*I received a review copy from the author in exchange for review consideration. This does not in any way affect my opinion, and all thoughts expressed in this review are unbiased and my own.*
Author: Rachel E. Carter
My rating: 4.5 hearts
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Pub. date: January 24th 2017
Synopsis: Magic. Romance. Rivals. Perfect for fans of Throne of Glass, Falling Kingdoms, and Tamora Pierce.
Before the age of seventeen, the young men and women of Jerar are given a choice —pursue a trade or enroll in a trial year in one of the realm’s three war schools to study as a soldier, knight, or mage…
For fifteen-year-old Ryiah, the choice has always been easy. Become a mage and train in Combat, the most prestigious faction of magic.
Yet when she arrives, Ry finds herself competing against friend and foe for one of the exalted apprenticeships. Everyone is rooting for her to fail—first and foremost among them is Prince Darren, the school prodigy who has done nothing but make life miserable since she arrived.
Will Ry survive, or will her dream go down in flames? (synopsis from Goodreads)
This book was recommended to me by one of my best friends, whom I know have a very similar taste to mine. So I take all her recommendations very seriously, and when she’s freaking out over a book, I know it’ll be good, and my expectations end up unreasonably high. But whatever my expectations of First Year were, it exceeded them, by far. I absolutely loved it!
Ryiah is awesome!
I have a weakness for badass heroines. And Ryiah is everything I could wish for in a heroine; totally badass, independent and sarcastic, but also flawed. She has a bit of a temper, but she also has a big sense of right and wrong. She’s very protective of the people she cares about. I really enjoyed reading about her, she was really relatable and just fun to read about.
I’m not even sure where to begin about Darren.
He’s a jerk. For most of the book, I hated him. But then he does these random nice things for Ryiah, and my heart started melting, piece by piece. And now, it’s more like a puddle of goo. And I’m left wanting more.
I fell in love with the world from page one!
In High Fantasy, world-building is probably the most important thing, because without good world-building, it just feels unrealistic and wrong. And Carter does it really well! First, the world is really interesting, and I wanted to learn more from the first page. But even more importantly, the way she does it is amazing. She drops small pieces of information every now and then, just enough to leave you curious, but not too much at the same time, so that it feels like a history lesson.
The plot and pace was okay.
I liked the plot, but the first half of the book could’ve been a bit more fast-paced. It took a while to get through the first part of the story, but once I’d gotten through half of it, it was impossible to put it down, I just had to know how it went! The last 50% made up for the slowness of the first half.
First Year was so much better than I ever expected! With layered characters, an interesting world, and amazing world-building, it will draw you in, hand you all the information you (think) you need and leave you with a false sense of security, only to rip the rug from under your feet and leave you doubting everything you thought was true. If you haven’t picked this up yet, you’re in for a treat!