Review by Lauryn Angel
Francesca Flores’s Diamond City has a familiar story – a tough young woman fighting against an establishment that favors the wealthy and grinds everyone else under its heels. We’ve had a slew of these since Suzanne Collins and Veronica Roth’s trilogies got movie deals. Flores’s debut novel adds the elements of magic and religion to breathe new life into what has become an old trope.
Aina Solis was orphaned and on the streets of Kosin when she met Kohl Pavel, who took her in an trained her to be an elite assassin in his tradehouse. Now 18, Aina longs to branch off from Kohl and open her own tradehouse, so when Kohl offers her a ridiculously high bounty for a high-profile target, she leaps at the chance. Although she enlists her freelancer friend, Teo, the job goes awry, leaving Aina with a bounty on her own head.
I liked the magic system Flores included in the novel – using blood and diamonds, which are outlawed in Kosin – and the way that system was tied to religion. However, I really wanted to know more about how the magic worked.
What I really needed from this novel, and did not get, however, was character development – particularly in the way the characters relate to one another. Since Aina is an assassin, I didn’t expect her to be a model citizen or even the most likeable character, and I’m perfectly fine with not liking characters. But the other characters in the novel were quick to forgive Aina for the terrible things she has done and the destruction she has caused, with very little struggle. Yes, we can blame it on hormones and attraction, but Aina does some pretty shitty things to her friends, and after a brief pout, they forgive her for very flimsy reasons, mostly based on attraction.
Ultimately, I liked Diamond City, but I didn’t love it. It was interesting enough to keep me turning pages to find out what happened next, but not so great that I’m chomping at the bit for the next book in the duology.