The Crown's Fate by Evelyn Skye
Book Two of The Crown's Game series
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: May 16, 2017
Rating: 1 star
Source: eARC from Edelweiss
Summary (from Goodreads):
Perfect for fans of Shadow and Bone and Red Queen, The Crown’s Fate is the thrilling sequel to the New York Times bestselling The Crown’s Game, an atmospheric historical fantasy set in Imperial Russia.
Russia is on the brink of great change. Pasha’s coronation approaches, and Vika is now the Imperial Enchanter, but the role she once coveted may be more difficult—and dangerous—than she ever expected.
Pasha is grappling with his own problems—his legitimacy is in doubt, the girl he loves loathes him, and he believes his best friend is dead. When a challenger to the throne emerges—and with the magic in Russia growing rapidly—Pasha must do whatever it takes to keep his position and protect his kingdom.
For Nikolai, the ending of the Crown’s Game stung deeply. Although he just managed to escape death, Nikolai remains alone, a shadow hidden in a not-quite-real world of his own creation. But when he’s given a second chance at life—tied to a dark price—Nikolai must decide just how far he’s willing to go to return to the world.
With revolution on the rise, dangerous new magic rearing up, and a tsardom up for the taking, Vika, Nikolai, and Pasha must fight—or face the destruction of not only their world but also themselves.
What I Liked:
FULL DISCLOSURE: this may end up being a rant, more than anything else. I'm sorry, but I'm not really sorry at all.
ALSO: I will try my best to avoid major spoilers. But I'm pretty pissed off right now, even though it's been over an hour since I read the book (as I'm sitting here, typing this review), and I'm going to just let out all of the frustration and irritation and see how it goes.
This is the sequel to The Crown's Game, a book that I didn't really enjoy but sort of wanted to know more about (i.e. read the sequel). I hated the useless, obnoxious love triangle, I hated Pasha, and I just wasn't feeling the book. I was really hoping this conclusion novel would be better for me. Spoiler alert: it wasn't.
This sequel picks up a little after The Crown's Game concludes. Nikolai is trapped in the in-between, Vika is now bound to obey any order of Pasha's or Yuliana's, since she is now the Imperial Enchanter, Pasha continues to be a whiny, spoiled boy who doesn't deserve to be tsar, and Yuliana continues to slay (and to me, she should be tsarina and Pasha should go eat poo). But Nikolai escapes the in-between, but at a price: a darkness sweeps through him, and he finds that all he wants to do is kill Pasha and become the true and rightful tsar. A revolt was already in motion, but with the turmoil that Nikolai stirs up, a war that will divide Russia is set to explode.
Probably the only two positives of this book are (1) Vika ends up with the "right" guy. Don't even argue with me about this, ____ fangirls/fanboys. We all know who she should (and does) end up with. And (2) I read this book really quickly. I skimmed towards the end, but it's an easy book to read.
What I Did Not Like:
Heeeeeere we go. Maybe I should number them, to make it easier on myself?
(1) The love triangle. The love triangle persists throughout the entire book, and doesn't get resolved until the last few pages. I hate love triangles, and the love triangle in this book is annoying, unnecessary, and irritating. Vika doesn't like Pasha at all, in this book, but she isn't sure she is in love with Nikolai (though she cares about him a lot - so, obviously she does, in my opinion). Pasha is madly in love with Vika (for some reason). Nikolai is madly in love with Vika (again, for some reason), but to him, she always seems to take Pasha's side and have Pasha's best interests at heart and care about Nikolai coming back solely to mend things with Pasha... yeah, I get it. I would be pissed if the girl I loved (and loved me back) kept name-dropping some other guy, or used some other guy as the big reason to come back to the land of the living.
Seriously though, the love triangle is unnecessary, and is especially unnecessary how long it is dragged out. WHY do I need to keep reading about how Pasha is desperate to kiss Vika? Or Vika keeps recalling her and Pasha's almost-kiss, despite her continually saying (in her mind) that she dislikes Pasha? I felt incredibly bad for Nikolai, who got the worst end of the stick in terms of everything! Not only did he give his life to a selfish b***h, but he's stuck in the in-between, he has to rely on his mother for strength, he is basically rejected by Vika and feel betrayed because she only ever mentions Pasha, and he doesn't love Renata (who loves him dearly) so it's not like he can move on with her or something! Gah!
(2) The love triangle resolution. Friends, it is SO bad. The love triangle gets resolved in the last couple of pages and it is so poorly done. _____ and Vika have this moment in which they are like, OMG! We're meant to be! And _____ has this moment, at the same time as their moment, in which he realizes that he never stood a chance. This stunning moment of clarity hits everyone all of a sudden. And suddenly, the love triangle is gone? All the feelings are squared away in neat boxes? The epilogue is even worse, because Vika says something (in her mind) like "my boys" -- ew! I know a menage thing is not going on here, but could you not lump Nikolai and Pasha together? One is your boyfriend, one is your friend... oh and also, it's not explicitly stated that ____ and Vika are courting. So. There is that.
(3) This love triangle trope in particular. Have I ever mentioned on my blog how much I HATE love triangles involving brothers? Can we not? In what WORLD is it enjoyable for anyone to encounter a situation in which a woman is in love with two brothers? Or she has two brothers fighting over her? Young Adult fiction, of course...
