Rej’s and Donna’s lives couldn’t be more different. Rej is a comber, living a precarious life under the streets in semi-darkness. Donna is a scribe and an “oppidan,” sworn to a life of humility and deprivation in the land Above. But they have one critical thing in common, and when a murder in the combes brings Rej into the light, these two teens will soon be deep in a plot where dragons and poisons are real weapons, and it will be up to them to discover the secret of the Basilisk.
I picked this one up because I was interested in the idea of people living underground, and I think Browne did create an intriguing culture. The world itself is fairly well thought out, and I even like the general plot. But for some reason, this one just never grabbed me. I was never gripped enough to be dying to pick it up, and it took me way longer to read than it should have. I think sometimes I was annoyed by the formality of the dialogue and narration as well as the constant use of invented cuss words. I appreciated that things wrapped themselves up without needing a sequel (although I would’ve liked more), and the violence in the story made the tension more real, but I just wasn’t completely along for the ride this time. Maybe I wanted the relationship between Rej and Donna to be fleshed out more, because the fantastical ideas of the plot really were inventive.
You can’t win them all, I guess.
Rated: Moderate for language, violence and a not-graphic teen rape (in which the teen is drugged first)