If you’re reading a book and you read only in the morning but when you go to bed at night you are thinking about the characters in that book, and wondering what is about to happen next, you probably really like that book.
If you’re reading a book and you tend to always read that book in the same fashion (physical copy, or on a Kindle or Nook) and you download a copy onto your phone because you want to read a little more when you have even a brief moment … you probably really like that book.
Both of these happened to me with Linsey Miller’s Mask of Shadows.
Sallot Leon is a thief – s/he has found a way to survive in a world where s/he is the last of his/her people – his/her home destroyed when the soldiers, who had promised to stay and protect the city, retreated, leaving the defenseless citizens to be slaughtered by a vicious enemy. Now Sal wants revenge against all the cowardly military leaders who lied and let the city be ravaged.
Sal is invited to audition to become one of the elite assassins to the queen, known as the Left Hand. Sal, and the others invited to audition, could become the next Opal, to fight and kill alongside Ruby, Emerald, and Amethyst. The odds are against Sal, who becomes known only as ‘Twenty-three,’ as others who have more practice in killing, and are sometimes bigger, or faster, or better trained with weapons. But Sal is quick-thinking and determined. Unfortunately getting through auditions is only the beginning as audition-er will kill audition-er in the first couple of tests.
Okay … first things first … this is very CLEARLY a Hunger Games sort of story. One might say ‘rip-off’ and be correct. One might say ‘homage’ and be correct. Since Hunger Games‘ popularity was so dynamic, there have been plenty of books trying to capitalize on that success.
The book is full of action and Lynsey Miller handles this well. I definitely got caught up in the thrill of the kill and survival techniques and action point jumps to action point rapidly.
But we also get caught up in Sal. Sal is gender-fluid. Male? Female? Sal’s physical appearance suggest one gender, but Sal identifies with another. This is a twist in such a popular fiction format but quite topical and likely to gain some traction with many YA readers. Sal’s attraction to a teacher is a delightful sub-plot, and Sal’s reason for revenge is revealed slowly though the story and definitely kept me hooked.
I understand the problems with the book … Sal really has no reason to be invited to audition for Opal, but there’s a certain amount of willing-suspension here. The Left Hand sees all, as we come to learn during the auditions and so it’s believable (if you let yourself) that they see talents in a thief that might become useful. And of course Sal really doesn’t have what it takes to become an elite assassin … but if s/he did, there would be no drama or reason for a story.
Yes, this is a retread of The Hunger Games, but Miller handles it well and it’s very exciting. It’s a YA novel and the YA reader will likely really get into this. For action and excitement that I couldn’t wait to get back to, I rate this well.
Looking for a good book? Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller is a riveting, fast-paced YA novel that fans of The Hunger Games will enjoy.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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Mask of Shadows
author: Linsey Miller
series: Mask of Shadows #1
publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
hardcover, 352 pages