[REVIEW] Tsarina

Series: N/A
 J. Nelle Patrick (Jackson Pearce)
 young adult, historical fiction, fantasy, magic, adventure, romance
 February 27, 2014
Publisher: Razorbill
Purchase: Amazon

Imperial Russia swirls with rebellion.
But Natalya's first love and heir to the Russian throne, Alexei Romanov, whispers a secret in her ear: Hidden within the Winter Palace lies a Faberge Egg enchanted by the powerful mystic Rasputin. With it, the Romanovs will never fall from power. The Reds will never triumph over the Whites. And one day, Alexei will ascend the throne and Natalya will be beside him - the tsarina of Russia. 
But when the Reds raid the Winter Palace, the egg vanishes and the Romanovs are captured. Natalya must find the egg to save Alexei, her way of life, and her royal future. She's forced to ally herself with an enemy - a young Red named Leo who wants the egg for his own purposes. As they brave a war-battered landscape of snow and magic, Natalya realizes that the world isn't as simple as it seemed back in Saint Petersburg. Nothing - not friends, not politics, not even love - is as clear as Red and white. 

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Fun fact: Tsarina is the early name for Russian Empress. But, of course, you know that.
Better fun fact: My name is Czarina. Czarina is the alternate spelling for Tsarina :)

This is basically the reason why I undoubtedly picked up Tsarina. It's so fancy to find your name in a book, but it's fancier to find your name as the title of the book. It may not be so direct on my part but my friends immediately recognized it when they saw me reading it. ANYWAY...

Tsarina is a historical fiction with a twist of magic. The Faberge Egg which grants the Romanovs some sort of immortality heals the sickly Alexei Romanov, Natalya's fiance and the crown prince of Russia, but takes away the powers of the witches. It's a perfectly laid down story that I found really exciting to read.

Saint Petersburg was a city of illusions.
There were the little ones, the sorts of illusions that most would simply call lies: The couples dressed in finery, invited into fancy shops only to quietly slip jewelry and silver spoons into their pockets. The group of boys who acted like wealthy students in order to sneak into parties. The women who dressed as messengers to enter their lovers' homes without suspicion. These were the illusions - the lies - the newspapers talked about, sensationalized, splashed on their front covers. These were the tales turned into cheap books that workers read on the streetcars every morning, hummed about in marketplaces, whispered over wrestling matches at circus.

It could be my undoubting interest or the story's background but I was immediately absorbed. I'm in love with Pearce's words. She brought me to early day Russia - to Saint Petersburg. She let me immerse into an adventure that's unrealistically exciting. Forget that Natalya is surprisingly a flexible elite - she was written that way and given enough background to make her seem so but I'm not completely buying it, lol. Just feel the thrilling things that happen at every corner.

Natalya, as I said, is a surprisingly flexible character. She survived a crazy adventure of hide and seek, running around, and fighting evil (or maybe not so) witches. While enough background was given, I'm still not buying that crap that the fiance of the crown prince can actually run around and not be picky or what even just a little bit.

Emilia, Natalya's friend, became her weakness in her journey. Emilia is the stereotypical elite. She's weak and easily gets uncomfortable. She's scared of the ongoing rebellion (but who wouldn't be if you're not the one leading it?) and it's nothing but normal. I take her character as the more realistic one. She has only one goal: go to France, stay there, and live happily ever after.

Leo, on the other hand, is the highly convenient kidnapper of Natalya and Emilia. Admittedly, I like how his relationship with Natalya grew. Their relationship may have happened in days but believe me, there was a decent development that happened. They went through things, you see. And Natalya is being some sort of a Tsundere (LOL). You know that the romance will happen sooner or later but I had no idea how it will happen since I was strongly rooting for Natalya and Alexei to happen just because of how sweet and awfully nice Alexei was.

I LOVE how everything has its rightful place in the story. Nothing happened for no reason. Nothing was introduced for additional words. Everything had its place and I love how they all intertwined in the story - the magic of the Faberge Egg, the weakening power of the witches, the fortunetelling, going to France, and everything else in the story.

He's wrong, why can't he understand that he's wrong? I loved Russia - I loved her parties, I loved the beauty and the splendor, yes, but I loved my country like any soldier or king. I love Alexei, for more than just his promise to make me tsarina. -p111

I think that it gives a refreshing take on war novels. I like how it tries to focus on the unfortunate product of war: the body counts. Going to the perspective of the wealthy and with power is also something quite new for me. I mean sure sometimes we get there but through multiple perspective. Tsarina, on the other hand, has a single perspective. It shows what goes on Natalya's mind and how she's digesting everything that's happening. Furthermore, she's not fighting in the front line. She can see the casualties but she not exactly fighting in it in a physical manner.

The ending left me wanting more. I double checked if it's going to be a series and unfortunately it isn't. The ending was definitely beautiful and I love how everything went for everyone (SPOILER: except for Alexei's death. ugh.). But the last bit, the last few words in the ending told me that there could be more to Natalya's story and I'd love to read that.

OVERALL, Tsarina is historical fictional that completely absorbed me right from the very beginning. I love Natalya (despite her unnaturally flexible character). I LOVE Pearce's words - she has beautiful writing and that really makes me want to read more of her novels. Everything was well thought of. The ending left me hanging and I'm really wishing for a sequel.

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What I Like: (1) the writing - the beautiful writing!, (2) Natalya - and generally all of the characters, (3) how perfectly everything has a rightful place in the story - everything really happens for a reason, (4) the development of Leo and Natalya's relationship

What I Didn’t Like: (1) the fate of Alexei , (2) Natalya's unnaturally flexible character, (3) the ending which kept me hanging and there's no book two!! WHY!?

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