by Chris Babu
I got this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
In this book we meet a 16-year-old boy called Drayden. He lives in a dystopian world where Manhattan is called New America. Within it’s walls, the society is divided into groups.
When Drayden’t mother gets banished from New America, Drayden is determined to find out why. And the only way to do so is to enter the Initiation, and by doing so also risk his own life. But if he wins, he’ll get moved to the Bureau, the place where the rulers live, and maybe there he’ll find the answers he’s looking for.
The premise of this book was great and I really enjoy myself a good dystopia. But already from the start, even the first page, this book threw me off, and I had this feeling that this would not be a book in my taste. Unfortunately, I can’t really put my finger on exactly what it was about the story that I didn’t like, but it felt like it was all tell and no show in the beginning. And the main character, Drayden just felt like a 10-year-old in the beginning. He was mostly whining about his mother being taken away, which I do understand kind of sucks and in real life one would probably be in bed crying for months. But this is a novel and things need to happen, characters need to be given a personality and the story needs to be interesting. It didn’t really happen here, and it took about 20% of the book before things took off and I started getting into the story.
But even then, I didn’t really connect with the characters and I never had much love for Drayden. He was whiny and scared and not at all as good as he was supposed to be. I mean, he’s supposed to be super smart, but how come we can’t see this? He relies heavily on other contestants to complete his tasks when in reality it should probably be the other way around. It was as if the story was written about all the other people, and he’s just one of the secondary characters. I would have loved to see this story from someone else POV.
Although it may sound like I didn’t like the book, it was still an enjoyable read. The book has a lot of good things too. Worldbuilding, suspense (when you reach the Initiation), twists. Overall this is a 3 star read, and even though it may not be a book I personally didn’t love, I can see the value of this novel and know that a lot of people will love it.
So, if you like dystopia and life & death challenges, give this book a try.
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