I avoided The Crown's Game for too long because I thought it was going to be a Hunger Games repeat. I was SO wrong! It's 1825, in Russia, and Vika and Nikolai are the only two individuals in Russia who have innate, magical abilities. They are each being raised to become the Tsar's Enchanter. However, only one of them can have that title. To determine who gets it, the Tsar begins the Game wherein only one can survive. However, that game + duel to the death + the only one left living is the winner is where the similarities with The Hunger Games ends. Instead of outright warfare, Nikolai and Vika try to out-do the other in feats of magic to help the tsarevich celebrate his impending birthday. There might be some underhanded violence, though, too, since only one can come out alive and the victor. There's some falling in love, some beautiful magic, some blossoming friendships, some betrayals, and some Lady Macbeth-like behavior from a younger sister all while the Game is taking place. But dystopian violence is never present. Skye does an EXCELLENT job at executing third-person omniscient narration (the best I've read in a very long time), and the short chapters help her accomplish this. There is lots of action and very little ruminating, which will make The Crown's Game a hit with reluctant readers. And the small pinches of romance (which seem hoaky at the beginning) won't deter boys from reading it. If you prefer high fantasy over contemporary fantasies, you would still enjoy The Crown's Game. The non-British setting is similar in it unfamiliarity as an epic realm would be. And if you like historical fiction, specifically set in Russia, you'll still enjoy The Crown's Game because Sky was a Russian history/literature major at Stanford, so she has done her homework (literally!) in regards to the historical facts. The only thing I disliked was the actor's accent(s) for the audiobook. When he reads narration, he affects a slight Russian accent and makes it more pronounced when reading dialogue. This is annoying, as is the Russian accent. I'm not super familiar with Russian accents, but it was just unnecessary. Do yourself a favor and read the book; don't listen to the audio version. Now, on to the sequel!