The Diminished by Kaitlyn Sage Patterson
Publication Date: April 10, 2018
Summary from NetGalley:
In the Alskad Empire, nearly all are born with a twin, two halves to form one whole…yet some face the world alone.
A rare few are singleborn in each generation, and therefore given the right to rule by the gods and goddesses. Bo Trousillion is one of these few, born into the royal line and destined to rule. Though he has been chosen to succeed his great-aunt, Queen Runa, as the leader of the Alskad Empire, Bo has never felt equal to the grand future before him.
When one twin dies, the other usually follows, unable to face the world without their other half. Those who survive are considered diminished, doomed to succumb to the violent grief that inevitably destroys everyone whose twin has died.
Such is the fate of Vi Abernathy, whose twin sister died in infancy. Raised by the anchorites of the temple after her family cast her off, Vi has spent her whole life scheming for a way to escape and live out what’s left of her life in peace.
As their sixteenth birthdays approach, Bo and Vi face very different futures—one a life of luxury as the heir to the throne, the other years of backbreaking work as a temple servant. But a long-held secret and the fate of the empire are destined to bring them together in a way they never could have imagined.
ARC provided by Harlequin Teen via Netgalley for an honest review.
I ended up liking this more than I thought I would. Some of the plot is somewhat predictable, but overall the world building and the characters kept me coming back for more.
The story is told through alternating chapters between Bo and Vi. I enjoyed both of their stories, although I found Bo to be a little bit whiney and frustrating at times. They both have grown up under very different circumstances, but they have some similarities. They are both smart, resilient and strong. Vi also tries to help those who need it and feels guilty when she can’t. Bo trusts a little too easily, and sometimes this works out for him but doesn’t at other times.
There are lots of fun secondary characters throughout the story that are worth mentioning. Quill and Mal are twin brothers that Vi meets in her travels. They are both sweet and very endearing and don’t seem afraid of Vi because she is diminished. They go out of their way in fact to help her better her situation, although that doesn’t really work out well for her in the end. Swinton is also a diminished and is the one to help Bo in his search for Vi. He is also sweet and a bit of a flirt, but I really like him and Bo together. Curlin is a childhood friend of Vi’s who betrays her, but tries to make up for that betrayal at the end. We don’t get to know her as well as the others, but she has an important role to play in the story.
The plot unfortunately is a bit predictable, but it is still a fun and interesting one. There are a few surprises that I didn’t see coming, especially the role that the Temple and the Shriven (the religious enforcers) had in the great scheme of things. The writing is also well done, with lots of nice descriptions of this world. The world building was spread out enough that you never felt overwhelmed by it but would just go with the flow of the story. There is some romance between some of the characters and for the most part I found it sweet and not too overwhelming. The romances certainly don’t rule the storylines of the characters, but were nice additions to it.
I loved the world that the author has created here, and it was that more than anything that kept me reading. I really liked the background legend that explained why everyone was born as twins, it had to do with the moon breaking in half but I won’t say more than that. I have worked with lots of twins over the years and I have always noticed that connection that they seem to have that is different than the usual sibling bond, and the world this is set in takes that bond and expands on it. I found it fascinating that when one twin dies, the other soon dies or goes insane and starts killing others. Not all twins seem to share this fate, but most do. Also, the twins seem to need to stay near each other to feel the connection, they can travel away from each other, but apparently not for long. Some other aspects of this world that are worth mentioning, women seem to have the more dominant roles in business and the armed forces. It is mentioned several times that Mal and Quill’s dad is the only man to reach a high rank in the navy. Sexual orientation is no big deal, you love who you love and that can be anyone of either sex. The religion that rules over this world is also interesting and ends up playing a larger part in this story than you initially think they will.
Overall this is a story worth checking out and maybe adding to your TBR. There is at least one more book planned and I will definitely be looking out for it. I want to know how Bo and Vi’s story ends.