Author: Namina Forna
Series: Deathless #1
Publication Date: February 9th, 2021
Edition: Kindle Edition, 432 pages
Sixteen-year-old Deka lives in fear and anticipation of the blood ceremony that will determine whether she will become a member of her village. Already different from everyone else because of her unnatural intuition, Deka prays for red blood so she can finally feel like she belongs.
But on the day of the ceremony, her blood runs gold, the color of impurity--and Deka knows she will face a consequence worse than death.
Then a mysterious woman comes to her with a choice: stay in the village and submit to her fate, or leave to fight for the emperor in an army of girls just like her. They are called alaki--near-immortals with rare gifts. And they are the only ones who can stop the empire's greatest threat.
Knowing the dangers that lie ahead yet yearning for acceptance, Deka decides to leave the only life she's ever known. But as she journeys to the capital to train for the biggest battle of her life, she will discover that the great walled city holds many surprises. Nothing and no one are quite what they seem to be--not even Deka herself.
I stayed up until about 1, maybe 2 (what is time anyway?), a.m. this morning to finish it, I only had about 2 chapters left and I didn't want to stop. This is such a good book, I had it on hold since mid-Dember when it was available to have on hold at my library. So I was able to read it pretty much as soon as it came out, which was nice.
Deka has a great arc in this book. She starts as a pretty meek person, from the circumstances of how and where she was raised and the culture of the world that sees women as inferior beings meant to be servants. At first, she struggles to come to terms with what she is and then inspires the other alaki to be proud of what they are and not fear it. It's a great turning point for her character. She begins to have changes that the other alaki aren't going through, she starts to have other fears, and some revelations about her mother spark some questions about what she really is.
All the supporting characters have distinct voices and personalities that made them one of the more interesting supporting cast of characters in any YA book I've read in a while. They are girls of varying ethnicities and sexualities.
There is a romance between Deka and her Uruni (the alaki's assigned fighting partner), Keita. It develops slowly over the book, first as respect for each other then as they get to know each other better they start to have romantic feeling for each other. The passage of time was kind of unclear for me, as they are in an area of the country that is generally hot, so seasons aren't as varied. But it's not anything that could be defined as "instalove".
The ending of this book sets up something that I am very looking forward to for the rest of the series. I am so happy I didn't have to wait to read this book, and I totally want to buy it when I have the funds. I am really happy that I have a great library.