Book Review: Lotus and Thorn by Sara Wilson Etienne

Lotus and Thorn

Hardcover, 464 pages
Published June 7th 2016 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
ARRRRRGGGGHHHH!!!!!  Why do I keep finding awesome science fiction novels with HUGE twists at the end?!?!?!  At least this time, I loved it all the way to the end, even if it did end on a huge cliffhanger.  This is definitely a reaction post in which I had not quite sorted out my feelings before typing them up, so bear with me.
So, when I first picked up this book, I wasn’t completely sold on the synopsis; however, I was interested and then I saw the clincher, “perfect for fans of Tamora Pierce and Sarah Maas.”  My curiosity grew to the point that I needed to know if there was truth in that statement.  And there was 🙂  The writing style was addictive and easy to read, and the main character, Leica, had a lot of depth and characterization.  The world building was paced well–until the major twist at the end.  I just felt like there weren’t enough clues built into the text that would lead the reader there without it being spelled out, which does match how the main character felt but isn’t necessarily how the reader wants to feel.
One of my favorite personality traits for a leading lady is cunning and cleverness.  Leica had lots of this and it showed in her actions and internal monologue.  *I especially have a soft spot for well-written, well-utilized courtesans (i.e. kisaengs).*  I also really enjoyed how the author wrote Leica’s (and the other ladies’) strength in a realistic way that conveyed the various forms of strength–resilience, physical, emotional, endurance–pretty much any form you can think of.  The ladies have positives and negatives like real people instead of being written as the most powerful beings with no flaws.  The male characters were given the same treatment and fit the narrative without overshadowing it.
And last but not least, I want to talk about the format a little bit.  This novel was broken into three parts with parts one and two starting with a section of the same fairytale (Fitcher’s Bird by the Brothers Grimm), which echoed the plot arc for that part.  Part three’s was interwoven into the main story, and I liked the effect.  The genre is hard to pin down but I would probably categorize it as a dystopian science fiction with a good dose of fantasy elements and a dash of adventure.
This story is definitely for anyone who likes Tamora Pierce, Sarah Maas, Cassandra Clare, Suzanne Collins…  I guess what I’m trying to say is, if you like a good story with compelling characters, go pick up this book.  It’s out right now!!
Also, I am currently in communication with the author to do an email interview!  So look for that later this month ❤

Summary:

A thrilling fantasy adventure perfect for fans of Tamora Pierce and Sarah Maas

Ravaged by a plague known as Red Death, the planet Gabriel, a former colony of Earth, is a barren wasteland. Since being abandoned by Earth 500 years ago, resources are scarce and life is cheap. To stay alive, the survivors, the Citizens, scavenge the remains of a now dead city, trading for food with the resource-rich Curadores, the only other survivors on Gabriel. Every old computer, every piece of wire, every scrap of metal counts. To steal is the ultimate sin. So when tough-as-nails seventeen-year-old Leica is caught doing just that, she’s exiled and left to the mercy of Gabriel’s unforgiving desert for the rest of her life.

While in exile, Leica discovers a mysterious shuttle, which may not only lead her home, but even more impossible—reestablish contact with Earth. Then Red Death rears its head again, killing her entire work crew, leaving Leica all alone until a handsome Curador offers her refuge in the Dome—the only place on Gabriel untouched by Red Death, where a decadent and sultry life awaits. But there’s a catch: Leica can only enter the Dome as his concubine—his Kisaeng. When a rogue group of Citizens see their chance for revolution in Leica’s good fortune, she finds herself unraveling a deadly mystery with chilling answers to the true origin of Red Death and the reason Earth really abandoned them so long ago.

A richly imagined fantasy in the vein of Tamora Pierce, Lotus and Thorn, is a magnificent, epic adventure.

Reviewed from an uncorrected proof.

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