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Book Review – Countdown, by Michelle Rowen

17622950Title:  Countdown
Author:  Michelle Rowen
Rating: ★★★

Synopsis: 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.

Sam’s Review:

I received a finished copy of this book from the author. Huge thank you to Michelle Rowen for giving me this opportunity. Check Countdown out when it releases October 1st.

Countdown is like candy. It’s one of those books where the plot zips by you so quickly that by the time its over, so is your bag of M&Ms. I must admit, while there are parts of Countdown that were full of flaws and generally would annoy me, the other half of me was so forgiving because the ride Kira and Rogan took me one was so fast and frantic.

The world building in Countdown is razor thin. There’s not a lot for the reader to envision and picture in terms of understanding the world that sounds our protagonists. The vivid descriptions definitely come more from the sinister game, Countdown, a televised event wherein teens must fight to their deaths in order to access freedom. In a way this book definitely has some similarities to Battle Royale (particularly later on within the last level and endgame), but what it lacks in some cases in the tension that a story like Battle Royale has, where if your back is turned, you can be killed.

For the most part I enjoyed the plot twists that Rowen lays out on the table. I found, however, there was too many of them, each getting a bit more ridiculous than the last, and yet I enjoyed it. I felt like I was on a sugar high each time I learned something new about Kira or Rogan because as crazy as the twists were, they made for addictive reading. I actually really liked Kira for the most part. I loved that she understood that what she was playing was a game and that in any instance the rules could be flipped with that of a switch. She was very thoughtful, a good soul, and surprisingly humorous. She’s had a tough life and you definitely get a sense of that, where as Rogan is a spoiled high rich kids who essentially was looking for cheap thrills but had to atone for his sins. Rogan was hit and miss with me considering the majority of the twists were about him, but at the same time, I found myself struggling to be angry with him. It was hard to accept his actions, yet at the same time Rowen makes hims someone you can have some sympathy for. Sometimes I wanted to give him a smack because his behavior was inexcusable.

The overall villains of the story were fairly flat, and had they been stronger, I think I could have accepted more of the character development present in the narrative. They felt functional and flimsy, never feeling like their presence entirely mattered. Yet, in the confines of the world Rowen created, this role oddly makes sense and you get a sense of how liaise-faire the world and its economical environment truly is. Everything revolves around money, as well as Countdown, yet no one really gives a crap.

Countdown is not a bad book, it’s surprisingly fun. The flaws are many, but I found myself turning pages as though I was popping candy. It’s a fast, engaging read, though not particularly deep. If you can accept that there isn’t deeper issues here and you want something light and action-packed, Countdown definitely fits that bill. If you’re looking for a more meaningful post-apocalyptic YA read, there’s better options out there.