This book confused the hell out of me.
At first I thought this was simply because I wasn’t familiar with the series, that it was an add-on or a prologue or something to a preexisting work. (Though even if it *had* been, I feel like your promotional freebie prologues should intrigue your readers, not confuse them…) But according to Goodreads, it’s apparently a prequel, meant to whet our appetites for the rest of the series. Which means that it utterly failed in its cause, because even after reading the whole thing start to finish, I have zero desire to read anything else in this series and only the haziest of ideas what the hell is even going on.
I can tell that this book is meant to fill us in on important events in this world’s history, but it leaves the big obvious questions unanswered while focusing on minutiae that makes no sense without any sort of back drop for reference. It’s also filled with random exposition and a lot of “As You Know, Bob!” moments throughout, which meant I was forcefed certain aspects of the lore while being utterly in the dark about others. Partway through one of the characters mentions that the protagonist was kept ignorant about certain things pertaining to her heritage, which hey, OK. Fine. But how does that explain her not knowing important things like why people are living in the woods in tiny clans, or why everybody hates horses so much? Short answer: It doesn’t. She doesn’t mention any of it so that we’re kept in the dark until the “shocking” reveal at the end of the book…except that nothing is shocking about it, because by that time it’s too little far too late.
By far my biggest point of confusion is the term “native” constantly used throughout the book. What few characters got a description were largely described as white, and yet they would take what the author calls “native names” and tell “native stories”. There is talk of reservations and clans and tribes, so naturally I assumed that this meant the story was taking place within a Native community with Native characters…but no. I double and then triple checked to see if maybe I’d misread something or got it wrong; I thought maybe the author or even the protagonist were Native American and thus were not just pulling this stuff out of their hat. But everything I saw and read led me to believe that everybody involved in this is white. This left me with the distinct impression that this book is basically about a bunch of post-apocalyptic white people pretending to be Native Americans, taking on their traditions and making up Native-sounding names…which, I hope I don’t have to tell anyone, is pretty messed up. Now, maybe I got this completely wrong, but that’s how the book comes across, and as it stands it looks pretty damn racist. No thanks.
Adding to the confusion is the complete lack of pacing in this book. Characters appear out of nowhere and begin talking or acting like they’ve been there all along. Scenes change with little or no warning. New characters are introduced rapidly and with little to distinguish them from other characters, which ends up creating a baffling parade of names to memorize. It’s very difficult to keep up with. And the book is rife with typos and grammatical errors, which means I had to reread some sections at least twice to figure out what the heck was going on. Maybe this was an issue with formatting it for Kindle? I really hope it was, because the alternative is that there was little to no editing process for this book, and that makes me sad.
All in all, I’d say this book had some neat ideas in it which had great potential to be interesting, but all it ends up as is a confusing mess of buzzwords. Disappointing to say the least.