(Website, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)on August 1, 2017
Genres: Dystopian, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Firstborns rule society. Secondborns are the property of the government. Thirdborns are not tolerated. Long live the Fates Republic.
On Transition Day, the second child in every family is taken by the government and forced into servitude. Roselle St. Sismode’s eighteenth birthday arrives with harsh realizations: she’s to become a soldier for the Fate of Swords military arm of the Republic during the bloodiest rebellion in history, and her elite firstborn mother is happy to see her go.
Televised since her early childhood, Roselle’s privileged upbringing has earned her the resentment of her secondborn peers. Now her decision to spare an enemy on the battlefield marks her as a traitor to the state.
But Roselle finds an ally—and more—in fellow secondborn conscript Hawthorne Trugrave. As the consequences of her actions ripple throughout the Fates Republic, can Roselle create a destiny of her own? Or will her Fate override everything she fights for—even love?
Secondborn is the first book in Amy Bartol’s new series and admittedly I was a bit nervous about diving into this series strictly because of what happened in the Kricket series. It is safe to say that I was not a fan and it actually made me pause before requesting this new one but I have to say, I was happy I took a chance on this. I will do my best to review without spoilers so apologies in advance if anything sounds vague.
Roselle St. Sismode is the secondborn child to one of the most powerful firstborns in the Republic. Living in a world where secondborns are transitioned into service to the government and answering to the Fates, Roselle is in a bad position and her mother isn’t doing her any favors. Right away, it was clear that her mother was washing her hands of Roselle. She clearly didn’t see her as anything other than a political pawn and a threat to her firstborn son, Gabrielle. It was painful to see what lengths her mother was willing to go to in order to distance Roselle from herself and Gabrielle. Assigned as the lowest level soldier in the fight against the rebellion, Roselle isn’t in a place where her chances for survival are really high.
Roselle was an interesting character. She clearly grew up in a world where she was treated differently due to who her mother was so when she transitioned to her new role, there was an adjustment for her. In addition to that, because of who she was, her whole life was recorded and watched by the Republic so when she does step into her new position, there are people around her who feel like they already know her. Roselle also draws the attention of someone pretty dangerous (dare I say…evil) which immediately creates some complications for her too so to say her transition to her new life was bumpy would probably be an understatement.
The world that Bartol created here was an interesting one. The idea of those considered “lower class” rebelling against the power and influence of those that are in charge isn’t a new one but the structure of the Fates and the Republic in conjunction with the rules and paths these characters are on adds something new to this type of story. The Gates of Dawn is the rebel group taking a stand against everything the Fates stand for and initially they show up here and there in the book but we really got to learn more about them and how actions Roselle takes early on, make an impact later on in the book.
I enjoy a great character driven story and outside of Roselle, the secondary characters were solid. I thought they helped move the story forward well. I want to know more about Dune and I was a little sad we didn’t get more with him. I am really hoping book 2 gives me more of his story. I also mentioned the bad guy earlier…he works for Census, which is a branch of the government tasked with hunting down unauthorized thirdborns. No one likes Census and the fact that she has drawn the attention of what appears to be one of the worst, Agent Kipson Crow, things don’t seem like they are going to go well for her.
Hawthorne Trugrave (I adore this name…seriously) is the man Roselle meets early on in the book. It is clear there was a connection between these two and while I wasn’t sure where Bartol was going with him as a character, I liked how she connected tied his story together and as it all came together, there were pieces that started to make sense. In addition to Hawthorne there is the rest of the “family” that embrace her and I loved how they all helped and protected each other. Especially as things change for Roselle and she is connected to a pretty powerful firstborn, Clifton Salloway, she does whatever she can to get her friends away from the danger of the battlefield. I liked Clifton but it was very obvious he had ulterior motives with everything he did. I will be interested to see what happens with him in the next book.
Overall I enjoyed the first book of this series and I will definitely be checking out book two when it comes out. This one has a solid story and interesting characters. If you like Bartol’s other books I would expect you will like this one too. If you’re like me and had some issues with some of her other books, consider checking this one out. It kept me engaged and wanting to know more around what was going to happen.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the review copy.