Format: Paperback (library copy)
Published: 22nd May 2014
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Series/Standalone?: Series: Silver Blackthorn #1
Genre: YA / Dystopian / Fantasy
Synopsis taken from Amazon:
In the village of Martindale, hundreds of miles north of the new English capital of Windsor, sixteen-year-old Silver Blackthorn takes the Reckoning. This coming-of-age test not only decides her place in society – Elite, Member, Inter or Trog – but also determines that Silver is to become an Offering for King Victor.
But these are uncertain times and no one really knows what happens to the teenagers who disappear into Windsor Castle. Is being an Offering the privilege everyone assumes it to be, or do the walls of the castle have something to hide?
Trapped in a maze of ancient corridors, Silver finds herself in a warped world of suspicion where it is difficult to know who to trust and who to fear. The one thing Silver does know is that she must find a way out…
Upon finishing this book I have real mixed feelings towards the plot, structure and narrative. I will attempt to make all of this coherent in this short review. The novel in itself is a decent read, I just had a few issues with it.
The second half of this novel is much better than the first. I felt more engrossed within the action, and wanted to keep reading. Up until this point I wasn’t invested in the story and nearly put the book down on a number of occasions. It really felt like a combination of various other well known YA Dystopian reads e.g. The Hunger Games, with various elements blended together to make a ‘new’ story.
The setting was promising – UK based YA fiction, with a royal monarch – great. I didn’t fully understand the class system and this continued to arise throughout the novel. Each person that undertakes the ‘reckoning’ is allocated a status. The Elites are the highest status, upper class – Members and Inters are what I can only assume to be of upper and lower middle class status, leaving the Trog’s as general working class citizens – the lowest possible category. This part was simple enough, what I didn’t understand was how these statuses mattered in the general scheme of things. The jobs allocated to the members did not represent their ‘class status’ for example: a Trog and Elite both worked together in the kitchen. This confused me a little – I didn’t see the relevance of a class system that had no affect on job roles, champion status, or treatment by the King.
The romance element within this novel also frustrated me somewhat. It felt like a very quick, insta-love kind of romance in which boy and girl fall head over heels for each other in a very short space of time. I felt like the romance wasn’t explained in enough detail, although I wouldn’t have wanted this to become the prominent storyline – it just felt a little rushed and done merely for effect.
The main protagonist Silver Blackthorn – really despise the name – was a strong character. She had a clever attitude, to neither be seen nor heard so as to not attract any unwanted attention. This did have some flaws though. She didn’t interact with many of the other characters enough for the reader to get the ‘bigger picture’.
The style of narrative was perfect at the start of the novel. The use of first person narrator allowed me to understand Silver and her thoughts well. When the main plot twist occurs towards the end of the novel, this first person narrative caused some problems. The character somehow withholds information from us as the reader, and consequently herself – how is this possible?
Some elements of the story seemed to be done for efficiency – doors of important rooms left unlocked in a very secure establishment, full of paranoia and guards?!
Overall, the plot was promising and elements of the story were good – the sequel may deal with some of my frustrations and confusion, but it is not one I will be rushing out to purchase or borrow. If you like YA Dystopian then give this a read, it just might be the book for you.