First Year by Rachel E. Carter

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Before the age of seventeen, the young men and women of Jerar are given a choice-follow tradition, or pursue a trial year in one of the realm’s three war schools to study as a soldier, knight or mage…

For 15-year-old Ryiah, the choice has always been easy. Become a warrior and leave the boring confines of her lowborn life behind. Set to enroll in the School of Knighthood on the eve of her next birthday, plans suddenly shift when her twin brother discovers powers. Hoping that hers will soon follow, she enrolls with Alex at the Academy instead -the realm’s most notorious war school for those with magic. 

Yet when she arrives, Ry finds herself competing against friend and foe for one of the exalted apprenticeships. Every “first-year” is given a trial year to prove their worth -and no amount of hard work and drive will guarantee them a spot. It seems like everyone is rooting for her to fail -and first and foremost among them Prince Darren, the school prodigy who has done nothing but make life miserable since she arrived. 

When an accidental encounter leads Ryiah and Darren to an unlikely friendship, she is convinced nothing good will come of it. But the lines become blurred when she begins to improve -and soon she is a key competitor for the faction of Combat… Still, nothing is ever as it seems -and when the world comes crashing down around her, Ry is forced to place faith in the one thing she can believe in -herself. Will it be enough?  (Goodreads)

Firstly, I just want to say happy anniversary to me! Apparently it has been two years since I first started blogging – which seems like a really long time! Anyway…

I have had this book on my TBR for a very long time. The reason why I never got around to actually reading it? I couldn’t find a copy. No matter where I looked, I couldn’t find a physical copy of this book. However, I got a kindle, so what do you think was the first book that I bought? Right you are, this book!! Boy am I glad I did. I LOVED this book! From the very beginning I felt glued to it and I just didn’t want to put it down.

I think what I enjoyed most about this book was that, whilst Ryiah was someone to contend with, she was still human and still relatable as a character. I sometimes felt like I could have been reading my own life when it came to her early mornings and how she felt about them, for example. I also think that, although it takes her a while to figure things out, she is a good example for her readers because she was a character that never gave up! She consistently tried throughout the book, no matter what she was doing and, while she had quite a few doubts about her ability, she still tried her hardest.

While there were love interests, they didn’t detract from the story itself. It flowed within the story and became a part of it, rather than separating it between the story and the love story. Having said that, I found Darren to be a pain in the bum. He rubbed me up the wrong way and just generally annoyed me. He helped Ryiah, he pushed her to be better, even if it came out condescending and arrogant, but he still bugged me to death. I just wanted to poke him constantly…

Ian, on the other hand, was someone I could see me being friends with. He was witty, funny and easy going and just someone who you would want at a party. He reminded me of a few of my friends, which is probably why he is a character I found extremely easy to connect with. Ella was also like this – I adored her!

This was a pretty fast paced book, that I was glued to from the very first page right until the very end!!! I gave this book 5/5 stars.

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