Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Review (Release Day): Countdown by Michelle Rowen

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. GAME OVER -Goodreads

*Thank you to NetGalley for providing a free e-copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Publisher: Harlequinn Teen
Release Date: October 1, 2013
Page Count: 336

Favorite Quotes:
"That's all it was. Just a small shadow of emotion smothered under a blanket of icy darkness."

"Ellis Enterprises was a fity-story building made of silver and glass that sat in an otherwise empty section of the city like a cold, sparkling gem under the overcast skies." 

"I'd never told anyone I'd met on the streets, holding my secrets close as if they might keep me warm on cold nights."

"His words held naked eagerness."

"Despair took hold of me with a clawed hand, crushing me in its grip."

Things That Bugged Me:
  • Very reminiscent of The Hunger Games as far as rules that change as the competition progresses.
  • This book breaks a lot of writing rules, which hopefully doesn't impede other readers' experience. There are several spots where questions come two in a row or dialogue questions are answered with a question. Also, words were repeated close together: "...wall in an entirely silver room. Floors, ceiling, walls..." Sometimes Kira and Rogan seem to be having two separate conversations with each other (the dialogue was choppy). Once in a while I couldn't get on board with the characters' observations (Kira says Rogan has nice eyes and a sexy smile-- an unusual combination. She also notes in her mind that Rogan is a near-seventeen year old which doesn't seemed odd for her to think in that specific way. Plus the author says he's seventeen later, so it seems unnecessary at that point. Then there's "frowned so hard that it hurt." How do you do that to yourself?). It does a lot of telling instead of showing with details ("It was large and grand, with rich fabrics and beautiful artwork."). There are way too many adverbs ("already nearly healed.") And THE CLICHES KILLED ME.
"door didn't look any worse for wear"
"illnesses ran rampant"
"guilty as sin"
"The emotion I'd seen there a minute ago had left the building."
"waiting for the other shoe to drop" 
"Wouldn't want to throw more wood on the fire beneath us."
"more fuel for the fire"

 If any of these had been worded in an unusual way, I wouldn't have had an issue.
  • Personality bloopers. Of course, no one but the author knows what the characters are really like, but I did come to know them during the course of the story. The cuss words were just thrown in there and didn't fit either Kira or Rogan, both misunderstood teens. Sure, they've lived the hard life, and Rogan has been in juvie and is about to go to an adult prison. But, if he wants to impress Kira, it doesn't seem logical he'd throw in some damns every now and again. I felt the words were just included because that's how teens are perceived as talking.   
  • There is a part where Rogan and Kira are walking along a fence while they've being chased. Unrealistic.
  • After Kira rolls her ankle, we are constantly reminded about it. At one point it was mentioned three times in about five pages.
  • Their romance evolves over the course of 2-3 days. It was way too fast. Even another character commented on the quick time frame. I guess when you're in a life or death situation...But Kira finds out a huge secret about Rogan, something so huge she should immediately want revenge, and yet she still falls for him.
  • Kira goes from one extreme to the next: I hate him, he's interesting, I can't possibly like him, BOOM- head over heels (cliche on purpose). I didn't find enough things about Rogan (besides their stilted conversations) that would cause her to develop passionate feelings for him. I wanted to see the cute sideways glances, hairs standing up on the back of her neck from a touch, sweet whispers--anything that could blossom into you're-more-than-my-friend thoughts.
  • Some phrases took away tension: "Rogan scrambled to turn around..."
  • Rogan takes too long to correct a huge misconception Kira and the whole world have about him. It was frustrating, and I never figured out a good reason for him to wait. 
  • Rogan: "You think you can figure out what makes me tick other than the countdown in my head?" Kira: "Don't make fun of me." WHAT? How is that statement making fun of her. This goes back to the two different conversations going on at once. 
  • Oliver: cute, but (SPOILER) does every book have to have one guy with two girls fawning over him?
  • The only thing I adored about Rogan was how protective he was about Kira. Not much else stood out. I want the boys in my books to be so well described that I swoon. Didn't happen.
  • Random facts contribute to weak world building. The majority of the US population was killed in a plague. Some survived. How? I wanted to see more of what happened previously rather than just be thrust into this new world without much explanation. If other things hadn't been so familiar and reminiscent of today's times, it wouldn't have mattered.
What I Appreciated:
  • The action starts right away. Kira wakes up in a dark room, you find out her family has been murdered, and then the mysterious boy in the room clues her in that they're about to die.
  •  I needed to keep reading. Besides the fact that the romance was rushed, the pacing moved smoothly along with lots of near-death scenes.
  • I couldn't guess what events awaited the character in each level.
  • I didn't expect the progressive technology introduced.
  • Fun and cute ending. 
In the end, I'm glad I read the book because I had this weird must-read feeling (it might have had a lot to do with finding the cliches! I did enjoy Where's Waldo? as a kid). But, the story was interesting. The author's note mentioned that it had originally been released as an adult book and the story was re-released after it had been adapted to YA. I'd be interested in reading the book as it was originally released just to see the differences.

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