12 July, 2017

[Review] Dividing Eden by Joelle Charbonneau

Series: Dividing Eden (#1)
Release Date: 6 June, 2017
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Genre: Young Adult/Epic Fantasy/Royalty
ISBN:  9781619634480
Edition: Audiobook
Rating: ★☆☆
Review Written: 10 July, 2017 
Summary: Twins Carys and Andreus were never destined to rule Eden. With their older brother next in line to inherit the throne, the future of the kingdom was secure. But appearances—and rivals—can be deceiving. When Eden’s king and crown prince are killed by assassins, Eden desperately needs a monarch, but the line of succession is no longer clear. With a ruling council scheming to gain power, Carys and Andreus are faced with only one option—to take part in a Trial of Succession that will determine which one of them is worthy of ruling the kingdom. As sister and brother, Carys and Andreus have always kept each other safe—from their secrets, from the court, and from the monsters lurking in the mountains beyond the kingdom’s wall. But the Trial of Succession will test the bonds of trust and family. 

With their country and their hearts divided, Carys and Andreus will discover exactly what each will do to win the crown. How long before suspicion takes hold and the thirst for power leads to the ultimate betrayal? See more at HarperCollins's website.

Having previously enjoyed Charbonneau's first series called The Testing, I decided I'd grab this book on Audible while vacationing to give myself something to listen to while walking. Dividing Eden had an interesting concept, though it was poorly executed in places and the book didn't quite live up to my expectations in a high fantasy that supposedly lacked romance according to the description provided. Told from a dual point of view of the protagonists Carys and Andreus, the book causes a bit of whiplash switching between their points of view and where things pick up as another drops it. The switching between points of view also made it hard to connect with either character and often left me frustrated in wanting to know what was going on with the other twin. Many of the problems within the book would have been settled if both twins had simply talked to each other outside the influence of others, or even just talked at all.

I was bothered by the fact that Lady Imogen was able to weasel her way in-between Carys and Andreus so quickly considering it was emphasized multiple times that Andreus and Carys were supposedly extremely close. Carys has kept secrets for as long as she could remember since she hardly fits into the Seven Virtues the kingdom holds as holy as the winds and stars the seers read. Trapped into service as a diversion and distraction for her twin brother, Carys's predestined lot in life appears to be little more than a glorified shield to hide a curse placed upon one of the pair. For most of the book, it's stated multiple times that Andreus is the cursed twin, however it's finally revealed halfway through in a lackluster scene that Carys is the cursed one. 

Andreus, the resident playboy of the Kingdom, has fallen in love with Lady Imogen who holds position as the current Seer of the Realm. Unfortunately for Prince Andreus, his beloved was betrothed to his elder brother Micha. Enchanted with the young woman, he truly thought he could save her from Micha, and after his brother's death realized the reason she'd become engaged to his brother was to keep from being removed as the Seer of Eden. The only way to be removed from head Seer is death, so she claimed she'd accepted the engagement for the protection Micha offered to keep her from being removed. For the rest of the book Imogen worms her way into Andreus's head, telling him that he can be a better king after the death of his brother and setting up the entire reason for the Trials to seemingly 'prevent' the removal of Carys and Andreus. 

The trials themselves are semi-interesting, though vary in their content as they cover the virtues the pair are supposed to be upholding over the kingdom. Carys prevents the murder of Andreus but ends up swaying the crowd to her favor by doing so. Due to the number of secrets Carys was hiding from Andreus despite telling him there were no secrets between them, Andreus begins to listen to Imogen's lies that Carys is trying to steal the crown for herself and that Andreus must prove he is the stronger competitor. 

Also thrown into the mix are two Lords apparently vying for Carys's attention even without a stated romantic interest. Lord Garrett, the nephew of the leader of the Council and favored choice for the next ruler of Eden, and Lord James, a mysterious self-proclaimed tradesman who is truly hiding more than he's sharing. Though it appears Carys has picked James for the moment in terms of romance, I wonder if she'll continue to hang onto that attachment should it come out that James is perhaps a member of the Bastions, the previous ruling family before Carys's family removed them from power.

Overall, the novel had multiple issues with how it was executed despite it's interesting summary. The second book will be coming out next year, and hopefully will provide a few more answers and less tangled mystery between a power-mad love-stricken King Andreus and his supposedly dead sister Princess Carys.

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