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Early Review: Rule by Ellen Goodlett (Rule #1)

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Rule by Ellen Goodlett // VBC ReviewRule (Rule #1)
Ellen Goodlett
Published: Sept. 11, 2018 (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
Purchase: Book Depository or Amazon
Review Source: copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review 

Reviewed by: Beth

Rating (out of 5): 3.5 stars

Three half-sisters from three different places in the kingdom with three different mothers. All with secrets that could be considered treason—and all unexpectedly summoned to an audience with the king only to learn that they are all his daughters. They are meant to compete to learn how to rule, and only one will be crowned.

However, when they arrive at the king’s keep, all three learn that someone knows their secret. Now they have to fight time, biases, betrayals and each other to learn who will be queen.

Kolonya is the capital of this kingdom, though most time is spent within the walls of the keep. There are smaller lands around Kolonya that were captured once, and now owe their fealty to the king, though not always willingly. There are deserts and forests, rivers and cities and towns; the settings of the book are themselves fairly typical, though certainly well written.

The three sisters—Zofi, Ren, and Akeylah—are the main characters, though there are plenty of others who are central to the story and a host of others who pop in and out. Over the course of the novel, I grew to truly like the sisters as characters, as well as a few others. Goodlett writes relatable individuals, and even the most minor characters feel human in their actions and reactions. The girls themselves, all from completely different backgrounds, struggle in their own ways to the new reality of a life not only at court, but also as the presumptive heirs to the ailing king. Goodlett makes those struggles feel realistic to each of the girls, natural to the personalities and backgrounds they all have.

The story is, flat-out, a fun read. Rule is fast-paced, interesting, and the characters are well written and intriguing. More than once I thought I had things figured out, only to realize I was wrong. Well, I still have a theory, but…as there was no real resolution to the story, only time will tell if my theory proves correct. There were two downsides to this book, and that was the biggest—a massive cliffhanger ending that left the reader without any true closure. It’s like the entire book was written, and then split in half (or thirds, if it’s a trilogy?). As a reader, I find this incredibly frustrating, and to be honest, I felt like the writing was good enough that a cliffhanger “now you have to come back” ending was unnecessary. The other downside to this story was the virtually instantaneous attractions that the girls felt for others. This particular piece didn’t feel very realistic to me. Three girls, all of whom are being threatened and in an unfamiliar environment in one way or another, and yet BAM! attraction/romance. Okay, one already had had her romance, but the other two? Um…no. Again, this felt unnecessary to me as a reader. The romance would have been fine, but the fast nature of it didn’t strike true. Having said that, I will be interested in reading the next book because Goodlett did such a good job on the rest of the story that I will happily overlook these issues and hope that they are fixed for the next book.

Rule is an entertaining read, and a pretty good debut. The characters themselves and the basics of the story are what truly sold me on it, and I look forward to meeting up again with them someday in the future.

Sexual content: none

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