Hello everyone! I promised I would be doing more book reviews this year, so here is one of my favourite book of 2015 to start us off!
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 tantalising game of cat and mouse.
Rook by Sharon Cameron is an incredible standalone. It landed a place as BEST OVERALL BOOK in my nominations for the Academy Book Awards as well as:
- Best Young Adult Novel
- Runner Up: Best Dressed Character (Sophia)
- Best Protagonist (Sophia)
as well as placing first in my TOP 15 OF 2015, which is why I am doing this review today.
Rook was the Perustopia Book Club book of the month for June (or some other summer month) but I never got around to reading it… I’m kind of wishing I had read it sooner, but I loved reading it over the Winter Break as well so it’s all good.
The first load of reviews on goodreads are all 1-and-2 star ratings, which is a shame, because the average rating for this book is 3.74 with the most common rating being 4 and the second most common 5 and then 3 even- so why show all the negativity first, it will dissuade people from reading this incredible book. But I’ll talk more about that later.
“I think you are very beautiful,” René said, “especially when you are admiring mischief.”
“You must think that every time I look at you, then.”
The main character, Sophia, is kickass. She is feisty, intelligent, fearsome and strong. She also struggles with accepting the things she is scared of and isn’t very perceptive of people’s romantic feelings towards her. I personally really enjoyed reading Sophia as a character and a person. Sophia also happens to be the Red Rook, so hats off to her. And no, that isn’t a spoiler. You find that out within the first chapter.
Next to talk about is Sophia’s brother- Tom. Tom is the epitome of brotherly protectiveness, in my opinion, but in a way which is far from stifling. He supports Sophia and trains with her, despite his injured leg and I admire the familial bond between the two siblings.
Rene. Ah sweet, sweet, Rene. This man shifts faces and characters so much throughout this book and is so many different things in so many different situations that it is no wonder Sophia had a hard time trusting him to begin with. Rene is the love interest- he and Sophia have an arranged marriage. He also happens to be the cousin of the antagonist. He’s sly and manipulative and really hard to read. Did I mention I’m in love with him? No? Well I am.
Spear. Argh, this man frustrated me at times. Family friend to Sophia’s family, she views him as a Brother….. he doesn’t view her as a sister, that’s for sure, which puts a strain on their relationship throughout the course of the book and causes some nasty rivalry between him and Rene.
A few more people to mention briefly before I move on to the antagonists: Sophia’s Father was an ass, but in a specific kind of way that actually worked. I liked that the different servants had different personalities and that they’re involved with the main story, especially Sophia’s servant/maid/nanny person. I loved the whole Hasard family and it’s dynamic as well, but I’ll talk more about that later.
There are many evils and antagonists in this book, but the one I am going to talk about is LeBlanc, who I think is the greater evil. He is a religious fanatic whose religion is based on a Goddess of Faith and Luck and who bases his descicions on flips of coins and the colour water turns when you drip blood into it. Yeah. You heard me right. He isn’t them head of the Parisian government (more on setting later), that would be Allemande, but he is the more corrupt of the two and the one more central to the plot. He is madman crazy, a lunatic, a despicable human being and a really interesting and manipulative antagonist.
“Your maman was in my room last night.”
“And I was not.” His tone was glum.
Okay, I just want to mention the wonderful and interesting family dynamics in this book. We have the Bellamy family (Sophia, Tom and her father- and Spear and the servants get an honorary spot) and the Hasard family (LeBlanc, Rene, Madame Hasard and all of the many Hasard uncles). I can’t say much without spoiling anything, but I can say this: be prepared for two interesting, dynamic and very different families with different relationships and situations and a whole lot of goodness. l also have a love-hate relationship with Madame Hasard. Read it and you’ll probably know what I mean, but this is a spoiler-free review so that is all I am going to say.
“Our clients find me charming. And I find out things Maman and my uncles never could …”
“Because people think you’re an imbecile.”
“Being … how do you say, underestimated, that is never a bad thing.”
PLOT AND COMMON COMPLAINTS
Okay, so the common complaints I will be talking about are: the pacing, the world building and whether this should have been a historical novel rather than a sci-fi/dystopia, so I think they fit rather well with the plot section of my review.
Now, this is apparently a ‘homage’ to The Scarlet Pimpernel, which is a classic I have not read, but now plan on doing so.
The plot in this book is developed nicely, interesting and really quite unique (although it is a
retelling homage, so I suppose that story should get the benefit of the ‘unique plot’ but the world in this book is incredibly unique and wonderful).
COMMON COMPLAINT #1: IT SHOULDN’T HAVE BEEN A SCI-FI NOVEL.
