Tuesday, November 12, 2019

#Review - Crown of Oblivion by Julie Eshbaugh #YA #Fantasy

Series: Standalone?
Format: Hardcover, 480 pages
Release Date: November 12, 2019
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult / Action & Adventure / Survival Stories

In this mesmerizing YA fantasy mash-up of The Road meets The Amazing Race, one girl chooses to risk her life in a cutthroat race in order to win her freedom.
In Lanoria, Outsiders, who don’t have magic, are inferior to Enchanteds, who do. That’s just a fact for Astrid, an Outsider who is indentured to pay off her family’s debts. She serves as the surrogate for the princess—if Renya steps out of line, Astrid is the one who bears the whipping for it.

But there is a way out: the life-or-death Race of Oblivion. First, racers are dosed with the drug Oblivion, which wipes their memories. Then, when they awake in the middle of nowhere, only cryptic clues—and a sheer will to live—will lead them through treacherous terrain full of opponents who wouldn’t think twice about killing each other to get ahead. But what throws Astrid the most is what she never expected to encounter in this race: A familiar face she can’t place. Secret powers she shouldn’t have. And a confusing memory of the past that, if real, could mean the undoing of the entire social structure that has kept her a slave her entire life.

Crown of Oblivion was sold as a standalone Young Adult Fantasy novel. Meet 17-year old Astrid Jael who is the story's protagonist. Astrid is indentured to the royal family as a surrogate to Princess Renya. Whenever Renya steps out of line, Astrid is the one who gets whipped. Astrid has no choice. She and her family are Outsiders, the lowest class of people, without magic or citizenship. In Lanoria, there are (3) types of magic: Cientia, Pontinum, and Projectura. Each indentured must serve at a minimum of 21 years.

After her father unexpectedly dies before getting the help he needs for his sickness, and to save her younger brother Marlon, Astrid enters the deadly Race of Oblivion. To enter the race, contestants are stripped of all their personal memories via a drug called Oblivion. They wake up outside the city walls with only a map with their name on it and their first clue. It’s not as simple as solving a puzzles, however, for a majority of the contestants, the race ends in death. Winning against 20 other racers isn't going to be easy. Not when people are trying to impeded the race.

Not when the Outsider Liberation Army (OLA) is declaring war on the monarchy and trying to lure Astrid to their cause. Now when she discovers that she actually has magic which is against the law. She is stalked by pesky journalists and the Enchanted Authority who have the overall say in who is allowed to have magic and who is not. The idea of the race is to find all of the clues and be the first to cross the finish line wins. That’s the only rule. Racers have killed each other in pursuit of the next clue, and the punishing terrain kills even more of them. This makes the Race similar to a blood sport reminiscent of ancient Rome.  

For Astrid, winning could mean her freedom as well as her brothers. Astrid's race is filled with twists and turns and a co-racer, Darius Kittering, who is more than Astrid bargained for. As Astrid's memories begin to surface, she remembers some things about Darius that makes her wary about trusting him. Darius will do anything to win. Astrid must decide what is more important: risking her life to remember the mysteries of the past, or playing a cutthroat game in order to win her freedom.

I have to be fair. I didn't like the way the book ended. There are several key plots that are left opened. I would have liked to see at least one more book to fill in those blanks. After all, we still don't know what is happening with her older brother. We don't know if her younger brother will be okay. We don't know if Astrid's status will be challenged by others, or they will just accept that she managed to outsmart and outwit almost everyone with little thoughts to her own bodies aches and pains. Alas, while this book is sold as fantasy, there are hints that this may be a dystopian world instead. There are trucks and motorbikes and trains. So, it's a world where both technology and magic co-exist. 


1 comment:

  1. i've seen the book around and the cover makes me curious, but...if this is a stand alone and you still have all those questions...
    sherry @ fundinmental