Series: Rosemarked #2
Published by Disney-Hyperion on November 6, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Romance, Fantasy, Diversity
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The mission was a failure. Even though Zivah and Dineas discovered a secret that could bring down the empire, their information is useless without proof. Now, with their cover blown and their quest abandoned, their only remaining hope is to get home before Ampara brings the full might of its armies against their peoples.
As Shidadi and Dara alike prepare for war, Zivah and Dineas grapple with the toll of their time in the capital. After fighting alongside the Amparans against his own kin, can Dineas convince the Shidadi—and himself—where his loyalties lie? After betraying her healer’s vows in Sehmar City, can Zivah find a way to redeem herself—especially when the Dara ask her to do the unthinkable? And after reluctantly falling in love, what will the two do with their lingering feelings, now that the Dineas from Sehmar City is gone forever? Time is running out for all of them, but especially Zivah whose plague symptoms surface once again. Now, she must decide how she’ll define the life she has left.
Together, healer and warrior must find the courage to save their people, expose the truth, and face the devastating consequences headed their way.
Note: This is the sequel and conclusion to a duology, which you can find my review of the first book here. This review will contain minor spoilers!
After reading and really enjoying Rosemarked by Livia Blackburne, I was super ready for Umbertouched! I couldn’t wait to dive back into Dineas and Zivah’s world and the politics that encompass their lives. While the romance was on the lighter side in this book, we get much more development on the warfront and the future of the different people that are fighting for freedom in this world. All in all, Umbertouched marks the end of a fantastic YA duology that centers around a mysterious rose plague, and the multitude of people affected by it.
Umbertouched picks up about a month after the end of Rosemarked, and as the blurb explains, Zivah and Dineas’s mission has failed. Honestly, I picked this book up about a year after the release of book 1 so I didn’t quite remember the recent events. Blackburne does a pretty good job in getting the reader back into the story, so after the initial confusion in the first couple of chapters, I was back in the game. Zivah is a healer who is infected by the rose plague, and has marks all over her body. Dineas is umbertouched and survived the rose plague. Both have vital information that could bring down the terrorizing regime of the Ampara empire, but no proof to support this information. Umbertouched focuses on the aftermath of Rosemarked and where the characters go from here on out.
I think the only thing I didn’t quite get onboard with in these books is the pacing. Weeks and months would happen within a line or two, and then the plot would progress from there. The way it was added just felt kind of odd and clunky. Otherwise, the characters were developed really well as they battle both internal and external conflicts. My heart went out the most to Dineas, who recently regained his memories but now is traumatized by his time as an Amparan soldier and a Shidadi spy. His two roles are mingling with each other, and even his clanspeople don’t know whether he is loyal or not. Zivah still has conflicts with her consciousness, as within her healer’s oath she cannot take lives, but war has made this hard to do. Both characters go through – and have already gone through – a lot, but throughout it all they grow and learn from their mistakes, and find support through surprising sources.
How indeed have I changed? I arrived in Sehmar City a healer, and I left a spy.
The romance was super light in this book, as both characters have feelings for each other but don’t really act on it, thinking the other doesn’t. It’s very confusing for them both, especially during this time of war, and it takes the majority of the book for them to sort it out. The plotting, politics, and character development have major roles in this book, pushing the romance and friendships towards the back. Honestly there was more friendship than romance.
I think I liked book 1 a bit more than this book, as I feel like a lot of introduced conflicts and subjects could have been explored a lot more. There were some really interesting characters that appeared only briefly in this book that I wanted more of. I guess the overall length of the book limited these explorations, but it ultimately lent an air of disconnect on certain conflicts. The ending itself is both resolute and bittersweet, although I could think of no better way to end it. The climax was a tad predictable, but nonetheless exciting to read as all the events pile up on top of each other for this event. All in all, UMBERTOUCHED is a fun conclusion to a YA duology – and honestly, I’m very biased towards duologies – but it lost a bit of the magic its predecessor had. I wasn’t TOO disappointed by it (unlike other duologies out there), but I do think an increase of word length would have better settled some of the conflicts that had arisen. Nonetheless, Blackburne writes an emotional and complex series that will call to YA fantasy fans. I would definitely recommend readers looking for heavy plot and politics to give this one a chance!
Content/Trigger Warnings: disease, PTSD, trauma, mild violence, hallucinations
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Thank you Disney Hyperion and Netgalley for the review copy!