Sunday, February 6, 2022

Review: SHIELDED by KayLynn Flanders


Rating: 4.5/5 stars

I’d originally heard that Shielded was similar to Graceling as well as The Kiss of Deception, which are two of my all-time favorite young adult fantasies, so that alone was enough to get me to pick this up. Also, the author graduated from the same university as me with the same degree as me, so I felt this immediate connection to her and wanted to read her books as soon as I learned that.

Shielded feels like a classic young adult epic fantasy but in all the best ways. It’s set in its own world, and the female protagonist, Jenna, has inherent magic within her. She wants to fight but isn’t allowed to, so she trains in secret to use a sword. Her father, the king, needs more troops to fight the war at their country’s border, so he decides to send her off to be married to the prince of the next kingdom over in exchange for military aid from them (that part reminded me of The Bridge Kingdom, which is also a book I love). 

The magic here does remind me of the magic in The Kiss of Deception, and the court politics are similar to those in Bitterblue, the third Graceling book. Plus the romance was similar to those found in both series. I was so excited to see that this book’s comparisons were not untrue. I can safely add Shielded to my list of favorite young adult fantasies. I don’t know what it is about these three series but they all have a similar feel to them, which must be why I like them all so much. 

Shielded has a lot of political intrigue, which is one of my favorite plot devices in epic fantasies. There is misplaced trust, hesitant alliances, and betrayals, and I loved it all. 

This book also features a strong brother-sister relationship between Jenna and her brother, Ren. I loved seeing them together and it made me wish I had my own older brother. I also loved seeing Jenna with Mari and Chiara, the princesses of Turia. They were fast friends, and it was so much fun to see them playing together and acting like sisters and hiding from the guards. All of the character relationships in this book were done well, in my opinion. 

Of course, I also loved Prince Enzo. It took a while for him to show up in the book, which I appreciated because the love interest usually shows up right away in young adult stories. But in Shielded, Jenna gets to be herself and learn to fight and survive on her own before she ever meets Enzo, which was a nice change of pace. 

There were a couple things about the book that I didn’t prefer, such as the pacing when Jenna was alone in the Wilds felt a little too slow compared to the faster pacing of the rest of the book, and also the fact that there is a moment when the king and queen know a killer and traitor is in their midst inside the castle, yet they still leave their two young daughters alone in the castle while they go away on political business. That specific moment felt like it was included as a plot device, but it was minor enough that it didn’t bother me too much. 

Overall, Shielded was a great book, and I’m so happy I ended up loving it. It was adventurous and fun with just the right amount of action scenes. The character relationships were one of my favorite things about the story, as well as all of the unexpected turns the plot took. I definitely recommend this one to any YA fantasy fans out there. 

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