Published by St. Martin’s Griffin, the print edition is 272 pages.
In this breathless story of impossible love, perfection comes at a deadly cost.
For Davis Morrow, perfection is a daily reality. Like all Priors, Davis has spent her whole life primed to be smarter, stronger, and more graceful than the lowly Imperfects, or “Imps.” A fiercely ambitious ballerina, Davis is only a few weeks away from qualifying for the Olympiads and finally living up to her mother’s legacy when she meets Cole, a mysterious boy who leaves her with more questions each time he disappears.
Davis has no idea that Cole has his own agenda, or that he’s a rising star in the FEUDS, an underground fighting ring where Priors gamble on Imps. Cole has every reason to hate Davis—her father’s campaign hinges on the total segregation of the Imps and Priors—but despite his best efforts, Cole finds himself as drawn to Davis as she is to him.
Then Narxis, a deadly virus, takes its hold–and Davis’s friends start dying. When the Priors refuse to acknowledge the epidemic, Davis has no one to turn to but Cole. Falling in love was never part of their plan, but their love may be the only thing that can save her world…in Avery Hastings’s Feuds.
Note: This review is based on an eARC received from the publisher in exchange for my honest thoughts about the book.
FEUDS was a story that had an interesting premise and great potential, but unfortunately didn’t live up to expectations. The ideas were there – a society separated by class, a deadly disease targeting those who were supposed to be perfect, an unexpected and forbidden romance – but their execution was poor and their development was lacking.
There was little backstory given to explain how the world became the way it did, why there was this disease in the first place, why it affected only the genetically “improved,” or how the characters developed into who they were. Little explanation was given about why tensions were mounting between the Priors and the Imps, how the politics “worked,” what were the implications.
Additionally, little effort was made to flesh out the main and secondary characters. Because their stories weren’t fully developed, because their personalities and characteristics weren’t presented with any real detail, and because their thoughts and motivations weren’t frequently revealed or explained, there was nothing to connect to. And in the case of the secondary characters, their purpose for being in the story other than as necessary vehicles to move the plot forward was unclear.
The romance was immediate, but not believable. There was no emotional buildup to make it so. There were no moments between the characters to make their declarations of love feel genuine.
The dual point of view allowed readers to see what was going on with both Davis and Cole and get a peek into both their worlds, however the lack of world-building left both worlds, and both characters’ stories, feel incomplete. Readers were left to make assumptions where detail was lacking and accept certain facts without any reasoning behind them.
While the Olympiads and the Feuds were potentially exciting pieces of the story, the part they actually played felt largely unnecessary. Especially as midway through the tale, the focus on the Olympiads shifted completely away. And while there was good reason why the focus shifted, it rendered them almost unnecessary.
There were moments that engaged in this story, especially when the author focused on the rising unrest of the Imps. But again, perhaps due to the fact that this will be a series, the author didn’t follow through with building this part of the story up.
A number of points appeared to be added for convenience in order for the story to progress without having to build the world any further, such as a door added to a balcony that hadn’t been seen before by the character, a computer login guest password that happened to be left sitting next to a computer that also happened to work with a different user’s login, a work stoppage that had a transport system out of commission one day but filled with inexperienced Priors the next when it needed to be working – and this only explained after the character had already used it when it was supposed to have been out of service.
The pacing in the second half of the story picked up, but not to its benefit. It made the story feel rushed, and didn’t allow for the proper development of the society’s unraveling, the romance, the betrayal, the awareness of the disease. It didn’t give the story time to touch upon all that it had presented in the first half of the book.
Coupled with several consistency problems, believability issues stemming from the characters awareness of certain information, their acceptance of certain facts that caused them to flip/flop, and the lack of technological advances to match with the scientific advances, the story’s potential was unrealized.
And so while FEUDS had a number of interesting concepts and the framework was there for a great story, it felt like a case of the author trying to do too much in too few pages. And especially with this story being the first in a series, there should have been room to get those details in place, to develop the characters and world, rather than, to borrow a phrase, attempting to throw everything but the kitchen sink into this first book.