Friday, August 3, 2018

#Review - Grace and Fury (Untitled #1) by Tracy Banghart #YALit #Fantasy

Series: Untitled # 1
Format: E-Galley, 320 pages
Release Date: July 31, 2018
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Source: Publisher/NetGalley
Genre: Young Adult Fiction / Fantasy / Epic

Bold, brutal, and beautiful--a must-read fantasy full of fierce sisterhood, action, and political intrigue for fans of The Selection series, Caraval, and The Handmaid's Tale.

Serina Tessaro has been groomed her whole life to become a Grace--someone to stand by the heir to the throne as a shining, subjugated example of the perfect woman. It's her chance to secure a better life for her family, and to keep her headstrong and rebellious younger sister, Nomi, out of trouble. But when Nomi catches the Heir's eye instead, Serina is the one who takes the fall for the dangerous secret her sister has been hiding.

Trapped in a life she never wanted, Nomi has only one option: surrender to her role as a Grace until she can use her position to save Serina. But this is easier said than done.... A traitor walks the halls of the palazzo, and deception lurks in every corner.

Meanwhile Serina is running out of time. Imprisoned on an island where she must fight to the death to survive, surrounded by women stronger than she is, one wrong move could cost her everything. There is no room for weakness on Mount Ruin, especially weaknesses of the heart.

Thrilling and captivating, Grace and Fury is a story of fierce sisterhood, and of survival in a world that's determined to break you. 

“For every woman who has been told to sit down and be quiet... And who stood up anyway.”

Grace and Fury is the first installment in what appears to be a duology by author Tracy Banghart. This story delivers a high-stakes plot, along with commentary on feminism and sexism. In Viridia, women are offered few choices. They are not allowed to read, or write. They are not allowed to have their own choices with whom to marry, or whom to love, or which job they are chosen to work as their profession. For sisters Serina and Nomi Tessaro, they couldn't be any more different had they tried.

As the story opens, Serina, is chosen to represent her town of Lanos in this years competition. Grace's are held to the highest standard of beauty, elegance, and obedience. 3 Grace's (concubines) are chosen every 3 years. After being chosen, Serina and Nomi, who gets the unwanted job of being handmaiden to her sister, travel to the capital of Bellaqua. For Serina, it is a dream come true. For Nomi, it is a nightmare waiting to happen, especially if she can't keep her secret from being exposed. 

Things quickly change when it is Nomi, not Serina, who is chosen to become one of the Heir's chosen Grace's. Nomi is someone who doesn't mind being invisible, but fate has other ideas for her. In an even more shocking twist, Serina finds herself in deep trouble after being discovered reading from a book. A book that belonged to Nomi! In this world, this feat gets a woman sent to the harshest prison in all of the land. A prison called Mount Ruin.

The story alternates each chapter between Nomi and Serina. It is fair to say that I preferred Serina's POV much more than Nomi's. Serina trained for years to become a Grace, while her sister carried a huge secret, and tossed fits every time she was prevented from going to school alongside her brother. While Nomi hates everything about the world she lives in and rages against the constraints forced upon her. Now, it is Nomi, not Serina who is living the high life & trying to find a way to save her sister.

While Serina is fighting for her survival, Nomi allows her indignity, anger, fear, and defiance to rise up against a broken system that treats women like second class citizens and in my opinion, walks right into a waiting nightmare. Serina, meanwhile, takes her own kind of stand. A stand that was the better half of the two story's. Serina's story is much more action packed, while Nomi's is painful at times knowing that she is going to do something absolutely stupid. 

This is a story about the oppression of women by men, and how the only way “up” in the world is to marry the rich or royal. It is a story about willpower, sisterhood, camaraderie, and survival. Apparently, this is a two book deal. That's a good thing. It means that the author needs to quickly gather readers back into this world, and explain to them how she is going to get Nomi and Serina out of their current predicaments, and not wait 2 more years to wrap up the series. Also, as a warning, Grace and Fury ends on a cliffhanger with the lives of both sisters hanging in the balance.

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