Top critical review
Good Re-telling that has the potential to be amazing in a sequel
Reviewed in Australia on 16 January 2020
Read the review on our blog Nen and Jen
☆ ☆ ☆ STARS
For those of you who may have tuned in to my posts this last week, you may have noticed that ACSDAL is a book that I’ve been going up and down over. First I hated it and put it down. In a fit of stubbornness, I picked it up again and soon got enveloped in its subtle dark tones and great illness rep for Cerebral Palsy. I was enjoying it!
Then came the ending. I can only say that my feelings left over from ACSDAL are: slightly angry, frustrated and yearning for an alternate scenario in which I could change everything that happens after 75%. So be prepared… this is going to be an up and down review!
HARPER – Was such an amazing heroine. She was strong in spirit and will, while still being inordinately kind and loyal considering her circumstances. Harper truly embodied what disability rep should be about in books. There was no hiding her illness. Rather, ACSDAL painted her as a heroine who truly challenged her limitations while embracing all that she was. Her illness was a part of her and always would be.
RHEN – Was my least favourite character. Honestly, characters for me are a huge factor in my enjoyment of a book. I don’t necessarily have to like them as people but I do generally need to respect their POV or see a good character arc. I felt like this was missing with Rhen. He did have some development, don’t get me wrong. But it seemed like he was CONSTANTLY doubting himself. Even when everyone was rooting for him and things were finally going his way. I honestly don’t think the ending could have been possible if he was doing things alone. I can’t say the same about Harper or Grey.
GREY – My absolute favourite character. I’m HOPING and PRAYING that he’s going to get a bigger part in the next book. I really, really wanted to see something happen between him and Harper. THE SPARKS WERE THERE. I’m going to give the next book a try and hope that good things happen between them!
SIDE CHARACTERS – There were a host of great side characters in this book that made me adore Emberfall. From Freya to Jameison to Zo. They were resilient in the face of Emberfall’s slow downfall and they had become stronger for it. I loved how they banded together and were willing to risk it all for the sake of freedom and prosperity.
What I loved: I loved that this book had some pretty epic characters with solid story arcs. I’m a complete sucker for that! I also loved the disability rep with Harper’s Cerebral Palsy and how this wasn’t ignored, patronised or made her appear ‘lacking’. It was dealt with respect and embraced as something that made Harper more resilient in life. I also thought that there was a decent amount of action in this story from about the halfway point onwards. There were some surprising moments which I hadn’t been expecting but enjoyed immensely!
What I disliked: Oh boy. The whole first half pretty much. RHEN. If Harper and Grey weren’t so damn great I’d have DNF this book at 30%. The pacing seemed a bit off in the first half and things were a bit too slow for me. I have to admit though, I’m not usually someone who is a fan of retellings so this one is probably on me. For those of you who like, or at least don’t mind, retellings this would probably be a great read!
Overall, I mostly enjoyed this book once I really got in to it. I disliked the ending and its predictability since I was anticipating something more original and inventive. Despite this, Harper and Grey are phenomenal and I’ll check out the next book just for them!