I want to send out a huge thank you Balzer+Bray for sending me a copy Lauren DeStefano's THE GLASS SPARE! This book was described by Laini Taylor as "luminous and spiky, like a pocketful of jewels," and I can't think of a better description. Keep reading for a little be more about this gem, as well as my review!
About THE GLASS SPARE:
A banished princess.
A deadly curse.
A kingdom at war.
Wil Heidle, the only daughter of the king of the world’s wealthiest nation, has grown up in the shadows. Kept hidden from the world in order to serve as a spy for her father—whose obsession with building his empire is causing a war—Wil wants nothing more than to explore the world beyond her kingdom, if only her father would give her the chance.
Until one night Wil is attacked, and she discovers a dangerous secret. Her touch turns people into gemstone. At first Wil is horrified—but as she tests its limits, she’s drawn more and more to the strange and volatile ability. When it leads to tragedy, Wil is forced to face the destructive power within her and finally leave her home to seek the truth and a cure.
But finding the key to her redemption puts her in the path of a cursed prince who has his own ideas for what to do with her power.
With a world on the brink of war and a power of ultimate destruction, can Wil find a way to help the kingdom that’s turned its back on her, or will she betray her past and her family forever?
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Going into Laren DeStefano's THE GLASS SPARE, I wasn't entirely sure what to expect. I just recently listened to her entire Chemical Garden trilogy and... it wasn't for me. That said, the synopsis of The Glass Spare really sounded like something I would love and promised more fantasy than her other books that I've read. So, when I sat down to finally read it this week, I tried my best to keep all former notions of DeStefano's writing- based on her previous works- out of my mind and give The Glass Spare a fresh chance, although some comparisons were inevitable, which turned out to not really be a bad thing.
I did see quite an improvement with this book. It definitely held my attention and I was able to read it in a day. The characters were strong and really likable. A few I really wish I'd seen more of, so I'm hoping I'll get the chance to in future books. Will is a really solid main character, and does a great job of carrying the story and standing out.
The story itself is very intriguing. It's so much more than "girl turns things into gems!" which is what the synopsis had impressed on me the most. Even just the way Wil's power is described and explained- it was so much more than I'd expected and I really appreciated the fullness it added.
The setting is also very different that I'd anticipated. I definitely thought I was sitting down to another stereotypical, medieval-esque fantasy world- not that those are bad, they're actually my favorite. But that's definitely not what I got. While I do think the world-building was a bit lacking, what was there felt really unique. Yes, there were swords and magic, but there was also electricity and guns. The world definitely had a unique flair that I personally haven't seen much of in YA fantasy lately. In a way it almost had a bit of a sci-fi feel to it, similar to how The Red Queen series does- and if you're a fan of those books then I'd definitely recommend this one.
I did have one big issue with this book though. The writing was far from my favorite. Often times it felt way more telling than showing to me. I also took issue with words or phrases being repeated several times within the same sentence or paragraph. This, honestly, might not bother a lot of readers. But because I read this genre so much, it really stood out and took me out of the story much more often that I would have liked. I truly hope that in future books this is addressed, because I feel that with a more flowing, natural prose this book really would have stood out more among the competition for me. And I don't doubt that it can be done, because the dialogue was actually really well written in my opinion, always feeling natural, easy to read.
Overall, I liked THE GLASS SPARE. I didn't love it, but I'm really glad I did read it and I think it was a huge step up from DeStefano's other books I've read. Like I said, this book would be perfect for fans of The Red Queen books. It's pretty, but with a bite that doesn't come off as though it's trying to hard to be dark or edgy. I think average fantasy readers will also enjoy this one, as it's a fast read that is a little different than anything else in the genre right now, a good refresher book. I'll definitely be picking up the sequel, because I have to know what happens next and I'm really hoping to see more of the characters shine.