Title: Full-Blood Half-Breed
Author: Cleve Lamison
Genre: YA, fantasy
Series? Possibly (as yet unannounced)
Publication Date: March 11, 2014
Synopsis from Goodreads: In Cleve Lamison’s hard-hitting debut, two young men divided by an intense hatred—yet marked with a common destiny—have the power to save the world . . . or destroy it.
It’s been two thousand years since the bastard spawn of the god Creador lost their war to enslave humankind, transforming the Thirteen Kingdoms into a violent world where the martial arts are exalted as sacred gifts from the gods—and honor is won through arena blood sport.
Paladin Del Darkdragón, a sixteen-year-old warrior-in-training, is a “half-breed.” His battle against pure-blood bullies like Fox the Runt has forced him to master the four fighting forms. But when he blends them, he is condemned as a heretic by authorities and banished from the training temples. Seeking redemption, he enrolls in the arena games, savage trials that end in death.
This year’s games mask an old plot driven by a new prophet. With a horde of Creador’s Bastards and an army of fanatics led by Fox the Runt at his command, the Prophet will bend the world to his will or burn it to ash.
Paladin faces an impossible choice: redeem his honor in a fight he can’t hope to survive, or abandon his loved ones to perish in the sweeping holy war consuming the Kingdoms.
While this started out with potential, ultimately it fell extremely flat for me. There was a huge lack of world building, and with so many cultures and religions being thrown in with zero explanation, I spent most of the book trying to figure it all out. The characters were flat and over-dramatized, and I was alienated away from feeling any emotion because it was impossible to relate to them. I wish I could have given this a higher rating, but at the end I wouldn’t read this again, nor recommend it.
In one sentence: I grew more and more disgruntled with this book as I read it. When I was putting all the information in the above parts, I was stunned to find that it was barely three hundred pages – it felt like 400 at least. While the first twenty percent was enjoyable, and I made it to fifty percent before I got tired of it, ultimately the negative outweighed the good. I nearly DNFed, but by the time I had made that decision I was close enough to the end that I pushed through.
Here’s what killed it for me:
- Poor world-building. I expect to be thrown off a bit when I’m introduced to a whole new world, but things should be explained pretty quickly. FBHB never did that. There’s a complex religious system – never identified clearly. Martial arts, swords, and magic? Nah, you don’t need to know where it all came from. Spanish language, Japanese honorifics, Swedish curses, and African races all mixed together? Must be Pangea or something I don’t know. This literally felt like Lamison was drawing from every possible source, throwing it into a blender, and hoping it tastes good on the way down. News flash: it didn’t.
- Unrelatable characters. Both narrators were like Zuko on steroids, all honor and revenge oriented but in a way that’s just ridiculous. I just wanted to lock them in a room until they either killed each other or calmed the hell down. There was nothing else to either boys – no dimension or growth at all. It was mostly flimsy emotion meant to incite connection but really it was overdone and far too dramatic.
- On the subject of characters: Fox annoyed me more out of the two. He constantly talks about being the “poop nanny” (yes – that term was used. I can’t even talk about it), every sentence reminds us that he’s short, and he – well – he thinks with his other brain. Instalove ahoy. And, uh, Mr. Fox? If you’re about to get some, try to put aside the revenge-mission. Just sayin’.
- Unexplained foreign language bits. I know rudimentary Spanish, but it wasn’t nearly enough to understand what was going on. Some I got by context, but some I had to text to Veronica and she translated for me (perks of having a bi-lingual bestie!). And apparently a lot of it is swearing. And it wasn’t just Spanish – there were Japanese and Swedish (Nordic?) phrases as well.
The one redeeming factor:
- The concept reminded me of this series called The Five Ancestors, a middle grade series that I read over and over as a mini-sixth grade version of me. I really enjoyed reading how the martial arts were incorporated, and the different sects of styles that went along with the religions. But… see my above reasoning for why it didn’t pan out in the end.
So, yeah. There really wasn’t a lot I ended up enjoying about this book. I truly did want to love it, and I thought I would, but by 25% there was so much going wrong that I couldn’t find it in myself to pay attention to only the good bits.
In a gif:
My Final Rating: