First Thoughts: I had pretty high expectations going in. The blurb compares the book to Tamora Pierce and George R. R. Martin's works, which in my opinion gives it some pretty big shoes to fill. So, suffice it to say that I was hoping to be blown away by The Cadet.And Then: Alex Lidell did not let me down one bit. The story was exciting and dangerous. The pacing was fast enough that I was never bored, but not too fast as to loose any character or plot development. Speaking of characters, I truly was invested in each and every one. This is a rare thing for me. Each character was so well written and given so much emotional depth that I felt as if I personally knew each and every one. The main character Renee de Winter was spirited, brave, ambitious, and loyal. I was rooting for her from the get go. I loved how dedicated she was in breaking the stereotype that only boys were strong enough to make it through Cadet training. She is soon thrown into a whirlwind of political intrigue, kidnapping, and tough decisions that put some of her beliefs to the ultimate test. Commander Savoy was another favorite character of mine. I'll admit that I didn't like him very much at first, but once I got to know him and his reasons for the things he did, I really "got" him. He has a very tough exterior and kept his emotions bottled inside. As the story progresses, we learn what happened to make him that way, and it makes him that much more lovable. He was such a good guy, and you could tell how much he cared about Renee's success as a Cadet. He also has a pivotal role in her growth as a character. As for romance, well it wasn't a huge part of the book, but it wasn't lacking either. I honestly felt that it was done just right for this story and these characters. If you are NOT a fan of insta-love, you will find the romance inThe Cadet very refreshing! I really liked the fact that Renee didn't go all goo goo eyed over Savoy and let it take away from her duty or sense of self. I just think Lidell handled that aspect of the story really well. Sometimes less is more, and in this case it was. I really enjoyed the many twists and turns this story took. I was literally sitting there with my mouth hanging open like a fish at some points! I kept saying to myself "WOW, I never saw that coming!". The fight scenes were action packed and will leave you on the edge of your seat. There is a nice bit of magic in the book as well which I really enjoyed. This book really had so much going on (In a GOOD way) that I could never fully explain everything I loved about it without having spoilers. I will say this, if you are a fan of Tamora Pierce, Rae Carson, or Kristin Cashore; you will LOVE The Cadet of Tildor. Alex Lidell has definitely found a new fan in this reader, and I will eagerly pick up anything she writes in the future. I don't know if there will be a sequel to The Cadet, but I freaking hope there is. That ending! Oh, man. It wasn't even a traditional cliffhanger, but still left me aching for more!(In a good way). I already miss the characters, and want to read more about their lives. Overview: I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone. It is categorized as "fantasy", but really has a bit of everything. There is action, political intrigue and magic. It also has a good deal of real life issues and lessons, which would make this a great classroom read. There is really something for everyone in this one, so I suggest you pick up a copy right away. Alex Lidell's debut has made her one of my new favorite authors. Watch this woman everyone, she is an amazing new voice in YA fiction.Rating: 5 out of 5 starsFavorite Quote: "A hill feels like a mountain until the real thing laughs in your face."