Perhaps it’s because I’ve seen several variations on this theme, but this story, for all of its promise, felt flat. Which is a shame, because I really enjoyed Stone’s other novel, In The Hands of Children. After reading this, I think it probably should have been labelled as middle grade rather than young adult, and a few tweaks would have kept it perfectly in line with this.
This young adult fantasy follows twins, Voima and Vennd, who are quite different. Voima is a giftless young woman, while Vennd is gifted with the power of nearly-instant healing (Think Wolverine pre-adamantium skeleton). This story bounces between their POVS and the king’s, who is capturing all Gifted people and making them fight to the death. We don’t really receive a clear explanation why, but power-hungry as he is, it’s self-explanatory.
The twins have a close relationship, and it’s obvious as the story unfolds that they’ll do anything to save each other. The stakes become clear when Vennd is discovered and captured by the king’s men.
This leads on to what made the story flat to me. Rather than experiencing the ensuing drama through Voima (or Vennd), most of her POV is spent reacting to things, rather than the story coming alive. I very much felt, at one point, that she was a character going through a plot rather than a person experiencing a horrifying, life-changing event. Part of it is because of how the scenes play out, with her reacting constantly without significant, real change from beginning to end. Part of what plays into this was constantly being told about her emotional state rather than experiencing it with her.
Having said that, the plot is fun to read through. We watch Gifteds struggle against the king and his sister’s tyranny. We get to experience life as Gifted’s on the run and how they manage to survive in a world which hates them. The cast is lively, and with more space or in future novels, would really shine on their own.
If you enjoy a quick, good read with an adventure fantasy plot, then this book would definitely appeal to you.
Gifted can be purchased at Amazon.