Much thanks to Harper Teen and The Fantastic Flying Book Club Book Tours for sending me a copy for review and for inviting me to be a part of this tour. This review is voluntary and opinions are fully my own. Also, all quotes are taken from the ARC and may or may not appear in the final published copy.
Title: Crown of Oblivion
Author: Julie Eshbaugh
Date Published: November 12, 2019
Number of Pages: 480 pages
📚 Series: No, standalone.
📚 Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
📚 POV: First person.
📚 Cliffhanger: No.
⚠ Content Warnings:
⚠ Read if: you are looking for a fantasy that is slightly reminiscent of Hunger Games.
Astrid is the surrogate for Princess Renya, which means she bears the physical punishment if Renya steps out of line. Astrid has no choice—she and her family are Outsiders, the lower class of people without magic and without citizenship.
But there is a way out of this life—competing in the deadly Race of Oblivion. To enter the race, an Outsider is administered the drug Oblivion, which wipes their memory clear of their past as they enter a new world with nothing to help them but a slip of paper bearing their name and the first clue. It’s not as simple as solving a puzzle, however—for a majority of the contestants, the race ends in death. But winning would mean not only freedom for Astrid, but citizenship and health care for her entire family. With a dying father to think of, Astrid is desperate to prevail.
From the beginning, the race is filled with twists and turns. One of them is Darius, a fellow racer Astrid meets but isn’t sure she can trust. Though they team up in the race, as Astrid’s memories begin to resurface, she remembers just who he was to her—a scorned foe who may want revenge. Astrid also starts to notice she has powers no Outsider should—which could help her win the race, but also make her a target if anyone finds out. With stakes that couldn’t be higher, Astrid must decide what is more important: risking her life to remember the mysteries of the past, or playing a cutthroat game in order to win her—and her family’s—freedom.
About the Author
Julie Eshbaugh is a YA writer and former filmmaker. She made two short films and then spent several years producing an online video series for teens which received several honors from the Webby Awards. Her new YA fantasy standalone, CROWN OF OBLIVION, is coming from HarperTeen November 2019. IVORY AND BONE (HarperTeen 2016) and OBSIDIAN AND STARS (HarperTeen 2017), her prehistoric fantasy duology, are out now. You can learn more about Julie’s writing escapades by visiting www.julieeshbaugh.com
My Favorite Quotes
Everything hurts. But I’ve suffered before. Suffered when there was nothing to be had for it except simple survival. But there’s more at stake today than surviving until tomorrow. I will change my tomorrows with what I do today. With what I do right now.
Only one person wins. Look out for yourself. If you have an instinct to sacrifice for someone else, you better fight that instinct, or you’ll be the first to die.
“[…] but even without that mirrored trinket, you still have the crown,” he whispers.
“No one can ever take it from you.”
I bite my lips between my teeth to hold them still, and remind myself what courage really is. Not the lack of fear, but action in the face of fear. And not selfish action, either, but action taken in love.
Horses could pull these carts, and they’d do a better job of it. But that wouldn’t remind Outsiders what we’re worth: the strength of our backs. Our resilience. Our ability to survive the hardest struggles, to be hurt, fall down, and still, to get back up again.
I might be an Outsider, indentured to the royal family just like they are, and I may suffer, too. But being a surrogate is an honor. No other Outsiders are as close to the royal family as Jayden and I are, and that’s a privilege.
Crown of Oblivion is my first read from the author but it was surely a fun adventure! I have to admit I took on the chance to join this blog tour because I was enticed by the cover. The illustration is beautifully done and I really love the fact that illustrations are being the go-to trend for book covers. Based on my mini-research, credit goes to Jason Chan for the art and Joel Tippie for the design.
Now, let’s dig in to the book.
This novel is about Astrid, who was the surrogate for Princess Renya of Lanoria. At first, I was confused on what surrogate meant, but it means that she is a stand-in for punishment whenever the princess does something she shouldn’t. Some messy things happen and to save her brother, Astrid decides to join the Race of Oblivion, which is basically what the story revolved around.
This read is a surprisingly fast-paced novel that opened into action even in its first few pages. What I felt with this read was a mix of The Hunger Games and an extreme version of The Amazing Race. This book was engaging at the start and the author did a fairly good job of world building in what I felt as a high-tech dystopian world with a mix of using magic. In terms of reading, this book was an easy one to read. The prose was simple yet engaging and there was so much action in every spot of the race that even I felt crazy with all the twists and turns.
For the main character, Astrid, I had a little of a love-hate relationship with her. I loved her strength, smarts, bravery and she was a likeable character. She has her own principles that she still stuck through even when her memory was erased. There were decisions she made that made me frustrated about her, but that’s what make reading even better. Characters like this challenge me and made me even more interested to see what happens next.
If there are things that I didn’t like, I could probably say the romance part. I felt like I wouldn’t ship Astrid with who she ended up with in this book. I didn’t feel chemistry or a spark between them and I don’t think the romance was necessary for the plotline to be delivered. Also, I don’t know if it’s just me but I felt more spark and tension between Astrid and Princess Renya. I guess that would’ve been a better romantic arc for this story.
Overall though, reading this book was still a great experience. I was left with a few questions, though, so I’m curious if this book will really end up as a standalone like was originally planned. It could do good as a duology, as I feel like there are still things left to be said.
My Book Rating Breakdown
🌼 Main Character:⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
🌼 Significant Other: ⭐⭐⭐☆☆
🌼 Support Characters:⭐⭐⭐☆☆
🌼 Writing Style:⭐⭐⭐⭐☆
🌼 Character Development:⭐⭐⭐⭐☆
🌼 Romance: ⭐⭐⭐☆☆ 🌼 Action/Adventure: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
🌼 Pacing: ⭐⭐⭐⭐☆
🌼 Ending: ⭐⭐⭐⭐☆
🌼 Unputdownability: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
🌼 Book Cover:⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
☁ FINAL VERDICT: 4.17/5 ☁
🌼🌼 GIVEAWAY 🌼🌼
~ One winner can get a finished copy of CROWN OF OBLIVION by Julie Eshbaugh! ~ * US ONLY * Ends November 26th ! *
Follow along the blog tour!