ARC Review: THE KISS OF DECEPTION by Mary E. Pearson

I received this book for free from Henry Holt & Co.. This in no way affected my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

ARC Review: THE KISS OF DECEPTION by Mary E. Pearson
The Kiss of Deception
The Remnant Chronicles #1

Written by: Mary E. Pearson
Published by: Henry Holt & Co.
Release date: July 8th 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 492
Source: NetGalley
Buy: B&N, Amazon, Book Depository
Add on: Goodreads

In this timeless new trilogy about love and sacrifice, a princess must find her place in a reborn world.

In a society steeped in tradition, Princess Lia’s life follows a preordained course. As First Daughter, she is expected to have the revered gift of sight—but she doesn’t—and she knows her parents are perpetrating a sham when they arrange her marriage to secure an alliance with a neighboring kingdom—to a prince she has never met.

On the morning of her wedding, Lia flees to a distant village. She settles into a new life, hopeful when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assassin sent to kill her. Deception abounds, and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—even as she finds herself falling in love.


The Kiss of Deception was one of my most-anticipated fantasy books releasing this year — and not because of the synopsis and cover (which, while good, both scream “love triangle”). No, this book grew into its “most-anticipated” status because everyone loves it. Out of 26 of my Goodreads friends who have read it, 14 rated it 5-stars, and 12 rated it 4-stars. That’s right, not a single 3-or-below rating. This is unheard of.

So yeah, I was properly excited. High fantasy, people loved it, give it to me now. And I did really enjoy it.

Lia is a very strong main character – probably one of the most believably-strong characters I’ve read in a while. She’s put in a terrible position, being forced into a sham and an agreement marry a prince she’s never even seen, let alone met. So she decides to take matters into her own hands and run away to start a new life – completely aware that running away means leaving behind her pampered royal life, and she is all for that. She’s willing to work hard in order to make her own way, and that’s fantastic.

Now, a whole bunch of potential issues crop up with the “running-away-from-an-arranged-marriage” situation – arranged marriages are awful, but when the marriage could potentially save an entire kingdom? Idk, I like the character to wrestle with this decision – she’s decided to let her country fend for itself, it should be tough. At first, Lia just runs away to escape the marriage and doesn’t think too hard. She’s made her decision and sticks with it. But she grows tremendously, and goes through periods of doubt about whether she ever should have abandoned her kingdom, which I appreciated.

As for the assassin and the prince, both who are trying to find Lia for their own reasons… Argh! I can’t say much about them. I really liked both of their characters, though I would’ve really liked more development (more on that in a sec). There really wasn’t what I’d call a “love triangle”. Yes, these two guys are potential love-interests – but Lia obviously favors one over the other, and she spends almost no time trying to “decide” between the two of them once she starts to get to know them.

The main thing that really threw me off in this book, was the way the characters’ identities are hidden from usThe Kiss of Deception is written from three perspectives. The main narration is Lia’s, but there are also chapters from the assassin’s and Prince’s POV’s. Lia’s narration is un-labeled, but subheadings indicate chapters from “The Assassin” or “The Prince”. We don’t even learn their names, until they give them to Lia. One is Rafe, and the other is Kaden. But which is which???? Because once you have some names to deal with, the chapters get really intense. Lia still narrates, but we also have narration from “Rafe” and “Kaden” — which includes no details to give away which is the assassin or which is the Prince… BUT! We still also have chapters from “The Assassin” or “The Prince”, which don’t give away names! AHHHH!!!! *cue hair-pulling*

This drove me insane. You don’t find out who’s who until about 60% through the book. I’m not a reader who likes to actively speculate about plotty things while I read – I’d much rather just find things out when the author tells them to me outright. So having to deal with NOT knowing who was who? Torture. The chapters are, essentially, from five different POV’s representing only three people… The chapters from The Prince/Assassin/Rafe/Kaden forced me to search for little details while I was reading, ANYTHING to indicate who was who. I made my guess pretty early, and was actually correct, but this didn’t even help; with every passing POV, I kept doubting myself, trying to sort out all the details in my mind, and it was just… not how I like to read a book.

I also think this took away from the character development, or at least, it took away from the feeling that you’re getting to know a character as the book progresses. Because for 60% of the book, you don’t even know who half the characters are. The chapters from “The Assassin” or “The Prince” dealt mainly with the characters’ motivations – because they could talk about their background and why they were interested in Lia. “Rafe” and “Kaden” dealt solely with emotions (without any of that background knowledge) and Rafe’s and Kaden’s views of one another. This type of split-perspective is unique, yes, but it also killed any kind of complete picture I was trying to form in my head of either of those characters.

Being a character-oriented reader, this was not ideal for me. Some people might find the final “reveal” mind-blowing, depending on what their guesses were about Kaden/Rafe/Prince/Assassin, but I just saw it as an enormous relief. Thank God the torture was finally over!!

*sigh* Okay, so, I know I’ve written too much already, but I really haven’t seen a lot about the POV’s in many reviews, so I felt like I needed to address it, and my issues with it. I did have a couple other “ehh” issues… First, I felt like the beginning dragged, and not just because of the POV issues. Not a lot of plot-related stuff happened, just a lot of setup, really. And then once you hit 60%, the action picks up, but this wasn’t really my favorite thing either… There’s a lot of traveling and running away and attempted escapes and more traveling… I felt like the last 40% could’ve been cut down quite a bit.


