This was an advanced reader copy for the June 2018 publication. There are spoilers ahead.
Title: City of Bastards (traitor in a foreign land)
Author: Andrew Shvarts
Having received an advanced copy, I debated not reading this one as I hadn’t read the first, but the idea of it buzzed around my brain. What would it be like to skip book one? Would City of Bastards be capable of standing on its own?
Well, not entirely. It would’ve been a fine first book, but a stand-alone needs a bit less of a cliff-hanger for the ending, and City of Bastards leaves a gaping wound (or several) at its end.
Could you skip the first book and not stumble? 100% yes.
Tilla’s an engaging and believable heroine with a strong and diverse crew supporting her efforts. She’s the sort of character with whom I’d like to get a coffee. Smart and passionate – with understandable flaws and a multidimensionality, Tilla grabbed me from the first page and provided a pleasant journey – well, relatively pleasant.
Sure, she had her oblivious moments. I had to set the book down four times. Walking away helped, and it also told me one important fact: I wasn’t motivated to come back. It’s a good book. Sturdy plot, good characters, compelling main character (MC) – but it’s been done before, and the big “THIS IS AN UNCORRECTED ADVANCE PROOF” guilted me into finishing it more than the plot.
Ultimately, Schvarts had me writing a pro/con list.
- Strong MC
- One decent red herring
- Realistic relationships (romantic, platonic, familial, etc)
- Multi-fold cult exploration (i.e. all religions lie)
- Radiation poisoning to increase offspring’s strength (when you read that part, you’ll get it)
- Enough betrayal to make GoT look tame with the backstabbing
- I lied to protect you pops up a ridiculous amount
- Obvious culprits skipped over because of distance(?) (I’m still not sure why Tilla missed some of the bigger warning signs here)
- Somebody watched Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull while writing the last chunk of this book, and nobody was happy about that. (When you read the part I’m referring to here, comment below with the page number).
All in all, a good book. I’d suggest picking up the first (or this one) at a library before buying it, but you have two months to read the first and make a decision, so the choice is up to you.