“My frail fingers curl around the jagged rock. I press it into the stone wall and drag it up and down until a small groove forms. I drop the rock and step back, glancing over all the lines I’ve made. It is day 2,436 of being in this prison with my mother and younger brother.”
DATHER IS AN ISLAND THAT WAS ONCE KNOWN AS OHAU. A nation that rose from the ashes after an asteroid shower has divided itself when people began to discover their unique powers. At sixteen-years-old Adaline sits in prison with her mother and younger brother, and today is Parting Day where more prisoners will be executed. After seven years of being spared, Adaline’s luck has run out. But she won’t go quietly or easily. Her life depends on her ability to escape the grasps of the King and find a place of freedom. Discovering her unique powers is the turning point Adaline needs to get a second chance at her freedom. In this thrilling novel of friendship, family, and secrets Adaline runs for her life and learns the truth of her past along the way.
“My brain sees him as a threat, as the enemy, a guard at the castle, but my heart feels he is a friend. The question is, which one is right?”
Firstly, I love that this story is based on future dystopian Hawaiian Islands – having visited myself, I found myself imaging the heat as it envelopes you and the glorious relief of rain. The islands are stunning so what a better backdrop to a story?
However, the islands aren’t what we know as the Hawaiian Islands today. An asteroid shower hit the earth and wiped out much of the population. Of the small proportion who survived, some were gifted with gifts of the sense which scientists believe stem from some sort of radioactive material. So for example, the main character Adeline is a force lifter (sight) and can control people and objects she can see – most of the time anyway. I quite liked this interesting approach; the characters remark that there could be hundreds of different variants of gifts all linked to the five senses.
The story starts with Adeline, her younger brother and mother locked in the castle along with many others who for one reason or another, didn’t pay the king ‘his dues’. I loved this start and looking back now, the story took on such a different path to where it started (I think this is great!). Not a spoiler as happens within the first couple of chapters: both her mother and brother die. I was disappointed the younger brother died. I kinda felt that was unnecessary? I certainly hadn’t built up enough of a connection to mourn them and whilst Adeline does mourn them herself, I felt she was a bit up and down with her grief – perhaps this is realistic but I never knew what mood Adeline was going to be in.
Some of the plot twists are far too good to share and had me in ‘woah’ moments (I love it when an author does this!) and it was fast paced. There was always something happening. There were moments of ‘stillness’ where it was mostly Adeline and Alexander (castle guard who helped save her) talking a lot. I didn’t necessarily find this a bad thing as it made it a page turner for me.
I thought the end stopped exactly where it should have done and again, another ‘woah’ moment that I just did not see coming at all!
Adeline is the main character from whose point of view the story is told. There were only a few inconsistencies with us knowing how other characters felt (that we shouldn’t have given it’s first person from Adeline) but the author, for the most part, was quite good at displaying emotions from other characters. This is something I struggle with when in first person as I’m limited to one person – I thought Catherine Downen did this well. As mentioned above, Adeline does annoy me a bit. Her thoughts seem a little choppy but her relationship with other characters saves her.
Alexander. A childhood friend who helps her escape the castle where he works as a guard. I really like him. He showed emotion and even cried. Shut. The. Front. Door. A male character who cries? I freaking loved this normalising of male emotion! He has a sweet relationship forming with Adeline. At times, it moved way too quick to feel natural but at others, it was the perfect amount of tenderness. The kiss on the forehead? Sigh.
Zavy. Ugh. Absolutely hated her introduction. It felt too forced but she mellowed out and become one of my favourite characters. I really want to see her and another character together. I don’t know why, I can just picture it clearly. Okay. That character is Cooper. You didn’t have to drag it out of me. Jeez.
Cooper then was a character who helps the ‘team’ – as Adeline annoyingly calls them – get to Libertas which is an Island supposed to offer those with gifts protection. I honestly can’t go more into it than that because you know, major spoilers.
There are many other characters of note, including some bad ones which surprisingly, had a lot of soul. The author definitely made me do a u-turn on a few. I know. Shocking.
Last character I’m mentioning is Toby who is Zavy’s younger brother and a pretty cool dude. I hope he ends up just sailing through this whole adventure and then does something dramatic to save everyone just ‘cos. I made him to be about twelve-ish but his speech seemed incredibly young to begin with. I know being on the run and a lack of education probably did this but even so. I felt the author grew into Toby the more she wrote him and he became quite the little man by the end of the book.
Was it gripping?:
Overall, yes. Let me explain. Sometimes the writing – more specifically dialogue – felt rushed for no reason. Several characters felt forced upon first introductions and Adeline was choppy at best and moved swiftly with her thoughts and emotions at the beginning. However, the premise, the hook of being locked away with the magic gifts etc was really captivating and kept me going. I’d say by two thirds of the way in, the characters started to flesh out a bit and come into their own and THAT is when I was truly hooked. A fantastic solid start from an indie author, I can’t wait to see what book 2 has to offer and I’ll be following her for more series after!
This book is perfect if you’re looking for:
A small note. . .if you read this book and like it, consider leaving a review. I will be! Reviews are immensely helpful to authors and helps support their work. It also helps other readers decide if the book might be for them!
I’ll leave the links down below and on the 28th, 29th and 30th August 2020, book 1 is on offer to celebrate the cover reveal of book 2! Eek! Grab your copies now!