I would consider myself an occasional YA (or young adult) reader, enjoying the lighter side this genre can present or a rare “popular” series (in the dystopian sub-genre). I’m also a fan of fairytale-esque stories, whether they be retellings or stories with underlying themes similar to happily-ever-after adventures. When I read raving reviews for Booktuber and author Sara Ella’s debut, Unblemished, and heard it was a combination of a fantasy-fairytale adventure with a modern twist, I was eager to experience this story world for myself. Especially when a review opportunity presented itself. What I discovered surpassed my expectations, sweeping me away in Eliyana’s journey of discovery and her newfound world of mystery.
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?
My first thought when I finished this book was WOW. I’m still stunned by the genius of this story and all its complexity. One of the many things that stood out to me was the way the setting was established throughout. At first, it is an authentic and real feeling New York City. As the story picks up pace, the “reflection world” is a place of clever design, utilizing urban elements of NYC and an enchanted-forest-world, if you will, to create a vast backdrop for all the scenes.
Another thing I really loved was the symbolism of sacrifice and a good vs evil, dark vs light element. As the secrets of the power figures in the reflection world are revealed –and then, PLOT TWIST! — revealed a little more, a battle for every heart’s allegiance is clearly at the center. Though completely a fantasy story, it mirrors a spiritual battle and a grand design that allows for free will and the sacrifice of a savior figure. I noticed and appreciated subtle threads of Biblical truths (though not expressly said) which would make this story a great conversation starter and topic of God’s divine plan of redemption.
This story employs a bit of a love triangle, not usually my favorite device. BUT, it works very well because it builds more complexity into the story. Forces outside of El and the two leading love interest figures influence and manipulate the situation, too. The story wouldn’t be as cleverly complicated without the triangle because it raises deep questions of purpose and destiny. And, it left me with plenty of lingering questions and theories concerning the next book in the series! (If you’ve read the book, I’m #TeamKy. Let me know your choice in the comments!)
Unblemished is a story of beauty and brave actions, emphasizing that life is not about the surface, but the heart. Add to this message a plethora of pop culture and music references, a bit of sarcasm on Eliyana’s part, two opposite and fascinating possible love interests, controlling figures and mystery surrounding this new world, plus a few surprises and major plot twists, and you have a great start to promising series.
Thank you to Thomas Nelson Fiction Guild for the complimentary review copy. This review is my honest opinion.
To learn more about author Sara Ella, visit her WEBSITE.
What is your favorite YA novel? Or favorite fantasy? I’d love to hear your thoughts and recommendations! (And, if you’ve read this book, I’m ready to discuss!)
Oh wow, your review is so beautifully written and just PERFECT! I knew I had to stop by and comment when I saw your post, because I recently read and loved this book too. High five to #TeamKy!! Loved this, Courtney, awesome job putting to words what this novel was all about!
Thank you, thank you, Bekah!!!!! I’m so glad you loved this book! I’m ready for the next one. Right. Now.
Yes, #TeamKy!!! Especially with the very, very end being like it was. I’m anxious to know what will become of that situation! I’m so happy you took the time to stop by!
Good review! Right now my favorite YA novel is most likely Magnus Chase. Considering I’ve only read 3 books this year, I don’t really have much to choose from.
Thank you! And thank you for the recommendation. Yes, it is early in the year to consider books already read! But 2017 is shaping up to be a fantastic year for reading, I think. Thanks for dropping by!
I’ve heard so many good things about this one. I really have to bump it up my list! Great review 🙂
Thank you! Yes, I haven’t encountered anything but praise for it within my familiar blogging circle. I hope you can enjoy it soon!
Oh, I am most DEFINITELY Team Ky! And I really, really hope I don’t end up disappointed… That’s really one of the biggest things I don’t like about love triangles, the fear of not loving the ship that makes it to the end of the book/series. So I have to admit that I truly wish the triangle weren’t there. But that’s just my own opinion! 🙂 I’m so glad you enjoyed it. It’s so wonderfully written and I am SO ready for book two!
#TEAMKY for the win! 🙂 I know what you mean. I hope we won’t be disappointed at the very, very end, but the journey between promises to be interesting. I can understand you having that opinion! But I don’t think the drama and symbolism of certain elements (AKA the Verity) could have been communicated quite the same way without the connections between the 3 of them.
Bring on book 2! 🙂
Pingback: Review + Blog Tour: Unraveling by Sara Ella – The Green Mockingbird
Pingback: Best of 2017 – The Green Mockingbird
Pingback: Top Ten Tuesday: Top 13 New-to-Me Authors I Read in 2017 – The Green Mockingbird
Pingback: Bookish "12 Days of Christmas" Tag – The Green Mockingbird