Mundie Moms

Monday, August 21, 2017

MASK OF SHADOWS by Linsey Miller / Book Review #MaskOfShadows

By: Lindsey Miller
Published by: SourceBooks 
To Be Released: August 29th, 2017
Series: Book #1
Purchase from: Amazon | B&N | IndieBound | BAM
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Source: e-arc from publisher in exchange for my honest review

Sallot Leon is a thief, and a good one at that. But gender fluid Sal wants nothing more than to escape the drudgery of life as a highway robber and get closer to the upper-class and the nobles who destroyed their home.

When Sal Leon steals a poster announcing open auditions for the Left Hand, a powerful collection of the Queen's personal assassins named for the rings she wears -- Ruby, Emerald, Amethyst, and Opal -- their world changes. They know it's a chance for a new life.

Except the audition is a fight to the death filled with clever circus acrobats, lethal apothecaries, and vicious ex-soldiers. A childhood as a common criminal hardly prepared Sal for the trials. But Sal must survive to put their real reason for auditioning into play: revenge.

I have eagerly awaited reading this book, especially since it was compared to two series I absolutely love, Shadow of Bones and Throne of Glass. Unfortunately that may have been the beginning of the down fall with this book, because knowing those series, I went in with very high expectations with this book. Unfortunately this book left me with a lot to be desired. That pains me to say that, because this book was one of my most anticipated reads this year.

While the plot, and world building were good, this book's biggest struggle for me was the characters. They may have been fun to read about, but in depersonalizing them for the story, something I understood for the plot, it also did that for me as a reader. Unfortunately that's what hurt the story for me. The characters were too important to not have a personal connection with. Even if the system they're training for wanted them to feel otherwise. Giving them numbers as names didn't work at all for me either. It started to feel like another popular YA series, and began to feel like an excuse to not fully develop the characters with the way they were written. 

Props to a diverse book with a main character who's gender fluid. Sadly where this book could have shined with Sal's character, it failed to make that trait important to the character. Because of that, I felt like that was just thrown into the book to call it diverse. Aside from spending first half of the book confused on if Sal was a male or a female, I was most disappointed with feeling that Sal could have been such a great character. I wanted Sal to be a favorite character of mine. I wanted to feel like I understood and connected to Sal on some level. Unfortunately not only was Sal a character that lacked I connection with, they completely lacked any character development as well. 

As a reader, one of the most disappointing things is walking away from reading a story feeling like it could have been so much better if only there was something more I got from the character. Especially when it's for one of your most anticipated reads. There was such an over emphasis on depersonalizing Sal for training, that like the other characters, they were all depersonalized to the reader. You can not write a book like this and not have any character development. This is complex story that should have thrived on character connection, and development. Instead it's completely fallen flat, and left me feeling like it could have been so much better. I'm frustrated by that. I wanted so much more from Sal and the characters. I wanted to see them thrive and grow as characters. I wanted to be excited to pick up Sal's next book and find out what was in story for the characters. 

One of the many things I love about YA books, is getting to 'meet' characters whom you may have nothing in common with. I love that feeling when you finish reading their story, and walk away feeling a connection with them on some level. I've read countless books where this occurred, and have loved those books for that. I wanted that from Mask of Shadows. I love a well written YA fantasy/dystopian, but no matter how fun the story is to read, how well written the plot is, or how well crafted the world building is, without a character connection I end up finishing the book feeling like it was just okay, when I wanted to love it.