Tribute, by Ellen Renner

18682784Title: Tribute
Ellen Renner
 Hot Key Books
Publication date: March 6th 2014
Pages: 336
ISBN: 147140031X
Source: Goodreads
Rating: 3/5
Buy at: BookDepository

What if your greatest enemy was yourself?

Zara is a mage, one of the elite in a world where magic is power, and the non-magic majority live as slaves. When her slave child best friend is killed for the crime of literacy, Zara seeks revenge by spying for the rebel Knowledge Seekers.

She finds her bravery and magical skill tested to the limit when a young Maker, Aidan, is taken hostage in a bid for supposed peace. Surprised by first love, she promises to help him. But before Zara can keep her promise, her secret is discovered. Hunted by her own, she seeks refuge with the Knowledge Seekers. But when you can kill with a thought, can you ever be trusted?

Pain, romance, defiance and revenge combine in this powerfully written – and breathtakingly envisioned – YA fantasy.


Tribute follows Zara, a mage and the “king’s” daughter. In a world where possessing magic is power and not having it makes one less than human, a mere slave, Zara should be happy. She could live happily and with everything she ever desired. But she can’t. After watching her father murder her slave friend, all she wants is to seek revenge, to dismantle the dystopian world she lives in and to kill her father.

Sounds interesting, right? I thought so too, but in the end, it felt like just another average book.

The novel starts wonderfully, with Zara entering a bird’s mind and refusing to let it kill, only to be chastised by her teacher for not allowing the bird to take the plunge. We can see how she is set apart from her classmates, how her teachers dislike her, how her own father does not have the best relationship with her. We are posed question after question, but it takes no time for the story to lose steam.

Between instalove (which wasn’t even explained), too much telling and little showing (especially because of this), I had nearly no emotional investment in the characters. Zara may be able to enter animals’ minds, but I couldn’t get into hers. As much as she went on about how she wanted her father gone, I never felt her blood boil or the sourness on her tonue. And for me to enjoy a book, it can’t lack that.

Logically, however, I know it’s not a bad book. The worldbuilding is interesting. The author made sure that the readers were immediately immersed in a different world. Its terminology and customs were not explained word by word, but hinted at so the reader could understand what Zara meant without creating a rift between our world and hers. I also enjoyed and was rather curious by how important Time is in this world. I’m sure there’s a twist there waiting to happen.

And speaking of twists, the one at the end was rather ingenious too. Had I felt any emotional connection for the character, I might’ve had gasped.

In the end, this was an okay book, but it might be that it just doesn’t work for me. Not everyone enjoys the same books, and anyway, it seems to be doing fairly well reviews and rating wise on Goodreads. So, if you’d like a crack at a different dystopia, you might consider checking it out.


The book in a quote

“It is the hardest thing – to live among those who think you inhuman. It is beyond loneliness. The whole of me aches with a monstrous dark hurt.”


6 thoughts on “Tribute, by Ellen Renner

  1. Oh dear instant love?! I am certainly not a fan and more telling than showing doesn’t help either. Thanks for the review, girl. I think I’ll give this one a pass.


    • I’m afraid so, which is a shame when the setting and the plot are interesting. I’ll never understand the usage of instalove in stories that don’t need it.
      Thank you for popping by! :D


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