Diamond City (City of Steel and Diamond, #1)
Good things don't happen to girls who come from nothing...unless they risk everything.
Fierce and ambitious, Aina Solís as sharp as her blade and as mysterious as the blood magic she protects. After the murder of her parents, Aina takes a job as an assassin to survive and finds a new family in those like her: the unwanted and forgotten.
Her boss is brutal and cold, with a questionable sense of morality, but he provides a place for people with nowhere else to go. And makes sure they stay there.
DIAMOND CITY: built by magic, ruled by tyrants, and in desperate need of saving. It is a world full of dark forces and hidden agendas, old rivalries and lethal new enemies.
To claim a future for herself in a world that doesn't want her to survive, Aina will have to win a game of murder and conspiracy―and risk losing everything.
Full of action, romance and dark magic, book one of debut author Francesca Flores' breathtaking fantasy duology will leave readers eager for more!
Kohl has given her a major case with a major payout- not only is it a lot of money, but she would also get his blessing to start her own house, something of which she had long dreamed. However, the hit is on a Steel, the upper class who are well-guarded and hard to approach. Taking along her BFF, Teo, in exchange for half of the monetary reward, she attempts the hit. This launches a series of events that open her eyes to the truth of Kohl and the corrupt city in which she lives.
What I loved: Aina is a really fantastic character, and it was really great to see her growth and strength. We do really get see an assassin working, and not just one with a secret heart of gold. She is good at what she does, albeit not infallible- and committed to buying her freedom through her kills. Teo is another great character who does what he has to in order to buy the medicine his mother needs, and he is really swoon-worthy- though I did appreciate that they were just friends. There's a light maybe romance in the book (and crushes), but it's so background and not developed that you could ignore it and focus on the plot.
There are some interesting themes about wealth distribution, religion/cultural suppression, and corrupt leadership that will speak to modern readers and can be quite thought-provoking.
What left me wanting more: The religion and city are really interesting, and I felt like we only got glimpses of them. I would have liked to learn even more about this world. There are also places where the plot really slows down and then jolts to lightning speed. I was left with whiplash a few times and had to backtrack to try to follow. The book felt like it was hitting its stride towards the end, so I imagine the next book will be stronger.
Final verdict: A fresh new YA fantasy, DIAMOND CITY is an intriguing story about assassins, with interesting themes about corrupt politics, and religious/cultural suppression.