Soulbound (Legacy of Tril #1) by Heather Brewer
Release Date ~ June 19, 2012
DIAL ~ Penguin
ARC received from Penguin Canada for review
Tril is a world where Barrons and Healers are Bound to each other: Barrons fight and Healers cure their Barrons' wounds in the ongoing war with the evil Graplar King. Seventeen-year-old Kaya was born a Healer, but she wants to fight. In Tril, and at Shadow Academy, where she is sent to learn to heal, it is against Protocol for Healers to fight. So Kaya must learn in secret. Enter two young men: One charming, rule-following Barron who becomes Bound to Kaya and whose life she must protect at all costs. And one with a mysterious past who seems bent on making Kaya's life as difficult as possible. Kaya asks both to train her, but only one will, and the consequences will change their lives forever.
My familiarity with Heather Brewer’s work was rather limited (having only read one book of hers) before I heard about Soulbound and it caught my interest with its unique take on fantasy. I’m always looking for new fantasy series to fall in love with, and Soulbound sounded as if it would be exactly that!
It’s hard for me to pinpoint exactly why I didn’t enjoy Soulbound, because so many of the elements I look for were there – a brave heroine struggling against her circumstances, plenty of training and fighting, plenty of romance (I don’t even mind a love triangle as much as I used to) including forbidden love, and a world to save. But it just didn’t work for me like I hoped it would.
- Kaya’s bravery and determination:
I’m a sucker for those books that have young women struggling to overcome the limits society has placed on her. The kind where she really feels she has to PROVE herself and does exactly that. Kaya’s story fits perfectly within this archetype, and I really liked her for that reason alone. Plus, I like how much self-respect she has and that the romance was pretty good – she isn’t weak when it comes to this love triangle and manages to stay pretty true to herself.
But part of the problem for me is that I wasn’t really sold on any of the characters. I liked Kaya well enough, but I didn’t love her. I admired her to an extent... but then it just felt kinda “mehhh...” for me. She didn’t come alive for me. There was nothing that made her stand out in my mind that felt uniquely Kaya-like. That sounds weird, but I grew up reading Tamora Pierce and since then I’ve sought out a number of books akin to those old favourites. And Kaya felt like a character mold rather than a character to me. Likewise with the boys, both who were interesting enough but they all just felt like archetypes instead of real people. And the love triangle was a bit too draining for me to enjoy the rest of the story, because it seemed to detract from the larger picture.
I also had a hard time with the setting. It never really felt explained or developed at all. I knew it was fantasy-ish but I had no clue about the history or politics or society. This is a deal-breaker for me, and Soulbound didn’t deliver. It felt glossed over and largely ignored to the point where it was nearly non-existent and completely forgettable.
I may just be curious enough to try the next one again since I still feel like there’s a lot of potential here.