In conclusion…

Gosh, it sounds like I really didn’t like this book… and that’s not the case! 3.5 stars is not a bad rating. My hangups over the POV, and then what I felt like could’ve been a much-compressed “ending” (the final 40%), really skewed my feelings about this one.

I really liked Lia, and I loved the teasers we got of the magic system… And the world itself is awesome! I loved the worldbuilding, and am super excited to learn more about it in the sequel. Did you know this is technically set in a post-apocalyptic America? OH YEAH. “Post-apocalyptic fantasy” (idk, is there an actual category for this?) is one of my favorite things ever, so when I realized that, I was over the moon.

So, yeah. I did enjoy this one, and considering how many other people loved it, I’d 100% recommend checking it out.


13 thoughts on “ARC Review: THE KISS OF DECEPTION by Mary E. Pearson

  1. So glad to see someone that gave this book the exact same rating that I did. I was beginning to feel a little bad about my 3 1/2 star rating. I mean, I liked the book and didn’t feel like that was a bad rating at all, but then I kept seeing all these 5 star ratings, and I was thinking to myself that I just wasn’t blown away nearly enough for a 5 star. Great review!

    • Omg, YES, finally someone of a like mind!! It was REALLY good, but not near 5-star territory for me. That being said, I am pretty darn excited for more books in the series, as I think it has a lot of potential now that the “who’s-who” thing is over. I’m going to check out your review now!! Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Congratulations for the lowest rating I’ve seen on this one so far as well, haha. It seems like it has exploded on the blogosphere lately and I’ve been kind of hesitating on picking it up. I like the idea for the story but I definitely don’t enjoy when authors drag things out longer than they need to… Perhaps I will move this one a little further back in my TBR. Thanks for the thoughtful review! :-)

    • Hahahaha THANK YOU! XP I almost thought I was crazy at first, because EVERYONE loves this book. EVERY. ONE. Certain elements that blew others away, though, just did not work for me. *shrugs* That being said, I do think it’s worth a read, because the sequel is going to ROCK. I just know it.

  3. Ha! This review made me laugh because the thing that drove you crazy was the very thing that made me LOVE this book. Isn’t it funny how that works sometimes? I actually thought I knew who was who when I was reading – I wondered a bit at first, but then practically forgot about my confusion because I was so sure that I knew exactly what was going on – and then I was totally wrong! It totally blew my mind and I felt like I wanted to go re-read the whole first half of the book because suddenly all these little clues and pieces fell into place for me that I hadn’t even realized I’d been missing. And I loved it! But I could see how it might frustrate the heck out of someone too. :-)

  4. I am still not convinced that [spoiler!] is the prince. Why would the Prince of a neighboring kingdom know the language of Morrighan, but not the religion? Why would a barbarian from another place entirely know the religion, AND another language? ACK. I’m still so entirely confused about this. I still have about 100 pages left to read, but I got to the part where [spoiler!] and I am confused. So I had to do some digging, and I’m still not convinced.

    • (Sorry, I had to take out a couple big spoilers from your comment!) It’s pretty set in stone by the end, who’s who. I don’t think it’s possible for them to *not* be who they turn out to be, after the point you’re at – and I’ll be interested to know if, by the end, you don’t think they’re definitely who they say they are. ;)

      • Ah, that’s okay. I was too excited to think about monitoring my own spoilers haha. I haven’t read any more today, but I did think about it some today.

        There was a mention earlier about how the prince had worked in the Dalbreck army, though he was relegated to body clean-up after battles. So the scene where Lia is attacked and the body is disposed of by a particular person makes sense now. But for some reason, I kept on thinking the one who was so moody with her would be the assassin, because he likes her but also knows he has to kill her.

        However, it does make more sense for the assassin to be a little more aloof, and the incident with the horse and his “foreign words” bring things into place. The assassin was quieter in general, and not as prone to help Lia or Pauline unless it directly benefited him. I guess I just had them totally confused, and it’s a little frustrating to not know for certain who each character is.

        Though I have to say, it’s cleverly done!

    • Same here! I thought I had it all figured out. But I guess ignorance is partly to blame. I was like, “WHAT? I thought this one’s the prince and that one’s the assassin? I am so confused!” (And started WWIII at 2 in the morning.) also, I realized the reason why the people from the reviews say that they’re all confused when I thought there was nothing to be confused about. I had to literally backtrack starting from the 3rd chapter after thinking the book I’m reading must’ve been a defect, which is a total bummer. Gosh, I was really considering of returning the book to the bookstore and ask for another copy!

  5. Alright, I finished the book a few days ago! I have to agree with your hang-ups regarding the male POVs…they made me feel confused about half the time. Once I figured out who was who, then it was easier, but of course it still wasn’t perfect. My guess had been totally wrong from the beginning!

    Awesome Review :) I’m going to write my own soon and put it up over at my blog.

    I’m glad I stumbled across your blog looking for answers! I’m really enjoying all the updates! :)

  6. Pingback: Deception is an Art | mangledtextsinc

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *