Talis is an AI that took over the world because it was the only way to save the most lives. In Talis’s world, to be a world leader, you have to have a child. You have to give Talis that child, and if you start a war, that child dies. Greta is one of those children. And a new country just declared war on her country.
Why this book?: Honestly, I hadn’t heard much about this book until I talked with Laina @ Laina Has Too Much Spare Time. She highly recommended this book, so I jumped in without much more thought to it.
I read this book in two sittings. The second sitting was the majority of the book, because I just couldn’t not finish it at that point. This book gave me one of those odd feelings, where it went fast, but was also slow paced. Sometimes I struggle with those types of books, but this one was expertly crafted to keep you interested and engaged, but not rush the plot. It was an odd feeling, but one that I so rarely get to enjoy.
I’ll be honest and say that I didn’t really connect with the characters that well. Some of them I liked more than others, but I really saw no reason to like characters besides Greta and Xie, and Elian was more annoying than likable. The other characters, I can barely remember their names or what their roles were in the story. There was one character that shone above all of the others though: Talis. Talis was a genius, both the character himself and the ingenuity it took for Erin Bow to create Talis. He was such a complex character, hilarious yet despicable, caring yet ruthless. Any time Talis came into the scene, whether it was just to be quoted or if he was actually in the scene, I fucking loved him.
So while some characters were very forgettable, others were definitely memorable (Talis).
The story, though, was fairly interesting. There wasn’t much in the way of world building, but Erin Bow really went all out when explaining Talis’s Children of Peace rule. If you were a world leader, you had to have children, and one of those children had to be given over to Talis until they were 18. It was fascinating. My friend and fellow review Elise mentioned in her Goodreads review [linked here] that this world is built more as a utopian rather than a dystopian, and I really have to agree with that. Less people die in this way, and even though there are still wars, less happen because people don’t want their children to die.
I guess what I really ended up enjoying about this book was the characters. Greta, Talis, and Xie were all complex and entertaining characters, and I loved the love triangle. Greta is bisexual, and the love triangle was between her, Elian, and Xie, and while I didn’t like Elian that much, I was still impressed with how well this love triangle went.
Final Rating: ★★★★½☆
I loved this book so much more than I was expecting to. Talis was probably a huge reason as to why I loved this book so much, but everything else really stacked up behind him, and helped get this book to this rating. The only reason it didn’t get a full five stars, I guess, is because everything else had to really work to get this book a 4½ rating. Talis was good, Greta was good, but everything else was really only worthy of 3-ish stars.
Would I Recommend?
Yes! I realize the pacing can be hard to get used to, but please stick with it. Talis makes everything worthwhile, and after a bit you realize you read through half of the book without realizing it. It’s a slow book, yes, but it goes fast, weirdly.
Published: September 22nd, 2015
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Page Count: 385
Genre: Science Fiction/Dystopia
Synopsis: via Goodreads
The world is at peace, said the Utterances. And really, if the odd princess has a hard day, is that too much to ask?
Greta is a duchess and crown princess—and a hostage to peace. This is how the game is played: if you want to rule, you must give one of your children as a hostage. Go to war and your hostage dies.
Greta will be free if she can survive until her eighteenth birthday. Until then she lives in the Precepture school with the daughters and sons of the world’s leaders. Like them, she is taught to obey the machines that control their lives. Like them, she is prepared to die with dignity, if she must. But everything changes when a new hostage arrives. Elián is a boy who refuses to play by the rules, a boy who defies everything Greta has ever been taught. And he opens Greta’s eyes to the brutality of the system they live under—and to her own power.
As Greta and Elián watch their nations tip closer to war, Greta becomes a target in a new kind of game. A game that will end up killing them both—unless she can find a way to break all the rules.