Title: Ariadnis (Erthe #1)
Author: Josh Martin
Publisher: Quercus Children’s Books
Format: E-ARC via Netgalley
Release Date: 9th February 2017
Description from Goodreads:
‘Back then I thought that if it weren’t for that cliff, our cities would be one and there would be no need for all this fierceness toward each other. But then I learned about pride and tradition and prophecy, and those things are harder than rock.’
Joomia and Aula are Chosen. They will never be normal. They can never be free.
On the last island on Erthe, Chosen Ones are destined to enter Ariadnis on the day they turn eighteen. There, they must undertake a mysterious and deadly challenge. For Joomia and Aula, this means competing against each other, to end the war that has seethed between their cities for nine generations.
As the day draws nearer, all thoughts are on the trial ahead. There’s no space for friendship. No time for love. However much the girls might crave them.
But how you prepare for a task you know nothing certain about? Nothing, except that you must win, at whatever cost, or lose everything.
Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book via Netgalley for the purpose of review. This has not influenced my views as expressed in this review.
Ariadnis is a unique novel which twists tropes to create a story which defys expectations. Just as I felt like I’d figured out where the story was going, new information comes to light, forcing you to reevaluate what you know. This is definitely one of those books where going in knowing very little is probably best. A big part of this story is the mystery of the world and its history. While it may feel a little confusing at first, that is the nature of this world, persist and you will be rewarded with an incredibly unique world.
The story is told across to points of view, the perspectives of the two chosen ones, Aula and Joomia. These girls have very distinct voices, and are incredibly well crafted characters with clear personalities and flaws. These girls are not the typical ‘perfect chosen ones’ you see time and time again. They are very real, they have flaws and fears and they definitely feel the burden of the expectations put on them. It was refreshing to see this trope turned into something more.
The world itself is somewhat of a mystery, I’m not going to say too much because of spoilers, but in simple terms, there are two cities which are divided. These cities are literally one on top of the other. How this works is so creative and different, and it will definitely stay with you, especially with all the vivid descriptions. The two cities were once at war due to their very different views on how they should live, and are now divided.
There are several thing that Josh Martin has done in this book that I wish were more common in the YA genre. Firstly this world is not heteronormative, one character has relationships with male and female characters, and another female character is attracted to other female characters. This is not presented as a big deal and there is very little angst involved. I need more of this. Also, in this book sex is handled very casually, not as a big deal. There is a very sex positive attitude, where characters express their desires clearly. I feel it’s also important to note that most of the characters are people of colour, and are clearly described as such throughout the text.
I really don’t want to say much else, I don’t want to spoil the story, as many of the twists were unexpected. I really enjoyed this book once I got into it, and I’ll definitely be reading it again before the sequel comes out. I feel like it’s one of those books where you pick up on different important details on a second read through. I gave this book 4 Stars.