It’s hard to pinpoint what went wrong here – perhaps what we have is a melange of ‘current’ YA ideas that never really come together or make sense. There are interesting ideas but the writing and plot, characters and story are so shallow that they completely destroy any semblance of credibility. It feels like a very forced story built around a soppy romance. Once again, we have YA that panders and forces you to turn off your brain in order to have any chance of enjoyment.
Story: In a future filled with massive starvation, a corporation invents a food that can be easily grown and survive. Taking advantage of a desperate France, they ‘buy’ Versailles but are required by contract to maintain its history. As a result, the corporate CEOs and shareholders opted to reenact the Sun Court of Louis 16th – complete with dressing and living in the era. Danica’s manipulative mother finds a way to get Danica affianced to the current heir – a vicious and murderous young man she detests. To escape, she uses her drug-addicted father to create a scheme to put the a dermal drug into makeup and addict all her ‘friends’ in order to earn enough money to escape the marriage.
Right off the top, we are going to have a heroine doing selfish and despicable things. It’s a fine line to cross – either make her obsessed and an anti-heroine that we still like anyway or make her a victim of circumstance. Neither really happens here, unfortunately, and the bad she does is explained away by obliviousness and personal need. I would have liked to see her just commit to the evil acts and not care rather than the blithering back and forth.
The romance is so cringeworthy and derails the story quickly. Yes, her drug-dealer pusher is the love interest, despite showing no personality through the first half of the book other than constant disgust at her. But hey, her heart beats fast every time he’s around because he’s so hunky, even if he did get involved in drugging her father and causing him to become fully addicted. Then, of course, they are thrown together by the middle of the book and the whole thing really falls apart. Love interest Saber (yes, you read that right) is so poorly drawn as to be an ideal more than a character.
The plot itself is a joke. Drug dealing and distribution just doesn’t work this easily and I wasn’t impressed. To say that this is swimming in shallow waters is an understatement; the book needed more of an edge and certainly a lot more consequences of Danica’s actions than were given. Author Pike really skated around the reality of that situation for a fluffy book that is more romance than it is ‘desperate woman deals drugs’.
By half way, the romance was so egregiously bad that it was hard not to roll my eyes constantly. A non-ending certainly didn’t redeem the book. And someone tell me what the obsession is with corsets? Reviewed from an ARC provided by the publisher.