess and save a kingdom I never knew I had.
Review by Katy Haye:
Well, I wish I could say I’d ended my Alphabet Challenge on a high, but I didn’t. Writing a book and bringing it to publication takes an awful lot of work, I know that. Z, in my opinion, needed a bit more work before it would be ready for an audience.
I was a little surprised to see an editor credited in the acknowledgements because this read to me like an early draft. The editor must have been for copy edits only, because on a sentence level it was a tidy piece of work. My issues are with the story.
The characters were my biggest bugbear. They were terribly flimsy and one-dimensional, existing only to do whatever the plot needed them to do. Toby was lovely, but cliché, much?
The world-building was also patchy, to say the least. We were told that it was roughly parallel to our 14th century (European). Well, if you claim that you need to make it somehow similar to the 14th century. Just having long dresses and knights around the place won’t cut it. Do a bit of research, which will guide you that people won’t be drinking tea, eating sandwiches or feeding sugar lumps to their horses. Further, in that sort of world a sleepover is unlikely, as is a female blacksmith (now, I know that’s not impossible, but a small, 12 year old girl? It’s heavy, hard physical work hammering a sword into being, you know).
And finally, I just didn’t warm to our main character, Nadya. Both her speech and thinking were cartoonish, mostly comprising slang or swearing (sorry, call me a prude if you want, but I have a real thing about F-bombs in YA books that aren’t absolutely required by the story and the character, and they were scattered through Z like the wretched sugar lumps). And a key component of the fantasy world is the “abilities” the series is named for. So, everyone of noble blood has a magical ability (how does that work? Your genetics somehow detects your place on the social scale?), but our heroine doesn’t have one, she has THREE, no, wait, FOUR, no, wait, she has as many abilities as the plot requires!
I’m sorry, but this just didn’t hang together for me in any way. Be warned.
This review concludes Katy Haye’s 2017 Alphabet Reading Challenge. She now doesn’t have a thing to read! Keep your eye on the Paisley Piranhas website to see what she picks up next.
When not reading, Katy writes speculative YA fiction. Steampunk/alternate history short story The Replacement Princess is available right now for FREE.