Title: To Kill a Kingdom
Author: Alexandra Christo (Debut Novel)
Genre: YA Standalone Fantasy
Release Date: March 6, 2018 from Fiewel & Friends
Format: Kindle ARC
*I wished for this on NetGalley and my wish was granted! But I still treat this as a normal request and all thoughts on my own*
Synopsis: Lira is a feared siren in this world, where she has 17 human hearts of male royalty. She’s going to turn 18 and wants to keep growing in power, but one event throws everything out the window when her mother, the Sea Queen turns her into a human as punishment. Prince Elian is the captain of a siren hunting pirate ship, sailing the seas to protect their world from sirens. When he rescues Lira from the ocean, unaware of who she is, Lira has only until the Winter Solistice to kill this prince if she wants to be a siren again.
I had heard a bit of hype on this book through a couple Booktube channels and Twitter, so when I was on NetGalley one day, the cover and synopsis drew me in. I wished for it, then actually requested it. What’s weird is that I got declined for the normal request, but my wish came true so I did end up getting an ARC. For the first 25% of this book, I was entranced by this debut novel and I always wanted to go back to it. But once the part where Lira gets rescued by Elian’s crew, it started to go down hill. I will start with the cons first, since they have grated on my nerves ever since I decided to DNF the book, but I will end this on a good note with my pros.
DNF @ 49% (Including the final chapter)
- Not Labeling POV Chapters: This book alternates between Lira and Elian’s POVs but they are never labeled. Many people who have read this ARC brought up this same issue and it was disappointing that they weren’t labeled. The first time I read from Elian’s POV, I was immediately confused because he sounded a little simliar to Lira at first. While I did end up getting used to it, the publisher does need to label the POV chapters to prevent throwing people off.
- The fact that there is a romance: For the type of story that this is, a romance was not needed. I wanted this to be more of two people not liking each other, being forced to be allies and even maybe still be enemies instead of falling in love. I had seen from reviews on Goodreads that there was a romance in here, I feel like that element started to ruin it for me. I didn’t get any chemistry from them at all and I just feel like Lira wouldn’t seem like herself with this romance. The large chunk of the book I read slightly foreshadowed the romance, but I could tell that the last half was going to very quickly develop the romance before the end. I did end up reading the final chapter and it felt like a completely different book than the beginning half. They would have been stronger characters if they weren’t forced to be together.
- Elian’s Captain Skills: Elian is a noble prince from the kingdom of Midas, but most of the time, he’s out at sea with his crew hunting sirens. We never get a solid reason for why he’s doing this. He has the angsty thoughts of: “I’m only at home on the ocean, never with my family” mentality but I never got why. His family, when they were in the first half, were lovely and cared for him, so his attitude came off as childish. I also didn’t believe his captain skills as the book went on. His crew blindly followed him too easily and I never got enough information why. All he did was grin and smirk a lot, ignore his own rules and the rules of other countries they stopped in and never showed his discipline as captain. I saw better sea captains in Truthwitch and I didn’t like that book either. It would make sense if he was older, like in his twenties, to be a captain. But his age showed badly and the credibility just wasn’t there.
- Pacing: Like I said, the first 25% was intriguing, well paced and fantastic world building along with the introduction to the main plot line. But as soon as Lira got rescued on Elian’s ship, the pacing was slowing to a painful crawl! The amount of pages revolving around Elian smirking, his crew mates having weird inside jokes and just the amount of dialogue was too much. With not counting the final chapter, I read about 44% of this book and they had barely made progress on the journey plot thread! I was shocked that the pacing was choppy as it went on, going from such a great flow in the beginning. Not even the great mythology and potential for the plot saved this for me.
- Siren Focused: This is NOT a mermaid book. Lira makes that very clear in the beginning of the book about the difference between mermaids and sirens. The differences are so fascinating and the descriptions of these sea creatures was very original and even kinda creepy. Sirens aren’t popular in YA right now, but this was nice to see a different creature as the story’s focus.
- World Building/Mythology: I applaud Alexandra Christo for creating a fascinating fantasy world! There are small references to the King Midas legend which were clever and fun. The different kingdoms are essentially islands with different cultures, some of which kind of reflect of some of our own cultures like Asia. I love how the author built the mythology behind the Sea Queen’s power, the siren abilities and the magic in general. You get a good back story of why the sirens are the way they are and how the other kingdoms are affected by that. I couldn’t get enough of the world when I was reading the beginning.
- Writing: Even though I decided to DNF this, I still want to give this author another chance with more books from her. Her writing was strong for a debut and this story completely felt like her own thing; it’s annoying when some YA books try to show off how similiar they are to other ones or authors trying to have their writing match another authors. But this was a nice surprise and she was good at great word choices and descriptions of the sea and the other kingdoms.
Overall: I wanted to love this book like many other people have, but I am getting sick of too much romance in YA. Why can’t there be books where the two people don’t end up together? Yes, I’m married, but romance doesn’t need to be the main focus of every YA book. There are aspects that I loved and while I wanted to continue, I’ve seen too much of certain things before and the ending was childish, predictable of where everything ended up and wasn’t anything special. I think if I read this when I was much much younger, when I was just getting into fantasy, I would love it more. But my expectations weren’t quite met with this one.
Have you read this upcoming book? If so, did you like it? Are you excited for this upcoming book? What other books have sirens that you liked?