I enjoyed reading this book. I'm not a big fan of a Roman-esque setting but I'm familiar with it, so some terms mentioned in the novel wasn't very alienating for me. This book has been in the spotlight for quite some time now and I think that it really deserves the hype it's getting. It's also been optioned by Paramount for a film, which makes me really excited.
The book was told in dual POVs, from Laia, a slave, and from Elias, a soldier. The world-building was good but I think that it's somehow lacking because it's kind of hard to imagine it. I think if this book is really pushed for a film, I would be able to visualize the setting clearer. Both characters have strong persona, which I really admired. Laia's strong will to find and free his brother was one of the dominant emotions throughout the book, so was Elias's search for freedom and justice. There was a bit of a romantic chemistry between the two main characters but I'm glad the book did not focus much on that.
The book contains themes of violence and implied rape, which is very sensitive. I do not like the idea of women as slaves and as property but heck, what could I do? That really happened at some point in the history. Anyways, the way those issues were presented in the book didn't really make me cringe, which is a good thing.
The book is really intense and thrilling. Every single chapter was action-packed and really enjoyable to read. It kept me on edge, but the ending... DAMN. I felt like it was kind of anti-climactic. I needed more. It was a bit of a cliffhanger. I was waiting for Laia's ending, since Elias achieved his. And the fact that this is a standalone just made things kinda worse. UGH I JUST NEED MORE...
Overall, the experience I had and the emotions I felt from reading this book overweighed my little issue with the ending. I would still recommend it to everyone, especially to readers craving for a fantasy/dystopian read.