Tuesday, September 07, 2021

Among Thieves by M. J. Kuhn: review

3/5 stars on Goodreads

Among Thieves by M. J. Kuhn

Among Thieves is one of those books that I really wanted to like, but which ended up being a disappointment. The idea is great: a group of thieves trying to pull off a daring heist. Mostly, that’s what I got. It’s the execution that was lacking.

The book relies solely on secrecy and ‘plot twists’ instead of character building and a plot stemming from it. The beginning of the book was especially trying, as I tried to make sense of the world and characters, only to realise that that was all I was going to get. The characters knew more than the reader who was constantly kept in the dark. It got old pretty fast.

Since we didn’t learn anything about the characters, they and their motivations weren’t driving the plot. The ‘plot’ happened behind the scenes, and was thrown at the reader’s face instead of taking the reader along the ride. And the ‘plot twists’ had no impact when they’d been constantly hinted at in lieu of character building.

A group of thieves in the slums of a coast town stumble on a plot to steal something that one king is willing to pay extraordinary sums for. They take the job, even though they don’t know what it is they’re stealing and why the king wants it, and even though it takes them to the most dangerous person in the realm.

Each thief has their secret that is meticulously hinted at throughout the book, only to be revealed when it has already stopped having meaning. Ryia is named as the main character in the book description, but since they all have their named chapters and everyone gets a lot of screen time, she doesn’t really stand out. None of the characters does, because we learn nothing about them. I’m struggling to remember their names even.

Ryia, aka The Butcher, kills people for living. She’s good at it, she takes pride in her skills, and not once does she show any remorse for what she’s done. In my book, that makes her a sociopath. That we learn at the end of the book why she is like this, doesn’t change the fact. She’s not a cutesy, quirky leader of a ragtag gang that a reader should root for, because at her heart she’s not a good person. There’s nothing in the story that causes the reader to root for her. And the way she comes on Evelyn is downright creepy. All I can say to the poor Captain is run. 

Their secrets cause them to make choices that put the heist at risk. The choices make sense to them, but they’re meaningless to the reader. The entire bunch comes across as selfish as a result. There were weird hints at romantic interests at times. I didn’t care, because I didn’t care about any of the characters.

The book ends with a sort of a cliff-hanger and an epilogue that reveals that the true mastermind was someone else entirely, with their ‘surprise’ POV chapter. I didn’t care for them either. Needless to say, I won’t read the next book.

The book wasn’t all bad though, hence three stars. The language was good, and a decent effort had been put to the world-building, with its creepy enhanced humans. Or non-humans—not that more than a token was done to criticise the treatment of these slaves. If the author had concentrated more on people and less on gimmicks, this would’ve been a good book.

I received a free copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

No comments:

Post a Comment