Review: Grace and Fury… the new Hunger Games?

“In a world where women have no rights, one wrong move could cost them their lives”

Grace and FuryI’m not afraid to admit that I love a bit of YA, especially when it’s a series, and why should I be? They’re fast-paced, well-written and allow me to escape back to my teenage years (when life was a little less demanding).

Tracy Banghart’s opening novel in the Grace and Fury series has already been described as The Hunger Games meets The Handmaid’s Tale, two books that I adored, so it was no surprise when I reached for the debut in this series, which I was lucky enough to receive a proof of from BKMRK!

As soon as I picked it up, I felt those Hunger Games and The Handmaid’s Tale vibes, with a dystopic/fantasy world opening up at my fingertips… but instead of one Katniss Everdeen in this book, there are two.

Nomi and Serina Tessaro are two sides of the same coin; Nomi is headstrong and feisty, with a secret and forbidden love for reading, while Serina is calm, gracious and abiding, and has spent her entire life training to become a Grace at the royal palace. The plan was, thus, that Nomi would act as Serina’s handmaiden, giving both sisters the chance for a better life… except it’s Nomi, who catches the young heir’s eye and Serina is quickly forced to take the fall for her rebellious younger sister and her crimes. The only way that Nomi can save her sister now, is to learn to be the submissive Grace that she never thought she would have to be… but can she do it in time?

Cue Hattie reading through this 300-page novel in two days.

The juxtaposition in this novel is so well-executed; the split narrative in the chapters meant that when you left one sister behind, you were immediately desperate to get back to her to see what happened next, propelling the plot forward and making for an “unputdownable” book. The character growth in the novel was also done well; the sisters’ personalities are contrasting and distinct, yet throughout the story, you begin to see both developing skills that the other has, becoming more like the other and learning to appreciate the other.

The fantasy setting in Grace and Fury is also an intriguing one, since (and some of you may have already thought this) the idea of women living in a world where they have no rights and are submissive to men is not so hard to believe; it has and does already happen. The extent to which women are subject to men is exaggerated within the novel in comparison to what a lot of women experience today, however, it cleverly highlights the inequalities of our own society and works to encourage readers to sympathise and root for the protagonists even more, making quiet feminists of us all.

To some extent, I pre-empted some of the scenes and found myself waiting for a few of the plot “twists” to happen, yet that didn’t detract from my overall reading experience one bit, as I would argue that is what we love about YA in the first place; you pick up a YA novel knowing what you’re going to get and I LOVE THAT.

Needless to say, I’m very excited for part 2 to come out, although I will probably have to wait a little while now…

Star rating: ****