Author: Eve Silver
Book #: 1st of Trilogy
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publish Date: June 11th 2013
Date Read: August 5th 2013
Rating: ★★★★ / out of 5
"This is just a game of sorts. Richelle and Luka said we get to go back when we're done. And if their word isn't enough, I've already seen it in action: I got hit by a truck and survived that. Whatever happens in here can't be any worse.
Can it.. ?
When Miki Jones is pulled from her life, pulled through time and space into some kind of game—her carefully controlled life spirals into chaos. In the game, she and a team of other teens are sent on missions to eliminate the Drau, terrifying and beautiful alien creatures. There are no practice runs, no training, and no way out. Miki has only the guidance of secretive but maddeningly attractive team leader Jackson Tate, who says the game isn’t really a game, that what Miki and her new teammates do now determines their survival, and the survival of every other person on this planet. She laughs. He doesn't. And then the game takes a deadly and terrifying turn.
(Synopsis taken from Goodreads)
Okay, don't we all agree that the concept behind this story is kick-ass? Who wouldn't want to be given the chance after dying to continue living and yet simultaneously risk dying for real by fighting extraterrestrial life forms and protecting the world against an alien invasion? (probably a run on sentence but who cares?!)
To be honest, though, that idea that surrounds the story is the only thing I felt this book had going for it.
This book is hard for me to review and recommend because, even though I had so many problems with pretty much every aspect of it (the characters, the world building, the romance, the writing style, etc.) I still enjoyed reading this because it was fast paced with well developed action scenes that prevented the book from ever falling into a slow, dull moment and a concept that made my inner nerd tingle (fighting aliens video game style in real life yeah!).
Unfortunately, I wanted to DNF this book many times. The only reason I pushed through was because of the concept behind the story.
If you are considering reading this book, I would definitely suggest reading through the points I made against this book. I wish I didn't have to do this, really, because I feel this special connection to Rush (nerds, unite!) but I do have to make these points because they are things that we all are bothered by in YA.
• Miki, the protagonist, was portrayed as this girl who was tough and able to defend herself (top of her kendo class or something), troubled by her past and yet striving to be courageous (ran in front of a truck to save a classmates deaf, little sister). Yet, in the end, she still became this annoying, slow-to-come-to-conclusions, ask-a-million-questions, don't-shut-up-to-listen, I-want-to-punch-him-in-the-head-no-wait-I-want-to-kiss-him, he's-a-monster-why-do-I-love-him kind of girl.
She's smart, she really is. I just think she lacks some in the common sense department.
• Jackson, the love interest, seemed really intriguing at the start. He was mysterious yet appeared to have good intentions and genuinely cared about keeping Miki alive (for reasons we find out later..). However, he too turned into a night-mare of a character. He developed into the type of guy that was way-too-hot/cold, answer-questions-with-questions, controlling-even-though-I'm-not-supposed-to-be-interested, keep-away-I'm-dangerous-but-let-me-kiss-you-I-love-you, bad-boy-bad-boy-watcha-gonna-do?, super-contradictory, etc.
He was so infuriating. To the point were I couldn't even.. ugh. He constantly tells Miki that he is too dangerous for her, has bad intentions, and that he's all about every-man-for-himself. Yet, he protects her, acts all goody-goody when he wants to just to make her swoon and stalks her in a "understandable" *eye-rolls* way that she can't help but fall in love with.
• Luka didn't really play a major role besides I guess being Miki's only true friend. One that won't back-stab her like *cough*Carly*cough*. I hope he just continues to be her friend and doesn't turn out to have feelings for her in the second book. A love-triangle might be enough to push me over the edge and, right now, I am just barely holding on to this series.
• Carly is a shallow, two-faced bitch. Nothing more I can say. And she's "supposed" to be the peace-keeper of the group. Tssk-tssk. Questions? Refer to pages 290-295.
The World Building:
For the majority of the book, we know little to nothing. Not much information is given when we are looking for it and when we do get it, it is info-dumping or answering-questions-with-questions and monosyllabic responses (Thanks to Jackson..)
Kick-started right away and heated up quickly... Insta-love. Too hot/cold and on/off. Most of the conversations between the love interests felt cliche and scripted. It felt fake and was filled with eye-rolls. Final verdict: Too rushed.
The Writing Style:
There were some really strange sentences. Maybe they are just Canadian things to say?
• We both ignore the elephant in the room and get on with breakfast (page 86).
• I jerk to a stop, horror congealing like day-old bacon fat (page 190).
•..putting the rotting cherry on top of my rancid ice-cream sundae of a day (page 226).
None of these had the desired effect of creating relate-able feelings.
Overall, I will only be buying this because I made a connection with the gaming aspect of the story. I think the concept behind it amazing, but it wasn't pulled off in the best way. As far as recommending is concerned, I would only consider reading this if you are a fan of video game themed books and either enjoyed Ender's Game or didn't but want to read something similar.
"They hunted our ancestors. They were the predators. We were the prey. They chased our ancestors from their home world. They turned it into a barren, frozen mass. Now, they're here, looking to conquer another planet. Earth. This planet. Our planet. That feeling of fear inside you is justified. It's been bred into our genes. Into all our genes." He gestures toward the others, who stand ready and alert. "But you have to master it. Beat it down. We're not the prey anymore."
"Me. I'm saying it. And I'm telling you the truth."
"The truth? Would you recognize it if it bit you on the ass?"
The day's almost done. Tomorrow has to be better. Tears sting my eyes at the thought. How many times have I told myself that? How many times have I forced myself out of bed in the morning, trying to believe that this is the day everything will be fine?
I catch Carly's eye and lower my voice. "Oh, and Carly? Don't do the bitch thing. Either we're okay or we're not."
The only thing that's really certain is this moment. The only thing I can control a hundred percent are the choices I make right now.
"You stay alive-" A horrific cry carries down from above us, making the little hairs on my forearms stand on end. "You stay alive," I repeat.
On My Goodreads: