I want to send a big thank you to the lovely people at Disney-Hyperion for sending me a copy of Andrew Shvarts' CITY OF BASTARDS to review! Keep reading for more about this action-packed sequel and to find out my thoughts!
Tilla, the bastard of House Kent, is safe under the protection of the Volaris King. But whispers and stares follow her wherever she goes, as the daughter of the traitor waging war against Lightspire. Memories of her beloved brother, Jax, who lies cold in his grave will not be forgotten even as she tries to settle into a life at the city’s prestigious University.
Then, Tilla stumbles upon the body of a classmate. The deeper she digs, the more questions she uncovers. Nothing is as it seems in the glorious capital, and Tilla’s presence might just be the spark that sets the Kingdom aflame.
I loved last year's ROYAL BASTARDS(my review of that one can be read here). Sequels, especially with new authors, are always a tricky thing. Will it be as good as good as the first book? Will the author grow, or will they falter? Last year I said that Andrew Shvarts is an author I wanted to keep and eye on. After reading CITY OF BASTARDS, I'm glad I did.
Where I felt that the first book lacked depth, this sequel made up for it a hundredfold. The story and world have been filled out so well. The disconnect I felt with the first book was not longer there this time around.
Tilla is still such a great lead. I loved where her character went in this book, the struggles she faced and her decisions and reactions made her feel so real. The supporting characters were still fantastic, I especially loved Ellarion in this one.
The voice Shvarts' uses for these books is unique in YA fantasy, and might be the biggest reason they stand out for me. It's been a year since I read ROYAL BASTARDS but I had no trouble remembering the story and jumping into the sequel. The voice is consistent throughout, and makes the story and world feel so real. There's really nothing like it in the genre, and it makes these stories memorable.
The only reason CITY OF BASTARDS didn't quite hit five stars for me was that it wasn't as action-packed as the first book. And while it totally makes sense for this book to have more world building and set-up, I really just love the action scenes that Andrew Shvarts writes. They were my favorite part of the first book, and were so abundant. They were my favorite part of this book as well, but there weren't quite as many. It really boils down to taste, and didn't hinder my reading experience. That all said, Shvarts is SO good at writing climaxes, a fact cemented with this book. He's so good at weaving chaos and storytelling into his climaxes, I was enthralled the whole time and once the big finale started I couldn't put the book down until I'd finished it.
I absolutely can't wait to see where this series goes from here. CITY OF BASTARDS was a really fun read, still as easy to read as the first book, but will more depth of world and story. I highly recommend this series!