Title: Relic (Books of Eva #1)
Author: Heather Terrell
Publisher: Soho Teen
Acquired Via: Around the World ARC Tours
Release Date (US): October 29, 2013
The truth will test you...
For fans of Game of Thrones and The Hunger Games: high fantasy and dystopia meet in this high-stakes tale of a civilization built on lies and the girl who single-handedly brings it down.
When Eva’s twin brother, Eamon, falls to his death just a few months before he is due to participate in The Testing, no one expects Eva to take his place. She’s a Maiden, slated for embroidery classes, curtseys, and soon a prestigious marriage befitting the daughter of an Aerie ruler. But Eva insists on honoring her brother by becoming a Testor. After all, she wouldn’t be the first Maiden to Test, just the first in 150 years.
Eva knows the Testing is no dance class. Gallant Testors train for their entire lives to search icy wastelands for Relics: artifacts of the corrupt civilization that existed before The Healing drowned the world. Out in the Boundary Lands, Eva must rely on every moment of the lightning-quick training she received from Lukas—her servant, a Boundary native, and her closest friend now that Eamon is gone.
But there are threats in The Testing beyond what Lukas could have prepared her for. And no one could have imagined the danger Eva unleashes when she discovers a Relic that shakes the Aerie to its core.
So, I didn't really have an idea of what to expect from Relic by Heather Terrell, but I knew it wasn't going to be A Game of Thrones and/or The Hunger Games (nothing ever is). However, I was pleased with what I got. Relic is an imaginative mixture of post-apocalyptic quasi-dystopia with an epic quest aimed at a young adult audience. Sadly, there is no magic or fantasy. (Dear Game of Thrones Comparer, Here there not be dragons. Or incest.)
First off, I want to know why EVERYTHING has to be AGoT, THG, HP, etc. There are perfectly good books that stand well on their own. Relic was absolutely NOTHING like either book it is compared to except it has characters and words. And that's okay! It's a good book. However, Relic is NOT A Game of Thrones or The Hunger Games. It is Relic, and I demand that the comparisons stop.
Okay then, to the book!
In the New North, the icy last human habitation on the planet, people have reverted to living in a medieval manner - women are demure cattle and left to their sewing or other womanly pastimes suitable for those unlucky enough to be born with vaginas, and men are everything else because they are men and penises are the best. (Yep, this vibe was there.) There is also a social hierarchy because gender discrimination is never enough. (Be honest - who doesn't love a good caste system? I personally think it's a great tool in dystopias.) My favorites were the bottom of the caste - the Boundary natives - who quietly abode the people of Aerie for Very Good Reasons. They are good, kind people, and I plan on running away with one of them if the New North thing ever comes about.
Eva is a Maiden (i.e. she doesn't have a penis and must do Woman Things) and daughter of the Chief Archon, as well as the main character of the novel. She has stepped out of the role expected of the women of Aerie (gasp!) by choosing to go through the Testing. This is not a testing like in recent YA novels or The Hunger Games - it is a quest young men (and Eva) must undertake in order to become an Archon. Eva does this as a way to stay connected with her twin brother Eamon, as this was always his dream. Because their holy book, the Lex, does not specifically prohibit the penisless gender from undertaking the challenge, she's the first Maiden to do so in 150 years.
The world-building and story itself was pretty good. The world has flooded because humanity was too obsessed with its evil false god, Apple, and used false remedies like Tylenol and other silliness. The people of the New North were those who were saved to live a more righteous life. The Archon-wannabes were extreme archaeologists for a month trying to find the best relic and tell the best story be chosen for the coveted job. It was interesting to read. I could say more about the New Northerners ideas about our world, but I don't want to spoil it. I just wish there had been some more character development.
I enjoyed Relic because it was not The Hunger Games or A Game of Thrones and a fascinating book on its own merit. If you're interested in reading about a girl who decides to become more than the vagina, take on an epic quest, and question what her society is based on, I highly recommend the book. However, if you're looking for The Hunger Games or A Game of Thrones, you should just go read them again. Relic is Relic and pretty damn good.
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To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received an advance copy of the book briefly for reviewing purposes through Around the World ARC Tours in exchange for an honest review. The book was likely provided to the tour by the publisher or author, which has in no way affected the outcome of my review. All opinions expressed are rambling, honest, and completely my own.