Thursday, September 19, 2013

COUNTDOWN by Michelle Rowen

Rating: B+
Release Date: 09/24/13
3 seconds left to live. Once the countdown starts, it cannot be stopped. 

2 pawns thrown into a brutal underground reality game. 

Kira Jordan survived her family's murder and months on plague-devastated city streets with hard-won savvy and a low-level psi ability. She figures she can handle anything. Until she wakes up in a barren room, chained next to the notorious Rogan Ellis. 

1 reason Kira will never, ever trust Rogan. Even though both their lives depend on it. 

Their every move is controlled and televised for a vicious exclusive audience. And as Kira's psi skill unexpectedly grows and Rogan's secrets prove evermore deadly, Kira's only chance of survival is to risk trusting him as much as her instincts. Even if that means running head-on into the one trap she can't escape. 


My thoughts on the book:
Countdown is a fun and light Dystopian read. I know fun and light don't normally describe Dystopians, with this novel it fits. The characters are likable and easy to sympathize with, and the plot is full of non-stop action and suspense, with a touch of romance. While Rowan didn't delve as deeply into the post-plague world as I wish she had, this novel was fast-paced and kept me interested. For those of you looking for a quick read with an interesting plot, look no further. 

Kira's parents died in front of her two years prior to when this book takes place, and it's hard not to feel bad for her. Yes, she's a thief, but she has no choice. It's either that or becoming a hooker, and you have to admire her for taking the "high road," if nothing else. While we know all about Kira's situation, Rowen never delves deeply into her emotions regarding this. I felt that was a disservice to the character and impeded a deeper relationship between the reader and Kira. Similarly, Rogan is a swoon-worthy male lead with his black hair and ocean colored eyes. We learn that he's tortured early on, but it takes awhile for his mystery to unravel. Still, with Kira's empathic abilities, I feel that we should have felt more from Rogan than we did. The secondary characters are mainly fill-ins, and I didn't feel a sense of attachment to any of them. That also kept me from being more emotionally involved in this novel. Regardless, Kira and Rogan are both interesting characters, and I did like them. I just wish I had gotten to feel more from them. 

The world-building is concise yet lacking. Rowen doesn't go deeply into what life is like in post-plague America. At least I assume it's America. Giving us a city name would have helped, too, actually. I feel that so much more could have been explored within this world because the premise is extremely intriguing. I wanted to know more about all of the technology that Kira didn't know existed. I also wanted to know more about how the plague was stopped, what types of people were effected, what kinds of jobs existed for those left behind, what school was like in this world, etc. It was clear what happened to cause society to be the way it was, but it how society actually was remained a mystery. 

The plot itself is pretty well-developed. This novel is very much plot driven, and I usually don't like that. However, with Countdown it worked. On the first page, we're thrown into this "video game" type reality show, and we go through the entire horrific account with Kira and Rogan. There are surprises at every turn and many of them I didn't see coming. Kira's empathic ability lends some more mystery and intrigue to the story. This book is fast-paced, but the plot doesn't feel rushed. However, there are random info dumps in which Rowen quickly tells us what is going on. It seems as if she's trying to hurry and get the information out of the way before it interferes with the plot. This happens with a lot of plot driven novels, which is why I generally prefer character driven books. This story hooked me, though, and I read it through in one sitting. 

Overall, I really enjoyed this book, though I would have liked more information about the world and the characters living in it. If you're looking for a quick, light, fun read, then this book is definitely for you. Also, if you love Dystopian, then you will adore Countdown

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