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Monday, June 29, 2015

Rook by Sharon Cameron

Let me start off by saying WOW! I haven't read such a gripping YA book in a long time. Rook is refreshing, engaging and very well written. The author had me hooked right from the start with her strong characters and amazing settings. This isn't your typical dystopian novel, yet it absolutely fits into the genre even if technology-wise, the human race is set back into the Georgian era, a time of revolutions, social reforms and religious revivals.

The setting is, by far, what captured my interest. Set about 900 years in the future, the human race is fearful of technology and has been living without it for hundreds of years. A shift in the magnetosphere caused everything digital and electronic to fail, and exposed some people to deadly solar radiation. The Great Death is what the characters call this period and it set them back hundreds of years. Absolutely nothing technological is accepted in this dystopian world. Even clocks are too man-made to be accepted, let alone good old electricity, and gas or steam-powered engines. People are fearful that by accepting technology again, they will revert back to a society that depends on machines, to a society that replaces jobs with machines, which would lead to social inequality and injustice. Ha! If only they knew there will always be social inequality and injustice whether technology exists or not.

I love this quote, which one characters says when talking about a revolution, about social change. "Have you ever thought that perhaps...all of this could have happened before? That the people of the Time Before, no matter how weak we think them, that they were only making the mistakes of their ancestors, and that we, in turn, are only making the same mistakes as them? Technology or no? That the time changes but people do not, and so we are never really moving forward, only around a bend? That the world only ever turns in circles." (p. 205) Without realizing it, Sophia, while trying to do the right thing, is looking for social change and revolution by freeing hundreds of innocent people locked up in the Tombs, the prison below the Sunken City, which used to be Paris.

Sophia Bellamy, also called Sophie, is not your typical teenage girl. At least, I don't think she is. We don't really meet any other girls her age, so honestly we don't know what is expected of someone her age and social standing. But what I do know, is that it's not typical for a teenage girl to dedicate her life to freeing the innocent people of the Sunken City. Her dedication is admirable even though she's not really doing it out of purpose. As René stipulates, she does it because she enjoys it. In any case, Sophia is a strong and intelligent character, even though she may be a little naive when in comes to romantic relationships.

René Hasard, who started off as her enemy, goes from unwanted fiancé to possible love interest. Sophia knows she shouldn't fall for this womanizer but as they spend more and more time together, they quickly realize they have more in common than they previously thought. This would-be-relationship is really fun to follow, especially since Spear, Sophia's friend, is jealous because he always thought they would end up together. Sophia has only ever loved Spear as a brother and has a hard time understanding how he might have gotten the wrong impression. This almost-love-triangle is a plus to an already wonderful story, and like the book, the relationship keeps us readers on our toes.

Sophia and René's enemies are truly awful,  not only because of the social inequality and oppression they demand, but because they truly believe in what they're doing. LeBlanc, the Parisian Minister of Security, is also a believer in this new religion that worships the Goddess and Fate. His religion clouds is mind and we quickly realize how crazy he truly is.

Overall, Rook is a wonderful dystopian YA standalone. Sharon Cameron slowly introduces to the world she created, and while some people will appreciate all the the small details and development, I fear some readers won't appreciate the complexity. I think the slow build is necessary because we need to be invested in the main characters in order to appreciate their situation. I think it's also necessary because the book is a standalone and the author couldn't rush straight into the action. Like the author, I consider myself an amateur anthropologist (read the Author's Note because it's actually quite interesting) so the social and historical aspects of this book were really interesting. I also love science and technology and although it was banned in this society, I loved that it had a major influence on the story overall. Rook is an innovative, captivating and powerful story.

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More about Rook


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Tynga is a 32 years old mom of two, from Montreal, working as a lab technician in an hospital specialized in heart disease. In her free time, she enjoys reading all things Paranormal and photography.

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4 People left their mark' :

  1. I've pushed this one back a few times, and I haven't seen that many reviews out there for it. I'm glad you enjoyed it. Maybe, I'll bump it up for next month.

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  2. OMG a YA dystopian standalone! What a rarity. :) It sounds amazing. That quote is really something. Great review!

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  3. It's not a book for everyone but I hope you enjoy it too!

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  4. Dystopian stand-alones are quite rare, aren't they. Breath of fresh air really.

    There are so many good quotes in this book and the writing is actually really good. I usually don't quote in reviews but I just couldn't help myself.

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