Book Review #72: Hierarchy of Blood (Jennifer Haskin)

Marishel has her entire life figured out.

Right now, she works as a seamstress in the Needles, a dark corner of the dwarf planet she resides on, but soon, so soon, she’s going to break free of the cold days and run away to the warm heat lamps of the Farmlands.

That is, until she’s selected to complete in The Blood Match–a fight to the death for  Ambassador Quin’s hand in marriage. Marishel is swept away into the world of dresses and trainings and subterfuge. If she can’t find away to stop the Match, she’ll die like 59 other girls her age.

But how do you convince a planet that their favorite tradition is really murder?

This book by Jennifer Haskin caught my attention because of the way it was pitched. If you’ve been around the blog for a while, you know that I have a soft spot for dystopian books (that’s what I write, after all!). But YA dystopian with romance?  Consider me SOLD. The author compared it to The 100 and The Selection, two series that I’ve inhaled, and I nearly tripped over myself picking it up.

Then life hit me, and well… we all know how that goes. I missed my deadline to review this book for Reedsy, but I’m sticking to my promise of a review.

Praises first!

For starters, the premise is absolutely guaranteed to suck in fans of the genre. You’ve got a forced contestant in a bloody battle, unlikely friendships, adorable romance–it’s a wonderfully designed book. Plus, there are similarities to be found everywhere that link it back to our genre favorites. Fight to the death–that’s Hunger Games for you. Dating the Ambassador to win him over–that’s The Selection. Even the characters line up with tropes! Some people might not like how closely it’s aligned to the market, but I didn’t mind a bit.

Speaking of the characters, I really like how unique each and every one of them are. Marishel is phenomenally written. She’s feisty and strong (very Katniss-like), but at the same time, she’s flawed (overambitious, sometimes). She becomes a very unwilling symbol of change but takes it all in stride. I appreciate how true to the cause the was throughout the entire story. Then you’ve got her friends and the Ambassador–all of which have their own role and play it very, very well. I enjoy an eclectic cast.

And may I just say that Quin is the Himbo we all needed in a YA dystopian novel, lol.

Now, my complaints. There’s not a lot; don’t worry!

I struggled a little with the pacing. The first half of the novel was a bit slow for my taste, because it was a lot of world building and character exposition. There were a lot of “getting ready” scenes. I get that setting the stage was important, of course, but it felt a little draggy.

Now the second thing that bothered me was the fact that I didn’t feel like the stakes were high enough. But it’s a fight to the death, Amy!  Yes, yes, I get that. But like… why are we fighting to the death? To decide who marries Quin? And all because of some age old tradition? It just doesn’t seem like a good enough reason for me, which I guess is exactly what Marishel is trying to prove. But that makes it hard for me to believe that no one else in the long, long history of the Blood Match had succeeded in tearing this thing down.

Regardless, it was a very good story, and I did audibly GASP at some of the things the antagonist did. It sucked me in, without a doubt, so I’d say mission success!

Final Ratings
Overall Rating: 4 / 5
Pacing: Slow beginning, quick ending!
Intended Audience: YA Dystopian fans
Content Warnings: Violence, mostly. Nothing major.
Buy link:


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