Legacy of Tril Book One: Soulbound, by Heather Brewer
Tentative publishing date: July 2012
Publisher: Dial Books, a division of Penguin Publishing
Genre/target audience: YA fantasy, seventh grade and up
Time to completion: two hours
Difficulty: none- but my tension was through the roof!
This is the story of Kaya, a Healer, who exists in a world that is tormented by a hundred years’ war unknown to many of its inhabitants. Kaya’s parents are both Barrons, warriors trained to kill Graplars [evil beasties], but as a Healer, Kaya is forbidden by Protocol to learn to fight. At the training academy she has been sent to, she finds that this world she’s been forced into is even less, and even more, than she thought it was, and is determined to be able to defend herself and her loved ones. The question is, can she find someone to train her, and what will the consequences be if that happens?
I adored this book, zoomed through it, and now am dying at the fact that this is the first book in the series, and it hasn’t even been published yet. It isn’t a new story- a heroine, two heroes, conflict of interests, giving the finger to The Man- but it’s one of my favorite stories, and this world that has been created feels nice and new. It isn’t a sci-fi world, it’s a fantasy one- agrarian villages with dirt roads, but it isn’t the frustrating kind where it seems development has been held back on purpose. Describing the training academy’s library, the clothes they wear- I wasn’t frustrated by it, and that’s often a problem for me. Heather Brewer is a master as well at ratcheting up the tension. Sitting here on the plane I was super jumpy and kept fidgeting. Probably bugged the crap out of my seatmate, but what can you do?
Another thing I enjoyed was Kaya’s age. As a 23 year old, I don’t really have any right to read YA and claim it as my own, but choices in adult fantasy, I feel, can often require too much effort (Game of Thrones anyone?), so even though I roll my eyes at her petulance sometimes, connecting to a 17 year old isn’t a huge stretch. Ask me again next year how I feel about that.
So why not ten out of ten stars? The tension is there and the descriptions are there, but some of the writing falls flat a little bit, especially in Kaya’s inner monologue. Sure, it’s possible for a teenage girl (or any woman, I think) to be furious at someone one moment and down for canoodling the next, but at I’d appreciate a little more something on her part. I sometimes felt that the effort was made to express her thoughts, but the articulation was just a little short. And as for the rest of the stars, I mean, I am comparing this to Arthur and George, so just let it go.
All that being said, I can’t wait for the next book to come out, so much so that I curse picking up this ARC at ALA because I just want to hop off the plane and get the next one!
On the theme of two guys and one girl: why is that the go-to triangle compared to one guy and two girls? Is it because we’ll attack the girls for being petty or bitchy or catty? A girl who has to choose between two lovers is perhaps more desirable- her innocence at her indecision or fright at having to choose is appealing because in books these heroines are generally having to choose between two versions of love. Either will make her happy and give her a fulfilling life, but it isn’t possible for her to choose wrong. (Well, in a reader’s mind that could be up for debate, but the theory remains the same.)
We have loads of examples of these boy-girl-boy triangles: Gale-Katniss-Peeta [Hunger Games], Edward-Bella-Jacob [Twilight], Ethan-Isabel-Arkarian [Guardians of Time, by Marianne Curley- this one is a sort of], Darius-Kaya-Trayton [Legacy of Tril], Perris-Tally-David [Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld- this one is a sort of, but the point plays true], even Harry-Hermione-Ron [while not a romantic scenario, Hermione is put in between them more than once and forced to choose]. And those are just the ones I can think of at 35,000 feet cruising altitude. Five minutes on the internet would give me a list much longer than that, but I don’t think it’s necessary. I’m hard pressed to think of books that feature a girl-boy-girl triangle, and while I’m sure they exist, maybe me not being able to think of any off the top of my head is a good enough example of how they aren’t as prevalent. Perhaps it’s a target audience thing- this book (in fact, most of those books I listed, excepting Harry Potter and the Guardians of Time series) is told from a female point of view, and probably appeal to a female audience in general over a male one (but I think loads of boys would enjoy any of those books. Ok, maybe not Twilight).
Maybe another reason it’s boy-girl-boy is because the authors of the books I listed as examples are female (except Scott Westerfeld, he of the Uglies series). I’m totally projecting here, but if I were writing a book with a romance element in it, I’d do the same thing. Because it’s probably the most romantic thing I could think of, especially while I was writing about characters in high school. Or college. Or graduate school. Whatever. Or there could be as simple a reason as, “the plot just worked out better that way,” which is completely legitimate and probably the best reason of all of them.