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A Thousand Heartbeats by Kiera Cass
- Publisher: HarperTeen < HarperCollins
- Genre: Fantasy < Fantasy Romance
- Audience: Young Adult
- Pages: 576 (hardcover)
“Love has a sound. It sounds like a thousand heartbeats happening at the same time.” Princess Annika has lived a life of comfort—but no amount of luxuries can change the fact that her life isn’t her own to control. The king, once her loving father, has gone cold, and Annika will soon be forced into a loveless marriage for political gain. Miles away, small comforts are few and far between for Lennox. He has devoted his life to the Dahrainian army, hoping to one day help them reclaim the throne that was stolen from them. For Lennox, the idea of love is merely a distraction—nothing will stand in the way of fighting for his people. But when love, against all odds, finds them both, they are bound by its call. They can’t possibly be together—but the irresistible thrum of a thousand heartbeats won’t let them stay apart. Kiera Cass brings her signature sparkling romance to this beautiful story of star-crossed lovers and long-held secrets.
“Love has a sound. It sounds like a thousand heartbeats happening at the same time.“a thousand heartbeats
As a longtime fan of The Selection, I had high hopes for A Thousand Heartbeats.
In fact, not only did I think the cover for A Thousand Heartbeats was absolutely stunning, I also dubbed this novel a 5 star prediction. Indeed, my expectations were set incredibly high. Unfortunately, Kiera Cass’ latest release not only failed to hit the 5 star mark, but missed it entirely.
A Thousand Heartbeats quickly turned an exciting 5 star prediction into one of my most disappointing reads this year, earning only a two star rating from me.
I had many grievances with this book, despite the occasional fun or entertaining segments which were short and very few and far between. For starters, my major complaint with this novel pertains to the length. This YA fantasy standalone romance is a whopping 576 pages… Why??
It was extremely unnecessary that this novel be any longer than 350 pages.
This was the type of novel where, after a few hundred pages, you just know that the author is keyboard smashing to meet a certain word count. There were many parts of this novel, at both the beginning, middle, and end, where things were moving so, so slowly that I could not help the boredom that overwhelmed any enjoyment I might have gotten from the story. There were scenes that were delved into too deeply and lasted pages and pages, and I really didn’t care for it.
Then there were other aspects of the story that were rushed or just left out entirely.
It was these that fundamentally broke the story, as I feel we lost major developmental elements that are critical to me being able to connect to and enjoy a novel. We got little to no character development in terms of our main characters Annika and Lennox, we also got little to no worldbuilding or even development of side characters no matter how prominent. Additionally, the enemies to lovers romance between Annika and Lennox was a complete and utter joke.
Lennox and Annika felt attracted to each other instantly, and there was absolutely no believable enactment of the “enemies” part of the enemies to lovers trope playing out on the pages, even though they’re literally supposed to be enemies fighting for the same crown. And after very little time together, despite all other aspects of the story moving achingly slow, and having nearly 600 pages for Cass to slowly develop an enemies to lovers romance arc, the characters profess love (or you can infer it plain as day) very early on in the novel.
I also felt like by making this a fantasy romance standalone, Cass tried to fit too much into one book.
And sadly, since she was trying to fit worldbuilding, exposition, and all of this backstory that fuels the rebellion that leads to a war AND a potential takeover into a single book… And let’s not forget introducing two casts of characters around two different POVs, having to develop all those characters, and develop an enemies to lovers romance… Well that’s way too much to do in even 576 pages. And with how slow of a pace she ended up setting, that was just setting herself up for failure. Even if it were possible to fit all of these aspects of such a story into one 600 page novel, the plot pacing should have been sped up, and all the character and romance development should have been slowed down.
I will say, I found the writing overly-dramatic at points and almost ridiculous.
Some of the metaphors used were absurd and even awkward. At other times, the story was purely just overwritten, or bad decisions were made concerning what scenes to include, or what events in the timeline to skim over or skip completely rather than write in-scene.
Now begs the question: If Kiera Cass writes anything else in the future, will I give it a try?
I won’t say that I’m writing her off for good, but I do feel as though this at least solidified me giving up all pretenses of hoping to someday read the spin off series of The Selection. I think that I will not read any additional backlist titles of hers, nor any future spin offs in the worlds she’s already laid out for us. However, if she comes out with a unique story in the future, I might still give her a try.
That being said, for A Thousand Heartbeats being a fantasy-romance, I could’ve easily done without both.
With a fantasy romance, readers aren’t necessarily expecting such a complex fantasy world with complicated dynamics or complex magic systems. But they are expecting great, well-developed characters and a whirlwind, slow-burn or steamy romance to make up for the sprinkle of fantasy elements. However, Cass not only failed to successfully deliver a fantasy world and a believable, well-paced plot to match; She also failed to develop her characters and create chemistry between the two love interests. They unfortunately suffered from major insta-love and failed to deliver on the enemies to lovers trope promised to readers.
A Thousand Heartbeats was not for me, and I can’t see myself recommending it to other people. I feel like there were too many fundamental issues that I don’t necessarily see as being a “not quite for me, but maybe for you” type novel.
TROPES AND TRIGGER WARNINGS FEATURED
- Royal love interest
- Dual POV, M/F
A Thousand HeartbeatsA Thousand Heartbeats
similar titles to A THOUSAND HEARTBEATS
click on the covers above to learn more
Let’s Chat in the Comments!
Do you believe that standalone fantasy romance is a possible feat to successfully accomplish? If so, what are some standalone fantasy romances you’ve read and loved? If not, what are some that you believe would have fared better as a series?