Monday, August 3, 2015

Review: The Heart of Betrayal

THE HEART OF BETRAYAL
The Remnant Chronicles #2
Mary E. Pearson
Young Adult/Fantasy
470 pages
Henry Holt & Co.
Available Now
Source: ARC from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Held captive in the barbarian kingdom of Venda, Lia and Rafe have little chance of escape. Desperate to save her life, Lia's erstwhile assassin, Kaden, has told the Vendan Komizar that she has the gift, and the Komizar's interest in Lia is greater than anyone could have foreseen.

Meanwhile, nothing is straightforward: there's Rafe, who lied to Lia, but has sacrificed his freedom to protect her; Kaden, who meant to assassinate her but has now saved her life; and the Vendans, whom Lia always believed to be barbarians. Now that she lives amongst them, however, she realizes that may be far from the truth. Wrestling with her upbringing, her gift, and her sense of self, Lia must make powerful choices that will affect her country... and her own destiny.


MY THOUGHTS
The Heart of Betrayal is a bit of a tricky sequel, picking up the exact moment the first book left off and continuing Lia's story without the benefit of any recap. Those (like me) for whom it's been a year in between books will likely struggle to settle in, trying desperately to recount the finer details of past events and stumbling at the mention of characters who don't ring as loud a bell in our memories as we need in order to feel emotionally invested. The fact that this second installment is a bit slower in its pace only adds to our difficulties, failing to reach out and grab us to the degree that our inability to recall certain aspects of its predecessor becomes irrelevant, instead leaving us without the anchor we so desperately need.

That being said however, Lia is still an enjoyable heroine, playing it smart while in enemy territory by using silence as a weapon, largely keeping her mouth shut and evaluating all that's shared in order to fill the dead air. She's willful when necessary though, showing the Komizar and everyone else that her spine is not lacking in steel and that she will not break as easily as they so clearly expected. When it comes to the romance, Lia's feelings are clear throughout, but the hint of a triangle remains because she must play a role in order to protect herself and the one she loves, keeping the three of them riding a razor's edge of tension that at any minute might end up cutting them all to shreds.

The main issue keeping this tale from a higher rating aside from the lack of any small reminders to help us recall book one is the fact that Rafe, Lia and Kaden are all in a holding pattern for majority of the book. Rafe and Lia spend their days in Venda waiting for Rafe's friends to sneak in and help them escape, and while we're grateful the two of them realize such an endeavor is far more than two people can handle on their own and therefore don't make any easily avoidable mistakes, we don't learn all that much as they bide their time. A few chess pieces are moved though, and the Komizar proves to be a character of depth and complexity who piques our curiosity whenever he appears on page, keeping us flipping the pages in the hopes that a little action will be waiting for us.

Overall, The Heart of Betrayal is a bit slower moving than The Kiss of Deception, a book that is a rumble of thunder on the horizon, warning us of the storm that is to come in the final installment.

Rating: 3/5

*Full disclosure: I've been in a bit of a YA reading slump of late, so this very well could have been more me than the story itself. Anyone who loved book one should definitely give this a try!


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This book was sent to me by the author  free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.

35 comments:

  1. Oh that sure is tough. I think a recap is necessary for books in a series, especially if its precedent isn't remarkable enough. Ah. Those pesky reading slumps are inconvenient, aren't they?

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    1. Yes! I remembered big things, but there were little things that were mentioned and I for the life of me couldn't recall them and that kept me from being able to get involved:(

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  2. Is the cover the barbarian kingdom? Looks pretty great for barbarians

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  3. So I guess I have to read this one right after reading The Kiss of Deception and lessen my expectations. Thanks for the your thoughts Jenn

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    1. Reading them back to back or at least close together is a good idea for sure:)

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  4. Ah, and that's why I like to wait for a good number of books in the series to be out already. It's tough jumping back in like that, and I know what you mean about losing some of that emotional investment. I want to read the series, but very glad I've waited.

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    1. I'm getting more and more that way Christy! My patience for cliffhangers is dwindling too, so binge reading is the way to go for me:)

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  5. I think I remember having trouble with Kiss of Deception because it was a bit slower. It sounds like this could have used a bit more umph to have made it really good.
    Beautiful review as always Jenny!

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    1. This one was very slow for me Ali and I was bummed. I just felt like I was waiting the whole time, but I imagine the next book is going to be action-packed.

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  6. I'm sorry this wasn't the mind blowing sequel you were hoping for, Jenny. I struggled with the first book, so I don't have any intentions of picking this one up, but I remember you enjoying it so it makes me sad. Still, I'm glad there were some elements that you were able to enjoy. Hopefully, the pacing picks up in the last book and ends with a bang for you.
    Lovely review, Jenny!

