Once upon a time, I made the (potentially) dangerous decision of saying on Twitter that I had money to burn on a couple indie books and that I wanted to read something new. This is one of the books that came of that adventure.
A Choice for Essence
Author: Katelyn Uhrich
When I read From Ashes to Magic, there was a story by Nita Pan from the perspective of two gods. When I read the description of A Choice for Essence, it was reminiscent because the main character was a god(ling) who puts everything at risk for the “spirits” (which I didn’t know what that meant at the time). I realized this was YA, but I have been pleasantly surprised by YA before and am willing to try it out now.
I’m not usually a fan of YA, so I really do believe a younger audience or people who enjoy YA would dig this book more than me. As it is, though, A Choice for Essence was enjoyable. The story did constantly build on itself, the characters were clear, and the writing was well-done.
The main character, Essence, goes through a bildungsroman type story wherein she matures by learning about her environment more so than by developing internal strength. I thought this unique, as most YA stories rely on the main character to change their minds in order to complete a quest. But Essence’s ideas of right and wrong, her goals, and her love doesn’t change. It’s really cool to watch.
The thing that kept me going for more was the idea of generational gods. Essence’s parents were fire and life, and her powers were a combination of both. Pirro (another character) was the son of Love and War (how cool is that!?). I’ve never seen something quite like this before, and I enjoyed how Uhrich split and recombined the gods’ powers.
For personal reasons, the ending wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, but I do commend Uhrich for making a first book in a series with an enclosed storyline. However, there was a very nice teaser at the very end hinting at what could come next – and I’m sure it truly is in the pipeline.
Some of the pacing felt a bit off, especially the amount of time that passed during timeskips. At one point, 99 years pass by but Essence is the same person, with the same maturity, following that skip as she was before. The skip felt way, way too long given the character change and the change of motivations of other characters. Other time skips didn’t quite feel right, either. The ages of the godlings in comparison to the spirits made love trysts a little weird to me, too. Didn’t stop the Greeks though, did it? 😉
4/5 Discoball Snowcones
This book is pretty new, so my spoilers are going to be pretty short. However, the very, very end was probably the main reason I gave it 4 discoball snowcones rather than 5. I’ll dance around it the best I can, but the following may ruin the book if you’re ok at guessing plots.
Something I find interesting in stories is what I call the “Pinocchio Effect”. If a character is non-human but interacts with humans, they often end up wanting to be human or desiring to be something other than themselves. Essence, born a god, ends up wanting to become human by the end of the book. This denial of her nature felt so strange to me, since she very much loved being able to transform or use her fire powers.
Sit back and relax while you wait for my review of Ritu Bhatal’s Marriage Unarranged!