Title: Crown of Oblivion
Author: Julie Eshbaugh
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
No. of pages: Hardcover, 480
Publication Date: November 12, 2019
Date Read: November 1, 2019
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Astrid is the surrogate for Princess Renya, which means she bears the physical punishment if Renya steps out of line. Astrid has no choice—she and her family are Outsiders, the lower class of people without magic and without citizenship.
But there is a way out of this life—competing in the deadly Race of Oblivion. To enter the race, an Outsider is administered the drug Oblivion, which wipes their memory clear of their past as they enter a new world with nothing to help them but a slip of paper bearing their name and the first clue. It’s not as simple as solving a puzzle, however—for a majority of the contestants, the race ends in death. But winning would mean not only freedom for Astrid, but citizenship and health care for her entire family. With a dying father to think of, Astrid is desperate to prevail.
From the beginning, the race is filled with twists and turns. One of them is Darius, a fellow racer Astrid meets but isn’t sure she can trust. Though they team up in the race, as Astrid’s memories begin to resurface, she remembers just who he was to her—a scorned foe who may want revenge. Astrid also starts to notice she has powers no Outsider should—which could help her win the race, but also make her a target if anyone finds out. With stakes that couldn’t be higher, Astrid must decide what is more important: risking her life to remember the mysteries of the past, or playing a cutthroat game in order to win her—and her family’s—freedom.
So many thanks to Julie Eshbaugh for having me as part of her street team to help promote the release/launch of Crown of Oblivion. It’s been so fun to see Astrid’s journey expand. I’m so glad you can pick this up today!
When I first heard of this book, I was super intrigued (as always) and the whole premise of a race you’re expected to compete in while having no memory of who you are really seemed super fresh but also kind of reminiscent of The Maze Runner books (which I loved.) I knew that this was one that would be good. And as I began reading it, Astrid’s story was one that I completely fell in love with. This book is gold.
Crown of Oblivion follows the story of Astrid, Princess Renya’s surrogate (receives punishment for Renya’s mistakes) who is desperately loyal to her family. When Princess Renya finally helps Astrid get help for her ailing father, tragedy happens and her family is ripped apart. In the hopes that she can restore what is left, Astrid joins the Race of Oblivion. This race is a giant puzzle, hard to complete, and often deadly to those who run it. Racers who enter have their memory erased and have nothing to help them except a piece of paper that includes their first clue and their name. As Astrid’s journey in the competition begins, she’s thrown into one trial after another. When she teams up with another racer named Daruis, she isnt’ sure she can trust him, but when memories of her life begin to appear, she isn’t sure if he is truly a help or an enemy. Twists and turns follow in Astrid’s journey and I wasn’t prepared for any of them and I’m positive, neither will you.
One of the biggest things I loved about this book was Astrid’s resilience. Before, as a surrogate, she was constantly beat in accepting the punishments that should have fallen upon Princess Renya. But she proceeded to bounce back and never showed the pain even when her scabs would bleed. With everything going on with her family, she never gave up trying to find a way to help. Even in entering the race, the winner would be granted full citizenship for their entire family. Throughout the race, she was in fights, followed, faced extreme heat and cold, and at times ended up in the midst of a battlefield, yet she never gave up. Her resilience was amazing and it was such a great reminder that everyone has things they’re going through, but with the right support, they can overcome. Astrid was completely surrounded, through everything, by a great system of support whether that was her family, Renya, or even Darius (even though she didn’t fully trust him). I loved being able to see how teens could easily resonate with her resilience and strength in the face of adversity.
This world that Eshbaugh has created, I truly fell in love with. The caste system and the magic system within it was super inventive. It also gave an incentive for those living within the world and those running the race as the magic was distributed to those who were not Outsiders. As Astrid somehow has this magic, it was interesting to learn that her having it was illegal and that because of it, it did give her an advantage over some of the other racers, but hindered her because she was running from the authorities because you know… illegal magic. I truly, truly loved this book. It was an astounding, creative story that kept me on edge for the majority of the book. I needed to know what was going to happen next to Astrid in this race. And that ending! Gosh, if I didn’t know it was a standalone book, I’d be desperate for the next one. (Actually, I’m still desperate for another one, but… you know… standalone). Crown of Oblivion is one for the year that you don’t want to miss. There’s action from the first page to the last. Crown of Oblivion released Tuesday, November 12, 2019. It’s a perfect book to end the year. Again, this book is gold. Don’t miss out on it.
ALSO: If you’re interested an reading an excerpt, click HERE.
Julie Eshbaugh is a YA writer and former filmmaker. She made two short films and then spent several years producing an online video series for teens which received several honors from the Webby Awards. Her new YA fantasy standalone, Crown of Oblivion, is coming from HarperTeen November 2019. Ivory and Bone (HarperTeen 2016) and Obsidian and Stars (HarperTeen 2017), her prehistoric fantasy duology, are out now. You can learn more about Julie’s writing escapades by visiting www. julieeshbaugh.com.
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