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    1. I did enjoy the first one Nick! YA Fantasy makes me happy, but I just couldn't quite settle into this one which was disappointing. I'll have to see what people think of book 3 before I dive in:)

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  7. I'm sorry to hear this one didn'y work as well for you as the first one did! Sometimes sequels have that bit a slower pace while setting up the pieces for the last one...
    Sorry to hear about your YA reading slump, Jenny!

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    1. This definitely felt like a middle read to me Pili. But of course, I've been having trouble with YA in general lately, so some of that could have been me:)

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  8. I hate it when so much time passes between installments that I forget all the important details. I usually check Recaptains to see if they did a post, but if not, I manage somehow. But it's not the same.
    I've been struggling with YA a lot too, but look on the bright side: we have a Sam & Jory wedding story coming up!

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    1. I like it when authors subtly work in hints that jog my memory of the previous book, Ilona Andrews is particularly good at that, but there was just no recap here and I couldn't remember anything about Lia's "gift" which is important to the story.

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  9. I didn't request a copy of this one because I wasn't over the moon over the first book, and it sounds like this one suffered from second book syndrome. From your review, I am gathering that it pretty much went no where. So irritating. I think I am done with this series.

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    1. I didn't learn as much as I'd hoped Heidi. I liked the Komizar, I was glad the triangle wasn't too drama-filled, and Lia was enjoyable, but it was just slow going for me.

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  10. I wasn't a fan of the first novel at all so I didn't plan to pick this up, though I'm sorry to hear it didn't do it for you. It's always hard to be in a reading slump and have yet another book be a disappointment. I hope your next read is much more satisfying, Jenny! :)

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    1. Yes. I need something AMAZING to pull me out of it Keertana!

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  11. Hm... I'm thinking it wasn't you for some reason. It still doesn't seem bad so that doesn't bother me. I still need to read that first book. I think I will have to see if my library has these.

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    1. I really liked the first one - I had fun trying to guess which of the guys was the prince and which the assassin, but since we learn that in book one, there was no mystery here, and that's what kept me going in the slower parts of Kiss of Deception:)

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  12. I'm glad that I waited for this book to be available before picking up the first book, as I don't have the greatest memory when it comes to remember what happened in previous books in a series. I'm glad that you were still able to enjoy this one in parts though, I hope the final book in this series ends up being more satisfying for you!

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    1. I thought I had a pretty decent memory Jasprit, but there was no help to be had throughout this book. I thought maybe we'd hit the ground running and then at some point some reminders would be worked in, but that just wasn't the case so I struggled a bit.

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  13. Nooo! My memory is utter crap, I'm going to be SO lost when I read this. ):

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    1. Definitely re-read book one first!

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  14. You know, I've been avoiding series with the same main character because I don't want to wait between stories. There's just too much you can forget, and it can be difficult to recapture what you loved about the previous books... but perhaps the third book will be better!

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    1. EXACTLY! I do so love romance series where it's a different couple each book and I don't have to strain my brain as much trying to remember:)

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  15. Ugh, I hate when middle books are like that! Hopefully the conclusion will be better.

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  16. Hmm...I really want to read this series but now I'm thinking it will much better to read it when all three books are out. Also boo on reading slumps. I hope you get out of it soon, Jenny!

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  17. I'm excited to read this one Jenny, but - it is so hard sometimes to go in w/o those great recaps. Still, I'm glad you enjoyed it for the most part. I hope you get out of your slump soon, but it's great to focus on other genres that make you happy at the moment. I've been catching myself wanting to pick up more MG. Thanks for the thoughtful & lovely review :)

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  18. I actually haven't started reading this series at all, but have been seeing it around lately which is why I have come to check out this review. When books start off right from where the first one left off it can be so tricky for me too, and I am desperately trying to fit all the pieces together. It's how I felt from Divergent to Insurgent DD: This sounds like an okay sequel, but not as good as the first.


    Check out my recent post: http://olivia-savannah.blogspot.nl/2015/08/life-update-sailing-london-family-and.html

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  19. I've heard great things about this series but I'm still eagerly waiting to see if I should start it. I really struggle when books don't provide recaps either, it's hard to get your head in especially if there was a long break between the series. Great review Jen!

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  20. We definitely read too many books not to need a recap, especially when there's a whole year between the stories!! I just don't have the brain capacity to remember who's who and what's what for every single series (perhaps the reason I don't pick up a lot of second books, especially in YA. Hum.). I did enjoy the first book so it's a bit disappointing to see the dreaded second book syndrome with this one.

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