Crier's War by Nina Varela

by - November 27, 2019


Let me tell you why Crier's War, an F/F YA sci-fi enemies to lovers novel with protagonists who are real enemies on opposite sides, a novel that I've been hyped for all year... disappointed me.

My rating: 2.5/5 stars

What is Crier's War about?

After the War of Kinds ravaged the kingdom of Rabu, the Automae, designed to be the playthings of royals, usurped their owners’ estates and bent the human race to their will.
Now Ayla, a human servant rising in the ranks at the House of the Sovereign, dreams of avenging her family’s death…by killing the sovereign’s daughter, Lady Crier. 
Crier was Made to be beautiful, flawless, and to carry on her father’s legacy. But that was before her betrothal to the enigmatic Scyre Kinok, before she discovered her father isn’t the benevolent king she once admired, and most importantly, before she met Ayla. 
Now, with growing human unrest across the land, pressures from a foreign queen, and an evil new leader on the rise, Crier and Ayla find there may be only one path to love: war.

On to the review...



Varela's prose is downright breathtaking. Her vivid descriptions helped this novel come to life. Her lines were pure poetry. I understand why she's acclaimed as a writer. 

(But as I've tweeted before... fluency does not equal a good story. More on that later)


The world of Crier's War is vast and epic. We have our Automae, androids who rose against their human masters and eventually enslaved the earth. Then we have our humans who are rebelling to fight back. Crier's War is heavy on the politics of this world and the details of Automae cultures. I really got a full picture of this universe's history, legends, and landscape. It was very fascinating!


Unfortunately, this is going to be the majority. The cons outweighed the pros in my mind, until I couldn't ignore them anymore. 


It's like the author mistook the advice for "tell, don't show". The sheer amount of info dumping in this novel made me want to tear my hair out. Do you know it took FIVE chapters for the real story to begin? We started with four chapters of info dumping. Four. You must realize how insane that is. It was all info that could have been woven organically into the story instead of narratively explained. Reading the first half of this novel was an exercise in frustration.

I want to read a novel, not a Wikipedia article. And frankly, Varela writes like a very verbose Wikipedia writer. Why introduce us to the world through the character's eyes when you can just explain it clinically? Why show how much these characters love each other when you can just tell us repeatedly what emotions they're feeling? I mean, who cares about proper plot progression when you can just write a 100k synopsis, right? /sarcasm


Ayla and Crier are legitimate enemies. Ayla is a human girl who becomes Crier's maidservant with the intent to kill her. Crier's fiance wants to kill all humans, while her father thinks they're beneath Automae. Ayla starts out hating Crier with every fiber of her being. And I loved that. But it still devolved into painful instalove.

Crier is immediately physically attracted to Ayla. Of course, she doesn't get it, because Automae aren't meant to feel or whatever. And we don't even get to see Ayla falling in love with Crier, because she just keeps rejecting her own feelings until she falls hook line and sinker. They do share some tender bonding moments, but they're so jarring and unexpected for the state of their relationship. Instead of sinking gradually from enemies to friends to lovers, you could tell that the author was basically yelling "look!! I will force them to fall in love!! I will force them to have a romantic night under the stars when they've only talked twice so that they'll get the hots for each other"

And then Crier spends all her time mooning over Ayla, a girl she barely knows, while Ayla goes hot and cold "I hate her" "I want to touch her" "but I hate her, I'm gonna kill her". I loved Ayla's struggles, but Crier's felt like such a large leap that could be bridged with some actual relationship development. Not explained, not told, but SHOWED.

Lastly, I actually deeply enjoyed the last 10% of this book. The plot was very gripping by then, and I couldn't stop reading. But tell me why it took over 300 pages to be engaging? It felt like there was a ridiculous amount of filler just to get to this meaty part.

I think this novel could have benefited from another round of editing. The concept was stellar, and the prose is luscious, but it was such a pain to read. Unfortunately.

Quick categories

Steamy hatefuck scale: 3/5
  • Only Ayla hates Crier. Crier falls in love at first sight with Ayla. So while I'm a fan of Ayla's vicious dreams of chopping Crier's head off, I am not a fan of Crier's instalove. It's actually funny how Crier spends weeks mooning over Ayla's hair, her eyes, her hands, her beauty... while Ayla just thinks about how much she wants to kill Crier and get revenge (no matter how beautiful the android is).
Secret softness scale: 3/5
  • There's a lot of loving descriptions of each other, how much they want to touch, how much unresolved tension there is, and how they need to be cruel to each other but they can't. 
I wanted to know what happened next scale: 2/5
  • I pretty much DNF'ed this book near the end. I'm sorry. I was just so sick of the constant info dumping (WHICH NEVER ENDS) and the instalove and the cliches that could have been good if only there was a different spin to things.

Varela is a gifted poet, I give her that. The Crier's War universe is so interesting and fun to play around in. But luscious prose does not equal a good story. And what is a novel but an unfolding of narrative? Her pretty packaging lacked substance. And this is why I do not recommend reading Crier's War. I personally did not enjoy it, although I'm still glad that I bought it, because I supported a queer book. But otherwise... nah.

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  1. oh it's great the world building and writing were so good. It's just a pity there was so much info dumping. That's awful it developed into painful instalove as well. Sounds like it was a mixed bag, but it's good you enjoyed the last ten percent. Excellent review!