Saturday, August 15, 2015

Double ARC Review: Court of Fives - Kate Elliott

Court of Fives
Kate Elliott
Series: Court of Fives, #1
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy,
Release Date: August 18th, 2015
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Court of Fives is an ARC we picked up at BEA, and focuses on the protagonist, Jessamy, and her struggle to compete in the Fives -- an athletic competition that someone of her social position wouldn't dare participate in. In fact, there are a decent amount of things someone "like her" shouldn't or can't do. The book is heavy with descriptions of classism and racism, both of which remain central to the story, which is about more than just the aforementioned competition -- while the Fives are interlaced throughout the book, something bigger and more sinister is happening as the story progresses.

Overall, I enjoyed the book enough to want to read the next book in the series, so I'd deem it a successful literary endeavor, though there were definitely some parts I liked more than others.

The story itself was compelling, in my opinion, even though it wasn't too complex (although I feel like in the next book in might get a little more complicated (but I'm not the author so I won't make any hasty predictions)). I was generally interested in where it was going, but at some points it did seem to drag where it seemed like not much was happening to advance the plot. Those parts were nice to read for a little while and it isn't that they were bad but I just wanted to know when I could expect a shift. Also, towards the end, I felt really tempted to skim, and I'm not sure if it was the writing or the story or if I just, again, wanted to get to get to a point where something else was happening. Something I liked about the story was that even though the story is about the Fives, it isn't totally about the Fives and they aren't the primary focus of the plot.

As for the characters, I had mixed feelings about them. I liked Jessamy's character a lot, and I liked her sisters but I thought they were very one dimensional for a lot of the book. Bettany and Maraya, two of the sisters, kindof stayed one dimensional the whole time, but Amaya showed a little bit of growth/change. They were still fun to read about and I liked them all but I just wished they were fleshed out a little bit more than "the smart sister", "the pretty sister", and "the loud sister." In fact, we see very few multifaceted characters. Everyone else is either purely good or purely bad.

Another thing I wasn't a fan of was the love story. The two just didn't seem to have a connection or have chemistry, the whole thing seemed forced and awkward. I really liked Kal's character on his own and I really liked Jes, and I didn't think it was even obnoxious or in your face -- that's actually something I'd like to commend Kate Elliott on, because if the two characters fit well together I would have really liked the way she handled the romance. However, it just didn't really work for me.

I feel like I've spent a lot of this review talking about negatives and I swear I didn't mean to, so I'll mention something I liked, which was how heavy an influence classism and racism had in the society Elliott wrote about. I know it sounds weird writing that I liked those things but what I mean is that I liked that they were included and touched upon because in a lot of fantasy books you have different species and sure, elves are better than dwarves but that's pretty abstract, and in this book it's clear that the dark skinned people are unattractive and those who sail to the new land are superior Patrons to the lowly Commoners and it just created a whole aspect of the world-building that was really cool.

Speaking of the world building, I liked the idea of it, but sometimes it was carried out in large info-dumps, like "oh hey dad why don't you tell us this story" or like sometimes Jessamy, who was narrating, would just break up chapters of action with narration of world-building, and it was a lot of info-dumping and a lot of names that I honestly forgot a lot of. It was kindof hard to keep straight and I got some of it confused so I wasn't huge on the way it was told, but at the same time, I get it because there are only so many ways to get that information across in a book this size, you know??? So I'm not too hung up on that, but I definitely liked the subtle things, like slipping in things into lines and actions of characters rather than chapters of explanation.

I know my review has made my opinion sound really mixed, but I actually got through this book really quickly because I was enjoying myself reading, so it wasn't something I forced myself to finish or that I finished so I could laugh at. I really liked the language and the actual flow of the words, which really gave the book an added flair. Despite the things I mentioned that I disliked, the story and the supporting characters pulled me through and like I mentioned earlier, it was likable enough that I would definitely read the second book in the series once it comes out (although this one isn't even officially out yet so I might have to wait a bit).

- Noor

Amrutha's Court of Fives Review
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I really agree with Noor for most of her review: the characters were a bit one dimensional, the plot seemed to drag a tiny bit due to not being as complex as I would've liked, but all in all, the book was a fast and easy read (I read it all in one sitting), so I will definitely read the second book in the series.

That being said, let's get started. The book is, like Noor mentioned, about Jessamy and her sisters, who grow up in a lower class/social standing than what is needed to train for the Fives, which is this really intense athletic competition that could bring really good things for her. However, Jessamy is the daughter of a Patron (higher social standing) and a Commoner (lower social standing), which is forbidden in her land. She faces not only pseudo for being the daughter of these two, but also classism for being in such a low social standing -- this is probably one of my favorite elements of the book, solely because it's a part of dystopian fantasy that I always look forward to. I read a review of this book that compares Jessamy to a mudblood in HP, so here it is basically a half-blood with the same amount of discrimination of a mudblood.

So, I liked Jessamy to an extent -- she was a bit wishy washy but she is still a young protagonist with a lot of issues, so I tried to look past it. I think that this will all play into her character development in future books so I'm withholding judgement for now. Kal (our love interest) was interesting too, I'm expecting that he'll be a bit more fleshed out in future books so I'm reserving judgement again. Pretty much all the other characters are really one dimensional and static, which as we all know is something that drives me absolutely insane, so I wasn't a huge fan of that.

100% agree with Noor on the romance, I didn't love Kal and Jessamy together because they just didn't quite fit. But to be honest, I didn't think Katniss and Peeta fit that well in THG but they still ended up having quite a bit of chemistry, and I feel like Kal and Jessamy could be similar in that sense.

I'm honestly a little disappointed at the lack of world-building and how it was more of just a dump of information that I had to wade through, I wanted more from it than what I got. Everything just felt very slow, and as someone who likes fast paced fantasy, this just didn't deliver on that front.

That all being said, I really did enjoy the book. The book flowed together in a way that was enjoyable and interesting, and while it had its flaws, I look forward to reading the next one, because it really feels like it has so much potential.

- Amrutha

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1 comment:

  1. Court of Fives sounds like a fast read. I'm so into dystopian so I'll have to give it a try myself. Thanks for sharing, ladies!

    Sarah @ One Curvy Blogger