Thursday, October 1, 2015

Book Review: Court of Fives (Court of Fives #1)

Court of Fives (Court of Fives #1) by Kate Elliot
Publication Date: August 18, 2015

On the Fives court, everyone is equal.

And everyone is dangerous.

Jessamy’s life is a balance between acting like an upper-class Patron and dreaming of the freedom of the Commoners. But away from her family, she can be whomever she wants when she sneaks out to train for the Fives, an intricate, multilevel athletic competition that offers a chance for glory to the kingdom’s best competitors.

Then Jes meets Kalliarkos, and an improbable friendship between the two Fives competitors—one of mixed race and the other a Patron boy—causes heads to turn. When Kal’s powerful, scheming uncle tears Jes’s family apart, she’ll have to test her new friend’s loyalty and risk the vengeance of a royal clan to save her mother and sisters from certain death.

In this imaginative escape into an enthralling new world, World Fantasy Award finalist Kate Elliott’s first young adult novel weaves an epic story of a girl struggling to do what she loves in a society suffocated by rules of class and privilege.

I have never read any of Kate Elliott's books, but I've wanted to check some out. When I found out she was writing a YA, I jumped at the chance to get an introduction to her writing, and see if she would be an author I would like to check out. I don't know if her adult books as this way, but this first book didn't give me the greatest impression. I wanted to like this book, I really did. Unfortunately, there were too many problems that I had that outweighed anything good I found. The concept seemed unique and intriguing, but it just fell flat and I lost interest in the story and the characters very quickly.

Let me start with the world-building. There was basically none. Obviously, in a brand-new fantasy novel, you need to at least set a few basic things. Explain some terms and just get the reader used to the new world you have crafted. Well, there was relatively none of that in this novel. While we did get some explanation on some things, there were still many confusing parts. It almost seemed like a lot of little, random facts that the reader was told, but nothing actually came together. Ultimately, the world-building (and therefore the setting as well) seemed very disjointed. I just wanted more details!

The entire plot was also a little odd to me. The Fives (an athletic competition) was off to me, especially when it came to why Jessamy--our main character--was running in it to begin with. I understand her reasons to a certain point, but to me there she was reckless and very young in her decision to run the Fives at all. She knew from the beginning that she couldn't win because it could cost her family their lives, but she chose to run it anyway, and purposely lost. I don't know why, but it just didn't sit well with me. This could be entirely personal though. There was also the whole part about the villain and the convoluted plot he constructed just to get separate Jessamy from her family. I felt it was very complicated, and again, something I didn't quite understand fully.

Jessamy as a lead character didn't truly work well either. Like I said above, she made decisions that were reckless and she didn't act her age (at least in my opinion). In addition to this, she's a flip-flopper. What's a flip-flopper? Well, it's a person who makes a decision, and feels very strongly about that decision, only to do a complete turn around in the next scene, and say the exact opposite. I kept wanted her to OWN UP TO her decisions. I lost interest in what was going to happen to her. While she did grow a bit stronger toward the end, which I greatly appreciated, by that point, I couldn't bring myself to really care.

Finally, the romance...I don't exactly know how to describe it. I didn't quite understand how there was romance simply because it is random and all of a sudden happens. Jess and Kal's relationship is extremely lackluster and there's certainly no spark. I kept waiting for the moment where it would all come together for them, but it never came.

There are several parts where this book truly is great. I found myself hoping that one of these parts would be the turning point, and the would finally take off. For this reason, I didn't want to give this book 1 star. However, as I said, I couldn't overlook the negatives enough to give this a higher rating, as the negatives truly overshadow all of the positive moments. While this had tremendous potential, it fell flat and was a great disappointment to me. This book wasn't my cup of tea, and I can't recommend reading it. However, this might be the right book for the right reader, and they might find great enjoyment in Jess and Kal's story. If you do read this though, don't be prepared to be blown away by anything new or unique.

Happy reading :)



  1. I have an arc of this, and I am NOT looking forward to reading it. I haven't heard any good things about it. The top two complaints that readers are mentioning are the lack of world-building, as well as the plot falling a bit flat. I'll definitely put this off until I feel up to reading it lol

    1. Yeah this is definitely something you could put off. I was so disappointed, and everyone I've talked to hasn't liked it either. Guess this one is just a flop lol .