Series: Death Sworn #1
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Release Date: March 4, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, YA
Source: Received in exchange for review
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When Ileni lost her magic, she lost everything: her place in society, her purpose in life, and the man she had expected to spend her life with.
So when the Elders sent her to be magic tutor to a secret sect of assassins, she went willingly, even though the last two tutors had died under mysterious circumstances.
But beneath the assassins’ caves, Ileni will discover a new place and a new purpose… and a new and dangerous love. She will struggle to keep her lost magic a secret while teaching it to her deadly students, and to find out what happened to the two tutors who preceded her. But what she discovers will change not only her future, but the future of her people, the assassins… and possibly the entire world.
Death Sworn was such a refreshing read! If you are tired of all the clichés, Death Sworn is definitely for you. This right here was a novel without instant love, unnecessary angst, or whiny characters. This right here was a novel with an actual plot, characters that actually use their brains, and a MC who is not a special snowflake.
The heroine of the story, Ileni, is nothing like your typical YA protagonist. For starters, in this story she grows out of her powers instead of into them. Once, she was very powerful, but her magic is fading and it’s fading quickly. She has every right to be mopey about it, but Ileni is not the kind to sulk around. Instead, she takes what she gets and learns to live with (or rather without) it. She is not magically good at everything, nor does she go through this story unharmed. After all, she lives in a cave full of trained killers.
Quite predictably, there is a romance involving Ileni and Sorin, one of the killers. But once again, this isn’t your typical romance. It’s nice and slow (no traces of instant love to be found) and honestly, not THAT much happens on this front. The way Cypess handled it was really refreshing! Sorin is a trained assassin, and he always will be. He stays true to his character throughout the book, and he isn’t going to suddenly change into this person who’s all soft and constantly proclaiming his love or anything. No sir! Sorin never even acts jealous when Ileni mentions other guys. I loved that aspect, because honestly, every YA love interest seems to go all stiff and angry whenever “their” girl talks to another man.
The best selling point for Death Sworn is defenitely its refreshingness (which is totally a word). It’s a really quick read (I read it in one afternoon) and it feels like a breath of fresh air after so many mediocre books that all seem to follow the current YA trends. That is not to say this book is ALL amazing though, even though I would definitely recommend this to anyone looking for a ‘fresh’ read.
Death Sworn’s world building isn’t too great, I have to say. Now, I am personally not someone who cares a lot about world building, as long as I can understand what’s going on. I could definitely understand what was going on, but I know there are some people out there who care a lot about world building, so I thought I’d mention it. Basically, all you need to know is that most world building happens in a speech the MC gives at some point.
The other thing I liked less about Death Sworn: it isn’t a very memorable read. I’m typing this review right after I closed the book, and I can already feel the story slipping away. Although I’m not the kind of person who remembers every single thing about every single book I’ve ever read, my memory isn’t bad and I can usually get into sequels without needing to reread the first book in the series again. With Death Sworn, though, I know I’ll need to do a reread or read a recap when its sequel is upon us. Fact: I had to check whether I’d actually gotten the protagonist’s name right in this review. (Although that could also be because the name Ileni reminds me of someone who is called something else entirely – don’t ask me why, I have no idea – and I got confused which one the book used.)
In the end, though, I really liked this book! Refreshing and orginal, Death Sworn combines great characters and romance into a compelling story that dispatches all clichés often found in YA literature.
~Thank you Greenwillow Books for sending me a copy!~
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