(4.5, actually)I struggled a lot with how to rate this novel. I'd had a lot of recommends for Marchetta's work and I'm a keen lover of fantasy. (Cut my teeth on it as an early reader with Tamora Pierce and Robin McKinley)Overall, I'd say this is by far one of the more mature and well written YA fantasy novels I've read. Believe me, they are few and far between in YA fiction of today. Marchetta has a clean cut, yet descriptive style of writing that I enjoyed and her dialogue is fantastic! My only issue with this novel and the reason I couldn't give it 5 stars, is Finnikin himself. I've thought about it to some extent, but in the end, I realized that it was his back story that just kept me from loving his character until the end of the book. In fact, I had a hard time relating to him at all sometimes, because I never really felt like I understood him. He went through so much pain and anguish, but never really seemed that affected by it. He seemed a lot like Richard the Seeker, from Terry Goodkind novels (Specifically, the beginning of Wizard's First Rule).He seems so untouched, and yet, much to my surprise, near the very end of the book, Marchetta lets it slip that as a TWELVE YEAR OLD BOY, Finn was held in prison for a month for insulting a neighboring king —something that would have had much more power for me if it had been relayed in the beginning of the story, to give me some insight into his character.In direct contrast to that, the other characters in the book: Evangelin, Froi, and Perri the Savage, not to mention Trevanlion, all had such intricate and fascinating back stories, I found myself wishing I could have read the story from their perspectives. (Which I did get a small piece of with Froi, admittedly.)Despite this one issue, the book was a great read and will certainly go into my "read again" pile!