Going into this read, I was a bit burnt out (pun intended) on YA fantasy, but this presented a refreshing take on a genre I love. Though it had many familiar plot elements, the author spun them uniquely to suit her well-rounded characters.
I LOVE that we had a world with a unique magic system that the protagonist did NOT partake in. And it wasn't that she couldn't, but she justifiably chose not to. I haven't seen this before, and it was a relief after so many overpowered protagonists in other YA fantasy.
The romantic sub-plot was believable and *added* to the plot instead of distracting from it. I understood where Theo was coming from, and I sympathized with/understood her choices. She was never some head-over-heels, lovestruck teenager. She had genuinely confusing emotions, but those were always secondary to her main goals.