Ok this one is tough because I am not entirely sure what happened here. There is a lot of caps and exclamation marks and questions in this review. I guess I had some feelings.
First, I think an audiobook might have been a mistake because there are points where I am honestly confused about what happened. Yes, I was cleaning while I listened to this but I do that with most audiobooks and am not usually so lost. It felt like multiple plot lines or thoughts were picked up and dropped with little to no concern. Did I miss them? I HAVE NO IDEA.
I did not connect to Deka, our main character, at ALL. Mainly because I was constantly frustrated and confused by her entire world views and thought processes. She seemed only capable of retaining the last thing anyone told her at a time. If I had a dollar for every time when confronted with SOMETHING she simply brushed it aside and said “I don’t have time to think about that right now,” I would have at least four dollars. She was purposefully ignorant throughout much of the story. Her character development felt like it was picked up and dropped wherever it needed to be at that moment with us not allowed to follow along with the actual progress.
At a certain point, Deka points out that she seems to be suffering from memory loss and just seems…fine with it? I don’t know! Its pointed out that I guess they are forgetting their painful pasts and that’s an excuse to share sad stories and then NOTHING further. No concerns or questions of why and who and how? Just accepted memory loss. But then at the end Deka says it was important the way she was raised so she would know about the world, except she is forgetting it? I DON’T KNOW. She went from being absolutely traumatized about her past deaths to just waving them away so casually she was surprised when someone was like “dude that’s fucked up.”
The writing seemed vague and unclear at times. I wrote a moment down where a Captain gave this random speech to a crowd on the verge of riot and at the end Deka asks “Is he always like that?” to a fellow soldier. Like what, Deka? Always giving speeches? Always stern? Always loud? Always defending you in some way after yelling at you first? Always calling people cowards? ALWAYS WHAT? IT WAS A WHOLE ASS SCENE DEKA, I DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU MEAN?! (The fellow soldiers reply of “he can be so much worse and better” was NO HELP to the context).
The chosen one vibes were SO STRONG. Deka was not only special with her fellow ‘demon girls’ she was super special and had special abilities on top of the general special abilities that they all had. Her abilities were so special that no focus was given to any of the other girls and exactly what they could do. I guess they are all just super strong and athletic? But really we see almost zero examples of that because everyone and every single moment in time can ONLY rely on Deka.
It was too much! There is one scene where they sneak up on a Death Shrike nest with the only plan being Deka’s power. Deka fails the sneaky part of it and the nest all come out at once and the group is IMMEDIATELY overwhelmed and saying its IMPOSSIBLE odds. Deka manages to use her extra special powers to win the fight. But ok, are you really telling me that an elite group of soldiers went in with the one plan being to rely on the at that point completely un-field tested powers of Deka? They had absolutely ZERO back up plan to the plan that involved TESTING HER POWERS? What was even the follow up plan in the first place if she succeeded? They would have been discovered in a minute anyways!
I think at this point I blacked out cause I stopped taking notes and generally caring.
Um. So anyways. Some positives:
The cover is amazing. The idea IS cool. I love the feminist narrative and the idea that women are demonized is not new but it’s a cool way to reflect that in the story by having the women be actual ‘demons’ in the story. Britta for some reason in the audiobook had like a Irish/Australian accent that I could not discern but kind of loved anyways. HER PET! I want one.
Other quick thoughts and questions: (Potential spoilers ahead)
- The romance felt unnecessary. Did he kiss her decapitated head? That scene was wild.
- How did no one at any point bother to ask how the teachers knew what to teach? No one thought to ask about men being descendants? This is that purposefully ignorant thing again.
- Her just being like ‘byeee dad’ felt disingenuous when she was begging to be killed and cleansed earlier. Can she not understand that the same thoughts were ingrained in his head? Of course it was super fucked up but like…that’s the society. She had the exact same thoughts just about herself. Throwing your whole ass dad away seems rough (though I guess she doesn’t really remember him SO WHY DID SHE EVEN BRING HIM UP AT THE END?!)
- None of the death shrikes could like write a note in the dirt or communicate in ANY way?
- White Hand’s plan seemed super overcomplicated and unnecessary, as was the subterfuge and only got away with it because Deka never met any thought she couldn’t completely ignore.