Title: Beneath the Citadel
Author: Destiny Soria
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
My Rating: 2 stars
This book took me FOREVER to get through, and while there weren’t any glaring issues, there were a lot of little things that set the whole thing up for failure. There were plot holes galore, and characters making decisions so stupid that you just wanted to yell at them. I think I only finished this book because I heard about the controversial thing that happens at the end and I wanted to find out how I personally felt about it. I also really enjoyed the magic system… BUT I really wish the same system was used in a totally different story, because the way this one ended up it really wasn’t able to shine.
-Selling dreams for money, being bonded to a metal and able to control it – cool concepts!
-Group of unique characters that aren’t Mary Sue
-Too many to list so just read the rest of the review if you want to know!
The writing is a little simple, and a lot of it is done in a “tell instead of show” style. For example, upon first meeting Alys, we’re told that she’s “fat”, and it felt like this description could have been done less.. bluntly, and with a bit more finesse. The chancellor is described as old over and over, and it all feels very repetitive and plain. Then the history of Eldra and all the information about the Seers/Rooks/Sentients/Diviners is given to us in a bit of an info-dump. The beginning of the book was pretty fast paced, but it slowed down quickly and the narrative started to become bogged down with these descriptions of past events and explanations regarding different history lessons and prophecies. (We get it, the citadel controls the people using the prophecies, I didn’t need this explained 20 times!)
I started to get the feeling that the author doesn’t appreciate subtlety and underestimates how much readers can infer from small mentions and hints. It is mentioned SO MANY times that Newt fears his dad, had issues with a basement, etc etc. How many times does this need to be alluded to? Then each and every character mentions that they can’t trust that their actions matter if the future is already told. “What was the point of everything they had done if their fates were already foretold?” Which is a great concept, but it doesn’t have to be beaten to death.
“If they own your future, then they own you,” her mother had murmured into her ear while the chancellor went on and on. Her lithe fingers brushed through Cassa’s hair softly, a wordless sort of lullaby. “Never let that happen.”
The characters are diverse and they each have their own strengths and their own flaws. I liked that some of them had abilities, but that these weren’t godlike abilities, and they still frequently struggled and had to work towards their goals. The characters weren’t put on a pedestal and they were each dealing with their own issues, be it anxiety issues and panic attacks to dealing with abuse or a history of trauma. BUT It felt to me like the author tried too hard to make the book diverse and didn’t give the characters much substance beyond that. There are a number of PoC characters, and we also have characters that are: gay, bi-sexual, asexual, suffer from anxiety, plus-sized characters, etc etc. I love the diversity, but these characters aren’t given any major characteristics outside of these things! The personality traits they are given end up not being very solid. “Cassa never says sorry” “Cassa’s never afraid” “Cassa never admits she’s wrong”, except they’re saying this as Cassa is doing the exact thing they say she never does and it happens ALL THE TIME.
The way the characters all interact, I actually found myself wondering why they’re even friends at all, never mind that two of them used to date and now there’s a romance between Evander and Newt. There is no friendship and/or relationship chemistry at all! Between any of them! There are also chapters from the past that are titled things such as “The Day (Character) met (Character)”, and they really hurt the book’s pacing. I can appreciate getting insight into the character’s pasts and how they all ended up where they are, but I’d just be getting into the story and then one of these chapters would pop up and throw a wrench in my flow.