Published by Harlequin Teen
Published on April 10th 2018
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
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In the Alskad Empire, nearly all are born with a twin, two halves to form one whole…yet some face the world alone.
A rare few are singleborn in each generation, and therefore given the right to rule by the gods and goddesses. Bo Trousillion is one of these few, born into the royal line and destined to rule. Though he has been chosen to succeed his great-aunt, Queen Runa, as the leader of the Alskad Empire, Bo has never felt equal to the grand future before him.
When one twin dies, the other usually follows, unable to face the world without their other half. Those who survive are considered diminished, doomed to succumb to the violent grief that inevitably destroys everyone whose twin has died. Such is the fate of Vi Abernathy, whose twin sister died in infancy. Raised by the anchorites of the temple after her family cast her off, Vi has spent her whole life scheming for a way to escape and live out what's left of her life in peace.
As their sixteenth birthdays approach, Bo and Vi face very different futures—one a life of luxury as the heir to the throne, the other years of backbreaking work as a temple servant. But a long-held secret and the fate of the empire are destined to bring them together in a way they never could have imagined.
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
In the world of The Diminished, everyone is born with a twin, except those who are singleborn who are destined to rule. If a twin dies, the remaining twin becomes ‘diminished’ – cursed to go insane, they are shunned by society. This is the story of a young singleborn man named Bo and a diminished woman named Vi, and their journey to discovering the truths about their destinies.
This book had one of the most intriguing synopses I had come across in a long time and I was quite keen to dive in. And like Vi diving for pearls in the opening pages, I thought I had the potential to uncover something rich and worthwhile. And there are elements of awesome in this. The worldbuilding is original and solid. The two main characters are at least entertaining, if not likeable. But for me it was the inconsistencies presented in the text itself that kept me asking, “What’s really going on here?”
I read an ARC kindly provided via Netgalley and I don’t know what date it appeared there, but there seemed to be a substantial amount of work needed to whip this into publishable state. Little inconsistencies abounded that reflected badly on the characters presenting them, such as Bo referring to someone’s hair as black on one page and white-blonde on the next, referring to a sum of money as both ‘a large sum’ and on the next page ‘negligible’, and Vi thinking that ‘perhaps’ a group of people had already found her when she’s standing right in front of them. The inconsistencies made the characters seem stupid. It is specifically with examples such as the last one that made me think sense had been thrown out the window in favour of pretty or dramatic sentences, rather than giving us consistencies within the writing itself.
Whilst trying to ignore what is obviously going to be edited before release, I wanted to make a note about several things:
- The love triangles were incredibly lukewarm.
- Both Bo and Vi meet their love interests while travelling, and I was never, ever convinced that anything was genuine, and I was always fearful that any of them would betray the main characters for financial or otherwise gain.
- The worldbuilding was pretty cool, with a moon split in two halves which obviously influenced the whole ‘twin’ ideologies and appears on the cover of the book in some instances.
- The characters largely make OK decisions, except when it was necessary to the plot for them to make incredibly stupid ones.
- The characters seemed largely unfocused on their goals and only remembered them when it was time to make a dramatic statement.
- On the plus side, some people might be interested to know that Bo is gay, if not bisexual.
- I think this would make a really good TV show, especially if It centred on casting real-life twins or siblings. There’s lots of travel and scuffles and locations and things that go boom.
Look, the whole thing was just underwhelming but I can’t figure out if it’s because I was frustrated and annoyed by the editing needed or if the whole book was just underwhelming, or if I was let down by such a great concept.