Clearly, I was feeling a lot of things while reading this novel. I was angry, I was heartbroken, I was shocked, I was scared, I was confident. It was crazy how much my emotions were all over the place. But one of the main emotions that I felt was proud. Proud of Ana. Proud of Ramson. Proud of Jonah. Proud of Linn. Proud of May. Proud of Zhao for writing this novel, for everything that she had to go through to get to this point in her life and for allowing us to see things from her point of her, her perspective, which is so interesting and unique and just special.
I felt so happy reading this book after waiting for this for a long time, not knowing much about it until I did more research, then seeing it sitting on my kitchen table trying to figure out when to read it and really give it the attention that it deserves. And I finally did, and I was so happy with my experience.
I loved the plot. From the livechat with Zhao that I got to be a part of, she mentioned that people were referring to this as a retelling of the story of Anastasia Romanov, and I didn’t feel that. I don’t think she did either, because this story was so much more than something about the Romanovs. I actually didn’t even get that vibe except for Ana’s full name, and even then it wasn’t that much. Ana’s story was so much more intense to me, had so much heart and pain and self-realization that I don’t know if Anastasia had a chance to have. Nothing wrong with Anastasia and her family, but Ana’s story is not a retelling in my eyes.
The prose was perfect for me. I loved that it was in third person, but you could still tell which character you were following. It worked out in my opinion, because we could see things that they couldn’t but also see from their point of view and feel what they were going through. I also liked how some of the prose would switch to something more casual, but was still in this world and just gave some more emotion to the scene. I adored the flashback scenes, and how it seemed so seamless to the story and just worked so well. Zhao mentioned that those scenes were inspired by various anime shows that will do that in order to explain more of a character’s origins, and why they do the things they do. I could totally see that in this novel, and its effect worked in the way that she wanted it to.
The pacing worked out for me as well. The beginning was good, it could have been seen as slow for some people but I was instantly intrigued from the moment I started the first chapter. I was pulled in almost immediately and I’m glad for it. The action scenes were just great. I could visually see it in my head, and I think I mentioned before that Ana’s affinity really gave me blood bending vibes like Katara. I could imagine how creepy and powerful and terrifying Ana’s power would look like to the masses, and the effec that Zhao was going for really worked. There was a part in the middle or so where I thought that the story had hit its climax to to speak. Like that could have been its ending, or that it was close to ending, but then it came back with a vengeance and I was shook out of my mind.