Author: Michelle Rowen
Publisher: Harlequin Teen, 336 pages
Publication Date: October 1, 2013
*ARC provided by publisher through NetGalley
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.
Fast-paced and action-packed, this book hooked me from the very beginning. Kira wakes up in complete darkness and finds out she's chained to a wall in a room and she's not alone. She's been kidnapped and is now part of a game where she and her partner, Rogan, have to complete six different levels in order to win the game. If they lose, they die. This is an underground reality game where the rich pay a lot of money to watch. And this part of it isn't really that far-fetched to me. People watch animals fight, there are fight clubs, and reality tv shows are so popular, it's almost the next logical step. Obviously there are going to be comparisons to The Hunger Games, but other than that premise (teenagers part of a game to the death) it's really quite different (and this book was first published as an adult novel in 2008, the same year that The Hunger Games was published, and then revised to be a young adult novel).
Kira and Rogan have a very short amount of time in each level to complete whatever it is they have to do to get to the next level (sometimes five minutes, other times thirty minutes). They both have implants and basically if they don't complete the level in the time allowed (and the time is counting down) their heads explode. On top of all this, Kira learns very early that Rogan is there because he is a murderer (Kira is a thief) so even though her gut tells her that he's not a bad guy, she's still uneasy to be paired with him. Given that time element, I was on the edge of my seat, frantically flipping through the pages to find out what was going to happen next.
To be honest, the tasks they had to complete in each level were not that difficult and the world-building was a bit lacking. I really wanted to know more. There was a plague that wiped out about 60% of the planet and most people fled the cities, but then apparently you have some city called the Colony, which is supposed to be the perfect city where the rich live. But there are rich people who don't live there. And the government is never really mentioned. Who's in charge? So I definitely had questions that weren't answered.
Kira is a great heroine. She's smart, a bit sassy, and she has a good heart, even though she had been living on the streets for a couple of years. Rogan...I loved him. He's not perfect by any means (although of course he's swoony), with events occurring in his past that he has to learn to live with, but I loved his interactions with Kira.
Part dystopian, part paranormal, and part sci-fi/technology, it's compulsively readable.
Posted by: Pam