I very much enjoyed this fun little book about an orphan, but something holds me back from loving it.
The many coincidences did not bother me, because the themes of fate and destiny running through the book were consistent.
I saw most of the plot twists coming a million miles away. That didn’t bother me too much, because I liked feeling clever when I was right. I’m not sure if the intended audience, who will have less background expectations, will see the twists telegraphed so obviously.
I wish that the Fair/Talented dynamic had been explored a little more deeply. It’s implied that Marigold’s mother was happier when she thought she was Fair, but if that’s the case, then why not just pretend that she’s not Talented? Most of the Talents in the book seem pretty random and not at all something that could earn money or be at all useful in the creation of society and civilization. This means that the majority of people doing a particular job will not be Talented in that job. Sure, it might be more difficult to be an archaeologist without a related Talent, but I can’t imagine that every archaeologist would have a Talent, there simply are too many scientists and not enough randomness for that.
I didn’t like the implications with the Zane storyline. On the one hand, no child should be told that he is useless and worthless. But at the same time there is a general sense that his parents get defensive when anyone criticizes him and make no real attempts to change his rotten behavior. Getting sent to boarding school is extreme, but the tone seemed to me to be criticizing his getting punished at all, despite the fact that he was stealing things. He is selfish and amoral, and that’s not okay any more than being told that he’s worthless is okay. I didn’t find the mother’s part of the plot believable either.