Review: Jennifer A Nielsen – The Traitor’s Game

The Traitor’s Game
Jennifer A Nielsen

Kestra has been ordered home by her father, but instead is kidnapped by an old friend on the way there. She receives a second set of orders from the Coracks – find the Olden Blade and betray her family and monarchy. Once at home, not all is as it seems – everything Kestra remembers is wrong.

Do I actually see this ‘cruel and bloody fist’ of Lord Endrick? Nope, I do not. All I see is simple Kestra getting simple revenge on her captors, and them having revenge on her. While there was potential for intrigue, instead I felt like Kestra was holding all the cards and the reader didn’t know enough to actually imagine what was happening behind the scenes. In fact, I felt that Kestra was particularly slow in working out what was going on (even with really clear clues).

I was horrified to get slightly further into the novel and find that the perspectives suddenly changed between Kestra and Simon. I felt this was unnecessary. I didn’t see much benefit from reading Simon’s perspective – apart from the fact that across three days he went from being vaguely in love with her / hating her, to being completely in love with her.

Kestra is claustrophobic, but the majority of the time it seems well controlled. And when she’s in those situations, most of it seems to be from Simon’s perspective, so the effect of it is only what he sees. I didn’t feel the claustrophobia with Kestra at all so it wasn’t a useful character flaw that made me like her.

The events in this novel take place over the course of 3 days, but it honestly felt like the action was still slow enough to occur across a week. Every time Kestra gets caught doing something she shouldn’t be there are hardly any consequences, or I didn’t actually care about the consequences. The person I did vaguely care about apparently died. I’m not even sure whether this person did die or not, it’s so uncertain whether I should be sad/angry/upset or not.

Stating that you can see someone else’s barriers going up is just pathetic. And to have it stated multiple times in the course of two pages? I should just be able to tell that from the characters’ expressions, not have them do it for me. 3 stars from me.

Scholastic | 1st July 2018 | AU$19.99 | paperback

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