Author: Sarah Ahiers
Series: Assassin’s Heart #1 (?)
Genre: YA, fantasy, romance
Pub Date: February 2nd, 2016
In the kingdom of Lovero, nine rival Families of assassins lawfully kill people for a price. As a highly skilled member of one of these powerful clans, seventeen-year-old Lea Saldana has always trusted in the strength of her Family. Until she awakens to find them murdered and her home in flames. The Da Vias, the Saldanas’ biggest enemy, must be responsible—and Lea should have seen it coming. But her secret relationship with the Da Vias’ son, Val, has clouded her otherwise killer instinct—and given the Da Vias more reason than ever to take her Family down.
Racked with guilt and shattered over Val’s probable betrayal, Lea sets out to even the score, with her heart set on retaliation and only one thought clear in her mind: make the Da Vias pay.
With shades of The Godfather and Romeo and Juliet, this richly imagined fantasy from debut author Sarah Ahiers is a story of love, lies, and the ultimate vengeance.
Assassin’s Heart was one of my most, if not the most, anticipated books of 2016. I absolutely love any books that involve assassins–Throne of Glass, anyone?–and pair it with a Romeo and Juliet retelling and you’ve got my dream book. I saw a lot of negative reviews for it before I started and I was a bit worried, but I still went into this book with an open mind. However, after awhile, I saw why many people disliked this book (myself included, sadly).
The plot of Assassin’s Heart had soooo much potential, but it was terribly executed. The blurb says that it’s like Romeo and Juliet, but it only has that feeling for the first 50-75 pages or so. After that, it’s nothing like R+J. A huge bulk of the book is Lea, our MC, recuperating and getting ready to strike back at the Da Vias, but she did practically nothing during this time. Most of the book was her “healing” and meeting with Les and that’s it. After Lea flees from her home, the action dies down and the book gets hella boring. The only exciting parts were the very beginning and very end, with the middle being so excruciatingly boring.
Also, I felt like there were too many subplots going on. 1) Lea tried to train an apprentice of sorts, 2) did she love Val anymore? Did she love Les? (not a love triangle though), 3) some police officer guy was hell bent on arresting her to collect the bounty on her head. The 3rd subplot irritated me the most and I thought there was absolutely no reason for it to be included in the book. It was boring, did nothing for the plot and was supposed to be added ~drama~ but just ended up being annoying.
As for the pacing, it was rough. I thought the first 50 pages or so were thrilling and kept me on my toes, but then it went at a snail’s pace until the last 50 pages or so. With no exciting plot to keep it afloat, I wanted something fast paced, but it was just so slow. Super slow pacing + super boring plot = not a happy Alex.
Oh, the characters. How I wanted to love them. Lea, our main character, is supposed to be a badass, expert assassin, but you’d never guess that by her actions. Characters tell us how amazing she is all the time but truthfully, she did some pretty dumb shit and I still don’t understand how she wasn’t killed in multiple situation. Also, for someone whose family was brutally murdered, she felt practically emotionless. She was sad for a hot second and then she was like an emotionless robot. If you couldn’t guess, she grated on my nerves a lot and definitely isn’t winning an award for best character. Our “Romeo,” Val, had so much potential to be an awesome, complex character but the author completely destroyed that possibility in the middle of the book. He, like Lea, was as flat as a board. The only character I sort of liked was Les, the love interest (also, Lea and Les? Who thought this was a good idea?). He’s a kind, “nerdy” type of character that made me smile at times, but he definitely didn’t have enough substance to carry the entire story.
The romance was alright, I guess. It wasn’t a love triangle, thank god. Before the author obliterated his characterization, I was really intrigued by Val. I liked Les, and his relationship with Lea was okay, if not a bit cheesy. The romance didn’t make or break the book; it was just simply there. I don’t really have any problems with it.
The writing seriously needed to be reminded of the whole “show, don’t tell” rule. I should also mention that the dialogue was so painful to read. It felt so unrealistic and kept me from really being engrossed in the story. Some things people said were so ridiculous–no one would say that out loud! The writing was not the best, to say the least.
Overall, Assassin’s Heart was a complete disappointment. The story itself was incredibly boring, the characters were mostly infuriating and the writing did it no favors. The only thing I liked was the romance between Lea and Les, but even that didn’t do much for me. I only finished this book because I couldn’t stop reading it; it was a guilty pleasure, of sorts. I kept hoping for it to get better, but no dice. I wouldn’t recommend spending your money on this, but if you want to give it a shot, I’d definitely go with the library.