Sixteen-year-old Koral and her older brother Emrik risk their lives each day to capture the monstrous maristags that live in the black seas around their island. They have to, or else their family will starve.
In an oceanic world swarming with vicious beasts, the Landers―the ruling elite, have indentured Koral’s family to provide the maristags for the Glory Race, a deadly chariot tournament reserved for the upper class. The winning contender receives gold and glory. The others―if they’re lucky―survive.
When the last maristag of the year escapes and Koral has no new maristag to sell, her family’s financial situation takes a turn for the worse and they can’t afford medicine for her chronically ill little sister. Koral’s only choice is to do what no one in the world has ever dared: cheat her way into the Glory Race.
But every step of the way is unpredictable as Koral races against contenders―including her ex-boyfriend―who have trained for this their whole lives and who have no intention of letting a low-caste girl steal their glory. When a rebellion rises and rogues attack Koral to try and force her to drop out, she must choose―her life or her sister’s―before the whole island burns.
She grew up battling the monsters that live in the black seas, but it couldn’t prepare her to face the cunning cruelty of the ruling elite.
Perfect for fans of The Hunger Games and These Violent Delights, this South Asian-inspired fantasy is a gripping debut about the power of the elite, the price of glory, and one girl’s chance to change it all.
-Excerpt taken from Goodreads.
Check Goodreads to see the book’s ratings.
(3 / 5) “Everyday people make choices that they think have no impact on their lives. But if you look right instead of left, you don’t know who you’ll meet and who you’ll miss. Choices can mark a turn in fate that we might never get back.”
To make a living, Koral and her brother Emrik fight and capture sea creatures. It’s been in their family for generations and is their only means of providing food and medicine to their family but especially their younger sister. When there is no money for medicine, Koral believes the only way is to win a tournament set only for high-born but with the maristags she knows so well.
“There’s only one Champion, and it has to be me.”
Right off, I loved the relationship between the siblings. Not only Koral and Emrik but how they care for their younger sister also. This was a huge basis of the story. As it continues, we see vast differences in the two classes of people. Medical care is not allowed to lower class and the higher class is allowed many luxuries. The inequality was striking and interesting to take in. While Koral sneaks into the tournament, it becomes evident that she has ulterior motives for winning and not just for her sister.
On the surface the book is exciting and unique but dig a little deeper and it’s apparent that more is needed; more backstory, more character development and more world building. I wanted more backstory of the rebels, Crane (the best friend), and the maristags. I felt there needed to be a previous deep connection with the maristag for it to be believable. Too much was chance. While Koral may have had experience with maristags, it wasn’t enough for me to believe the maristag’s actions toward her.
The end was left very open and I was left feeling very underwhelmed. I wanted to know what happened to multiple characters and felt the story was cut short.
General content summary: minimal language, fight with a creature and blood, poisonous sting rendering one unconscious, child illness (asthma?), forced marriage, poverty, spousal physical abuse, discrimination for class of people, physical violence, captivity, near drowning, attempted murder, alcohol (some underage), house set on fire (people inside), creature attacks on many (blood, death), stabbing, beheading few details).
Thank you to Sourcebooks Fire for the gifted copy!
The book releases September 6, 2022.
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