THE PRISON HEALER kind of reads as a cross between AIR AWAKENS, THRONE OF GLASS, and INCARCERON. I wasn't really a fan of any of those three books which maybe explains why this book quickly paled for me in terms of enjoyment. Kiva is a healer in a prison, where she basically has two jobs: carve the Z into prisoners' wrists and then cure them of any ailments. Since she has a sweet gig, people don't think all that kindly of her. Especially since she's often one of the first people they see once she gets down to business with the tagging. So yeah, not many people are #TeamKiva.
When Kiva ends up becoming the Champion for a Rebel Queen, she ends up having to go through all of these ordeals that will mean her life if she fails. She also ends up embroiled in a political intrigue that seems to be taking place entirely within the jail. Which... okay. I actually ended up getting pretty confused at this point because it suffered a problem that a lot of these claustrophobically set fantasy novels have, where it kind of ignores everything that's happening outside the scope of the main setting, making the reader wonder why this is such a big deal. I mean... it's a jail.
The plot twist at the end was seriously THRONES OF GLASS-y, and so were the blue-and-gold colored eyes and the PoC friend, Naari, who kind of ends up serving as a deus-ex-machina (hi, Nehemia). Oh, and there's a playboy prince who likes her for no reason. I did like how several of the pages were just black when the heroine gets thrown into a dungeon-like thing called the Abyss, and the healing angle was cool, but it quickly lapsed into pretty generic YA fantasy and Kiva ended up becoming a Mary Sue. People who are more partial to the three books I mentioned two paragraphs ago will probably enjoy this more than I did-- especially since it is somewhat darker than your typical YA fantasy fare (and unlike some reviewers, I took no issue with this). It just wasn't to my taste.
Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review!
2 out of 5 stars