Powerless by Lauren Roberts – No Spoilers Review

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Recently I did a whole reading vlog about Powerless by Lauren Roberts, however, that vlog and post are riddled with spoilers. I didn’t want to hold back my thoughts while I was reading. But considering 99% of my content is non-spoiler content, I wanted to make a follow-up post/video detailing my thoughts without spoiling it for anyone who is considering reading it.

So let’s chat about Powerless without spoiling anything!

And in case you’d rather watch, here’s the YouTube video!

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Storygraph / Goodreads / Amazon


Our main character Pae (Paedyn) lives in the slums with her best friend, Adena. Pae steals and Adena tries to sell what she can sew. It is in the slums we meet the charming, future Enforcer, Prince Kai.

Pae steals from Kai and then unwittingly saves his life. This gets her thrown into the Purging Trials. The trials are held every year (?) and are meant to showcase the weak from the strong.

Within this society, there are three tiers of citizens.

On top are the elites, these are people who have power and whom the King favors.

Then there are the mundanes, these are people who don’t have powers but rather abilities. For example, psychics.

Then there are the ordinaries, these are people with no powers or abilities who are the target of the Enforcer. As the King wants to keep his Kingdom pure with only those who have abilities.

During the trials, we meet Kai’s charming older brother, the future King, Kitt. Pae, Kai, and Kitt develop a weird sort of love triangle, the purging trials begin, and Pae must not only be careful about whom she chooses to trust but also be careful to not fall in love during the deadly trials and risk everyone and everything she loves.

Thoughts on the Plot

This book is very character-driven despite the trials meant to be the main plot of the book. The trials are very strange and remind me a lot of The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins.

The world-building in this book is very lacking. We are set in the Kingdom of Ilya and are aware of surrounding cities/villages but it seems like Ilya is surrounded by hot, dry desserts because it is known that people who are banished don’t always make it to other cities.

(Also the characters are constantly described as wearing tank tops, thin shirts, dresses, etc. as though it is constantly summer.)

The magic system in this book doesn’t make too much sense either. There was a plague before the events of this book and out of that plague some people emerged with powers or abilities. But no clue as to how people develop these abilities, if they are passed through bloodlines or if it’s just some sort of dumb luck.

I don’t know.

About 50% into the book another storyline focused on Pae is introduced and I didn’t like it one bit. It felt a little forced and it made our main character, Pae, seem naive.

And like I said earlier, the trials seem lacking in this book. They seem a bit half-baked and the romance aspects of this book felt like a bigger priority to the author than actually fleshing out the plot, trials, and world-building.

This book focuses on a ton of romantasy tropes. To name a few of the many:

  • Touch her and you die
  • “Who did this to you?”
  • He falls first
  • Knives to throats/stabby FMC
  • enemies to lovers
  • Sorta love triangle
  • Different worlds
  • morally grey/bad boy

Which isn’t bad, I found I liked the use of a lot of these tropes. But if you’re not big into tropes or any of the romantasy tropes specifically, you might find this aspect repetitive and overdone.

And being this is the author’s first book (I saw on social media she dropped out of college to write a book) the writing is not the best. But it also isn’t the worst either. I would say it’s fairly on par with Rebecca Yarros’s writing in Fourth Wing.

I am hoping this is a series where the first book walks so that the rest of the series can run. *looking at you Folk of Air series by Holly Black. 👀

Thoughts on the Characters

Our main character Pae is interesting. I found that I liked her. She is very clever and observant. There doesn’t seem to be much she can’t deduce about someone with a few intentional glances.

Yet when the second storyline is introduced halfway through the plot, Pae suddenly becomes ignorant and willing to ignore glaringly obvious red flags to be an *eye-roll* martyr.

And can I also just throw it out there that stabbing is not a personality trait. It’s a verb.

Kai reminded me a lot of Azriel from ACOTAR.

In the sense that he is 100% an emo boy who struggles with having to do bad in the name of protecting the greater good. As the future Enforcer, Kai sees himself as a monster. A boy brought up to be used as a weapon.

There was also so much great banter between Pae and Kai. But please note that this book is NOT spicy at all. There is a ton of playful and flirtatious banter, some physical touch, and some innuendos but no spice whatsoever.

Kitt is quite the opposite. He is far more naive than Kai, wanting what is best for his people but not knowing the truth. I would say Kitt is a fairly stereotypical portrait of a future King.

All of the side characters in this book kinda sucked. The only one who didn’t was Adena. I love Adena with my whole heart and want her to make me a dress that drives an emo Princeling mad.

And as I mentioned before, there is a bit of a love triangle going on. Though I would say Pae and Kai are the main love interests, with Pae using Kitt and fighting the guilt because he does like him but knows she will end up hurting him.

I can’t elaborate more without spoiling too much.

The King was a semi-absent villain. He hates ordinaries so much that he spreads lies that they still carry disease and plague with them and that is why they must be banished. But what I didn’t understand was why the King put elites in the purging trials.

The trials in this book, are made up of a future Enforcer/Prince, the youngest Prince who is an elite, the King’s niece who is an elite, three/four other elites, plus Pae who is presenting herself as a mundane.

But what I don’t understand is why build an elite-only society and then put half your family in the purging trials where they are meant to kill each other? Why not make it a sick sport of mundanes and ordinaries fighting for their lives to prove they deserve a place among the elites?

I don’t get it.

Overall Thoughts

Aside from a million little problems with this book, I found that I did enjoy it for the most part.

The banter and stabbing started to become annoying and repetitive by the end of the book. The trials themselves did not make sense and the romance barely progressed.

I do think by the end of the book, that Kai is completely in love with Pae and I am so fascinated by what is going to happen in the second book.

Especially with Kitt who definitely changed his Instagram bio to “in my villain era 💀” and I love that for him!

I also want more pining between Kai and Pae HOWEVER I need more. I need more than just banter, flirting, and touching.

To be honest, the next book needs a stronger plot, more world-building and to get some spice because my insides were literally on fire with that scene with Kai and Pae in the rain. Like COME ON.

I originally gave this book 4 stars out of 5 stars. I’m going to remain with that rating because, despite all of the problems, I found myself immensely obsessed and enamored with this book and its main cast of characters.

I think if you enjoy popular romantasy tropes, had an emo era, enjoyed The Hunger Games, and want a slow burn that just keeps on burning, then this book is for you.

Storygraph / Goodreads / Amazon

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