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Hi friends! I’ve been trying (unsuccessfully) over the last few months to finally read Powerless by Lauren Roberts. My copy from the library came in right as my reading slump hit at the beginning of the year, so I put it aside and waited a little longer.
Well, the time has come! My hold came in again around the end of January and I had quite a time devouring this book. I even made a little reading vlog of it over on YouTube, if you’d like to listen to my thoughts on this book vs read them here.
Please note that the video below contains spoilers, and this post will NOT include spoilers! 🚨
(A non-spoilers video will be coming soon!)
That being said, let’s jump right in!
In Powerless we focus on our main character Paedyn (Pae) who shares a dual POV with our main love interest, (Prince) Kai. Pae lives in the slums with her best friend Adena, stealing whatever she can to help keep her and Adena alive. It is in the slums where Pae robs Kai, and then unwittingly saves his life.
It is after this encounter that Pae finds herself thrust into the Purging Trials. A deadly competition held by the King. The King chooses both elites (those with powers) and mundane’s (those with abilities) to fight for their lives in the trials.
The third tier of people in this society are called ordinaries and they sound like exactly what they are called, ordinary. They have no special powers or abilities. To stay safe, Pae pretends to be mundane to further her own survival and avoid the wrath of the Enforcer.
The Enforcer who also happens to be Kai. Pae is in over her head as she tries to protect those like her, while also trying to stay alive and not risk the most dangerous thing of all, her heart.
*Please also note that while I am trying to remain as unbiased as possible, The Hunger Games was a huge part of my teenage years and this book has so many similarities to The Hunger Games. While I can see the inspiration that Lauren Roberts drew from THG, I’m not sure how well it worked here.
My Thoughts on the Plot
The plot in this book moves at a decent pace but is weak. This story is driven more by the characters than much else.
The world-building is also severely lacking. We are in the Kingdom of Ilya but are not fully aware of what other Kingdoms are nearby, except that if the ordinaries can survive long enough to get to one of them, then they can live without fear.
I also couldn’t tell what year this book might have been told in. Was this meant to be dystopian? Or historical?
The addition of the resistance felt pointless if I am being honest. Every time the resistance was mentioned I found myself just rolling my eyes.
This book is also packed full of romantasy tropes.
- Touch her and you die
- “Who did this to you?”
- He falls first
- Knives to throats
- enemies to lovers
- Sorta love triangle
- Different worlds
- morally grey/bad boy
And while I found that I like how all of these tropes worked together to create the story it did. Some people who don’t like too many tropes lumped together might find these overlapping each other annoying.
The writing also wasn’t the best. It wasn’t the worst but it definitely could use some improvement, but knowing this is the author’s first novel, I have no doubt each one will improve as she continues writing.
Thoughts on the Characters
As I said above, this book is truly character-driven. The motives and ulterior motives are based more on the social politics between characters vs the plot.
And the banter? THE BANTER?!
It was so good. My problem is that that’s all there is! This book is somehow PG but also PG-13 with how the banter and flirtations evolved.
There is no real spice in this book. I talk a little too much about how frustrating this book was in the enemies-to-lovers aspect.
The side characters were okay at best. I love Adena, she is the perfect best friend for Pae and I wish I had someone to make me beautiful, flattering dresses for me. *sighs*
Kai and Kitt are a little stereotypical. Kai is the future enforcer and was essentially raised to be a monster. I am not too sure if he falls directly into the morally grey character. He refers to himself as a monster and hates what he was raised to be.
Kitt on the other hand is your typical golden retriever. He spent his childhood with his nose in books and following his father’s lead, preparing to be the next King.
And finally Pae. Pae is an interesting character. She is very naive but also very, very traumatized and has yet to fully process her trauma. (
In my opinion.)
Despite that, Pae is beyond strong and clever. I found myself rooting for her as often as I found myself frustrated with her.
Pae, Kai, and Kitt fall into a bit of a love triangle. This aspect I did not enjoy. Especially because they are brothers.
And like I said, the side characters were meh. Fourth Wing had better side characters in my opinion.
Did this book live up to its hype for me? Not really.
Kai is not going to be dethroning Xaden, Rhys, Ravyn, or Wrath anytime soon.
That being said, I liked all the tropes this book had. The banter was top-notch and was probably my favorite thing about the book.
The plot needed to be a lot stronger than it was, the trials themselves didn’t fully make sense either. And as hard as I tried not to be biased, there were so many similarities (to The Hunger Games) that it was hard not to.
Overall though, it was an entertaining read and I am excited for the next book to come out!
Powerless, however, gets 4 stars out of 5 stars.
Because like Fourth Wing, there is a lot wrong with it. But considering I ended up reading it fast, I think 4 stars is a fitting rating.
(Reckless publishes July 2, 2024!)