My Rating ~ Three and a half stars
RELEASED: 10 April 2018
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
In the Alskad Empire, nearly all are born with a twin, two halves to form one whole…yet some face the world alone.
A rare few are singleborn in each generation, and therefore given the right to rule by the gods and goddesses. Bo Trousillion is one of these few, born into the royal line and destined to rule. Though he has been chosen to succeed his great-aunt, Queen Runa, as the leader of the Alskad Empire, Bo has never felt equal to the grand future before him.
When one twin dies, the other usually follows, unable to face the world without their other half. Those who survive are considered diminished, doomed to succumb to the violent grief that inevitably destroys everyone whose twin has died. Such is the fate of Vi Abernathy, whose twin sister died in infancy. Raised by the anchorites of the temple after her family cast her off, Vi has spent her whole life scheming for a way to escape and live out what’s left of her life in peace.
As their sixteenth birthdays approach, Bo and Vi face very different futures—one a life of luxury as the heir to the throne, the other years of backbreaking work as a temple servant. But a long-held secret and the fate of the empire are destined to bring them together in a way they never could have imagined.
First, before we even start with the review, can we all just take a moment to look at that gorgeous cover?! IT IS AMAZING.
In the Alskad Empire almost everyone is born a twin. If one of those twins die, the other usually follows quickly (succumbing to grief) or survive to become what is known as a ‘Diminished’ Or ‘Dimmy’. It is believed Dimmy’s will always eventually be overcome by grief and rage and become dangerous, violent outcasts. Often families of a surviving Diminished will give them to the temple to be raised, so as not to shoulder the responsibility of raising a child who might turn violent at any moment.
The Diminished is told from the point of view of the two main characters, in alternating chapters. Vi, who has been Diminished since she was only a few months old and was cast off by her family, to be raised by the temple and Bo, a rare singleborn, next in line for the throne.
Vi and Bo have led vastly different lives. Singleborns are considered special and hand picked by the gods and goddesses to rule. Bo has been raised by the royal family and had access to everything he could ever ask for.
Vi has led a life of hard work, rough treatment and fear. Especially of a group called ‘The Shriven’, who’s job it is to watch Dimmy’s, and remove those who they deem violent (usually by way of death), and her own fear that she will eventually succumb to the Dimmy violence she’s sure will overtake her.
When Vi’s only friends in the world leave for another island, and Vi is forced to make a terrible choice, she chooses to follow them to the island in hopes of at least spending her life in the company of friends.
Bo’s perfect life starts to unravel, and when he discovers his family have kept secrets from him, he heads to the same island to try and uncover the whole truth.
I found the first 150 pages of this book a struggle. I was confused, there were a lot of strangely named groups talked about and the information about them was glossed over. However, after Vi boards a ship to sail to the island, it really picked up. There were some great twists, the main one was fairly easy to work out early on, but I still enjoyed it. I must admit, I actually loved the side characters, Mal, Quill and Swinton more than Bo and Vi. They were all really fun characters and I found myself more concerned for their safety than the main characters!
I really struggled with my rating for this book. It ran close to a 4 but the slow beginning couldn’t be overlooked. If I was the type to DNF (I almost never do) I might have put it down after the first 100 pages and missed all the action. There were also a lot of characters I felt needed more development to really mean anything to the story. The rest of the book was so entertaining though. I think one of the reasons I couldn’t bring myself to bump it up to a 4 star rating was, for me personally, the constant ‘you can’t survive without a sibling, loneliness will consume you’ grated on me a bit. I have an only child so it was probably just a personal sore point for me though!
It’s actually quite hard to write a review for this book while avoiding spoilers, as the parts I enjoyed the most happened after the big reveal. The story is going to be a duology and, despite my lukewarm response to the beginning of the book, I really am keen to read the second one when it’s released.
Photo via my Instagram account – Bookbookowl