Release Date: October 11, 2016
Publisher: Thomas Nelson / HarperCollins
Genre: Fantasy / Romance / Young Adult
Series: Unblemished, Book One
About the Book:
Eliyana has always recoiled from her own reflection in the mirror. But what if that were only one Reflection—one world? What if another world existed where her blemish could become her strength?
Eliyana is used to the shadows. With a hideous birthmark covering half her face, she just hopes to graduate high school unscathed. That is until Joshua hops a fence and changes her perspective. No one, aside from her mother, has ever treated her as normal. Maybe even beautiful. Because of Joshua, Eliyana finally begins to believe she could be loved.
But one night her mother doesn’t come home, and that’s when everything gets weird.
Now Joshua is her new, and rather reluctant, legal Guardian. Add a hooded stalker and a Central Park battle to the mix and you’ve gone from weird to otherworldly.
Eliyana soon finds herself in a world much larger and more complicated than she’s ever known. A world enslaved by a powerful and vile man. And Eliyana holds the answer to defeating him. How can an ordinary girl, a blemished girl, become a savior when she can’t even save herself?
I was beyond excited when I first picked up Unblemished by Sara Ella. The cover is beautiful and immediately grabbed my attention. The plot seemed like something I would enjoy and there were so many great reviews. Well, it looks like my review is going to be an unpopular opinion because I was disappointed. I’m disappointed that I’m disappointed with it. Sara Ella seems so sweet and she is a debut author. Sadly, this wasn’t for me.
The writing was probably my biggest issue. The young adult genre is known for somewhat choppy writing so it was expected to see some of that in this book. However, it was almost every sentence. The writer would focus on details that weren’t necessary, but then when there were details she should have focused on, I found myself very confused.
Eliyana, or El, is the main character whom I really wanted to like, but I just couldn’t. She is whiny, repetitive, and complains constantly. I want my mom, I miss my mom, I have to get my mom, but mom, but Joshua, but mom. She’s in a strange world that she literally knows nothing about with strange things that are going on, but her main focus seems to be on her mom and Josh the entire time. Did I mention that she has no clue about anything, which isn’t a big deal because that’s understandable, but she doesn’t truly make an effort to remedy that? Okay so she asks questions here and there, but she mostly just follows strangers around and places her trust in them then is shocked when they betray her.
Then there’s the world building. I thought the concept was AMAZING. It was interesting, fun, unique, and creative. There are seven Reflections (or worlds) that are different levels of New York City. The New York City that we know is known as the Third Reflection which is where El is from, but then we find out that she is actually from the Second Reflection. It’s a fantasy kind of world because they travel through what is known as a Threshold to get to the different worlds. The author does a fantastic job of explaining this. The only descriptions I struggled with were the ones that would describe specific places like a maze. Instead of describing the maze, the author simply uses a pop culture reference to explain that the maze looked a lot like the maze in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Pop culture references are fun when they actually work with the book and not just randomly placed. So not only do we have this interesting world that I was curious to know more about, we learn about the Callings. Not everyone has a Calling but all of the main characters do have one. Callings can include healing, paralyzing someone without touching them, turning into animals, and so forth. This was super cool but should have been explained towards the beginning of the book rather than towards the middle/end of the book.
There was a lot of action that I found interesting, but they ended way too quickly and easily. This in turn kind of made it boring in my opinion. I would’ve loved to see Eliyana struggle a little more and try to defend herself other than the one time. Although she does grow in that aspect later on. A majority of the book she relies on everyone else to protect and save her but learns to be brave at the end.
As far as the rest of the characters go, I didn’t feel a connection with any of them except for Ky. In fact, Ky was the main reason that kept me wanting to continue the story. He’s the mysterious with a tragic and sad backstory, gray morals, and a fierce determination to protect those he cares about. He plays both sides at times so he’s somewhat confusing, but seems to genuinely care about Eliyana. He’s also a super nice guy when he isn’t playing the opposite side. What I especially loved about him is that he isn’t the typical hero that you read in the stories. He’s your typical everyday kind of guy. He’s described as handsome, but he has really bad acne among other flaws. He was my favorite character in the whole book.
Then there’s the love triangle. Eliyana is supposedly in love with the hot older boy next door and best friend, Joshua. He is extremely hot and cold to her that he just came across as a jerk to me. Sure, he has his reasons but none of them were satisfactory for me. I didn’t understand why he was a love interest. He seemed like more of an older brother than a love interest. Plus, he was hardly in the book.
Eliyana’s connection with Ky is almost insta-love. He seems to reciprocate her feelings but is so all over the place that Eliyana struggles to figure out where he stands. I’m confused as to why she was so set on Joshua after being repeatedly turned down by him. He was downright rude to her throughout the book. Ky, on the other hand, genuinely cared about her.
Oh, and did I mention that the book ends with this love triangle not being solved? Which shows that the sequel, Unraveling, is going to continue to focus on this.
This is within the Christian genre, but there is no mention of spiritual things. It is prominently a good vs. evil theme, although it isn’t overtly Christian.
I wouldn’t recommend this one, but just because I didn’t like it doesn’t mean you won’t. So please don’t choose not to read it just because I didn’t like it.
I’m not sure if I’m going to continue reading this series or not. The author has potential in writing a great series, but I’m not sure that this one was for me. If I do read the next one, it would be because I want to see what happens to Ky. I’m also curious to see where she’s going with this series.
Great concept, but not so great execution.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for my honest review, which I have given. I was not required to write a positive review and have not been compensated for it in any way. All opinions expressed are my own.
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About Sarah Ella
Not so long ago, SARA ELLA dreamed she would marry a prince (just call me Mrs. Charming) and live in a castle (aka The Plaza Hotel). Though her fairy tale didn’t quite turn out as planned, she did work for Disney—that was an enchanted moment of its own. Now she spends her days throwing living room dance parties for her two princesses and conquering realms of her own imaginings. Oh, and her husband is far more swoony than any cartoon character could ever be. She believes “Happily Ever After is Never Far Away” for those who put their faith in the King of kings.