4 out of 4 stars
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Unbalanced is a fantasy adventure novel by Courtney Shepard. It is the first book of a series.
The story follows four sisters: Asha, Ivy, Avia, and Mere. They each command a different element, which includes fire, earth, wind, and water respectively. Their existence is prophetic. Throughout the centuries, there has always been a set of female quadruplets born with these extraordinary abilities. They are usually hunted down and sacrificed by the Order when they are young. However, in this generation, things have drastically changed. Asha and her sisters have survived longer than those who came before them, making the stakes so much higher. For their own protection, they were separated at birth. Now several years later they are reunited. They gradually learn more about each other, themselves, and their joint destiny as they fight against the Order for their survival.
Given the premise, there are many dark moments in the story, which are rather riveting. Because the sisters have such great power, there is also plenty of action. The story is told in the third person. While Asha is technically the protagonist, the story also jumps around to the other characters’ perspectives, particularly when they are in different parts of the world. However, this is not done in a choppy manner. The technique works well, and the story is not at all hard to follow. Comic relief comes in the form of the characters’ italicized thoughts, which are sparse and effective. All aspects of the story are thoroughly explained and new details are revealed throughout the book. To accomplish this, the dialogue sometimes relies on redundant exposition.
The story is filled with secrets, mystery, and betrayal. The sisters discover the origin of their powers and come to terms with the dark history that precedes them. On top of that, they face sexism and have to deal with the notion of being monsters due to the use of their powers. Because they were separated across the globe, the sisters have unique backgrounds. Before being reunited, Asha had a reputation as a warrior queen in Colombia. The fact that their names go along with their powers was a cute touch.
As for the romance, Asha’s love interest is Clay, who was sent by the Order to kill her. However, he decided to spare her life because he had frequently seen her in his dreams over the years. Because they are enemies, there is lots of angst and tension between them. Their attraction is incredibly complicated and completely undeniable.
Romance, fantasy, and action are an entertaining combination. The author clearly has fun playing around with all the different opportunities of this genre blend. That was the best aspect of the book. She creates ever-changing bonds and animosity among the various characters and adds many surprises into the plot.
I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. While the story has it’s fair share of fantasy story clichés, the author did manage to create a convincing world of her own. If you don’t like superhuman adventure narratives, then this isn’t the book for you. I would recommend this book to readers who enjoy powerful female characters in leading roles.
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