This is my least favorite book of Smith's and I believe I have now officially read all of them.
Don't get me wrong- not only did I enjoy this but I laughed many times reading this book which is typical when I read Smith, and Mara is definitely a very interesting heroine. One thing I enjoy about reading Smith is that her characters don't just talk the talk- they walk the walk. What I mean by this is there are a lot of PNR authors that want their heroine to be all "badassy" and they sashay around in leather and can command any male within a five mile radius because of their sexiness. Mara is deadly, she's single minded and she's going to get what she plans on getting (in this case to retrieve her only beloved friend in her life from the Scholomance school) no matter WHAT IT TAKES.
I also agree with other reviewers who think that Mara is a sociopath. At the very least her character has strong sociopathic tendencies. I guess it doesn't disgust me because after a lifetime of strong innate telepathy from birth what kind of person do you think that produces? I feel her attitude in life is befitting her circumstances and frankly sometimes it's a relief to read a character that isn't necessarily going to save every kitten crossing the road. Mara is entertaining! She is cold, she is petty, selfish. Her one memory of ever appearing a beautifully genuinely good person is the memory of her best friend's thoughts. Her girlhood BFF had one shining thought of what Mara appears to her and Mara has held on to that moment her entire life. It is the memory she breaks out any moment she feels herself a heartless monster- she examines this memory and comforts herself, yes I do have a heart.
My main issue with this book is that it does tend to drag on. Once Mara arrives at the Scholomance we get to the point somewhere in her lessons there where we have to ask..umm the search, lets get this search going on. Pretty Please.
None of the books Smith has written are suitable for the feint of heart and this book is definitely hard core in terms of violence, sexual assault, gore, horror, violence, and just plain human ugliness. In fact, Smith is so good at going no holds barred regarding the petty trashiness of a human soul it makes me wonder about her! (I'm just kidding!)
So despite the fact that it's my least favorite- it's a good book. It just had moments during which I wondered how long is this going to last which is unusual for me when reading Smith. Usually when I pick up a book of hers I read it nonstop and cannot put it down and lose sleep. This took me about a week to read. I had a better review written in my head, but: Skyrim. :p