Well, I don't know what happened. I loved it in the beginning, I felt bored in the middle and I was totally annoyed at the end. I'd like to think I'm an expert in YA books, but I'm not. So here I go trying to explain why this book didn't work for me:
If you know me a little, you know I LOVE strong, witty, bad-ass female characters. You can tell because I dance every time a Rose, Katniss, Aria or Penryn appeared in my booky life. But I can't cope with the too-perfect element. She was good at everything! after more than a year of cruelty and torture it was pretty amazing how fast she recovered. Beside, the first thing we know about her is that even in a life or death situation, our girl can tell how hot a guy is. Impressive.
The King is so messed up, he creates a tournament of criminals, rebel solders and psychos for the title of King's Champion, aka Hitman. The Prince finds his competitor, an assassin in order to win it and fix some daddy issues. In his first scene I already knew how annoying the Prince was going to be for me. According to myself, for a love triangle to work out I need at least one attractive rival in this messy relationship. At first I though Chaol was the kind of guy who would make me swoon, but then this happened:
"I'm the Captain of the Guard, I'm not exactly a catch for any of them" "Are you mad? You're better than everyone in here. And you're -you're very handsome," she said, taking his hand in her free one. "You think so? he said after a moment, looking at their clasped hands."
And I can't tell you how much of a turn down is an insecure man for me. I mean, you can be Channing Tatum for all I know, but your insecurities about how pretty you are will be the end of it for us.
Actually, to be fair, one of the little things I liked about Cealena is how much she struggled between the need to keep a low profile during the whole competition and her need to prove herself better than Cain, who was receiving all the praise. That was the rare honest moments when I enjoyed her.
A great thing about this book was the world building, the different cultures and the fantasy element, it was pretty cool. I would have love to learn more about that instead of read about how awesome EVERYBODY said Caelena was, including herself.
The writing was okay, not impressive imo. The book was maybe too long, I've read exiting 500 pages high fantasy without complaining. It amused me how different both Chaol and the Prince (can you tell I don't remember his name and I'm too lazy to go and look it up?) saw her. For the Prince she was beautiful and innocent but for Chaol she was not only beautiful but a wild animal and "her markings of power were everywhere".
Be perfect Chaol, for me!!
Well, what I'm trying to say is this is not bad at all, but the too perfect heroine, the two love rivals and my lack of connection with the story made it a meh reading. There's a lot of hype about the second installment. I may read it when I won't feel annoyed by the characters anymore.