Title: Rook by Sharon Cameron
Publication Date: April 28, 2015
Genre: Fantasy YA
Synopsis: History has a way of repeating itself. In the Sunken City that was once Paris, all who oppose the new revolution are being put to the blade. Except for those who disappear from their prison cells, a red-tipped rook feather left in their place. Is the mysterious Red Rook a savior of the innocent or a criminal?
Meanwhile, across the sea in the Commonwealth, Sophia Bellamy’s arranged marriage to the wealthy René Hasard is the last chance to save her family from ruin. But when the search for the Red Rook comes straight to her doorstep, Sophia discovers that her fiancé is not all he seems. Which is only fair, because neither is she.
As the Red Rook grows bolder and the stakes grow higher, Sophia and René find themselves locked in a tantalizing game of cat and mouse
Ugh, so I made a major mistake before reading this book, one I usually do not make because I know better. I read other people’s reviews after I bought it! I know. Bad, bad, bad. Reviews will never stop me from reading a book I am really interested, honestly, they do not even color my perception of other books, but for some reason after reading a review I put off reading the book I purchased. When I say put off, I mean sometimes for years. Now, I only put this one off for about two months, but still.
Going into “Rook,” I thought I would either love it or hate it, as the reviews on it were very polarizing, yet I felt myself really torn. I didn’t outright hate it (I wouldn’t take the time to post a review if I did) but I wasn’t “OMG in love.” I’ve got some thoughts:
What I liked: Anyone who has read one of my reviews knows I am very character driven. If I can’t connect with a character, especially the MC, I’m not interested. I could connect with Sophia Bellamy. Sophia is the type of female character who thinks she knows what she wants, drives into action without weighing the consequences, and generally makes a mountain out of a mole hill. Usually these types of characters drive me nuts, even if they are very reminiscent of real life teens. What drew me to Sophia was that she was written as this bigger than life character, yet she had zero special powers. Sure she was semi-decent in a fight, but her greatest strength proved to be playing on other underestimation of her. She drove the book for me. I longed to see how she would out-think her enemies. Which brings me to my next point on the multiple POVs. Cameron begins the book from Sophia’s POV then throughout allows glimpses into secondary characters minds. Originally, this confused me since there seems to be no rhyme or reason to the switch, but soon I understand it’s to allow the reader in on information that is necessary for the pacing of the book, especially towards the end when each character is working off their own agenda. Now, I’m a big fan of romance. Honestly, if a book does not have any I’m usually not interested in reading it. While the romance in Rook was a little light for me, Rene, Sophia’s fiance was the whew kind of hot. A little dangerous, a little chivalrous, and a perfect match to keep our adventure seeking heroine on her feet. Plus, he was French and accents are tres magnifique.
What I didn’t like: The world building. This is a dysptopian novel, where the government is bad, but the world building did not really explain the revolts. The book is set in futuristic Europe with France and the UK featured prominently, yet I did not really get a sense of what came before to make everyone so touchy. Parts of the revolution at the center of the book paralleled The Reign of Terror from the France of several hundred (or in this case thousands) of years prior. The world building felt lazy. In a dystopian novel where a character is fighting against an evil government, I need to understand the cause/effect, and here I just didn’t. There were points where Cameron dropped breadcrumbs of knowledge, but I’m not interested in spending my time trying to piece those measly crumbs together. Certain parts of the novel just felt stagnant to me and at times I struggled to remain interested.
Overall, this book is not the best example of dystopian out there. The characters are very dynamic and Cameron really took the time to think about her form, yet I struggled being invested in a world I felt I knew little about. It’s a fun read but at times I struggles to finish. 2.5/5