Published by Harper Teen on November 12, 2019
Genres: Young Adult Fantasy
Astrid is the surrogate for Princess Renya, which means she bears the physical punishment if Renya steps out of line. Astrid has no choice—she and her family are Outsiders, the lower class of people without magic and without citizenship.
But there is a way out of this life—competing in the deadly Race of Oblivion. To enter the race, an Outsider is administered the drug Oblivion, which wipes their memory clear of their past as they enter a new world with nothing to help them but a slip of paper bearing their name and the first clue. It’s not as simple as solving a puzzle, however—for a majority of the contestants, the race ends in death. But winning would mean not only freedom for Astrid, but citizenship and health care for her entire family. With a dying father to think of, Astrid is desperate to prevail.
From the beginning, the race is filled with twists and turns. One of them is Darius, a fellow racer Astrid meets but isn’t sure she can trust. Though they team up in the race, as Astrid’s memories begin to resurface, she remembers just who he was to her—a scorned foe who may want revenge. Astrid also starts to notice she has powers no Outsider should—which could help her win the race, but also make her a target if anyone finds out. With stakes that couldn’t be higher, Astrid must decide what is more important: risking her life to remember the mysteries of the past, or playing a cutthroat game in order to win her—and her family’s—freedom.
My Rating: 4 stars
Crown of Oblivion is fast-paced and entertaining — a true race to the finish!
The premise for this book is wildly fascinating! Evocative of The Hungar Games, I loved the idea of fighting for a better future (however small the odds) in a harsh reality where everyone is far from equal. It’s loaded with political intrigue and social injustice in a world that’s reminiscent of a dystopian mixed with magic. I wish there was a bit more world-building, but the story was still easy enough to follow.
The plot largely encompasses the race itself — the Race of Oblivion — which is intense, often brutal, and full of twists. It seems like a scavenger hunt à la Caraval but more cutthroat. Because of the manner and rules of the race, it’s hard to know who is trustworthy, which adds to the intrigue.
Astrid is our leading lady, and I really loved her resolve. She stays true to herself, despite having her memory wiped at the beginning of the race, along with the other contestants. With high stakes and low odds, she lays it all on the line. I appreciate her character a lot, and I liked that the race was more than a chance at freedom for her — it’s a journey of self-discovery and an opportunity to fight for what she believes in.
Overall, I recommend Crown of Oblivion to YA Fantasy fans who enjoy stories of political unrest and fighting to beat the odds!
*Thanks to Edelweiss+ and the publisher for providing me with an advanced copy of this book. Please note that it, in no way, had an effect on my opinion or review.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Julie Eshbaugh lives with her husband and son outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Early on, Julie focused her artistic energies on filmmaking and online video. She made two short films and spent several years producing a web series for teens that became an early YouTube hit and received several honors from the Webby Awards. Julie’s new YA fantasy, Crown of Oblivion, comes out from HarperTeen November 12, 2019. She is also the author of Ivory and Bone, (HarperTeen 2016,) and its sequel, Obsidian and Stars, (HarperTeen 2017.)