by Jennifer Jenkin
Age Range: 12 and up
Grade Level: 7 and up
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Month9Books, LLC (October 6, 2015)
Amazon | Goodreads
Four clans have been at war for centuries: the Kodiak, the Raven, the Wolf, and the Ram. Through brutal war tactics, the Ram have dominated the region, inflicting death and destruction on their neighbors. Seventeen-year-old Zo is a Wolf and a healer who volunteers to infiltrate the Ram as a spy on behalf of the allied clans. She offers herself as a Ram slave, joining the people who are called the Nameless. Hers is a suicide mission-Zo's despair after losing her parents in a Ram raid has left her seeking both revenge and an end to her own misery. But after her younger sister follows her into Rams Gate, Zo must find a way to survive her dangerous mission and keep her sister safe. What she doesn't expect to find is the friendship of a young Ram whose life she saves, the confusing feelings she develops for a Ram soldier, and an underground Nameless insurrection. Zo learns that revenge, loyalty, and love are more complicated than she ever imagined.I was super excited to read this book. I had heard some really great things about it, and the cover is awesome, and the storyline sounded really exciting.
As I started reading, I realized that ALL OF THAT WAS TRUE! The pacing was fast and intense. The storyline was compelling. I loved where all of this was going. I even got excited about the potential romance that I figured would develop between Zo and Gryphon, the Ram soldier she meets.
However, about page 100 pages in (according to my Goodreads updates), Gryphon does something pretty abhorrent to Zo, and I'm not sure I can/should get past it. In order to get information out of someone, he strangles her until she passes out. Normally, that would be it for me. I'd be out. I mean, how can you possibly have a romantic interest in a guy who would do that?
Here's why I'm conflicted, though:
- Gryphon is a soldier and Zo is an enemy of sorts. This is a war. Does this make it okay to abuse a girl? I don't really think so, but it does add to the complexity.
- Gryphon was trained to behave this way. He actually grew up in an incredibly abusive society, and was taught that this is how he should treat the "Wolves". Again, this doesn't make his behavior okay, but it sheds some light onto why he would respond that way.
- He seems to have a lot of character growth. If I compare the Gryphon from the beginning of the book, to the one at the end, I think they're two completely different people. Although he never actually has a moment of internal dialog where he says to himself, "I can't believe I would actually put my hands on a girl in that way!" he does seem to have a change in understanding. You can tell he's conflicted from the beginning on the way that his people treat others, but at first, he still let his training guide his behavior. But as he grows, I THINK he would probably punch his past self in the face for the way he acted. I hope he would.
Other than this personal issue I had, I actually really liked this book a lot. The characters were really well written, and the world was fascinating. I love the forbidden romance aspect (if only he hadn't gone so far), and adored the friendship that developed between Zo and Joshua. Zo was such a great mix of strong and weak, courageous and afraid, despairing but hopeful. It's not often you see that balance. I am really looking forward to seeing how this story plays out!
So what say you? Have you read this book? What did you think about their relationship? Do you think he should be forgiven? Should Zo fall for him? Or should she run away screaming? If you haven't read it, does this make you want to read the book and come to your own conclusions?