Published: October 6th, 2015 by Month9books
*I received a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected the opinions stated below.
Four clans have been at war for centuries: the Kodiak, the Raven, the Wolf and the Ram. Through brutal war tactics, the Ram have dominated the region, inflicting death and destruction on their neighbors.
Seventeen-year-old Zo is a Wolf and a Healer who volunteers to infiltrate the Ram as a spy on behalf of the allied clans. She offers herself as a Ram slave, joining the people who are called the “nameless.” Hers is a suicide mission – Zo’s despair after losing her parents in a Ram raid has left her seeking both revenge and an end to her own misery. But after her younger sister follows her into Rams Gate, Zo must find a way to survive her dangerous mission and keep her sister safe.
What she doesn’t expect to find is the friendship of a young Ram whose life she saves, the confusing feelings she develops for a Ram soldier, and an underground nameless insurrection. Zo learns that revenge, loyalty and love are more complicated than she ever imagined in the first installment of this two-book series.
I will start off saying that I zipped through Nameless, especially when you consider my reading speed since classes started. I won't lie, though. It was definitely disappointing, but from what I've seen I seem to be the minority there. I was expecting a dangerous, heart-pounding spy mission. I was expecting this rich history between the clans and their feuding. And I didn't really get any of it.
That's not to say there wasn't any history or background given. But these "brutal war tactics" that keep them on top? I dunno, I didn't really see any of it outside of their own walls. I couldn't really see why they were on top. It's hard to explain, because they definitely are brutal - you see that in the games they play, the way they force Nameless to fight young Rams who take pride in their kill. Beatings are not uncommon, and the Nameless are slaves. There's nothing astoundingly original about it to me, and I never really felt immersed in the world, but I will say their brutality felt authentic. Which is kind of contradictory to what I just said, but I think the point I'm trying to make is that I didn't see any true reason for all this tension and fighting between clans. There appears to be food shortages and such, but I guess I didn't really see or feel the kind of despair of a shortage that would cause this magnitude of tension. DOES ANY OF THAT MAKE SENSE?
As I was saying, I wish the world-building had just been . . . more. We hardly see or even really hear about the other clans besides the Ram. How do their societies differ from the Ram? What are their people really like? What is their territory, their climate? I WANT TO KNOW.
When it comes to the characters, I mentioned earlier that I expected a lot more from the spy aspect. Still, it's interesting to see Zo hide among the Nameless, to see how she's treated differently than the others because she's a Healer. It's something that she really struggles with - using the abilities her mother taught her to heal members of the Ram, the clan she absolutely wants to defeat. And she's certainly got a lot to lose here - namely, her younger sister. I just wish there had been some more, you know, actual spying.
Gryphon, too, struggles with his loyalties. He fell a bit flat for me, but I did like how conflicted he was. He was firm but willing to bend the rules of everything he'd ever known to do what he thought was right. (Though how ANYONE ever believes that stuff is right is beyond me, but I can't really speak for fantasy worlds.)
As for the connection between him and Zo? It definitely didn't go too fast, and I didn't feel as if it was agonizingly slow and drawn out, either. There certainly was a connection present, and I could appreciate it, but I didn't . . . intensely ship it? I think Blue and Gansey have just ruined other YA ships for me for life. But I think it's something a lot of people would like. Somehow, despite their different beliefs, their different clans, the danger, it's a simple, barely-there romance.
tl;dr: The writing isn't bogged down; instead, it's light and easy and quick. I wish there had been more background on the clans and the entire world, really, and although I wasn't totally invested in the characters, I did read Nameless rather quickly and think it's a fun story. 3 stars.