I would like to thank Permuted Press and Chris Babu for sending me this ARC via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
In a ruined world, Manhattan is now New America, a walled-in society based on equality. But the perfect facade hides a dark truth.
A timid math geek, sixteen-year-old Drayden watches his life crumble when his beloved mother is exiled. The mystery of her banishment leads him to a sinister secret: New America is in trouble, and every one of its citizens is in jeopardy.
With time running out, he enters the Initiation. It’s a test within the empty subway tunnels—a perilous journey of puzzles and deadly physical trials. Winners join the ruling Bureau and move to its safe haven. But failure means death. Can Drayden conquer the Initiation, or is salvation out of his grasp?
I really enjoyed the world building, Chris Babu develops the world surpberly and in-depth. Making you believe that you are there as well; experiencing the disgusting smells and wandering in total silence. A virus, called the Confluence, has supposedly wiped out most of humanity. In order for the people of ‘New America’ to survive and to rebuild, the Bureau ultimately decides that everyone shall live “equally.” Well, so they say…
The first part of this Dystopian story takes place in ‘The Dorms’. There are several zones in ‘New America’, these are the ‘Meadow’, ‘Lab’, ‘Precint’ and the ‘Palace’. By far the ‘Dorms’ are in the worst conditions imaginable. Drayden lives in the ‘Dorms’ with his mother, father and older brother, so we get to learn a lot about the conditions. For instance kids in the ‘Dorms’ have never known what it is like to use a computer, watch t.v., use the internet or even a ballpoint pen.
Food is also sparse with poor living conditions which are cramped and undesirable.
Which brings me now to our main character, Drayden. He’s a sweet kid, but a complete wuss, you really want to slap him in the face a few times. His story is naturally heartbreaking; his mother is exiled at the very start of the book and he is left feeling distraught, angry and alone. I liked that this was how Chris Babu starts the story, diving straight into the action – no messing around.
Drayden decides, from the support of his older brother and his teacher, that he will enter the Initiation in order to find out what really happened to his mother and discover the mystery of the Bureau.
….and that’s where I was let down. I did enjoy reading about the different tasks and the conflict between Drayden and two other pledges (standard). It then became boring; pretty fast actually. I felt that I was reading the same thing over and over again for pretty much the rest of the book. I struggled to keep going.
There was a lack of detail during the actual Initiation and too much dialogue. Most of the dialogue was repetitive making no sense to the actual story so, I kinda gave up the will to live.
The final straw was the romance. I have no problem with romance in a story; it can add a bit of spice and be entertaining. This romance took over the whole damn initiation. A life-risking task would have just taken place and all Drayden can think about is what girl does he like more, do they like him and who will he end up with. LIKE WHAT IN THE HELL.
What made it worse was it became a love triangle. I actually wanted to puke. It happened. It can never be taken back.
Drayden spends a huge amount of time worrying that he is not brave enough which will result in everyone failing the initiation, I can appreciate the message behind it. That anyone can be brave; it’s deep down inside of you-you just have to believe in yourself.
I have a terrible feeling that I would probably read the next book. I didn’t hate this book because it had such a strong promising start. I liked some of the other pledges though it felt that others needed to be developed more. Perhaps we will see this in the next instalment. Overall, focus less on the romance and more on the action!