This book is amazing. I give two types of books 5 stars. The first type is one where the book feels personal, like I relate to the characters and the story just touches me somehow. The second is one where I want to run down the street, naked if necessary, to get everyone's attention to immediately go out and buy the book because the story is just so awesome. This is the second. Yelena is an amazing character, and I was drawn to her from the very beginning. I think she was handled very well, she had to go through quite a transition during the span of the book, and it all seemed very believable and not rushed at all. Everything from her weapon training to her very basic induction into her magical abilities to the romantic bond she ends up forming is all so real feeling, not contrived or forced just to carry out the story. Yelena IS the story...and that is my favorite kind of book, one that revolves around the characters. Some of what she had to go through was heartbreaking...but those experiences were necessary to form her character, I don't think she would have been complete without them (plus there would have been a gaping plot hole...). Also, for the record, her poison teacher Valek is my new book crush. His character is the coolest...I love assassins! I don't have much reading time with them...mainly just the Tales of the Otori (which are also amazing)...so reading about someone being able to kill a gazillion people at once was icing on the cake. Anyway...I highly recommend this. It has it all. I LOVE the feeling when, once you finish a book, you immediately want to flip back to the beginning and read it over again. Its a confirmed case of book love.