Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Review: Countdown by Michelle Rowen

Title: Countdown
Author: Michelle Rowen
Publisher: Harlequin Teen Australia
Release Date: 1st October 2013
Source: Bought
Rating: 3 out of 5

Description: 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 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 ever more 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.

Countdown wasn’t the heart-pounding, edge of the seat story that I was expecting. Instead, Countdown was an enjoyable book comprising of a very interesting plot, a mixture of genres and very fierce characters. Countdown is very reminiscent of many dystopian novels like The Hunger Games in which teenagers have to compete in a deadly game to survive. Excluding a few issues with world building and romance, Michelle Rowan has combined a mixture of genres right from dystopia, paranormal and science fiction to create an enjoyable quick read.  

Kira and Rogan are forced to compete in a top-secret reality TV show called the Countdown. They have to complete six dangerous levels in order to win or they get eliminated from the game, meaning death. Both Kira and Rogan have complicated pasts. Kira’s a thief and Rogan’s a murderer but now they have to rely on each other to survive. The actual story surprised me. I thought that the entire book would focus on the Countdown but I was pleasantly wrong. The story deviates from the game in the second half of the book and certain events were very fascinating. The second half of this book is where this story takes off despite its predictable nature.  Right from the beginning the story is very straightforward to follow. The book jumps immediately into Countdown and the story unravels from there. The artificial intelligence aspect of this story was my favourite bit. The drones, implants and AI technology were well incorporated into this story and made up an essential aspect of the plot. All of the artificial intelligence was very fascinating to read about.

The world building was quite simple to follow but not detailed enough of me.  I would have liked a bit more background information about the society, plague and colony. The colony was one aspect that was eluded to but not really explained in detail. The one thing in this book that was disappointing was that there was quite a bit of telling and not enough showing. Due to the way the game was introduced and played there needed to be a lot of information provided about the characters and the game itself and as a result that lead to a bit of information dumping. I do understand why the book was set up this way but I still would have like a bit more showing vs. telling.  There were also moments when characters needed answers and someone else provided them making the proceedings seem a little bit too convenient. The levels in the Countdown started of easy and progressively got harder. The latter challenges were well through out and brutal with their tasks. The earlier levels could have been a little harder in my opinion.

The characters in Countdown were also a highlight. Both Kira and Rogan were stubborn, fierce and funny. Kira was smart and street savvy with a very haunting past. She always stood up for her self and fought for what she believed in. She always trusted her instincts. Rogan was confident and cocky.  Kira and Rogan together had a lot of chemistry with plenty of banter. Their back and forth conversations made be laugh. However their romance felt a little rushed for me especially since there was a lot of distrust in their relationship.  I felt like they didn’t know each other long enough to really start falling for each other, especially since the story only takes place over a couple of days. 

Countdown was an enjoyable read despite a few minor problems.  If your looking for a fast fun read than this might be it.

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