Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Kiss Off, Adversary

"Instead of telling ourselves what we can't do, 
we have to believe in what we can do."
--Kate Elliott

Genre: YA Fantasy
Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Pages: 448
Publication Date: August 18th, 2015
Source: ARC provided by publisher via BEA
Previous Books in Series: First in series
Goodreads Description

In this imaginative escape into an enthralling new world, World Fantasy Award finalist Kate Elliott begins a new trilogy with her debut young adult novel, weaving an epic story of a girl struggling to do what she loves in a society suffocated by rules of class and privilege.

Jessamy's life is a balance between acting like an upper class Patron and dreaming of the freedom of the Commoners. But at night she can be whomever she wants when she sneaks out to train for The Fives, an intricate, multi-level athletic competition that offers a chance for glory to the kingdom's best competitors. Then Jes meets Kalliarkos, and an unlikely friendship between a girl of mixed race and a Patron boy causes heads to turn. When a scheming lord tears Jes's family apart, she'll have to test Kal's loyalty and risk the vengeance of a powerful clan to save her mother and sisters from certain death.
The Heroine

It is a wide known fact that I love me a good heroine. There are many heroines I like. There are few that I love. I believe Jessamy has made it to the list. Jessamy is everything any reader wants in a heroine. Brave, daring, smart, loyal, and above all loves her family with everything she has. She is not without her faults though which makes me love her even more. Her growth is seen consistently throughout the book. She starts off as self-centered and very tunnel visioned in regards to her goals and desires. She realizes as the story moves on how blind she was. She transforms from a single-focused girl to a very selfless and courageous young woman. It is not easy, the choices she makes are life-threatening to not only herself but many other people, and sometimes you're stuck between two hard choices and you do the best you can...Jes definitely learns this the hard way.

The Story

Jessamy, who I mentioned above, is our main girl. She comes from a family of four daughters of a renowned Captain in the army and a very loving mother. But not all is at it seems. In Efea, our country, race is a very hot topic issue. Native Efeans are known as Commoners and the lower class. Those with Saroese blood are called Patrons, the upper class. It is illegals to marry between races/classes which is why Jes' father and mother are not married. Her father is a Patron, her mother an Efean. This fact is the catalyst that makes Jessamy's world crumble around her thanks to one Lord Gargaron. No spoilers, this guy is an asshat of epic proportions.

Without giving anything away, know that this book has very dark themes and elements. Racism, oppression, blasphemy, manipulation, grief, sacrifice. I loved how Elliott explored the aspect of race and the hatred involved with blind judgement and prejudice. It is awful to read at times but integral to the story and building the world and how it functions. I loved that Elliott went there and made us read the ugly because there are also bright beacons of light amidst the blackness of hate.

The Games

I love me a book that has a competition entwined within in. i.e. The Hunger Games, Throne of Glass, Court of Fives. The arena (sorry I had to) Kate Elliott creates is intricate and dangerous and the stakes are high for the masked players as they attempt to maneuver through five different courses appear the victor at the top of the ladder center court. People die. Blood is spilt. But as we all know, there are always more dangerous games to play...ok no, really I'm done now. Anyways. I love the dynamics of this game and how infamy is earned as one keeps winning and moving up in the ranks. I love reading about the training and strategies of the game. I, of course, also love to read about who wins. It always brings an element of excitement to my reading experience and this book is no exception. It brought a lot of intrigue and that's saying a lot when I think about everything else that happens in the book.

The Romance

The romance was a bit more on the subtle side...until it wasn't. What I loved most was that it was so open. You knew exactly how the two characters felt about one another and they acted accordingly. There wasn't second-guessing or questioning of a character's motivation. I found this refreshing when so many stories deal with subterfuge and red herrings. While the situation and relationship is not...ideal...if you will, I loved the dynamic between the two characters. They'r open and honest and they trust one another! I can't wait to see where this goes!

The World

My only issue was equal parts lack and dumping of information. There is a part towards the end that deals with the royal lineage and line for the throne that went to over my head I had to just move on and accept the endgame of what they were talking about as fact. I believe my confusion came from a lack of knowledge of the world as a whole. I was confused as to what the other countries were besides Efea and Saro but the explanation of Kings and Queens and marriages and deaths was extremely difficult to grasp. I would have loved a little more detail leading up to some of the bigger plot reveals.

Reserved Seating
If you love competitions, intelligent and relevant themes, and a badass heroine...this book's for you.


  1. Glad to hear you liked it! I'm excited to dive into this one.

  2. Well, we've already discussed how I felt about Court of Fives! It really sucked me in from the start, and I'm glad I was able to read it. I enjoyed the creativity infused into the story and characters, though I do wish it had been a little more expansive and less info dump. But still, overall, really good - and I need the next one!

  3. I'm really excited for Court of Fives, and I'm glad that you liked it! Great review!

  4. I'm just kind of torn about if I want to read this! The synopsis sounds so good but I reaaally hate info dumping. I'll prob get to it eventually!

    -Wendy @ Book Scents


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