September 17, 2020 , Thu
Review: Raybearer (Raybearer #1) by Jordan IfuekoRaybearer (Raybearer, #1) by Jordan Ifueko
on August 18, 2020
Pages: 368
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5 Stars

Nothing is more important than loyalty.But what if you’ve sworn to protect the one you were born to destroy?
Tarisai has always longed for the warmth of a family. She was raised in isolation by a mysterious, often absent mother known only as The Lady. The Lady sends her to the capital of the global empire of Aritsar to compete with other children to be chosen as one of the Crown Prince’s Council of 11. If she’s picked, she’ll be joined with the other Council members through the Ray, a bond deeper than blood. That closeness is irresistible to Tarisai, who has always wanted to belong somewhere. But The Lady has other ideas, including a magical wish that Tarisai is compelled to obey: Kill the Crown Prince once she gains his trust. Tarisai won’t stand by and become someone’s pawn—but is she strong enough to choose a different path for herself?

Pretty much much everyone I know in the book community has been talking about this book since the premise came out, myself included. Fantasy is one of my favorite genres and I’m always on the lookout for unique concepts and this book? COMPLETELY BRILLIANT AND ORIGINAL. Honestly, it was so interesting and the worldbuilding was so wonderfully tackled and I just super duper enjoyed this book.

It’s definitely going on my list of favorite new series and I can’t wait until the next installment. Honestly, I finished this book in under 24 hours and I’m now sitting in a reading slump because it was just that good. So when Sabrina asked for volunteers for a platform tour for the book, I was like yes, absolutely. I’m in. So today’s my spot on the tour and here’s my review.

characters

👑 I really appreciated Tarasai as a character and I felt a closeness to her as we progressed through her story. We get to see her literally grow up and learn the world around her and it was a pretty organic process. Having access to her internal thoughts and seeing them play out and shift as she experienced things was intimate and a journey that everyone can relate to. I appreciated her innocence and how she worked to maintain it throughout the story even though others tried to force her hand. Her determination and sheer will and love for her friends (who have become her true family) was such a pure thing to see play out.

👑There are a good number of side characters, but not too many to lose track of. I particularly enjoyed the closeness of all the Council members and how they genuinely choose to believe in each other even when they have reason not to. It’s such a gorgeous contrast to the skepticism of Tarasai’s blood relatives and how they are trying to use her for their own ends.  Sanjeet, Kirah, and Dayo are all beautifully rendered characters full of nuance and have their own individual threads and complications, but the love and support they all give to each other GIVES ME LIFE.

👑 You won’t find a real single villain in this book, but instead you find villainous forces and influences. It’s not the people who are the problem exactly, but rather the system they created that benefits them and only them (or mostly them in some cases) and the idea that unraveling those systems would be disastrous even though it would be the right thing to do. These characters are all trying to save the world in some way, but not the actual world, they’re trying to save a world they haven’t been given the chance to build yet, and watching them try and try and fail and try again and learn ended up giving me a lot of hope in the real world, especially right now.

plot

👑 Okay, but like, this book had such unique worldbuilding elements that I was constantly rushing to read more, to learn more, to experience more, I just always wanted more. I’ve read a lot of fantasy books in my lifetime and this one was crafted in a way that felt like I was discovering a new species. There are a lot of different elements at play in the book: family (both found and blood), mythology, political intrigue, destiny, and purpose. All of these things weave together to form a narrative that is both compelling and gut-punching.

👑 The pacing is spot on. There was never a point where I wanted it to move faster or slower. It was leading me at exactly the right speed through all the events and beats. It paused where it needed to pause so I could process, it held its breath while I gripped the edge of my seat, and it ran when I needed to hurry and find out what was happening. Honestly, it was a joy to travel with the story and Ifueko’s mastery over pace and prose is evident on every page.

👑 Every single relationship in this book matters. I’m not even talking romance here because that’s actually one of the quieter aspects. The idea of choosing your people, finding your family, and them choosing you back is big in this book. It’s directly contrasted with the expectations and weight of dealing with the family you don’t get to choose. How do you honor these bonds and yourself at the same time? When do you know what YOU want and how to protect it? IT’S SO GOOD. Found family is one of my favorite tropes and this book next levels it.

writing

👑 The writing and voice definitely draws you in. It feels strangely intimate, which makes sense considering some of the plot aspects I can’t get into due to spoilers, but we spend a lot of time in Tarasai’s head and she definitely earns a soft spot in your heart. It reads fast, but hits where it hurts when needed.

👑 There was great tension throughout the book and I felt all the stakes from big to small. The voice, like I stated in my early point, was particularly memorable. Because I was so connected to Tarasai, it felt like I was experiencing everything she was experiencing. I also appreciate that the world of Raybearer includes many sexualities (asexual representation, hooray) and it’s not even questioned. The setup is just that it doesn’t matter at all– you do whatever you feel, whatever you want, and it’s right and natural and very much just the way things are. Very refreshing and I hope it’s a trend that I continue to see in books everywhere.

👑 It ends on enough of a cliffhanger that you’re going to want the next book, BUT it also ends on a satisfying note. You won’t feel cheated (which is sometimes how I feel when a book ends on a big cliffhanger with only tiny threads resolved). It’s also a book you’ll think about a lot after finishing. You’ll want to know more about the world and the characters. You’re gonna open up all these doors in your brain about where it could go next and where you’d fit into the world. It’ll make you ask yourself lots of questions about the kind of person you’d be and the kind of person you’d like to be. It’s one of my favorite things about reading and this book MAKES YOU THINK.

this is the book you’re looking for if:

  1. You are here for the found family trope.
  2. You’ve been looking for a fantasy book with some really unique worldbuilding.
  3. You are a fan of political intrigue and the complicated role of legacy.
  4. I don’t even need a number four. I’m sure this is the book you’re looking for.

this is not the book you’re looking for if:

  1. You don’t like books.
  2. No seriously, I cannot think of one reason why you wouldn’t like this book.
  3. I guess maybe if you don’t like fantasy books.

now you!

👑 What are some books you’ve read with a really compelling voice or tone?
👑 Have you read any really good debuts recently?
👑 What do you wish was more represented in YA literature?

 

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About Diana

Diana is your sleep-deprived, fandom loving, payload escorting, book obssessing tour guide. She has her Bachelor's degree in English Literature and her Master's degree in Creative Writing. She currently works for a community college in the IT department and is an adjunct professor teaching English.

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