4.5 Stars, rounded up to 5
End of Pride is a phenomenal debut adult dystopian novel by L.J. Duncan and is a perfect addition to the genre!
The book alternates between two POVs: Tyson and Brie, which I really enjoyed. Duncan handles the POV swaps perfectly, allows us to see the intricate world he's created through two different lenses, and at no point was I confused about which character I was reading about. Each transition was clean and seamless.
While both characters are very much likable, I think I found myself gravitating toward Tyson just a tad bit more. At the start of the story, he's living in a government-run underground sub-plaza under the Humanist Union's thumb. With his twenty-third birthday fast approaching, Tyson is dreading his requirement to participate in the Marriage Lottery--a practice where male citizens draw a number of registered female citizens as a means of selecting their spouse.
One thing I loved so much about Tyson was his snarky thoughts toward the Union, the Marriage Lottery, and the sub-plaza in which he dwelled. Whether it was the author's intention or not, I found myself chuckling at Tyson's narrative and internal thoughts because I related so much. On the outside, though (for the most part), he remains cool and collected, following along with everyone else as the Union expects.
Brie was great as well. Exhausted, injured, and determined, she's on the run after committing a murder. Unlike Tyson, we meet Brie on the surface as she's escaping--right in the midst of action. Her chapters were an awesome way to spice up the first bit of the book with suspense and intensity as we alternated between her and Tyson's day-to-day life underground.
Both characters exuded passion and strength. While Brie is more strategic and thinks things through a bit more, Tyson acts more on impulse. Both have their own unique troubled pasts, whether that be from specific traumas or living under an authoritarian regime. When their paths cross, it's simply beautiful. They balance each other wonderfully, and their combined passion, desperation, and resilience create a dynamic experience.
Another thing that I loved about this is the action. Duncan is a master when it comes to this and keeping you on the edge of your seat! Even better, he doesn't shy away from the raw, gritty truth of what living in such an oppressive world is like. It's real and emotional and dark, which is exactly how I like my dystopian novels.
My only reason for not giving this a full 5-star rating is because, personally, I felt like the beginning was a tad bit too slow, specifically in Tyson's POV. His first handful of chapters, while important, contained a lot of information all at once when it could've been broken up more and sprinkled throughout. But after that small patch, the pacing was perfect! A good balance of suspense with some more 'relaxed' scenes mixed in.
All in all, I loved this book and cannot wait to get book 2!!