Saturday, June 6, 2020

Own to Obey by Zoey Ellis

DNF @ 33%

**contains: mild spoilers and content warnings** 

After reading and enjoying CRAVE TO CONQUER, I was really excited to read more books in the Myth of Omega series. It seems to be like the Kushiel series in that, even though it's one overarching series, there are several standalone trilogies contained within the main series that focus on different characters. Trilogy #1 is about Cailyn and Drocco, and trilogy #2 is about Kardos and Shaya (Katashaya).

I hated this book, though. First, the writing and world-building is of a lower quality than the first book but that's fine. I was prepared to acknowledge that and give it three stars instead of four. Three stars means I liked it. The hero accepts Shaya as payment from Malloran for doing him an Alpha solid. He was supposed to get Shaya's sister, but since Kyus was engaged and crying, Shaya pulled a Katniss Everdeen and volunteered as tribute. And Tribute she certainly is because it's painfully obvious that Kardos sees Shaya as an object from the get-go.

Here's the thing about Omegaverse novels. They're not feminist-friendly and hinge on dubious consent and abuse, because they're basically alternate universes where humans have personality traits and cultures that are taken from now-debunked theories about wolf hierarchies that originated in the M/M fanfiction world. Alphas are the top dogs, Betas are the second in command, and Omegas are the exploited class that serve under and mate with the Alphas. I understood that all going in and normally none of those things upset me while reading, but OWN TO OBEY was so despicable that I just found myself getting more and more upset while reading.

In CRAVE TO CONQUER, Drocco was cruel to Cailyn but it was also clear that he did respect her in a weird way, and their attraction to each other was so powerful on a primal level that it became easier to "forgive" the bad things that Drocco did (and there were many). Cailyn was also an excellent subversion of your typical Omegaverse female protagonist: she was smart, capable, brave, and resourceful. Some of the things she did to thwart the love interest made me laugh. By contrast, Shaya is totally helpless and Kardos sees her as chattel. He forbids her to speak her own language or practice her own culture, rips off her headscarf multiple times (which I imagine would be triggering to Muslims reading this book), and "corrects" her mistakes with torture and physical abuse.

After like the third or fourth torture scene (not counting the initial scene where he takes her without her consent), which included hurting her hands with a rock, locking her in a sensory deprivation chamber, and forcing her to work until she collapses and then stringing her up by her arms when she can't move, I was D-O-N-E. I can't root for a hero like this. Drocco was probably about as cruel as I can stomach in a romance novel with no groveling, but Kardos crosses that line about five dozen times and then defaces it. I want no more to do with this "hero." Thanks.

1 out of 5 stars

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