Book Review: The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson ★★

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“My time in camp with Kaden had become awkward several times, or perhaps I was just more self-conscious now.

I had known he cared about me. It was hardly a secret. It was the reason I was still alive, but I hadn’t quite grasped how much he cared. And in spite of myself, I knew in my own way, I cared about him too. Not Kaden the assassin, but the Kaden I had known back in Terravin, the one who had caught my attention the minute he walked through the tavern door. The one who was calm and had mysterious, but kind, eyes.

I remembered dancing with him at the festival, his arms pulling me closer, and the way he struggled with his thoughts, holding them back. He didn’t hold back the night he was drunk. The fireshine had loosened his lips and he laid it all out quite blatantly. Slurred and sloshy but clear. He loved me. This from a barbarian who was sent to kill me.”

Okay, I am sure you guys think I am a huge cynic now who hates love stories or something, yada yada yada, but come on!! This book is marketed as a high fantasy adventure novel complete with badass female characters and assassins, and THIS is the crap we are given?!

The Dude just does not abide.

Now, I am quick to forgive a YA novel for some things, if the story itself is good overall. I understand that the protagonists are generally younger and that I am an old grump now who can’t stand youths (not entirely true, but also not a lie) 😂. I really prefer books with older characters now, I think. So I get it, these characters are in their teens and teenagers don’t always have the best judgement or reactions or objective thinking skills. However, I have read plenty of YA novels where the concept of a younger protagonist does not hider the author from writing a great, nuanced, and believable story. We as readers can tell the difference between a developed, well written 17 year old character and an immature dumbass 17 year old character!! So, I do hold YA accountable still for producing decent books.

This one, however, is not one of them. This books reminds me of that slew of YA novels and trilogies that came out a few years ago that were just riding the coattails of a couple successes. There is nothing new or memorable about this book, its plot, or its characters. Each one of which, was insufferably annoying.

The main character, Lila, is princess who really doesn’t want to be forced to marry some stinky old prince, even if it means joining their countries to withstand an attack by a larger nation, and, you know, protecting everyone she knows and loves. Nah, Lila wants to be her own woman instead and decides that she will just steal some important documents and run away with her maidservant, leaving her nation to face destruction and ruining a priceless ancient gown in the process. Well, doesn’t she sound just lovely? 🙄 Then, once she and said servant, Pauline, miraculously escape from a well guarded castle and expertly trained guards, despite the fact that they have literally no skills, Lila decides that she will settle down in a little village and just be a waitress forever. Sure, why not!?

The premise sounded relatively interesting and then the beginning started out with some promise, but once Lila and Pauline parked it in the tiny town, I knew I wasn’t gonna be a fan of this book. Because literally. Nothing. Happened. It was so boring! There is all this talk about ancient countries and prophesies and each chapter starts with some made up verse (that got pretty annoying after a while, honestly), but all we know is that Lila likes to pour beer and do laundry (and Pauline just likes to kiss Lila’s ass). Really? This is what you abandoned your family and people to do? Now, this is what I am talking about with a poorly-developed 17 year old protagonist. This just doesn’t make sense to me. In this world that we are told to believe in, there is no way that I can fathom a 17 year old royal princess, who would have been brought up with the idea that she would one day rule, being this superficial, vapid, and selfish. It just doesn’t fit. She is nearly an adult by our standards and would have been considered one in ancient days, so having her act this insipid and air-headed is just frustrating. All she does is flit around like she is having the time of her life being a peasant (isn’t it just so much fun to act like I wasn’t raised in wealth and privilege??) and giggle with her servant about boys.

Ahem. And this brings me to the, how you say, nail in the coffin. The freaking boys. I HATE insta-love bullshit, in case you haven’t picked up on that yet, and that is all this book turned into once these two jackoffs come rolling into town. So, the prince that Lila was supposed to marry is (shocker) not an old geezer, but a hot young dude that decides he is going to follow her and find her. Because of some feeling of obligation or something, even though he also did not want to get married. Soooo why go after her??? And then! Another guy just happens to get to town at the exact same time and he is here to kill Lila. Oh no! What are the odds!!

There was an interesting tidbit right when they arrive in town where the author crafts the narration, so you cannot tell if Rafe or Kaden is the prince or the assassin. I actually liked that at first! I was thinking that yay! we were finally going to get some deception and action. However, I was quickly reminded that this book is ultimately about kissing and nonsense, because after a few hundred pages of shit-all happening, I completely lost interest in who was who. I genuinely did not care if Lila was talking to the assassin or the prince, because from the moment she laid eyes on both of them, all she could think about was kissing them. And same goes for the wankers, too. Like oh dear me, Lila is so fiery and brave and independent, I must pick berries with her! The assassin, of course, could not kill her because he was so in love with her and the prince, who’s motives I really never knew, just wanted to gaze into her special eyes.

I was so over it. Cue nothing else happening until the very end of the book, when the identities are revealed and Kaden kidnaps Lila. Blah blah blah there are some lame travel scenes and Lila muses over her feelings like a 12 year old. Then, of course she has powers and will be the key to saving the nations!!! Such a snowflake blah blah. Ends on a cliffhanger because of course, this is a trilogy. Ugh.

So yeah 🤷‍♀️ I didn’t really care for this one. It’s always worse, too, when books have potential and then they just poo poo all over it. Like this could have been an enjoyable book if it wasn’t so insanely boring. The writing here was not bad! The author has a decent sense of style and for the most part it was crafted well. She just messed up everything else: the characters, the dialogue, the worldbuilding, the magic system, the idea that the audience would care one bit about her stupid love triangle…etc. etc. But! The cover is very pretty, so there’s that.

Welp, I shall return to my quest to find hidden YA gems that don’t just bank on a formulaic plot or a brainless reader.

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You would think someone on the run from their entire nation would be a little more guarded around strangers. Aloof. Like a cat. 

Happy reading, friends!

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Title: The Kiss of Deception (The Remnant Chronicles #1)
Author: Mary E. Pearson
Genre: Fantasy | Young Adult | Action/Adventure | Romance
Publication Date: July 8th, 2014
Page Count: 492 pages
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