Title: Crier’s War
Author: Nina Varela
Pub. Date: October 1, 2019
After the War of Kinds ravaged the kingdom of Rabu, the Automae, designed to be the playthings of royals, usurped their owners’ estates and bent the human race to their will.
Now Ayla, a human servant rising in the ranks at the House of the Sovereign, dreams of avenging her family’s death…by killing the sovereign’s daughter, Lady Crier.
Crier was Made to be beautiful, flawless, and to carry on her father’s legacy. But that was before her betrothal to the enigmatic Scyre Kinok, before she discovered her father isn’t the benevolent king she once admired, and most importantly, before she met Ayla.
Now, with growing human unrest across the land, pressures from a foreign queen, and an evil new leader on the rise, Crier and Ayla find there may be only one path to love: war.
This will be a spoiler free review.
This book didn’t live up to the hype. Maybe that’s because I managed to read it after its release, and not prior (I have an ARC copy), or maybe it was just way overhyped. Overall, I enjoyed the story, just not as much as I expected. I thought it felt very familiar, like I had read it before. In other words, it felt very YA SFF (Young Adult Science Fiction Fantasy).
There’s a blurb on the front of my copy by Tara Sim “Crier’s War is a beautiful poem of a book…” and I agree. I thought the writing, and the craft of the story was wonderful. Nina has a definite way with words, and she paints a picture with them, with a deft hand. I think the premise of the book is really interesting and I think Nina did an amazing job setting up the world and the conflicts, and by the second half of the book you’re tied in.
I did find the beginning of the book a bit slow, and kind of hard to get into. I kept putting the book down in favor for Twitter and literally anything else. I’m glad I pushed through and finished the book. I’m glad I read it, I’m just bummed that I didn’t love it as much as I thought I would.
I liked Crier and Ayla, I enjoyed their relationship and how it progressed and how their feelings for each other grew and changed. I really liked the internal exploration they each had towards their feelings for one another. I wouldn’t necessarily call this “enemies to lovers” but it kind of has those elements, and I’m a sucker for that trope. I enjoyed the story as a whole, but in the case of the hype surrounding this book, I really do think that their relationship is a big draw. As a whole, the book, again, feels very familiar and very standard YA SFF. (I touch more on this below, at the end of the review.)
Other than Kinok and Hesod, there really weren’t any characters I didn’t like. I’m still on the fence about Queen Junn and Storme (it took all my will power to not call him Stormy in my head, pretty sure it’s just Storm). I really liked Benjy, and I kind of figured out his feelings towards Ayla really early on, so it’ll be interesting to see how that progresses in the next book (which, yes, I’ll probably read).
Actually, I’m kind of interested in knowing how this story progresses. The second half of this book really picked up and I found it easier to stay interested.
Eventually (when I’m not on a book buying ban) when I’m able to purchase a finished copy it will be nice to have a map, and the timeline that are not listed in my ARC copy. I think that maybe that will help. While I could picture everything Nina described, I had a hard time picturing the world as a whole. So, I’m looking forward to that.
Again, overall, I did enjoy this book, and as a debut I thought it was good. I think the hype surrounding it after release was probably detrimental to my expectations, but I do think that Crier’s War feels familiar and kind of reminds me of Last of Her Name by Jessica Khoury and Cardinal Machines by Tracy Eire and Our Dark Stars by Audrey Grey and Krystal Wade, but probably most notably Our Dark Stars. Anyways, I can’t wait to eventually buy a copy of this gorgeous book, because damn, the cover is stunning. Out now, so make sure you pick up your copy of Nina Varela’s debut, Crier’s War!
Update: 10/7/19 – 3:35PM
Last night I had originally planned to include this final bit, but fear got the better of me. I deleted this last part due to fear and assumptions and ultimately opted out of sharing it. This choice as been eating at me all day. So here it is.
Before I close this off with this final note, I just want to remind you that these are MY thoughts and feelings, and in no way should impact your own. Just because I didn’t love this book as much as you, and just because I have my own feelings about the hype surrounding it, doesn’t invalidate your feelings and how much you love the book. I’m glad you loved the book, if you loved the book. That makes me so happy! Be happy that there are so many books out there that we can choose from, to read and fall in love with.
I hesitate to even include this in this review, but:
I think – and I hesitate to say this, because I don’t want to be misconstrued or bashed for my thoughts and feelings – but, I think that this book is hyped more due to the nature of the relationship f/f (Crier/Ayla) than it actually being a phenomenal book. I tend to be a little apprehensive going into books and movies that feature m/m or f/f relationships. And before you grab your torches and pitchforks, let me explain and let me clarify.
I’m often apprehensive because I rarely know (going in) if the book/media is good because the story is good (with all elements) or if it’s only good because it has a certain kind of representation in it. Wonderfully enough, my apprehension has been for nothing because everything I’ve read and watched have been amazing stories. Representation does matter, and I’m here for it, and I want to read it. (and watch it)
I’m not saying that Crier and Ayla’s relationship shouldn’t be a part of the hype. It should be, and I’m glad it is. I’m glad that people are falling in love with them, with this story. I also think that when it comes to books we love; characters we love, we sometimes forget that there is more to the book than just that aspect. I know I have. It’s so easy to pick the romance, the relationship as the one thing we want to scream about, to convince everyone to read the book. I’ve done this and it’s a pretty easy to get people to want to read the book.
But there’s also a downside to that. We hype these books up, screaming about how wonderful they are because these two characters have an amazing relationship. This can either obviously help the book, or be kind of detrimental. My personal feelings are that the hype I’ve seen surrounding Crier and Ayla and their relationship, raised my expectations, and then they weren’t met.