DNF at 48%
This book started so strong. The first chapter was intense and full of danger and tension… Unfortunately the rest of the book that I managed to wade through before I gave up wasn’t as good.
We start with a vicious attack and a young boy who lost everything in the space of a day, almost died, and discovered that he can rewind time. So he flees the city and vows to master his time-shifting gift enough to come back and save his family. Wonderful premise for what could have been a great story.
But that potential is wasted, because absolutely nothing happens for the next half of the book. Leones gets to the philosophers… and the story comes to a grinding halt. We have pages upon pages of Leones training with weapons, or drinking and gambling in an opium den, or just brooding around. He does nothing productive. He doesn’t even explore the city he ended up with beyond the philosopher’s gardens and the gambling dens. He doesn’t try to find out what happened in the city he fled. He only uses his time rewinding ability when it’s convenient for him. And he mops around and he feels sorry for himself. It’s boring.
I think I wouldn’t have been as boring if this part of the book was populated with interesting characters, but Leones is so self-absorbed that he barely pays attention to anyone besides himself, and only if those people can serve him in some shape or form. As a result, the other apprentices are barely described. I don’t know anything about them beyond their names and physical appearance. And because Leones never bothers to ask, I don’t know anything about their pasts or their aspirations. Heck, I don’t even know what most of them do outside of the philosophers’ gardens.
As a result, they seem more like cardboard cutouts then real people that I should care about. Even when Leones’s maybe girlfriend is assassinated, which should be a big traumatic discovery for him, my reaction was very lackluster. Probably because Leones didn’t particularly grieve for her either.
Speaking of which, Leones as a character didn’t work for me at all. He is depicted as being completely detached from his feelings. He is either a sociopath, or so traumatized by what happened in chapter 1 that he can’t allow himself to feel anything for anyone. If it’s the later, it’s not made clear enough in the book, so he comes across as self-absorbed, selfish, and unfeeling. Not a character I want to spend a whole book with.
By the time the action finally picked up in the book, and things were finally starting to happen, I realized that I simply wasn’t interested enough to continue. I mean one of the characters seemed to have been erased from existence, but I couldn’t’ are less. So I decided to call it quits, because I didn’t care how this story ended enough to invest any more time into it.
PS: I received an advanced copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.