I received this book for free from Goodreads Giveaway in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Harlequin Teen on April 10th 2018
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Source: Goodreads Giveaway
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In the Alskad Empire, nearly all are born with a twin, two halves to form one whole…yet some face the world alone.
A rare few are singleborn in each generation, and therefore given the right to rule by the gods and goddesses. Bo Trousillion is one of these few, born into the royal line and destined to rule. Though he has been chosen to succeed his great-aunt, Queen Runa, as the leader of the Alskad Empire, Bo has never felt equal to the grand future before him.
When one twin dies, the other usually follows, unable to face the world without their other half. Those who survive are considered diminished, doomed to succumb to the violent grief that inevitably destroys everyone whose twin has died. Such is the fate of Vi Abernathy, whose twin sister died in infancy. Raised by the anchorites of the temple after her family cast her off, Vi has spent her whole life scheming for a way to escape and live out what's left of her life in peace.
As their sixteenth birthdays approach, Bo and Vi face very different futures—one a life of luxury as the heir to the throne, the other years of backbreaking work as a temple servant. But a long-held secret and the fate of the empire are destined to bring them together in a way they never could have imagined.
The concept of this book was one that really drew me in. Here we have a world where twins are the norm and singleborn are the rare occurrence. The twin dynamic is quite fascinating. They play a huge role in each other’s lives and build such a strong connection to each other. When one dies, it completely devastates the remaining twin, eventually leading them to succumb to a violent grief. They are know as the diminished. The story is told in alternating chapters, between one of the diminished named Vi, and a singleborn in line to rule the Empire named Bo.
The world building was a huge interest in this story for me. There is some background into the belief system in this world and I particularly love the story of the broken moon and how this world they live in came to be. There are temples and laws and these scary, intimidating women who protect the people. Not everything is as it seems within not only the system but the characters as well. And speaking of the characters, I really loved not only the main two but also a lot of the secondary we meet along the way. Bo starts off as someone unsure about his role as a future leader and grows into someone completely dedicated to truth and doing what’s best for his people despite the obstacles in his way. And Vi’s story broke my heart. The way she was treated was horrific but she never let it break her spirit. Nothing was more important to her than her freedom and her friends. Both characters had such heart and love the people that matter to them so deeply. Because there was much for these two to discover about themselves and the secrets happening around them, I found myself mistrusting anyone and everyone they met and I thought that added quite a fun dynamic to the overall reading experience.
Though I did enjoy the plot in the long run, it definitely took me awhile to get there. It is on the longer side (almost 500 pages) and it felt it too, especially in the middle. It is a duology so where certain aspects of the novel had some great resolution, there is much to wrap up and I like the direction the story is heading. There is corruption, deceit, and all sorts of danger to come and I look forward to discovering how it wraps up for these characters I grew to love and this intruiging world they live in. Even though it is a slower read, I still think it is worth checking out!