Relic is the first book in Heather Terrell’s series, The Books of Eva. It is a work of dystopia aimed at the young-adult market.
I was already aware of this book before I read it. The book’s premise had interested me and so I had a quick look to see what others had already thought before committing myself to reading it. On Goodreads the book has had a mixed reception, leaning towards the negative, but one thing stood out – the majority of the negative reviews dealt more with the marketing of the book rather than with the actual content. So I thought I would read the book myself and form my own opinion.
Here’s the synopsis that caught my attention:
When Eva’s twin brother, Eamon, falls to his death just a few months before he is due to participate in The Testing, no one expects Eva to take his place. She’s a Maiden, slated for embroidery classes, curtseys, and soon a prestigious marriage befitting the daughter of an Aerie ruler. But Eva insists on honouring her brother by becoming a Testor. After all, she wouldn’t be the first Maiden to Test, just the first in 150 years.
Eva knows the Testing is no dance class. Gallant Testors train for their entire lives to search icy wastelands for Relics: artefacts of the corrupt civilization that existed before The Healing drowned the world. Out in the Boundary Lands, Eva must rely on every moment of the lightning-quick training she received from Lukas - her servant, a Boundary native, and her closest friend now that Eamon is gone.
But there are threats in The Testing beyond what Lukas could have prepared her for. And no one could have imagined the danger Eva unleashes when she discovers a Relic that shakes the Aerie to its core.
Sounds pretty good right? A bit like The Hunger Games perhaps?
And here is the marketing spiel that has upset so many:
For fans of Game of Thrones and The Hunger Games: high fantasy and dystopia meet in this high-stakes tale of a civilization built on lies and the girl who single-handedly brings it down.
It’s the mention of Game of Thrones that has upset a lot of readers. And quite fairly I guess for the book is absolutely nothing like George R. R. Martin’s magnum opus. Remove some words and it works perfectly: “For fans of The Hunger Games: a tale of a civilization built on lies and the girl who single-handedly brings it down.”
But for some the damage had already been done – they had been lured in under false pretences and what time was spent reading was filled with mental thoughts like, “This is absolutely nothing like Game of Thrones”, and feeling aggrieved.
I thought it a little unfair to judge the author’s work simply by this marketing error and wanted to judge it fairly on its own merits. And I found it okay. Yes, there were elements I thought were weak but also moments of good storytelling. It is for me a 3/5 book and better than a lot of the young-adult fare I have read recently.
The main problems I had were with Eva's achievements within the story - not that it was a female achieving them but that somebody with little to no training, and having lived a protected and seemingly uneventful life, could suddenly turn into a master sled-rider, hunter, mountain-climber etcetera. I also found that the book's beginning leaned towards the info-dump, one which left me more than a little confused as to the who's, what's, why's and where's. All-in-all I felt that too much was contrived for my own tastes.
On the plus side the discovery of the ancient artefacts and the way in which they were used to discover how - and the manner in which - the prior civilisation came to end I found well-handled and the most interesting parts of the book. And as the book neared its end it began to offer explanations and insights into a far more complex story that had so far been realised.
But sadly I will not be reading book two as it didn't quite do enough to whet the appetite and there are just so many great books around that I would prefer to be reading those. In summary, this book is okay, not as bad as some may lead you to believe, and for a select audience may prove to be a real winner.
Review by Floresiensis
The Books of Eva #1
When Eva’s twin brother, Eamon, falls to his death just a few months before he is due to participate in The Testing, no one expects Eva to take his place. She’s [...]
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