The dystopian world was riddled with terrors (hangings!) and a power struggle for the queendom. I particularly liked how the society was set as a queendom rather than the kingdom that we all know and usually see. The gender reversal was pretty refreshing and very interesting to read. Social classes are divided by languages, which I found very clever. The execution of this great world fell flat for me. I had a hard time understanding whether the society was a regressive one (no technology) or a futuristic one. At times the description said that the Vendor class is not allowed electric lights or motorized cars. But then the Royals, who use more technology, prefer wielding archaic weapons rather than guns? The confusion actually made it hard to picture the world. The term “marketplace” was thrown out a lot, so I pictured everything like a Camelot set with no paved roads. I’m not sure that’s how the book was intended to be read.
Then we have Charlie Hart, who I actually adored, especially her relationship with Angelina, her little sister. Charlie never grated on me. She was simply a good, strong character, which is one reason why I kept reading. Though, I wasn’t sure why she liked Max. It seemed like that attraction came from leftfield. For the most part I was drawn to Max, but I was very confused about his position in the Royal court. It never really got cleared up as to why he stayed under the power of the queen.
The whole book is based off the resistance versus the current queen’s rule. I had a hard time trusting the resistance. I’m not sure that was the correct way to look at it either. But I was rooting for the evil queen, which was slightly disturbing on my part. Not until a little twist came out about the queen did I take a step back. Overall, I didn’t know which side I was supposed to like because neither had a true appeal. In a dystopian society, that reaction is probably pretty realistic. Overall, it was an engaging book and could be sped through once you get into it. I give it 3 stars and would suggest it for those who really, really love dystopian novels like The Handmaid’s Tale with dark, troubling societies.