This was a surprisingly philosophical book. Elana wrestles several times with herself over what the best move should be when her gut reaction differs from her ethical code. Yet somehow the moralizing and discussions never seemed didactic or trying to win me over (though they did occasionally go on too long or were repeated once too often. Not a lot, mind you, this was a very well-written book, but it was there.)
In terms of characterization, this book was very finely done. We only ever really know four characters: Georyn, Elana, Jarral (not sure of the spelling, since I listened to the audiobook) and Elana’s father. There is one other major character, Evric, but he is off screen for half the book and the half that he is there we only ever see him through Elana’s eyes. This is true of her father as well, but since he is a large part of Elana’s discussions we can understand him. He was slightly flawed as a character in that he was far too patient and understanding. I was willing to write that off to some extent, though, because that is essentially his job, and he is highly trained at empathizing with others and then using his understanding to further his goals. If he wasn’t on the side of the righteous, I would accuse him of being highly manipulative. Actually, I still accuse him of that, I just understand why he takes the actions he does.
I loved this book, and I wish I had read it as a child because I think I would have loved it even more. As an adult, I loved that the huge romance was a tragic one. It’s so frustrating to read so many contemporary books where the “forbidden love” is always overcome and the teenagers involved always throw caution to the wind. Not here. Georyn and Elana both acknowledge that it would be impossible to join each other’s worlds. Rather than make the other person miserable for the rest of their lives, they choose to separate. (Well, maybe “choose” is too strong a word.) I was blown away that.