Crown of Oblivion by Julie Eshbaugh

Title: Crown of Oblivion
Author: Julie Eshbaugh
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: November 12th 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Astrid is the surrogate for Princess Renya, which means she bears the physical punishment if Renya steps out of line. Astrid has no choice—she and her family are Outsiders, the lower class of people without magic and without citizenship.

But there is a way out of this life—competing in the deadly Race of Oblivion. To enter the race, an Outsider is administered the drug Oblivion, which wipes their memory clear of their past as they enter a new world with nothing to help them but a slip of paper bearing their name and the first clue. It’s not as simple as solving a puzzle, however—for a majority of the contestants, the race ends in death. But winning would mean not only freedom for Astrid, but citizenship and health care for her entire family. With a dying father to think of, Astrid is desperate to prevail.

From the beginning, the race is filled with twists and turns. One of them is Darius, a fellow racer Astrid meets but isn’t sure she can trust. Though they team up in the race, as Astrid’s memories begin to resurface, she remembers just who he was to her—a scorned foe who may want revenge. Astrid also starts to notice she has powers no Outsider should—which could help her win the race, but also make her a target if anyone finds out. With stakes that couldn’t be higher, Astrid must decide what is more important: risking her life to remember the mysteries of the past, or playing a cutthroat game in order to win her—and her family’s—freedom.



Crown of Oblivion is a fast-paced story with an MC that doesn’t fit into a perfect mold. I love that the story does indeed mainly focus on the race, that’s what we are here for.

I loved Astrid’s character. I found her very interesting and also the fact that I realized even though we read the prologue. Time passes, that as a reader we don’t experience, and we start at the race. So it took me a bit into the race to realize that I didn’t really know Astrid in the race. I knew the Astrid that was before her brother left. When people made comments about her, which I would get highly offended on her behalf, I realized I didn’t know what she was like before losing her memories. I also really liked that even though she is strong and resourceful she can’t magically just solve every riddle on her own. Sometimes she is like, I have no idea what that’s supposed to be. I loved that!! She is such a complicated and imperfect character. Some of her choices are made out of her desire to protect her family not necessarily because she wants to be a hero. Very interesting. I’d be curious how her decisions would have differed with her memories.

There are a lot of characters that surface around Astrid. Being that she doesn’t have her memories she has to piece together who they are and we do that with her. It's an interesting idea to think about that losing your memories except for you basic knowledge of life and life skills can shape you into this person that when you get your memories back you are not the same anymore. So we got to know the different parts of Astrid’s life in the same way she gets to know them again.

Renya is a character I’m very conflicted about. I don’t think she necessarily didn’t care about the fact that Astrid is her surrogate. That is too much of an easy answer. I think when she did things that cause Astrid to be whipped it wasn’t because she didn’t care it was more that she selfishly didn’t think about it. I know that sounds like the same thing but it’s not. It wouldn’t be the punishment for Renya if she didn’t care at all, it would not make sense. I think there would probably be thoughts like oh I won’t get caught it’s okay. It’s easy not to fear as much when you are not the one taking the brunt of the abuse. Astrid could be punished because Renya in the heat of emotions does or says something stupid. It’s a very complicated relationship and very complicated character.

There are many components to the world and I found it interesting. We see much of it through the race but not everything. We have a Monarchy, a rebellion and a group of people who are simply hiding out. This shapes the landscape. There is also a hierarchy of Outsider versus Citizen, which defines how the Monarchy works.

There is romance, sort of but I would consider it a slow burn. Astrid isn’t there to fall in love with anyone, she is there to gain her freedom.

I really enjoyed Crown of Oblivion.


Julie Eshbaugh is a YA writer and former filmmaker. She made two short films and then spent several years producing an online video series for teens which received several honors from the Webby Awards. Her new YA fantasy standalone, CROWN OF OBLIVION, is coming from HarperTeen November 2019. IVORY AND BONE (HarperTeen 2016) and OBSIDIAN AND STARS (HarperTeen 2017), her prehistoric fantasy duology, are out now. You can learn more about Julie’s writing escapades by visiting www.julieeshbaugh.com.

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About Jen

I love books, tea/coffee(by the gallon) and sour candy. I wear my nerd badge with pride and have two children ages 5 and 3 that keep me on my toes.
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1 comments:

  1. My favorite genre is fantasy and this one sounds like a very unique story that I would enjoy. Definitely adding to my TBR.

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