If you’ve fallen in love with Kai and Paedyn in Powerlessand had your heart ripped out by Adena and Mak in Powerfulwe know that you can’t WAIT to read Reckless! Even though Powerless broke our hearts into a million tiny pieces the first time we read it (thanks, Lauren) and we were left on an EPIC cliffhanger, we knew we wanted to relive this epic story in preparation for our return to Ilya. 

If you’re short on time and didn’t get to re-read Powerless to prepare, we’ve got you covered with this epic recap! If you want to do a re-read in the future, check out our tandem read guide for revisiting both Powerful and Powerless!

WARNING – if you haven’t already experienced the DELIGHT that comes with reading Powerless… go read it ASAP and stop reading here to avoid any spoilers!!!

Paedyn Gray is an Ordinary, something that makes you an outcast in the Kingdom of Ilya at best, and at worst, is a death sentence. For decades in Ilya, the Elites have possessed extraordinary powers gifted to them by the Plague, while anyone born without powers is considered a threat to the kingdom. Because of this, Paedyn is forced to use her skills of observation to pose as a Psychic to blend in with the Elites and survive in the infamous Loot Alley,  a slum within the Kingdom. Her situation is made even worse when her father is killed by Imperials (the king’s guard), but in the years that follow, Paedyn’s world is made brighter by her best friend Adena, a seamstress, Phaser, and the sweetest of all sweeties. The two survive off of Adena’s sewing and Paedyn’s thievery. 

This simple (but difficult and dangerous) way of life is completely overturned when Paedyn both robs and unwittingly saves Malakai “Kai” Azer—one of Ilya’s two princes—from an attack by members of the Resistance. Kai is training to become his brother Kitt, the future king’s Enforcer,  as he is a Wielder, an ability that allows him to use the power of anyone within reach. While he may seem to be broody 100% of the time and is the darkness to his brother Kitt’s “Golden Boy” persona, Kai does have a heart and secretly attempts to spare any Ordinary children he’s tasked with hunting down, saving from a terrible fate when he can.

Paedyn’s heroic rescue of the prince earns her the nickname “Silver Savior,” and brings her unwelcome notoriety, placing a target on her back and earning her a place in the 6th Purging Trials. The Trials, which take place every year, are a series of deadly games meant to showcase the most powerful Elites’ abilities and earn them glory and notoriety. In reality,  they are a means of reinforcing the prejudice against powerless individuals because the king himself chooses not only Elites (those with coveted powers) but also Mundanes (those with more common abilities), making the Trials an unfair fight.

After reading her name on the list of the chosen for the Trials, Paedyn must leave Adena behind (*sob*) and travel to the palace with the other participants. Once there, she meets her personal Imperial guard, Lenny, and begins to adjust to palace life. After two days in isolation in her room, Paedyn and the other contestants (Ace, Hera, Andrea “Andy” Vos, Braxton Hale, Sadie, and Blair) finally meet each other at a dinner, where she is also reunited with Kai and introduced to the king and queen. Tensions are HIGH (both between the opponents and between Kai and Paedyn), especially when Paedyn is shocked at the kings mention of her father, but the evening ends without any significant violence (just a little knife to throat action, NBD), and training begins for the contestants.

A few days later, the contestants are introduced to the public through interviews and demonstrations of their abilities, and Paedyn is able to put on a convincing show as a “Psychic”. Training continues, and against her better judgment, she finds herself befriending both Kitt, who is kind and compassionate (even though he closely resembles his cruel father), and the more challenging Kai. Paedyn and Kai struggle to resist their undeniable attraction to each other, but their differences as well as Paedyn’s desire to keep her secret keep them apart, so when Kitt asks her to be his partner for the upcoming ball, she accepts!

Paedyn struggles to find a gown for the event, but why not have something custom made when your BFF is an incredibly talented seamstress?! As an added perk, Adena is allowed to come live at the palace and given room, board, and salary for the duration of the Trials. Kai and Paedyn continue to grow closer, even participating in midnight dance lessons before the ball. 

