Publisher: 47 North
Release: August 1st 2017
Received: Kindle First
This was my Kindle First pick of the month, and I’m pretty happy with my choice! I partially picked it because the cover was so lovely and bright, but the story itself also seemed intriguing to me. I haven’t read anything else by Bartoi, but after reading Secondborn, I can safely say I’m intending to follow up with this series if nothing else! (I hate that I have to wait for the second book – that would be the one downside to reading a book ahead of time – it increases the wait time after the fact).
Secondborn is a dystopian novel about a society in which people are sorted into classes by their birth order. Firstborns are allowed to inherit the family name, business, and anything else you can think of. Secondborns are intended for servitude right from the start – their career determined by the family they belong to. Thirdborns and later are strictly against the law, and will be killed on sight. It all seems pretty grim, right?
The main character is named Roselle St. Sismode’s, her family leads the Fate of Swords military. Roselle, being a Secondborn, is relegated to being a soldier instead of a leader. It’s pretty clear right from the start that things have been intentionally set up against Roselle’s favor (likely by her mother or somebody working for her mother). She’s set to be moved into the active duty first line of defense for the military, just days after she turns eighteen, despite her family name giving her other (safer) options. Even without knowing all the political schemes in play, I was immediately able to determine that somebody felt threatened by Roselle’s existence, and realistically there are only so many people that could feel that way about her.
I actually really enjoyed all the politicking and scheming that occurred during Secondborn; it added several different layers to the series while creating risk and intrigue. I suspected one of the characters moving against Roselle right off the bat (they did practically flat out say it, after all), but the second one surprised me, which was refreshing. The Rose society was another interesting plot twist – hiding their motives right out in the open as they did was actually both bold and brilliant.
The setup of Roselle’s situation is bound to make one feel sympathetic for her, creating and attachment to her and the world she lives in. Despite everything she’s gone through, Roselle is determined to find her way through the mess she’s been dropped into, and try and make the world a better place for all Secondborn’s like herself. It’s a really endearing trait, actually. Roselle’s character is clearly meant to be the shining light of the series – she always does what is right, even when presented with the chance to do the opposite. This is particularly true when it comes to taking care of her friends – she’ll literally risk life and limb to keep the few friends she has safe from harm.
Another one of my favorite characters is Hawthorne; he is just so determined and loyal. Even though there’s more going on with him than the eye can see, it’s hard not to appreciate a rock of a character like him. He’s the stability a series like this requires.
There were times where the novel really felt similar to the Hunger Games, and I don’t mean that in a negative way. The tone of voice was very reminiscent at times is all; plus some of the events talked about (the Secondborn trials for example – where Secondborns fight to the death for a chance of freedom – there’s only one winner) sound very much like the Hunger Games (and by that I mean the event, not just the title of the book).
As I mentioned above, I haven’t read anything else by Baroi before – though I know she has a couple other series out there. After having read Secondborn, I find myself more tempted to give those books a try. I’ll certainly be following up with the rest of this series; I just have to find out what happens to Roselle and the others.