SYNOPSIS: All her life, Laia has been taught to fear the Masks that keep her people submissive and docile. All his life, Elias has been trained to be the perfect killing machine and eventually becoming a Mask that everyone fears. When her brother is captured, Laia joins the Resistance in hopes of them rescuing her brother, but it comes with a price. She has to spy on the Mask training academy. Her path intersects with Elias just as a series of trials begins to see which Mask will become the new emperor.
Holy smokes does this book deserve all the hype it’s been receiving! One of the things that I loved most was that although Laia and Elias are the main characters, they don’t spend a whole lot of time together. We see their separate story lines and then at key moments they intersect and I thought that was really different and exciting. It was interesting to read a situation from one POV and then to see the same thing from a different POV and it never felt like something I had just read. I also enjoyed the fact that as soon as there was a moment where you think something nice and calm was going to happen, something horrible happened to ruin the moment! I really loved Laia and Izzi’s relationship, it was very sweet and added some much needed brightness in the bleak world they occupied. In fact all of the various relationships were compelling and unique. I want to know more and see how/if these relationships develop further in the next book! All of the characters are absolutely stunning and I find the Commandant and Marcus to be highly intriguing villains. I loved watching Marcus self destruct as the book went on and the Commandant is fascinating in the fact that she doesn’t really have a tragic backstory/reason to be doing what she is doing which is refreshing. Although all of the characters do develop in cool, interesting, and sometimes small ways, I think Laia had the absolute best character development. I absolutely loved that at the beginning of the book she was scared and cowardly. She didn’t have that automatic brave hero complex that heroines often have when something bad happens to her, but as things progressed she started getting braver and braver. I was so proud of her by the end! I could go on and on about how much I adore all of these characters, but I am so excited to further explore this world that Sabaa Tahir has created. I hope we get more information about all the darkness, magic, and war in the next book, but seriously everyone should read this book if you are a fan of fantasy!