(4) I didn't like Vika. She is incredibly weak in this book. As the Imperial Enchanter, she is magically bound to obey any order given by Pasha and Yuliana. And boy, do they give her some orders. Like, hunt down Nikolai. Arrest Nikolai. Execute Nikolai. Kill his mother. And so on. But to me, Vika didn't really fight this. She didn't put up a fight for her freedom. Yes, she is basically their glorified slave. But she didn't get angry enough. She didn't hate Pasha and Yuliana nearly enough - and they own her! Pasha claims to love her and yet, he has her (magically) chained to him. Okay...? In any case, I don't think Vika displayed any backbone at all. Yes, she couldn't remove the magical bracelet binding her and her power to the tsardom. But she also didn't vocalize any dissent, or yell or scream or get angry. If someone were controlling me, whether I put myself in the position or not (i.e. won the Crown's Game), I would be furious and never stop being furious, not even if the people chaining me were my "friends".
Tell me that isn't f***ed up. Some friendship. Or love (on Pasha's part). Vomit. How is this okay? How is this a healthy relationship? Why does Vika not question this? This is practically an abusive friendship (I want to say "abusive relationship" but Vika and Pasha aren't together in that way, so).
And for those who are about to scream at me saying, "Alyssa, character development, hellooooo???" Please. Vika is weak and silent about almost everything that should have pissed her off, from start to finish. This is the last book in the series. When will she stand up for herself to Pasha? Oh, um, NEVER. A little deus ex machina fixes the problem of her being magically bound to the tsardom. Because of course.
(5) I hated Pasha. Always have, in book one, and always will, apparently. He has no spine, he whines, he complains, he is spoiled, he is hand-fed, and he is without doubt the worst person in this book. I was CHEERING when Nikolai began his quest to kill Pasha. Pasha only got even more annoying in this book, and his besotted being only made him more unbearable. He never deserved to be tsar. Yuliana, maybe. Or Nikolai.
(6) This book was boooooooring. I started to skim a little, right from the start. The author likes to drone on and on about this and that (maybe like I'm doing now, but hey, I don't get paid to do this, so leave me alone). Her descriptions are not interesting or imaginative and I wasn't really visualizing what she was describing, at most points. The plot of this book is all over the place, never settling on one path, but the sum of the events were so boring. It's almost like the author tried to do too many things at once, went with a hasty climax and an even hastier (and crappy) ending.
(7) Okay, the ending isn't that bad. But it's so disgustingly perfect, and neat, and it works out too cliched and too well. You'd think at least ONE of the main characters would have died, right? Of Nikolai, Vika, Pasha, Yuliana, Renata - one of them should have died. YA authors never have the original gang all survive. And yet... well, you can guess what didn't happen.
(8) I really did not like how the author twisted and brutalized and ruined Nikolai's character. She made him into a villain, and needlessly so. I mentioned that Nikolai gets the short end of every single stick. Well, he's apparently the guinea pig and punching bag. You NEVER see Vika go through anything tough. Or Pasha. Or Yuliana. And yet, Nikolai has to go through every single terrible thing, and he is dubbed a deadly villain (well, he is trying to kill Pasha, but that isn't technically his fault), and he can never catch a break. The author definitely needed to spread out the suffering, because it was completely one-sided.
(9) There is no swoon in this book. I hate the love triangle, but I also hate how there really isn't any substantial romance in this book. I know that doesn't makes sense, because I just said that there is a love triangle. But the thing is, Vika doesn't feel strongly enough about Nikolai initially, and she definitely is not interested in Pasha. So the "romance" is just kind of blah. What a waste. There is only one kiss in this book, and it is the world's most boring YA kiss.
(10) I've heard from a Ukrainian and Russian reader that the author has gotten so, so many cultural aspects of Russia entirely wrong. I don't know anything about Russian culture so I personally can't point out these inaccuracies and misrepresentation, but I believe it.
(11) Speaking of... the whole "lush Russian fantasy" thing was not working for me, in this book. I get it, the author has a degree in Russian history (or whatever). But I wasn't really into the setting. Maybe because the story was so boring and the writing wasn't that great?
(12) There are some things that just aren't explained at all? For example, apparently ancient creatures and Baba Yaga's house and all sorts of magical things start to awaken, for some unknown reason. But then, this subplot completely disappears! What happened to all of the awakening creatures? Baba Yaga's house? Why even include the creatures awakening if they aren't going to appear in the final showdown or something? There were several random things like this in the book. Like the author wanted to make the book even more ~magical~, but then forgot about those elements. Whoops?
I'm stopping there. I think everyone gets the idea.
Would I Recommend It:
I do not recommend this sequel, especially to those like me who did not really enjoy The Crown's Game. If you hated, disliked, or felt iffy about The Crown's Game, save yourself and do not read this book. It is an utter disappointment and a complete waste of my time.
OBVIOUSLY you should decide for yourself and all that. If you enjoyed The Crown's Game, then you'll probably be fine. But I do think everyone else should stay far, far away. This conclusion was so underwhelming, and the series is incredibly overhyped and overrated.
Do NOT read this book if you didn't like The Crown's Game. If you want spoilers, email or message me. I'm happy to tell anyone anything they would like, if it'll save them the headache and irritation that I went through, while reading this book.
1.5 stars -> rounded down to 1 star. I debated about this rating, because 1 star seems harsh, but I couldn't stand this book. While I was reading, I was disinterested and growing more irritated by the minute - and as I was writing this review, I realized that I was pretty pissed off. So, yeah. This book enraged me, and it wasn't great, and I have listed plenty of reasons why. Sorry! (Not.)
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