Series: Court of Fives #1
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: August 18, 2015
Source/Format: BEA 2015 || ARC
[I received this book from the publisher. This in no way affects my review.]
Jessamy's life is a balance between acting like an upper class Patron and dreaming of the freedom of the Commoners. But at night she can be whomever she wants when she sneaks out to train for The Fives, an intricate, multi-level athletic competition that offers a chance for glory to the kingdom's best competitors. Then Jes meets Kalliarkos, and an unlikely friendship between a girl of mixed race and a Patron boy causes heads to turn. When a scheming lord tears Jes's family apart, she'll have to test Kal's loyalty and risk the vengeance of a powerful clan to save her mother and sisters from certain death.
I really enjoyed Court of Fives. Jessamy’s story is one of secrets, betrayals, politics and vengeance – and I couldn’t put it down! I enjoyed what was revealed of Jessamy’s world – the politics and hierarchies, the secrets and betrayals, the culture and the history. In particular, the game of Fives is remarkable – both the actual game and its history. The world is a cleverly woven tapestry upon which to set Jessamy, a defiant, conflicted, loyal young heroine, and it certainly affects her every move as things become tumultuous around her. Add to the picture the complex relationships Jes has – with her parents, her sisters, her friends, her nemeses, a certain boy – and her story becomes even more interesting.
However, even though I found them fascinating, I think the world and the characters could have been further developed. The elements of this fantasy tale, for the most part, are reflections of typical of this genre. Elliott has applied slight variations to fold them into her tale, but they are still easy to recognize. It didn’t wind up bothering me as I was reading, since I was extremely caught up in the tale. But after I had finished, their obviousness made me slightly conflicted in my feelings about it.
Still, I’m inclined to recommend Court of Fives. It is one of the most engaging YA debuts I’ve read this year, and I honestly found myself itching to return to it every time I had to pause and do real life things. Even though my reservations made me feel a little differently, I still think other readers would enjoy it as much as I did. Plus, I can’t wait to read the next one, and that’s always a good sign!