Book Reviews

Review: The Diminished by Kaitlyn Sage Patterson

Yet another mixed feeling review, even though I really wanted to love The Diminished. The cover was great, the premise sounded cool, and there were diverse characters!

Summary

In the Alskad Empire, nearly all are born with a twin, two halves to form one whole…yet some face the world alone.

The singleborn

A rare few are singleborn in each generation, and therefore given the right to rule by the gods and goddesses. Bo Trousillion is one of these few, born into the royal line and destined to rule. Though he has been chosen to succeed his great-aunt, Queen Runa, as the leader of the Alskad Empire, Bo has never felt equal to the grand future before him.

The diminished

When one twin dies, the other usually follows, unable to face the world without their other half. Those who survive are considered diminished, doomed to succumb to the violent grief that inevitably destroys everyone whose twin has died. Such is the fate of Vi Abernathy, whose twin sister died in infancy. Raised by the anchorites of the temple after her family cast her off, Vi has spent her whole life scheming for a way to escape and live out what’s left of her life in peace.

As their sixteenth birthdays approach, Bo and Vi face very different futures—one a life of luxury as the heir to the throne, the other years of backbreaking work as a temple servant. But a long-held secret and the fate of the empire are destined to bring them together in a way they never could have imagined.

Review

book review The Diminished by Kaitlyn Sage PattersonTo be honest with you, what really turned me off about this book was the world building – and a few of the writing touches – but mostly the world. That being said, Patterson does a great job at making you feel angry for the characters – Vi’s ‘diminished’ status and Bo’s manipulative circle of family and friends.

Let’s sum it up in bullet point shall we? This doesn’t break down into a simple good and not so good, because it seems for each good, there was a but statement.

The Characters

  • I really liked our two main characters individually. Vi is headstrong and smart, but for the majority of the book she comes across as the special snowflake. Even so, I liked that she was a fierce heroine.
  • Bo was the one who stole my heart. He was misunderstood, but also conflicted about his new role, or potential role, in the leading of the country. I am such a sucker for characters who are going to be in positions of power, and are unsure if they’re the ones who should be doing it.
  • AND Bo is gay and it’s just like no big thing and I loved it.

    • But: They seemed shallow. There wasn’t a lot of real development to them and they felt almost one-dimensional. There were only so many times Vi could come across as special and smart, but then also make really questionable choices.
      • But: I thoroughly loved the side characters! I felt that were layered and were some of my favorites. I really liked Swinton and even Curlin. At the end of the day, I wanted to know more about them and less about Bo and Vi (and if there plot lines would merge)
  • I want to place added emphasis on the representation here – there’s queer and POC characters

The World Building

  • It’s pretty rich. And you feel the hate. I was really boiling here. The ways Vi is treated badly because of her ‘diminished’ status. All the injustice, feelings of being scapegoated, and treated like they don’t exist and aren’t valued. This made me feel all feelings
  • At the same time there are these universal and almost visceral themes of agency. We want the agency, the ability to determine our own fate
  • Some of the plot elements, as well as characters, felt convenient.
    • But at the same time, there was such a heavy lean on the biology and the essential connection of twins. I am not a twin. Maybe. I am adopted and so I know absolutely nothing about my family or my siblings, if I have either. I’ve always wondered if I had a sibling, or even a twin. And so this whole aspect felt….uncomfortable for me. It isn’t that I’ve always been like, “the twin I never had”, but I have always wondered about this. I guess I’m not sure where I feel about if I had a twin/sibling would I feel that connection? Can any adopted twins attest to this??
      • At the same time, Patterson complicates this by diminished twins as well as twins who don’t get along with their sibling.

But this whole thing has felt kind of predictable and that she wanted a sequel so put in elements for one, to have them have to fight the crown and the religious order. I feel like I’d like the second one more than this one because it’s less predictable.

Check out The Diminished on Goodreads.

Discussion

How do you feel about family themes?

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