My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
I had high hopes for this book but unfortunately it didn’t quite live up to them. As a YA dystopian, road trip type book it should have been perfect for me but despite being well written I felt like there just wasn’t anything new or original. It’s possible I just picked this up at the wrong point in time but it left me feeling a little bit “been there, read that”.
It is a first novel from this author and there is potential, it’s just not quite living up to it yet.
ONE FOR SORROW, TWO MEANS DEATH.
In the Barrenlands of Wrath, no one dies of old age. Kyle is used to its harsh laws, but the cold-blooded separation of identical twins and execution of the ‘evil twists’ at the Annual Peace Fair shocks him.
When Kyle himself is betrayed, he flees for his life with the reluctant help of Sky, a rebel pilot with a hidden agenda. As the hunt intensifies, Kyle soon realises that he is no ordinary runaway, although he has no idea why. Fighting to learn the hideous truth, their reluctant, conflicted partnership will either save them – or kill them.
At the start it reminded me quite a lot of the Chaos Walking Trilogy by Patrick Ness as there are quite a few similarities in storyline. The main character Kyle is a teenage boy, growing up in a brutal land of settlers who feels like he doesn’t quite fit in. There is the fanatical religious belief, in this case that in every set of twins one is evil and must be executed, and secrets around Kyle’s past that make him unique. It even has Kyle going on the run and forced to team up with a girl his own age (Sky).
Where it differs though is that this is a much bigger book in terms of scale. The first book in Chaos Walking focused very much on one slow journey and the relationship that developed between the two main characters. This book also has a journey and a developing relationship at its core however it feels much wider and I’m not sure this is to its benefit as there is a heck of a lot going on.
It is the first book in a series so there is a lot of world building, possibly too much. The characters seem to travel around the whole planet and go from a fair in a mining town to barren wastelands, to a swamp, to a shanty town and a military base. As it is an alien land there are different plants, dangerous wildlife and advanced technology. That combined with a lot of characters, different factions and new terms and language make it a bit difficult to keep track of everything.
The writing is pretty good but I think it lacks a bit in terms of description, something which I very rarely say (I’m not a big fan of long winded descriptions of things). I found it difficult to picture the world and at times struggled to work out what certain things actually were (is it a plant? is it an animal?). I get the feeling that the author may have sacrificed some of the detail to keep up the fast paced action.
The story is definitely fast paced and a lot does happen in it but for me possibly too much. I think I would have preferred a slightly slower story with a bit more detail and character development.
The story is told from the perspective of Kyle who I have to admit I didn’t particularly like. Kyle was always playing the victim, “why is this happening to me”, “I don’t want this” etc and I think spent most of the story moaning. When he wasn’t moaning he was doing the most ridiculously stupid things ever. He does have some skills and knowledge but seems to lack common sense and a survival instinct. If anyone deserved what happened to them it was him (and personally I thought he got off quite lightly considering the fate of some of the other characters).
Unfortunately my feelings toward the female lead Sky weren’t much better. She is the tough girl, who has to put up with Kyle and spends most of her time teaching him about the world and keeping him alive. I do like a tough girl but she was maybe a little bit too unsympathetic and rude. She is passionate but has a bit of a tendency to over react which is a little annoying.
While there are a lot of other characters within the book I felt like they didn’t get enough development. They were introduced and then seemed to quickly disappear never to be heard from again. One particular, and very important, character towards the end literally just got a couple of pages. I think this is part of the reason that I couldn’t really connect with the story. I didn’t like the main characters and no one else was given enough time for me to get to know them.
This is the first in a series so I’m sure there will be a lot more development in subsequent books but I’m not sure I will be rushing out to get them. There just wasn’t enough in this book that was original and engaging to make me desperate to read on and find out what happens next. It’s too similar to a number of other books and is just suffering in comparison, or at least it is for me.
It’s not a bad book. In fact as a debut novel it’s a pretty good effort, I think I’ve just read too many great books recently that do it better.
I received a copy of this free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.