by Kate Elliott
Age Range: 12 and up
Grade Level: 7 and up
Series: Court of Fives (Book 1)
Hardcover: 448 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (August 18, 2015)
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In this imaginative escape into an enthralling new world, World Fantasy Award finalist Kate Elliott's first young adult novel weaves an epic story of a girl struggling to do what she loves in a society suffocated by rules of class and privilege.Reading Court of Fives was an interesting experience. I have so many negative things to say about it, but it doesn't feel like those things had as big of an impact on my enjoyment of the book as they usually do. There were a lot of flaws, yet the book was still really good. It was easy to enjoy!
Jessamy's life is a balance between acting like an upper-class Patron and dreaming of the freedom of the Commoners. But away from her family she can be whoever she wants when she sneaks out to train for The Fives, an intricate, multilevel athletic competition that offers a chance for glory to the kingdom's best contenders. Then Jes meets Kalliarkos, and an unlikely friendship between two Fives competitors--one of mixed race and the other a Patron boy--causes heads to turn. When Kal's powerful, scheming uncle tears Jes's family apart, she'll have to test her new friend's loyalty and risk the vengeance of a royal clan to save her mother and sisters from certain death.
One of the biggest flaws were the flat characters. Jes had more dimension and Kal had glimmers of it, but most of the other character felt flat to me. And there were quite a few characters! The world itself was really interesting. I liked it! The game was cool and the concepts/ideas were GREAT. This was a big reason I still liked this book. However, the culture confused me at many moments. I had trouble sorting everything out. There wasn't enough explanation of certain details for me to really understand what was going on. Then there was the politics, which included LOTS of names. I admit I was lost on a few occasions as I tried make sense of everything. It doesn't surprise me that I wasn't a big fan of this part of the book, though. Politics within fantasy books are usually a miss for me.
The language felt . . . weird. I think it took me awhile to get used to it because I've been reading so many books with modern speak/narration. In this book, it felt so proper and formal and it took some getting used to. This may be part of the reason I found the characters so flat because the language also felt boring.
Jes was a bit bland sometimes! She bored me. Despite that, I did like her character, especially her dedication to her family. Kal . . . I didn't like him as much. He felt blander than Jes. He was a nice guy! And that's pretty much all I have to say about him other than there was a lot happening with him, but he never did make a big impression on me.
Most of the other characters didn't leave a big impression on me either. Except for Ro. I really liked how be brought some sarcasm into a book with a lot of flat, bland characters. He stood out to me a LOT, even though he was one of the smaller characters.
Despite all those flaws, I really liked reading Court of Fives! It was an interesting read that kept me engaged the entire way through (I read the majority of it in one day). Things became confusing at many moments and the characters were a bit lackluster, but I still had a good time reading the book. I enjoyed it enough to make me eager to read the sequel! I recommend this one to anyone who loves a really cool world (you would probably like it a lot more than I did).
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