Review for ‘Court of Fives’ by Kate Elliot
***Awesomeness Alert!*** My dearest friend and fellow booknerdigan Caitlin and I decided to read this book together for our very first buddy review. I’m sure all of you know my strong aversion to all things even remotely dystopian, but Weez convinced me to give ‘Court of Fives’ a shot, and I’m actually glad that I did. This review will be set up a bit differently than my regular reviews, but you know what they say about “Two heads are better than one” and all that jazz, so enjoy twice the fun!
How was the plot?
Caitlin: I think this book suffers from being the first book in a series as well as the author’s YA debut. Elliott started out telling the story of a girl stuck between two worlds. Jessamy, who is the daughter of a Patron war hero and his Efean paramour, struggles with issues of race, sex and class as she tries to find her place. That story could have been compelling. Unfortunately, the author included too much and the story lost its direction. Between the addition of political intrigue, and an awkward romance, I found myself overwhelmed. I felt pulled in several directions, all while trying to get a grasp on a complex world that went largely unexplained until the end of the book.
Delaney: I don’t think that I had as much of a problem with direction as Caitlin did while reading this one. As she mentioned, there is a lot going on in this story. There’s a bit of a political mess, a bit of a social mess, and a bit of an emotional mess. I did think, however, that the author did a good job of making it all mesh together well. Even though our main character was experiencing a whirlwind of conflict, I could tell she had goals and that she was going to work to achieve them. I think I’m always a bit more lenient with first books in a series because I have faith that the author will tie everything together eventually. 😛
And the characters?
Caitlin: Jessamy is a character you want to root for. She’s a strong-willed female fighter. Who doesn’t love that? Alas, she is surrounded by a supporting cast of extremely underdeveloped personalities, which led to her appearing selfish. I am not sure if this was intentional or simply a side effect of being enveloped by immature characters, but the “revelations” she had about her siblings near the end of the book made it impossible to ignore. I hope to see her grow into someone who is less self-involved in the sequel. As for the auxiliary characters, there is only one place to move, and that is up.
Delaney: I wasn’t fond of Jessamy as a character at first. I felt she came off as self centered and close minded. She was overly judgmental of everyone around her, including her own family and I was turned off by her ‘poor me’ mentality. Not everything revolved around you, Jessamy :P. I tried to keep in mind that the world she lives in is much different than mine (I have never had to experience caste systems or social prejudice), but…she still just came off as unappealing at first. I didn’t feel that the other characters were underdeveloped, more so that everyone in this society had been groomed to act a certain way. I am happy to report that by the end of the book my viewpoint of Jessamy had changed a bit. As a result of some of her experiences in the book she seems to start caring about people other than herself.
What about the ending?
Caitlin: The plot tug-of-war only got worse near the end of the book. Jessamy is already dealing with family issues, a diabolical General with fuzzy motives, a budding love affair, and an inappropriate desire to compete in public sporting events. Now we toss in odd mystical occurrences, dodgy conversations regarding religion, and the possibility of her new lover inheriting not one but two thrones. It is just all too much. There was so much potential in this book. I think if the author hadn’t tried to establish so much, so fast it might have been an entertaining read. As it stands I spent most of my time trying to puzzle everything out. With the world established (sort of), my hope is that the second book will not suffer from the same pitfalls as the first.
Delaney: So basically, all of the things that Caitlin listed. However, these were all of the reasons why this book won me over in the end. One of my main complaints of dystopian novels is that they all follow the same road. I am easily bored and I hate when I can predict an outcome. This book (although honestly after reading I felt it was more of a dystopian/fantasy) kept me on my toes and played with my emotions. Was the author going to kill someone off? Is Jessamy destined to overthrow an evil general’s ownership of her father? I really don’t know what is coming next and I like that.
Caitlin recommends for: Readers who enjoyed The Winner’s Curse and The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski.
Delaney recommends for: Readers who like adventure, strong female character leads, and feeling stressed out at not knowing if characters are going to be killed 😛
All in all, I give this book a sold 3.5 out of 5 stars, because of the intricate plot as well as the unpredictable outcomes.
***For those of you interested in more of Caitlin’s reviews, check out her blog: Caitlin’s Blog