Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson

Title: The Heart of Betrayal (The Remnant Chronicles #2)
Author: Mary E. Pearson 
Date Published: July 7th 2015
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. 

Rating: 5 out of 5

Goodreads Blurb: 

Intrigue abounds in this hotly anticipated sequel to The Kiss of Deception!
Held captive in the barbarian kingdom of Venda, Lia and Rafe have little chance of escape. Desperate to save her life, Lia's erstwhile assassin, Kaden, has told the Vendan Komizar that she has the gift, and the Komizar's interest in Lia is greater than anyone could have foreseen.
Meanwhile, nothing is straightforward: there's Rafe, who lied to Lia, but has sacrificed his freedom to protect her; Kaden, who meant to assassinate her but has now saved her life; and the Vendans, whom Lia always believed to be barbarians. Now that she lives amongst them, however, she realizes that may be far from the truth. Wrestling with her upbringing, her gift, and her sense of self, Lia must make powerful choices that will affect her country... and her own destiny.
 Heart of Betrayal. Finally. A really good book. I haven't read anything this good since A Court of Thorns and Roses and the other book, The Wrath and the Dawn. This definitely was everything I was expecting after reading A Kiss of Deception last year; the second book in a series is rarely as good as the first one, but in this case Heart of Betrayal was fantastic. 

Jezelia aka Lia. She was amazing albeit a little too conniving. I absolutely enjoyed her "political maneuvering", but at times it was too much; at times I found myself questioning whose side she was on and what she hoped to accomplish. If there was one thing I could change, it would be the amount of pages spent on Lia's, Kaden's, Rafe's, and the Komizar's petty little power games and acting.

Rafe. For the most part he was pretty sweet and seemed like an awesome prince. I didn't have any qualms whatsoever with his spinning of the truth. In fact, his cover as emissary was brilliant and he was probably my favorite character, right after Aster. 

Kaden. Ugh. This guy is confused. I mean, he obviously is completely loyal to the Komizar, but after failing to kill Lia, he doesn't know what to with his life anymore. I appreciated that he tried to help Lia, but at the same time was he reaally helping? In truth, he was completely undecided and although he did have a perplexing persona and ambiguous motives, he didn't quite portray the strong yet enigmatic figure.

Komizar. The classic YA villain: someone with at least one awesome skill (sword-fighting, magic, persuasion) and murky motives. Someone with a dark past, who seems altruistic as well as malevolent. He's the guy we know is bad, but have a hard time accepting because he seems to care about everyone's else's welfare.... Until he chops off someone's head. Yup, an extremely accurate description of the Komizar, ruler of Venda. 

I loved how there are different kingdoms and an actual geography to this fictional world. The kingdoms of Dalbreck, Venda, Morrighan were wonderfully created, each with their monarchs/rulers, political discord, structure, language, and culture. There was a huge behind-the-scenes plot brewing throughout this whole novel, but it was still quite unclear as to what it's supposed to lead to. Without giving away too much, my take on it was: Lia discovers some ancient texts that seem to rewrite the history of all three kingdoms. SPOILER. Through the same channels, she also discovers an ancient prophecy calling for the sacrifice of the one called Jezelia (her name). 

So this book has all the elements required for a high fantasy: magic, an evil villain, dashing hero(s arguably more than one), kingdoms at war, an ancient prophecy, and loyal sidekicks (Berdi, Pauline, and Gwyneth). And while we're talking about loyal sidekicks, the chapters are told from different POVs, and while the majority are told by Kaden, Rafe, and Lia, some are told from Paulina's POV. Although it was nice to hear her voice in this book, the few chapters in which she appeared didn't feel natural: we only hear from Paulina for important transpirations in Morrighan. Everything we are told by Paulina was useful, but her chapters were few and scattered throughout the book, which gave off the vibe that they were added as an afterthought. 

The Ending. Why would anyone end it like that?! I enjoy endings that resolve, and that make you cry, not because they're so frustratingly incomplete, but because they make you weep as if you've lost a good friend. Here are my feelings on what a good ending should be like: 

“Finishing a good book is like leaving a good friend.”
― William Feather
The ending of the Heart of Betrayal was the exact opposite. Instead of resolving, Ms. Pearson decides to betray our trust and rip out all our hearts. It was the worst possible ending because it left me with more questions than answers. It was so artfully cruel, that I can't help admire her ruthlessness. I mean it wasn't a classic cliffhanger; one chapter of Lia's life was closed, albeit only temporarily (according to my predictions). But there was so much going one: someone really, really important dies, someone else really important might be dead, an entire country is mutinying, alliances are shifting and the MC just did something crazy to cause the entire mess... And then DONE. The book just ends. Worst feeling ever. 

Rife with betrayals, secrets and fighting, this books will satisfy the appetites of even the pickiest bibliophile, at least one of the YA fantasy genre.