A fan of Haven, and an even bigger fan of Fyre, when the amazing Katherine Bogle asked if I would like an ARC of Savages to review, I simply couldn’t pass it up. And thank the Gods I didn’t. This book was stunning, and quite honestly, Bogle’s best work yet.
Savages follows Breen, a young warrior and daughter of the Chief in the Southern Delica Tribe. Her life is a happy one, where she trains in battle and teaches the young ones to fight. But her world is shattered when the Emperor of Seaburn sends troops into her village. She is captured along with other warriors and taken to the Academy, where she will be beaten, tortured, and worse until she submits. Until she is as empty as the rest of them. Things are seemingly without hope, until she meets Drakkone, a Seaburn soldier who is much more than he appears. She has never before relied on a man for anything, but with Drakkone’s help, she could escape. Little does she know how close they will become.
For those of you wondering, you do not have to read Haven or Fyre before reading Savages. In fact, Savages takes place before the events of Bogle’s previous works! However, there were subtle nods to Haven in this book. For appreciation of these alone, it might be worth it to check out the previously published stories first.
Bogle really outdid herself with this one. I desperately wish we could see more protagonists out there like Breen. She, at many points, defies the stereotypes of YA heroines. She is strong, fierce, and extremely skilled with a blade as well as hand to hand combat. But she is also the first to admit that when she first began her training, she was one of the worst.
Breen is relatable. Even her relationship with Drakkone is beautifully crafted. Breen wants to trust him, and can’t deny the effect that he has on her. But she is worried, and not just about protecting her heart. She has never relied on a man before. The journey she goes through in order to open herself up to him is one of the things that I loved about Breen most. She is far from cold, but she doesn’t like being vulnerable. In this way, her decision to trust Drakkone is the biggest risk she takes in the novel (and believe me, she takes a lot). There is one passage in particular that jumped out at me, one that I simply had to include in this post.
“She’d never minded the interest of her fellow clansmen when it came to courting her. It had always been fun to see how far they’d go to win her hand. But this man was different. He didn’t best her or win her over. He simply lent her aid without asking for anything in return.”
I think this is a trait that, not only in YA literature, but in life, that is severely underappreciated. Drakkone is not an arrogant man with issues that Breen must fix. And it’s so nice to break away from this stereotype. I cannot applaud Bogle enough for this.
Bogle really pushed herself in this novel. She wasn’t afraid to get right into the hearts of the characters, and the situations they were forced into. The torture sequences were especially well done. Breen’s hopelessness was easily conveyed, and I found myself feeling her pain. I love nothing more than when an author can make me feel as if I’m not only in the story, but I am the protagonist. It’s a skill, and there’s no question Bogle has honed in on it.
I will not spoil the ending for you. If you have read Haven, you will know, or at least have an idea, of how this book ends. But if you haven’t, there’s no way I’m going to ruin it for you. But I will say this much. I stated earlier that Bogle pushed herself, and the ending is no exception. She pushes boundaries, breaks traditions, and I’ll admit it, brought me to tears. I finished Savages with tears streaming down my cheeks. And as much as I hate when a book does that, I love when a book does that.
Savages is a gripping tale of justice, love, and above all, strength. The plot is good, but it is the characters that will have you anxiously flipping the page. And it is the characters that will leave your heart both warm and broken by the end. I don’t even have to hesitate in giving this book 5/5 stars. The only thing left I have to say to the author? When you release your next book, you know where to find me!
I recommend Savages to all of my bookish friends. Anyone who loves fantasy or YA will adore this book, and even if you aren’t a fan of YA, I think you’ll appreciate and enjoy how this novel breaks the mold.
Thanks for reading! And thanks again to Katherine for a copy!