• Page Count: 400
  • Release Date: February 27, 2018
  • My Rating: 5 stars

Nothing is as it seems in the kingdom of Antora. Kestra Dallisor has spent three years in exile in the Lava Fields, but that won’t stop her from being drawn back into her father’s palace politics. He’s the right hand man of the cruel king, Lord Endrick, which makes Kestra a valuable bargaining chip. A group of rebels knows this all too well — and they snatch Kestra from her carriage as she reluctantly travels home.

The kidnappers want her to retrieve the lost Olden Blade, the only object that can destroy the immortal king, but Kestra is not the obedient captive they expected. Simon, one of her kidnappers, will have his hands full as Kestra tries to foil their plot, by force, cunning, or any means necessary. As motives shift and secrets emerge, both will have to decide what — and who — it is they’re fighting for.

Jennifer A. Nielsen introduces us to an unforgettable new heroine in this epic tale of treachery and intrigue, love and deceit.

“Life doesn’t give us what we want. It gives us what we need and asks what we will do with it.”

Oh, this was so much fun. It reminded me a bit of Ruined by Amy Tintera meets The Winner’s Trilogy with hints of The Cadet of Tildor, the Mistborn trilogy, Roar, Red Queen, The False Prince, and a lot of YA fantasy books where a wealthy, sheltered girl has to deal with the consequences that come with truth and then joins the rebellion.

The story starts out with Kestra being taken hostage by a group of rebels (they’re not quite rebels but it’s easiest to just call them that here instead of explaining everything). They take her friends hostage and threaten to kill them if she doesn’t go back to her father’s home to find/steal a mythical dagger that will help them bring down the evil immortal ruler guy. Kestra’s life is at risk if her father finds out she’s aiding the enemy, so she grudgingly puts on a good show while plotting ways to take down everyone.

The story is told through the POVs of both Kestra and Simon. ALL of the characters have so much personality, but Kestra is seriously one of my new favorite YA fantasy characters ever. Her scowling, sarcastic wit is hilarious, yet never overdone to the point of being annoying. Plus, she’s totally competent and way more complex than merely “tough.” She’s pretty terrified at times but still makes the hard choice to do what’s right and let that define her instead of any family connections.

Simon is a rebel assigned to guard Kestra and kill her if need be, but you can guess where that situation ends up (the whole princess/guard trope totally works here btw). The slow burn hate-to-love romance is believable and Simon ends up being torn between Kestra and his mission/people. I also really appreciated getting a strong backstory for the guy and a solid look into his perspective.

The actual plot wasn’t the most original thing ever, buuuut I didn’t even care because the writing was super engaging. I just got really into the whole story and adored the characters. I suppose a few parts could have unfolded a bit more organically or been more developed (like anything with the villain and some scenes towards the end), but this was still a solid 5 stars because it was just plain fun to read. I truly do love these tropes and the typical YA fantasy story, so I mostly just want to see it told in a way that’s still engaging. The execution here was good, so I’m perfectly happy.

One of my favorite parts of The False Prince (another book by the same author) was how the main character kept information from the reader until the end. It’s not quite an unreliable narrator… just enough to make it interesting. This story kind of did the same thing, so nothing was ever too predictable! You can still guess where it’s going, but you aren’t exactly sure how it will get to that point.

I definitely recommend this if you love YA fantasy!!

Thank you to the publisher for sending me an ARC.


6 comments on “Review: The Traitor’s Game by Jennifer A. Nielsen”

  1. I hadn’t heard of this and LOOOOVE the books you said at the start so thanks for the review! I’m looking for more fantasy YA books to add to my read pile for spring break!

  2. This might be the first favorable review I have seen so far which makes me so relieved because I respect your reviews and was so excited for this before! I’m keeping my preorder now 😀 xx

  3. Hmm the main character’s name of Kestra vs Kestral would be enough to cross it up with The Winners Curse for me lol. Was there more to the connection you saw between them or did I get that?

  4. Ahh I so wanted to read this one but I hadn’t heard much about it till now. 😀 Definitely adding it to the TBR…this is the author who wrote The False Prince right?! That was so hilarious. I’m definitely here for more of that.😂

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