I am going to be using quotes from this review on goodreads and its comments to talk about here and in the next complaint. Sorry if I get a bit passionate, I really didn’t like this person’s review.
This book starts off with an execution on the guillotine. Very reminiscent of the French Revolution. And yes, the entire book had a French Revolution feel for it, which is cute, but still fails utterly because it doesn’t take place during the late 18th century France, but in a French-inspired dystopian world that, like many of its YA predecessors, makes no sense whatsoever.
Um… the whole French-Revolution feel in a dystopian world is kind of a major point in this book….. HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF is basically the moral of this book. SO WHERE IS YOUR PROBLEM?
Some people speak Parisian (whatever happened to French).
Okay, well, this is not the TODAY world, so they can call the language whatever they want…… especially seeing as FRANCE doesn’t exist anymore. Just like England doesn’t exist- they have the COMMONWEALTH which speaks the COMMON tongue. If The Sunken City (Paris) is blocking out the past, why would they use the name of the language from the past exactly?
Technology and shit are banned, for no reason, without any explanation.
There are no cars! There are no iPhones! *clutches her pearls in horror* OTHER NATIONS HAVE SIMILAR ANTI-TECHNOLOGY LAWS.
So apparently somehow along the way we lost the ability to fucking do anything because we love technology too much? Does that make sense to anyone with a sense of the rational?
Okay, well, I need to calm down a bit. BUT THIS MAKES ME SO ANGRY. THIS PERSON, IN MY OPINION, COMPLETELY MISUNDERSTOOD THE BOOK. Anyway. They didn’t lose the ability to ‘fucking do anything’. There was a polar shift (which you wouldn’t know unless you read the author’s note, but you know something happened, so SOMETHING happened) which meant that technology stopped working. They still know HOW to do the things and make the machines they just DON’T. Except for time, they changed the system of time. Because CORRUPT and REVOLUTIONARY governments wanted to stop the same thing from happening and so you can’t get much information on it. Kind of like after the romans. GET IT?????
Having said this, whilst I think this person was completely wrong, she is entitled to her opinion and I do somewhat see where she is coming from- my one fault with this book. The world building in the book itself could be CLEARER and more information that was in the Author’s Note could have somehow been included into the story itself, but the main and most important information is included and it is quite a interesting explanation and concept as well.
COMMON COMPLAINT #3: HISTORICAL FICTION OR DYSTOPIAN?
Marriages are still arranged. Young ladies come out and get betrothed to eligible gentlemen. They wear BODICES!!! It doesn’t look like women have any rights at all. There are no cars! There are no iPhones!
Um, would you be complaining about this is an HISTORICAL fiction novel? No, because it is the culture of the time. What’s different about this time- its a regressed future. AND A DIFFERENT TIME. AND THINGS ARE CHANGING. ALSO, WHAT IS WRONG WITH BODICES IF YOU WANT TO WEAR THEM??? *Calm down, Keira. Calm down.
It always gets bad when “future” societies imitate the past. Why not just make it an alternative universe that is already on the past? What’s the point of it being the future in the first place?
The whole point is that history repeats itself, which is why every thing has regressed. IT’S THE POINT OF THE BOOK!!!!!!
Here is the entirety of what I commented on this review:
I personally really enjoyed this book. Enjoyed it a lot, but I did think that there could have been more world-building throughout the course of the book- I needed the Author’s Note to really understand it. However, I disagree with what you said about the world not making sense and it shouldn’t have being set in the future (wow, that’s worded badly) . The whole point is that history repeats itself, which is why every thing has regressed. And if technology were to fail, I’m pretty sure we would have a difficult time- WATER PURIFICATION, ELECTRICITY, FACTORIES, SAFETY AND SECURITY SYSTEMS…. and with corrupt powers, something like this could for sure happen. And the Author’s Note explains how the polar shift would have affected technology, so that makes sense as well, although it should have been included in the book.
COMMON COMPLAINT #3: TOO SLOW!!!!
Okay, well this complaint deserves a discussion post of its own (which I will be doing). In one sentence, however, I would like to address this. BEING SLOW PACED DOESN’T MEAN A BOOK IS BAD.
Okay, well that was it for today’s review. Sorry for the person who’s review annoyed me- you are completely entitled to your own opinion. I hope you enjoyed this review, I hope to be doing more in the future. Sorry I’ve been gone for so long, I have been working on this review and in a bit of a slump. I’m going to post this and hopefully do a few tags, awards and the discussion on slow paced books I mentioned above to help get me out of the slump.
Happy reading and please read Rook- if you have, please let me know what you thought below!!! Keira x