My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Thank you, Hachette Book Group, for giving me a finished copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Whoever their blackmailer was, they were still out there.
I haven’t felt this frustrated in quite a while. It’s not necessarily a bad thing since cliffhangers are meant to make people feel this way: annoyed yet excited to read the sequel. Nonetheless, gleaning from the novel’s blurb, I thought that I could attain closure (learn the identity of the blackmailer) this early. Ugh. Apparently not. 370 pages weren’t enough to drag the suspense.
In Rule, three illegitimate princesses “compete” to be the rightful heir to the throne of Kolonya, a kingdom surrounded by four colonies a.k.a. Reaches. Zofi, Akeylah, and Ren want the crown for various reasons. However, they have a common enemy. Someone knows their dirty-and-not-so-little secrets and wants them to leave the royal court. As the half-sisters strive to catch the culprit, the king draws closer to death, putting the stability of the kingdom at risk.
If the premise sounds exciting to you, go ahead and read this book. But be warned that I found it very character-driven, if not uneventful. Throughout the novel, the mysterious villain, whom I hoped would hasten the plot, was more tell than show. He/she threatened the girls through ominous paintings, letters, and even hallucinations. This made the plot a bit repetitive. The heroines would receive a message from the blackmailer, feel scared, and then conduct research (through spying, gossip, and manipulation). If my memory serves me right, there were three messages all in all, which means that the latter cycle happened three times.
At first, I was excited enough to create a list of possible culprits. My primary suspect was Rozalind, the king’s wife who also happened to be from an enemy nation. Her behavior toward Akeylah was particularly fishy, so I had a hunch that she had malicious intentions. Sadly, I was wrong, and the narrative presented more suspects. It even came to the point that the sisters doubted each other. And of course, I was annoyed as much as them. In my mind, I was screaming “Can we stop going in circles?” I just couldn’t wait for the big reveal!
So when the ending came…all hell broke loose. Just kidding! Because guess what? It was ANOTHER FREAKIN’ VISION. Of death, this time. The girls realized that they had caught the wrong mouse, signalling the start of another FBI investigation. Hurrah!!!! What fun!!! Give me a break, ladies! Or at least some definitive answers.
With all that said, I still didn’t give this book a lower rating because it did have some good parts. The magic system of “tithing” was pretty unique. By sacrificing some blood, the characters could temporarily gain powers, like super speed, strength, and more. Er, but to be honest, the act of bloodletting was triggering. I bet this aspect of the book would trigger readers with self-harm issues.
The real virtue was the bond between the three protagonists. I liked how they gradually overcame their prejudices and learned to rely on each other. Their different statuses as Traveler, Easterner, and Kolonyan became insignificant in light of their newfound sisterhood. Also, it was nice that although they were in a competition, they didn’t sabotage each other to win the crown. I’m sure that haters of that phenomenon called Girl Hate will agree with me.
Ultimately, Rule was predominantly frustrating because of its circular plot. Did the author delay the big reveal just to warrant a sequel? You tell me. Knowing me, I’m still gonna read the next book just because the cover’s beautiful. LOL. Nah, I shall keep my hopes up and wait for legit answers.