My first Marie Lu. And wow did she not disappoint. The story is dark, full of pain and suffering but also in a way hopeful.
The main character Talin, is mute - the only way she can communicate is through sign language. I really appreciated a character like that - that's capable but disfigured. We see the story from her perspective alone, and I feel like that was such a smart choice. She is the one that sees and hears everything around her, as speaking is not a distraction for her and she has to have other senses honed. I really appreciated Talin's skills too - her being a skilled killer in an elite army. The country she lives in is full of classism, racism, xenophobia but Talin moves through it with grace. She was just a favorite overall - a character you feel for, and understand as you read more of her story.
The story starts off as painful as can be. Showing how much pain and suffering Talin and her people are suffering. Killing the enemy on the daily, but also living every day as their last almost. Going to battle knowing they might not come back. Losing her best friend and partner right away, ripped my heart out, even though I still didn't know much about Talin herself. You could feel her pain jumping from the page.
And then we're introduced to Red. And we get a bigger picture of this cruel world. It is not just the Talin's side that suffers, but also the side they are fighting against. Their side might have even worse. (Like I said, this book was full of pain and darkness). I appreciated the growing friendship between Talin and Red, as well as other Strikers. It growed through trust and example, rather than instalove (which always makes me roll my eyes).
Overall I really appreciated this book. It didn't hold back. And I'm really looking forward to seeing what happens next to these characters.