Diamond City – Francesca Flores

CAUTION:This book is highly addictive.

Aina Solís may be a skilled assassin, but she is nothing without Kohl’s protection. She’s a blade. A weapon. A means to an end that has no business thinking for itself. Kohl found her when she was starving and living on the streets of a city erupting with violence. He taught her to be brave. He made her strong. It’s not fear or power or money Aina wants, it’s Kohl’s praise – for him to finally see her the way she’s always seen him.

Good things don’t happen to girls who come from nothing…unless they risk everything.

When a target meant for dead survives, Aina loses everything – now she is the target. Convinced there is a chance she can win back Kohl’s affection, Aina devises a plan to kill Kouta Hirai for good, but she can’t do it alone. With her best friend, Teo, and an unlikely alliance with Kouta’s younger brother, Ryuu, Aina dodges attacks from rival gangs, Diamond Guards, and old friends. Kohl has made it clear that he will not stop anyone who tries to kill her, because her usefulness has run its course. The love Aina has clung to for years is, the love that saved her, is, in a word, TOXIC.

Maybe she had climbed too high. But this job was her only chance at not falling to the bottom once more…Kohl had hit her. Kohl had shot at her. Kohl had left her to the mercy of the city.
She still owed him.

In the midst of black market diamonds, gang fights, and a city corrupted by money and violence, Flores expertly weaves in the story of a girl who believes she is worth nothing. Aina’s self-deprecating and heartbreaking view of herself will remind you of someone you know. Someone who, no matter what they accomplish, cares only for the opinion of a person who treats them like dirt. I loved how the supporting characters in the story did not keep silent about the way Kohl had twisted and toyed with Aina’s mind in the years she trained with him.

Seeing Aina realize the truth in her friends’ words left me feeling warm and cozy and hopeful for the countless girls like her in my own city.

Diamond City is a story about faith in all its forms. Aina’s parents (and everyone like them) were killed for refusing to stop practicing the religion of the “Mothers.” Even so, there are still people willing to risk torture and execution by remaining faithful to their deities. This was an underlying theme throughout the story that allowed me to connect to the characters spiritually as well as intellectually. Right or wrong, Aina, Teo, Ryuu, Kohl… each of them placed their faith in someone or something, and that faith determined everything they said or did. Their faith causes readers to think about who/what they place their own faith in – what it will cost them, and whether it’s worth it.

Francesca Flores does not disappoint with her creative and dazzling debut; it’s fast-paced, exciting, and filled with characters you can’t help but root for.
I highly recommend!

If you enjoyed Ash Princess , All Out of Pretty, or City of Embers, you will be enthralled by the world Flores has created here.

Content Warnings:
Violence: Aina is a trained assassin, and as such, there is a decent amount of death in the story. These deaths are not overly gruesome, but do describe wounds/blood loss/weapons used.

Emotional/Physical Abuse: Kohl’s behavior toward Aina is nothing short of abusive and may be triggering for readers who have experienced physical and emotional trauma similar to Aina’s.

Recommended Age: 13+ due to violence.

Questions to consider
***After everything he’d done to her, why do you think Aina was so desperate for Kohl to forgive her?
***What about Aina’s relationship with Kohl struck you as “unhealthy?” Have you seen couples in your own life who act this way?
***If you thought a friend was in a toxic relationship, how would you tell them? Do you think they would listen, or just storm off because they didn’t want to hear it?