Monday, February 9, 2015

Seeker - Arwen Elys Dayton

February 9, 2015

  Delacorte Press
Release Date:
  February 10, 2015
Young Adult; Fantasy
448 pages

 About This Book (from Amazon)
The night Quin Kincaid takes her Oath, she will become what she has trained to be her entire life. She will become a Seeker. This is her legacy, and it is an honor.
As a Seeker, Quin will fight beside her two closest companions, Shinobu and John, to protect the weak and the wronged. Together they will stand for light in a shadowy world.
And she'll be with the boy she loves--who's also her best friend.
But the night Quin takes her Oath, everything changes.
Being a Seeker is not what she thought. Her family is not what she thought. Even the boy she loves is not who she thought.
And now it's too late to walk away.
How and Why I Acquired This Book
I acquired this book as an Advanced Reader Copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.
My Expectations about This Book
I selected this book because I enjoy young adult, including dystopian and fantasy YA.  The promo copy said the book would appeal to fans of Divergent, which I really enjoyed, and The Hunger Games, which I found okay.
The book’s cover is compelling and mysterious. 
 Were my expectations met?
My expectations for this book were not met.  If I could sum up the story in one word, it would be “confusing.”  I read many genres of books, a lot that have a confusing start.  But the author manages to pull it all together and make sense of it in the end.  Not so here.  I was sorely disappointed in this book.
Prose & Dialogue
The story’s prose is choppy.  The dialogue (even the internal dialogue of the characters) doesn’t seem natural.  It’s all very stilted in its feel.  Additionally, while some of the time jumps in the narrative make sense, others are completely random (For example, the chapter on Maud’s childhood that comes in the middle of things that have no connection.)
There were similes and metaphors that either didn’t make much sense in context or jolted me out of the story to try to rationalize out.
Characters & Points-of-View
I don’t believe any of the main characters were fully developed.  Most are decidedly bad and only bad.  Quinn, the main character, is a bit more complex but still seems to vacillate between being all good or all bad depending on the section of the story we’re in.
Nothing in the story really made me concerned about the characters, their well-being, how they would end up, etc.  It was all very superficial.
Some supporting characters just popped in and out randomly (Shinobu’s mother) without really contributing to the story or main characters at all.
The multiple points of view (which I’m generally good with in a book) just added to the overall tangle.
Story Structure & Pace
I really was lost in this book from the start.  Just as things would start to make sense and I’d feel like I was getting a grasp on the story or characters, something random would be there to confuse me again.
There were also many inconsistencies in the story where the characters were doing one thing but all of a sudden they weren’t.  For example, the Drudges were cleaning and working on their weapons but the text said that “neither moved as they spoke.”  They were cleaning their weapons; that requires movement.
Back story was interspersed throughout.  Sometimes that helped.  Sometimes it just made the reading more confusing.
As far as the ending, I don’t even know what to say about that other than I finished the book wanting it to be so much more than it was.
Conflict & Tension
All of the conflict and tension seemed contrived.  The characters were definitely at the mercy of their situations instead of being decision makers for their own destinies.
Research & Story World
The author’s note indicated that Dayton does extensive research for her books, visiting the various locales mentioned (Hong Kong, London, Scotland).  I don’t know how much of that comes across in the book since the story is set in the future.
Romantic Tension
There is a romantic triangle that is predictable from the start.
Spiritual Connection & Speculative/Supernatural Elements
I don’t believe there were necessarily spiritual connections or supernatural elements in this book.  There was time travel and fantasy. 
Although there is mention at a few points about energy fields around people’s bodies and how the healers can fix anomalies in those.  I guess that would be a bit New Age.
Questionable Content
More conservative readers would want to know there were sexual vibes, and implications between characters.  Many violent descriptions of fights and murder.  Drug use, drug dens and drinking were common in the story line.  Also, one of the characters is involved in prostitution.
Originality & Predictability
I think that the concept Dayton was working with is a good one.  Characters traveling through time and space (although most of the characters in this book it was just from location to location) to change the past/alter the present/affect the future is interesting.  Having teens train their childhoods in order to do so and believing that it is to right wrongs only to discover something different is compelling.
The story was just too confusing to hash out that plot line.  I spent most of the book trying to figure out what was going on and why that I never was able to engage in the bigger picture.
I was guessing all the way to the end…and even at the end.  In this case, that’s not a positive.
Audience Appropriateness & Appeal
The target audience is young adults 14 and older.  And I believe it would appeal to some.  Readers that age don’t necessarily look for depth of character or consistency in story.  However, I would say some of the content is best left to those who are older. What is the target audience?
As a movie, I believe it would be rated PG-13 based on the violence and drugs.
Despite the comparisons made on Amazon, this book has very little in common with Divergent, Hunger Games, and the like.
Engagement, Entertainment & Investment
Seeker was a quick read, as is the nature of most YA books.  I did keep turning the pages in the hopes it would start to make sense and things would fall into place.  It didn’t. 
It is the start of a series.  So perhaps it becomes clear in later books; I have no desire to find out.
This is not a book I would recommend to others.
·         The concept could have been interesting
·         Confusing
·         Story has little to no flow
***This review will also be posted on The Christian Manifesto review website on 2.26.15

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