Thursday, 9 February 2017

First Year by Rachel E. Carter - non-spoiler review.

Hi booklovers

I got this e-book from the author in exchange for an honest review. This doesn't affect my opinion of the book.

Title: First Year
Author: Rachel E. Carter
Genre: YA, fantasy
Format: e-book (provided by the author)
This book starts with the final scenes of Non-Heir but from Ryiah's POV. We follow Ryiah on her journey to becoming an apprentice at the Academy. She's a lowborn girl coming to the Academy to try and get a place as an apprentice. The only problem is there are only 15 places and there are 122 people starting the year. Through a lot of (harsh) training only those who really have what it takes make it 'till the end of the year. Ryiah has to fight and prove herself from day 1, because she is not one of the highborns who have had years of training and she still has a lot to learn. Also, from the start she has both friends and enemies who all play their part in her journey.

-Ryiah: She is a strong character who doesn't give up at the first sign of difficulties. She grows stronger throughout the story
- both litteraly and figuratively speaking. There were, however, moments in the book where I just wanted to grab her by the shoulders, give her a shake and tell her that she should believe in herself and that she knew she had every right to be there.
-Ella: I liked how feisty she is and how she didn't let what happened to her with Blayne get her down. On the contrary, it made her stronger and more determined to become a Combat mage apprentice. I really appreciated that even though she was highborn and Ryiah wasn't, she immediately had a connection with Ryiah. I think they really brought out the best in each other. I was really happy that we got to see more of her.
-Alex: Ryiah's twin and the complete opposite. He's an extreme flirt and also a bit more confident. But, he also has a soft and caring side to him. That's why he wants to become a Restoration mage apprentice. I loved his bantering with Ella, it made me laugh out loud at times.
I liked how their love was slow-burning and it wasn't until the very end of the book that they might make a move. I'm curious to see how it will develop. And yay, no love triangle here!

-Darren: Although I had been warned that I was going to want to smack him on the head just like in Non-Heir I found the urge to do so not to be so big. Sure, he is still his arrogant, cocky, brooding self - he is one of the best first year's at the Academy and knows it and acts accordingly - but we also get to see a different side of him.
At times, however, I did find it hard  to fathom him completely. Why did he help Ryiah at times and work against her at other occasions?!

-Priscilla: Oh how I hate that character. She has everything and she bests almost every girl at the Academy but it's still not enough for her. She has it in for Ryiah from day 1, because Ryiah is lowborn and Priscilla will use every chance she gets to boycot her. And yet her attitude is partly what makes Ryiah more determined to succeed. So in a way she also helped Ryiah. But that doesn't take away the fact that she's a total bitch.
-Eve: I thoroughly regret that we only get glimpses of her throughout this story. I would have very much liked to know more about her first year at the Academy. This is one of the reasons I didn't give the book a full 5 stars.
I found the worldbuilding to be a bit lacking. Sure, they spend all of their time at the Academy and some parts are 'explained', but I still would have liked to see a bit more of it.
I also found the training and fight scenes to be a bit much sometimes and certain events were even a bit repetitive. I get that there is a certain routine they follow, but still.
What I did immensly enjoy was the magic system: those who have magic have to project what they want to cast. I don't think I've ever read anything like this before. I'm also quite intrigued by the concept of pain casting and I wonder if we'll get to see more of it in book two.
I liked that not all mages are pain casters and I'm curious to see who'll become the best at it: Darren or Ryiah? Her pain casting is also the reason the Black Mage chose her to be the sixth Combat mage apprentice.

*Overall rating:
The ending of the book had me in tears and they were tears of frustration. Not frustration for the book, but for what Ryiah went through at the very end.
I know it's stupid because I knew there was no way she wasn't going to become an apprentice. But I was so absorbed in the story that I felt Ryiah's pain and rejection when Priscilla's name was called out as the last Combat mage apprentice.
To me, feeling those emotions when reading a book even though you know things have to work out for the main character, shows that it is a well-written book.
I can't wait to dive into the second book and see how Ryiah comes into her own and if Darren will still be his 'charming' brooding self. (At the moment of posting this, I've actually already finished it :-) )

Have you read this book? Let me know in the comments.
Bye for now

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