by Anna Banks
Published on October 4, 2016 by Feiwel & Friends
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
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The princess didn't expect to fall in love--with her nemesis.
Princess Sepora of Serubel is the last Forger in all the five kingdoms. The spectorium she creates provides energy for all, but now her father has found a way to weaponize it, and his intentions to incite war force her to flee from his grasp. She escapes across enemy lines into the kingdom of Theoria, but her plans to hide are thwarted when she is captured and placed in the young king's servitude.
Tarik has just taken over rulership of Theoria, and must now face a new plague sweeping through his kingdom and killing his citizens. The last thing he needs is a troublesome servant vying for his attention. But mistress Sepora will not be ignored. When the two finally meet face-to-face, they form an unlikely bond that complicates life in ways neither of them could have imagined.
Sepora's gift could save Tarik's kingdom from the Quiet Plague. But should she trust her growing feelings for her nemesis, or should she hide her gifts at all costs?
It’s Egypt with a magical spin in Nemesis by Anna Banks, the first in a new series by the author of the Syrena trilogy. At the mention of an Egyptian-esque world, I jumped on this book and couldn’t hold back the excitement. Clearly it had to be amazing, and I can’t think of many books in the genre with this setting theme so double the anticipation.
I enjoyed Banks’ Syrena books but found Nemesis to be a bit more of a struggle.
Sepora is a runaway princess with no intentions of helping her father conquer other kingdoms using the magical stuff, spectorium, that she’s able to create. So what better way to screw over dear old dad than to run away to the country of his nemesis? I mean in terms of finding her, she probably placed herself pretty well but once she got there and into the court of the new king, Tarik, it was a tad bit of a mess.
I expected more from Sepora. To me, if you’re going to fall in love with your nemesis (as the back cover suggests) then she should actually be your nemesis. And you probably won’t get along. Instead, Sepora’s a little sassy but otherwise pretty lackluster considering her situation. So you’re a princess. You want to live a peasant life to protect people. Cool, that’s actually interesting. And for the very first part of this book, I was into it.
Then Sepora struggles on her own out in the desert for half the book.
Meanwhile, Tarik has recently become king and needs to protect his people so he’s searching for a solution while she’s out getting caught and wandering in the heat.
I. Don’t. Care.
Flash forward to about the halfway point and the story picks up again. There’s the threat of war and plague and all sorts of nasty outcomes on the horizon, the tension is high, and Sepora is in the palace of her supposed enemy.
But whatever animosity to make them nemeses never appeared. Instead, they had the candid banter that made her intriguing to Tarik since everyone else never treated him like a real person. Really. Okay, moving on. She’s debating whether or not to trust him. He’s noticing how stunning she is. Oh look! A romance!
There’s a short time where the plot returns then it’s diving into the romance where the story leaves off. And that was the most disappointing of all.
I love and hate romance in young adult lately. On the one hand, I always end up shipping the characters. On the other, it’s really annoying that it always happens and when it does it takes over the story. The characters turn into two sad sacks of mush. You get the idea. And that’s where Nemesis lost it for me.
There’s such a rich world beneath it and your time is spent walking across a desert and watching these two become attracted to each other. But there’s no tension from “oh he’s the enemy” because I never felt like he was an enemy. The synopsis says “The princess didn’t expect to fall in love…with her nemesis” so I expected they would start as such. They didn’t and the book, as a whole, felt anticlimactic.
Perhaps the sequel will improve on the story but this time around, I just wasn’t impressed.
[Also, this cover makes me think this is some kind of futuristic sci-fi novel involving aliens…anyone else? I know the cover isn’t up to the author but I’m not sure this one was thought through…]