At the ball, Paedyn throws caution (and tradition) to the wind by wearing a STUNNING silver gown made by Adena to match her nickname, the “Silver Savior,” and a knife is tied to her thigh, leaving Kai FLUSTERED. Everything is going fairly well until a Resistance attack breaks up the celebrations. Paedyn is forced into a safe room with the royal family (other than Kai, who stays to fight), and the attack causes her to decide that, should she survive the Trials, she will find the Resistance.

The first Trial kicks off the very next day, when contestants awaken deep in the Whispers, Ilya’s impenetrable forest. The contestants are left to survive in the forest and fight one another to retrieve the most armbands, all while being surveilled from afar by Sights, Elites with the ability to record and project what they see for Ilya’s audience (Creepy much?). After Kai finds Paedyn injured, she and the prince form a tentative alliance and eventually make it through the Trial, but two contestants, Sadie and Hera, are killed. Afterward, Paedyn secretly returns to Loot Alley to find members of the Resistance (including her guard, Lenny!), whom she promises to help sneak into the arena during the final trial. 

After a second ball, and a surprise fight to escalate tensions between the contestants, the second Trial begins. The contestants are grouped into teams and must climb a mountain to reach the top before the others. Despite being on opposing teams Kai and Paedyn both make the climb and reunite at the top. Most of the members of their respective teams make it as well, other than Braxton, who is killed by Blair. When a fight ensues between the contestants at the very top of the mountain, Paedyn lets Kai kill Ace, the Elite who injured her in the first Trial, while Kai lets her run to the flag and grab it, marking the end of the Trial.

The night of the third ball, Paedyn sneaks into the gardens to escape from the crowds. She is surprised to find Kai doing the same, and they lay in the grass together, talking about their lives and playing thumb wars (SWOON). They end the evening on an emotional note, and Paedyn returns to her room, only to be interrupted by Kitt, who asks Paedyn to take him to Loot. She agrees, because this is exactly what would help her find a passage the resistance can use to sneak into the palace, and together they sneak out via a hidden tunnel and observe life in Loot. 

At the final ball, Paedyn steals the secret tunnel’s key from Kitt and passes it off to Lenny. Later that night, Paedyn and Kai almost kiss, but they are interrupted by an Imperial informing the prince that the king wants to see him. The king warns Kai against getting too attached to Paedyn, and tensions rise, but Kitt intervenes, leaving Kai angry but sure that he will not give up Paedyn.

The third and final Trial begins in the Bowl the next day. When the contestants arrive, they are faced with a huge maze created and controlled by Blooms, who can grow incredibly strong plants, and the king announces to the crowd that the person who reaches the center of the maze and kills the criminal waiting there first will win the Trial. Kai and Paedyn make their way to the center first, where they find Adena chained up and beaten. The king, who knows that Paedyn is an Ordinary, used Adena to teach her a lesson. Adena tries to warn her friend, but a branch thrown by Blair hits Adena in the chest and impales her. Paedyn screams and holds her friend as she collapses in agony. 

Blair, the winner of the Trial, is cheered by the crowd. However, the atmosphere shifts when the celebration is interrupted by masked figures (the Resistance fighters!!) coming out of the tunnel and into the king’s box. They take the royal family hostage while others, including Silencers, ensure that no one in the crowd or among the contestants can use their powers. The fighters’ confrontation with the king and his Imperials, which was meant to be peaceful, turns into a massacre. 

As Kitt realizes Paedyn’s treason, she attempts to flee. However, she is stopped by the king, who reveals the truth about her father’s murder. Paedyn’s father was killed because of his involvement with the Resistance, but not by the king… KAI killed him as part of his Enforcer training (O.M.G.). Overcome by emotion, Paedyn kills the king and confronts Kai, who has the chance to kill her, but lets her run away because although he’s enraged, he can’t bear to end her life. 

Three days after the king’s death, Kitt has been crowned king, and is overwhelmed and exhausted by the pressure of his new position. In a haze of rage and grief over the loss of his father, Kitt orders Kai to hunt Paedyn down… and bring her back to him. 

Want to get a head start on reading Reckless now that you’re all caught up? Read the first 10 chapters here!