I’ve liked some of Armstrong’s earlier books, but this YA didn’t work for me at all. Our protagonist is 16, but seems much younger, plot twists are signaled way ahead of time, and it feels too much like stronger books, including Shiver, the Mercy Thompson series, and Morganville Vampires. The book ends on a cliffhanger, but I won’t be continuing the series. Okay for 14 and up (though that’s not a guarantee that later books won’t skew older).
This historical fiction is a fascinating look into the worlds of Egypt and Rome and the height of their power, but it feels like a strange cross between YA and adult literature. The prose seems targeted at a YA audience, and our lead character goes from age 10 to age 15 during the book. Yet much of the story is understandably bleak and violent, as were humanity’s short brutal lives in the era. We spend time in the vicious Circus Maximum, watch slaves being crucified, discuss abandoned infants eaten by wolves, and assorted other period horrors. So I’m guessing the targeted age is high school – maybe 14 and up.
That said, we root for Selene and her brother to overcome the tragedy that has scarred their lives, and the period detail is immersive and fascinating. If this is your interest area, I recommend it.