10:30 am EDT, April 18, 2018

‘Traitor Born’ book review: A thrilling ride from start to finish

A kick-ass heroine, political intrigue, a love pentagon… Traitor Born, the second book in Amy A. Bartol’s Secondborn series, has it all.

If even one of these aspects interest you, you won’t want to miss this exciting new YA novel (or my review below)!

About ‘Traitor Born’ by Amy A. Bartol

Rebel warrior Roselle St. Sismode returns in the second book of the epic Secondborn series by USA Today bestselling author Amy A. Bartol.

In the Fates Republic…
Firstborns reign supreme.
Secondborns kneel in servitude.
Thirdborns face death.
And Census shadows them all.

Secondborn Roselle St. Sismode was pressed into military service to battle the rebel uprising threatening the society that enslaves her. Now, powerful factions conspire to subvert the lines of succession, positioning Roselle to replace her mother as leader of the Republic’s armed forces. But the woman who bore her would sooner see Roselle dead than let her usurp her firstborn brother’s command.

The deadly war of intrigue between her new masters and her ruthless family is but one conflict challenging Roselle. A soldier for the rebellion has drawn her into a rogue army’s plot to overthrow the Republic and shatter its brutal caste system. Targeted by assassins and torn between allies, Roselle’s loyalty, love, and honor will be tested in the greatest battle of—and for—her life.

Related: ‘Traitor Born’ exclusive excerpt: Read the prologue of this exciting new YA novel!

‘Traitor Born’ by Amy A. Bartol book review

I’m just going to come right out and say it: If you liked Secondborn, you’ll *love* Traitor Born. This sequel takes everything that’s enjoyable about the first novel (the action, the sexual tension, the political intrigue) and turns it up a few notches.

Article Continues Below

Traitor Born‘s structure is very much like Secondborn‘s in that it has a really episodic feeling to its storytelling. While there are multiple interesting story arcs going on all at once, it feels like they’re told through connected series of stories and events. Each of these mini stories and events have their own sorts of arcs and resolutions to them which is what makes them feel more episodic than other similar novels (like Divergent and The Hunger Games). Secondborn definitely set the story up for this sort of structure, but Traitor Born really perfected it.

This sort of low-key episodic storytelling was especially effective in creating the novel’s atmosphere of political intrigue. My attention and trust was constantly shifting alongside Roselle’s, keeping me on my toes and second-guessing absolutely everyone Roselle came in contact with. Even characters who were set up as innocents were the subjects of my suspicion at some point or another. I had a hard time putting this book down because I just wanted to know for sure where everyone stood, what was going to happen next, and if any of my precious loves were going to be hurt.

Speaking of precious loves, while I’m not generally a fan of love triangles, I was surprised at myself for liking the romantic turbulence going on in this book. Why? Because it goes *beyond* being love triangle. It’s a love quadrangle with the potential of being a love pentagram at the very end of the novel. (That one isn’t likely but hey, anything can happen.) Though I’m not normally one for love triangles and the like, every time I found myself leaning toward one guy, another one showed up and I started gravitating toward that one. The men in this novel are evenly matched in terms of attractive and endearing qualities that I can’t help but love them all.

But are any of them good enough for Roselle? That’s the question. Traitor Born takes a lot more time and care to flesh out Roselle’s character, which is really great. In the first book, her loyalty to her family and to her vocation is obvious at the beginning but becomes a little muddled toward the middle. Here, we as readers get a much better sense of who Roselle is (beyond being a soldier), what motivates her, and what truly makes her a badass.

Not only that, but she’s even more relatable in this novel due to her anxiety. In addition to her family and other powerful figures trying to kill her and the fact that her first love is technically out of her league, Roselle also has to deal with anxiety and regular panic attacks. Though she sees it as a weakness throughout most of Traitor Born, she starts to sort of accept it as a part of her by the end of the novel. Just seeing a character who should have anxiety after everything she has been through actually develop it and deal with it is really refreshing.

My main gripe about Secondborn was the fact that the story lacked context for how the society became the way it is. How the firstborn and secondborn system came to be and how the Swords became so powerful. I’m happy to report that, while it comes quite a bit into the novel, we finally get an explanation in Traitor Born! There are little details dropped here and there on the way, but the origin story itself is definitely satisfying.

What isn’t satisfying, however, is the ending of this novel. Not that I really assumed it would be, but the first novel at least closed on a mild cliffhanger. Traitor Born ends its major arc with a shocking reveal and a tantalizing last few paragraphs. The whole ending of Traitor Born is a rollercoaster ride of emotions, especially when it comes to a major twist. I was so lucky to have been able to read Secondborn and Traitor Born back to back, but not lucky enough to not have to wait a whole year (I assume) for the third installment.

I enjoyed Secondborn, but Traitor Born is what sold this series for me. The characters are complex and multi-layered, the action is exciting, and the interpersonal relationships are fascinating. It’s a great read that you’ll have trouble putting down.

Traitor Born by Amy A. Bartol will be released on April 17, 2018. Be sure to pre-order your copy from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your local independent bookstore. Also, don’t forget to add it to your Goodreads “to read” list!

We want to hear your thoughts on this topic!
Write a comment below or submit an article to Hypable.

The Hypable App

Free for iOS and Android

Introducing the Hypable app

Free for iOS and Android