ROOK by Sharon Cameron

3.5 starsI will admit, the cover is the reason I obsessed over reading this book for so long until I finally picked it up.  There is something about the bright red lettering on the dull grey-green background that I love.  Then there is the red-tipped feather at the top.  Finally the intrigue of the broken down Eiffel Tower in the middle.  It had me hooked.  I didn’t end up buying the book that day but constantly looked it up to buy it for several months until I got my hands on it.

Result: 3.5 stars. I liked this book and would recommend it to people who love fantasy, spies, rebellion and similar plots.  

Summary:

The mysterious Red Rook breaks people out of the underground jail of the Sunken City, leaving only a red-tipped rook feather and questions, instead of blood stained wood and the prisoner’s head.  However, the Minster of Security for the Sunken City has a lead: Bellamy House.  And his cousin just so happens to be engaged to Sophia Bellamy.  It’s not long before Sophia’s brother is taken away to pay for crimes he didn’t commit and Sophia’s impending marriage – one she does not want – is in peril as well, and without the money from the marriage her family home is lost to debtors.  Now Sophia must find a way to save her brother and her family home.  

Review:

I admit this book did not start out where I thought it would, instantly revealing the identity of the Rook.  Since the blurb about the book made it sound like a mystery as to who was the Rook, I was surprised and slightly disappointed about the reveal, being prepared for a mystery story instead of the type of story Cameron provided.

I further admit it took me a long time to realize the ‘Commonwealth’ in this book was referring to the UK and not the US/Canada.  It didn’t make sense to me that it only took a day to get across the water to the Commonwealth (especially without machines) but it never occurred to be that it meant the English Channel, not the ocean. What makes it worse is I have lived in the UK for a time so I should know better. 

The world this book takes place in is an imaged future that is very similar to our past.  The magnetic poles shifted resulting in a dystopian world where our electronics don’t work any more and satellites fall from the sky.  Rook takes place centuries after this even took place and explores whit might happen.  Overall I found it to be both realistic and not, wonderful and frustrating for reasons I will discuss further below.  

The characters in this book to be interesting, however there is a surplus of male characters and lack of female characters.  While the story line was fairly predictable, in particular the result of the sort-of love triangle, the characters themselves were unique and varied.  One of the main characters really really pissed me off for reasons I will discuss, but I find that a strength in a book.  No matter have angry I am at a character and don’t wish them to be in a book or do what they are doing, they are making me feel something which means I am invested in the book and the author has done their job.

The plot of this book was both unique but not.  I could see similarities to the Hunger Games in it but I liked the concepts that Cameron brought from our past into the novel and the theme that the past repeats itself.  The pacing of the book was off with it being on the slow side throughout and never really picking up the pace.  The ‘fastest’ scene was one where several story lines merged and it was mostly just messy.  There were several instances of the book withholding information for no reason other than to frustrate you and to keep you reading, even though the POV jumped around and it would have been easy to reveal what was happening.  

Now to the thing I have been hinting about that I hated in the book.  I’m sick of books that take place in a ‘future’ that regresses into a culture back to when women were subservient.  Woman can’t own land, they wear corsets, they have arranged marriages, they don’t have a brain to think about politics and could never lift a sword.  The character I hated spent most of the book convinced that he was right and he had to take care of the girl he was interested in and that she would suddenly fall in love with him.  Aside: where did all the guns go?  They wouldn’t suddenly just not work and the regression back to swords does not make sense.  

Either place your book in the past or in the future.  Stop having your past novel masquerade as a futuristic world.  What’s to say that if similar events happened that woman wouldn’t run the future since men botched the past?  Books with this type of plot are unrealistic and frankly lazy of the writer.  

Last thoughts:

This book was a good book that wraps up nicely but I have read better. 

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