I was drawn to the cover of the first book in the new Silver Blackthorn series from the moment I spied it on Netgalley but I didn't know anything about it or the author so I resisted requesting it as I had so much to get through already and it took about a month of me constantly clicking on it on Netgalley and reading the write up before I bit the bullet and finally requested it, the wait was finally over when I was approved and I felt incredibly excited to have it to read. Now I just had to hope that the anticipation was greater than the book itself.
It is set and the UK but not a UK as we know it as it has been split into four realms (North, South, East and West). There has been a war and technology no longer functions (there are ares of the countryside full of defunct technology) and we have a king again, King Victor. Details on the war are purposely kept sketchy throughout this book but I have a suspicion we'll find out more as the series progresses. Every sixteen year old now has to take a test that decides which of the four levels of current society you will join.... Elite, Member, Intermediate or the lowly Trog. After the test a select number of kids from each realms and from each of the levels are chosen as Offerings and sent to the King at Windsor Castle, they are never to be seen again...... but why?
Out heroine is Silver Blackthorn, she's just turned sixteen and is due to take the test after which she is selected as an Offering and must leave her friends and families and travel to Windsor Castle and into the unknown. What she finds at Windsor Castle is something she would never have believed if she wasn't forced to live it. It's truly frightening and if Silver is to survive it she must fight, and fight hard!
I have read people comparing this to The Hunger Games, Divergent and the like but then again any book that comes along under the guise of a dystopian society seems to get that label these days. I can't comment on any similarities as I haven't read The Hunger Games or Divergent (yet!) and the more I see this label attached to other titles the less I seem to even want to read them as I just know that the way both series been hyped will make it a disappointment. Is Reckoning like The Hunger Games, I really don't know.... al I DO know is that I really enjoyed reading this book a whole lot and it didn't disappoint me.
Kerry Wilkinson is new author to me despite the fact that he's been around for quite some time writing adult crime novels (Yes, Kerry is actually a he not a she as you would presume!). Reckoning is his first young adult book and to me it's a very, very good start indeed and I for one will be looking eagerly looking forward to the next book in the series, Renegade.
I do have one minor complaint about the book though but it's nothing to do with the contents but to do with the cover..... yes, it's a striking cover and I do love it but the girl on the cover does not look like any 16 year old I've ever seen, more like a twenty-something woman! See, told you it was minor, just a personal niggle......
Is it a mind-blowingly good?
It's actually very good, the idea is a sound one and an intriguing one. An alternate UK that is fundamentally similar to my UK but not, it feels very authentic and real which makes it an interesting concept for a start and I really enjoy reading books set in an alternate version of my homeland. It's good, not totally mind-blowing for me but still extremely good and is the type of story that keeps you wanting to read more. I found myself thinking about bedtime and getting back to the book throughout the daytime, a good sign for me that a books is great and it really is a fantastic book.
Is it interesting?
Very, as I said the idea is very sound and it's followed through in a competent manner. The idea of a society run by a strict set of rules is always a good one and I did find myself wondering what level I woud be set as if I took the Reckoning test..... would a be an Elite member if society, a Member, an Intermediate (the most common and probably would be me) or would I be one of the lowest members of society, a Trog. With society divided in such a way as the book progresses you get a good sense of the hatred between the different levels, how Elites look down on Trogs and treat them like the dregs of society and so forth. No-one wants to be a Trog as they a society's dogsbodys and this fear does lead to people trying to check the Reckoning to get a better placement. This also works the other way around as well as the Trog's hate the Elites for lording their placements over them and so on. It's a real truth as it is exactly how it really would be and how it is for people in our own world affected by racism and sexism, awful but true!
Is it enjoyable to read?
Indeed, Wilkinson has an effortless style, the story flows easily and does keep you interested and engaged in what's happening on the page. There are a few occasions when it seems to stall a little but then something will happens that perks the whole book up again.
Is is well written?
I think so, as I said he has a effortless style of writing and it makes for an easy to read book as it's simplistic but gives you imagery that is so good and the characterisation is wonderful. Silver is a very believable character, she loves her friends and family and is very protective over them. She's more than a bit of a tomboy with a talent for electronics and technology, something that will help her after becoming an Offering. She's got a strong character but has her flaws too, she's quite impulsive and doesn't always think before acting but ultimately she is a selfless girl who would help another with no regard for her own safety. You get a real sense of who she is throughout the book and learn a lot about her through a series of flashback scenes set before the Reckoning. Ultimately she is a survivor and wants to live the life she wants despite the rules forced upon her and that makes her interesting to read about, watching her being forced into a hole she doesn't really fit into and her ensuing struggle to fight back and survive. The other wonderful character in the book is the mad king himself and I mean it when I say there is something fundamentally wrong with that man, he's seriously cuckoo but not in the funny way, he's a thoroughly scary man for no other reason than that he is totally unpredictable (the shocking and surprising murder of an Offering at the feast table over a dropped cup is proof of how unstable Victor truly is). What is also worrying about him is that his staff have obviously been obscuring the real truth about the king from the public as outside of Windsor Castle the king is loved and adored by his people but his people have a very false image of the real monster inside. King Victor is a truly frightening creation and is masterly addition to the book.
Would you recommend it?
Definitely, if you read one YA book this year then I would most definitely recommend this one as it draws you right in and doesn't let go until the moment you sadly realise that the book is finished and your hope for some of the answers is dashed, until the next book is released. It's exciting to read and artfully written..... the wait for Renegade will now begin!show more
by Thea Wilson