Title: Crown of Oblivion
Author: Julie Eshbaugh
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, High Fantasy, Romance
Publication date: November 10th, 2019
Astrid is the surrogate for Princess Renya, which means she bears the physical punishment if Renya steps out of line. Astrid has no choice—she and her family are Outsiders, the lower class of people without magic and without citizenship.
But there is a way out of this life—competing in the deadly Race of Oblivion. To enter the race, an Outsider is administered the drug Oblivion, which wipes their memory clear of their past as they enter a new world with nothing to help them but a slip of paper bearing their name and the first clue. It’s not as simple as solving a puzzle, however—for a majority of the contestants, the race ends in death. But winning would mean not only freedom for Astrid, but citizenship and health care for her entire family. With a dying father to think of, Astrid is desperate to prevail.
From the beginning, the race is filled with twists and turns. One of them is Darius, a fellow racer Astrid meets but isn’t sure she can trust. Though they team up in the race, as Astrid’s memories begin to resurface, she remembers just who he was to her—a scorned foe who may want revenge. Astrid also starts to notice she has powers no Outsider should—which could help her win the race, but also make her a target if anyone finds out. With stakes that couldn’t be higher, Astrid must decide what is more important: risking her life to remember the mysteries of the past, or playing a cutthroat game in order to win her—and her family’s—freedom.
“For the winner, the Race of Oblivion means citizenship, but there’s only one winner each year- For many of the contestants, the race means death.”
I was so excited to read this book, because I thought the premise sounded so unique and cool, and like a concept I would totally love, and I have to say that I overall really enjoyed the book and found it incredibly fast paced and engaging, but I had some issues that made me lower my rating a little bit.
I found Crown of Oblivion such an easy book to get into. I don’t know why I was a bit intimidated, but once I started I flew through it and couldn’t put it down because I wanted to know what was going to happen next and how things would tie up. The beginning was very interested and caught my attention, and the plot had a lot of twists and turns that kept me engaged in the story and not bored at all.
It’s true that what made me lower my rating that much was how the world and magic were done. I think those concepts were super interesting and definitely were one of the most unique things this book had and played an important role in the story, but they were so unexplained. Basically, it seemed as if the reader should know the magic system and its limitations, but those things weren’t really explained throughout the story, so when certain character would mention something regarding that magic system left me so confused because I didn’t know how that magic worked, which was so underwhelming and disappointing, because I feel if those things were explained, they could have created such an intriguing and unique book.
“It doesn’t matter what you saw here. In a few mints, you will have forgotten this. You will have forgotten everything. And before any of it comes back to you, you will be bead.”
The other thing that it was a bit lackluster was the world building. It’s true that we got to explore it more throughout the story and know a bit more about that society, but because the main focused on the story were the race and the evolution of certain characters, the other things were so lacking. I was hoping that because this was a fairly long book to know more about the society and why there was this confrontation between these two big groups, because it made the reader a bit disconnected with what was going on.
However, I have to say that I really enjoyed our main character’s arc throughout the novel. I love me a good unreliable narrator, and because our protagonist had no recollection of memories after taking the serum, the reader didn’t know who to trust and basically anything about her past, which I think added an interesting touch to the novel. There were certain moments where I feel that part was a bit confusing, because I had a picture in my mind of her character before the race and after, and there were a few holes that didn’t make a lot of sense to me, but I overall enjoyed her evolution and her dynamics with the rest of the characters, and her relationship with her brothers.
And I have to say, that because it was such a fast paced book, the ending left me wanting for more. I’m pretty sure there’s going to be a sequel, because there were a lot of things left unsolved, and after those few last chapters, I want to know what was going to happen next.
Overall, though I had some issues with the magic and the world building, it was such an entertaining book and I had a good time reading it. I think it could have been better if some things have been a bit more complex, and the reader got to know more about the backstory of the characters and the society, because it all felt a bit surface level to me.
I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. This doesn’t change my opinion whatsoever. All thoughts are my own.
“If I told you monsters could be tamed, would you want to live with monsters? Even a tame monsters is still a monster.”
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