This was pretty great!
I went into this book with kind of low expectations because it was so hyped and well loved by everyone who read it and that kind of had me a little sceptical. But boy was I proved wrong this was absolutely fantastic.
Lei is a member of the Paper Caste, they are the most oppressed and lowest members of society in this world called Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father and the memory of her mother who ten years ago was snatched by palace guards to never be seen again. Now, the guards are back for Lei as the rumours about her beautiful golden eyes have reached the ears of the king. She is taken back to the castle and is now being trained as the 9th royal consort or Paper Girl to the king.
I really like Lei; she is just the right amount of innocent but not completely naïve. She understands what she needs to do and why, yet she still chooses to not cooperate fully. I liked the small acts of rebellion that she stages and then to see them progressively grow bolder until she is implicit in the grandest scheme of them all was thrilling. To see her grow increasingly stronger and braver even though she has to undergo so much pain was really empowering.
Wren I was a little on the fence with from the start. I think because she came across as a little unlikeable to me and a little snobbish I kind of wrote her off as an insignificant character, the same as the rest of the paper girls. I didn’t really find myself attached to any of them and I wasn’t invested in them. That was until we started delving deeper into their backstories and how they might not be that much different from Lei. Wren especially after hearing what happened to her in her childhood and when she started explaining to Lei all of her secrets I was fully on her side!
The romance I could definitely spot from a mile away. Though I did enjoy how it blossomed out of so much adversity. They really bonded over their shared experiences and what kind of started off as innocent and innocuous bloomed into a full on relationship. They were kind of all in a little too quickly for my tastes, but I definitely appreciated the representation.
The premise of the book is really unique and I like the eastern cultural influence that is written into the story. The different clans and the different castes really added a layer of complexity to the plot that I enjoyed immensely. I was very much engaged throughout the course of this book as the stakes were always extremely high. We are given ample evidence that if Lei is caught she will reap the consequences and could even lose her life so that really kept me on the edge of my seat during the read. The ending was explosive and there are still so many questions that I need answering so I will definitely be continuing on with the next book when it comes out later this year I believe.
There is a lot of violence and sexual abuse in this book as well so please be aware of that before going into this.
⭐️4.5/5 Unique, engaging, bold!