Dark and Light in “Three Dark Crowns” by Kendare Blake

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake began much darker than I expected, or cared for. In fact, after the first two chapters I put it down, not expecting to finish it.  But circumstances resulted in me picking it up again a week later because I couldn’t find any of the other book I’d been planning to read that day. And I am so glad I did.

The premise is this: triplet sisters are born to the queen, each with their own special gift, and tradition dictates that only one sister may live to rule, the others must die at the hands of the others.

The basic premise of this story demands a certain gravity, but Blake balanced it excellently with lighter elements that kept the story moving, and gave the reader hope without turning it into a melodrama. It was dark at times, but it also had enough light that I didn’t feel bogged down, but rather pulled in.

Written from multiple perspectives, this story switches between several characters, each one brilliantly developed, relatable, likable, and unappealing in their own ways. Each perspective forms a puzzle piece that fit perfectly between all the others to create a wonderful piece of work.

Blake infused this book with of feminist themes such as the objectification of women, equality within love, and respect in relationships. The first theme I found particularly interesting as Three Dark Crowns is based in a largely matriarchal society, and the way each female character encounters and deals with objectification is very interesting.

If you are looking for a story about family, sisters, feminism, love, and heartbreak, and you aren’t scared of a story infused with a more serious and darker tone, this is a good book for you. Brilliantly written, and very engaging, I really am so glad I read this one. 5/5.

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Deep Themes in “Defy the Stars” by Claudia Gray

“Defy the Stars” by Claudia Gray is a fun sci-fi book with deeper themes that give it a lasting weight.

Well-written, and packed with deeper themes, Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray is a book that highlights Gray’s strengths as a YA science fiction writer.  The first in a new series, Defy the Stars was somewhat predictable, but proved to be a good, casual sci-fi read. It doesn’t go too in-depth with the world building or complicated science-y things, so it isn’t overwhelming for the beginner sci-fi reader.

One of the things I love about Claudia Gray’s books is her use of themes. Even though each of her books has a fun, exciting plot that makes for good fun, there is always more weight to her stories that makes her books more important than just a fun story.   Defy the Stars explores themes of what it means to be human, the importance of nature, the existence and definition of love, and how far it is ethical to go in our attempts to assert independence. Gray also introduces the idea that there are many sides to every story and truth may not always be one dimensional.

Gray explores these themes through interesting characters like Noemi: a pilot and soldier of the planet Genesis in their war of independence from Earth; and Abel: an advanced android from Earth whose self-awareness and mental and emotional capacities blur the line between android and human. In pushing each of these characters to their limits physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, Gray creates a story worth reading.

If you enjoy any element of science fiction combined with a strong romance subplot, any of the aforementioned themes, or any of Gray’s earlier works, I would definitely give this book a chance. 4/5.