Eliyana can’t bear to look at her own reflection. But what if that were only one Reflection—one world? What if another world exists where her blemish could become her strength?
Eliyana is used to the shadows. With a birthmark covering half her face, she just hopes to graduate high school unscathed. That is, until Joshua hops a fence and changes her perspective. No one, aside from her mother, has ever treated her like he does: normal. Maybe even beautiful. Because of Joshua, Eliyana finally begins to believe she could be loved.
But one night her mother doesn’t come home, and that’s when everything gets weird. Now Joshua is her new, and rather reluctant, legal Guardian. Add a hooded stalker and a Central Park battle to the mix and you’ve gone from weird to otherworldly.
Eliyana soon finds herself in a world much larger and more complicated than she’s ever known. A world enslaved by a powerful and vile man. And Eliyana holds the answer to defeating him. How can an ordinary girl, a blemished girl, become a savior when she can’t even save herself?
I know what you're thinking. Ugh. Another story about dark brooding heroes who have a secret that will change the boring heroine's life. And maybe that's sort of right. But this is not that story.
First, I must take a moment to comment on the cover. The saying about judging a book by its cover is true, but I love a gorgeous cover like this one. Sometimes having a face on a cover is interesting, but I like the sort of lower face approach here. The font, all lowercase, goes well with the ethereal glimmers of white and the pattern swirling about her face is curious and pretty. I also like how the image of the trees and building were included at the bottom. This is a well-designed cover and definitely eye-catching. So A+ as far as covers go.
Understanding a character is imperative to understanding the story. In Unblemished we have a relatively large cast of unique and developed characters. I can't talk about some of the characters without spoilers, so I will do my best to avoid those. We have the heroine Eliyana, a girl struggling with her self-worth. Many people suffer with it, me included at times, Eliyana has a strange red birthmark on her face that mortifies her. With all she goes through during the book, Eliyana is a character that grows a lot and one I liked for the most part.
Other characters of note include Joshua, Eliyana's guardian just a few years her senior, and Ky, who I would describe as the bad boy to Joshua's nice-guy persona. Both of these characters are well-written and I absolute love how Sara Ella did not write them as tropes, but made them into layered and sympathetic people. They got on my nerves at times, especially one of them, but they are important to the story and a good character will aggravate you at times. Perfect characters are boring!
The villain is pretty chilling. I can't go into why he's so chilling, but trust me. One doesn't want to mess with Jasyn Crow.
The supporting characters are pretty fabulous as well. In general, this book has a well-rounded cast.
Ah. The thing that connects everything and keeps the characters and plot together... Unblemished obviously carries a message of self-acceptance, not a truly rare message, but an important one nonetheless. Self-acceptance is also rarely presented from a Christian perspective, so that's also a good thing here, even if the novel is a fantasy.
This story does have some tropes in it (which I don't necessarily mind). There's the one where a person goes to another the world, the enduring love triangle, and the chosen one storyline (sort of). These actually all work pretty well into the fabric of this story. The other world is a reflection of our own and Eliyana's journey there is nothing like Lucy's peaceful journey into Narnia. In fact, it's kind of scary and worrisome. Goody.
The love triangle. I hate love triangles. Okay, I dislike them. Sometimes. I've watched enough Korean dramas that I know my love triangles... The thing about love triangles is this: if they aren't done well, they are the worst. The girl in a love triangle (or guy, if the situation is reversed) is often so indecisive and flaky that the guys should just go find someone else. I found that to be much less promiYonent here. The love triangle had explanations. The reason the main character struggled had an explanation. It wasn't just because she couldn't decide which of the two buff, extremely hot guys she liked more.
Also, I want to note how much I love that looks are not highlighted here. Eliyana has a hideous birthmark. Ky has horrible acne. I just love that not everyone is porcelain skinned or the world's definition of beautiful. Thank you, Sara Ella, for that.
The story is well-written and exciting. I spent a lot of time that I should have been sleeping during college last semester burning through this book. Yeah, I have no regrets.
The worldbuilding is excellent. In one book Ella created an expansive universe of sorts full of exciting possibility.
Also, I shall not spoil it, but there is a bit of a twist that I didn't see coming. As a person who often sees things coming (an annoyance when trying to watch a film), I was pretty surprised.
Unblemished is a great book about embracing who you are and your purpose and the characters go on both literal and figurative journeys that are incredibly engaging. Add to that Sara Ella's beautiful prose and you have a winner for this author's first novel. I can't wait to see what comes next!
You can buy Unblemished here or wherever it is sold.