Book Review: Countdown by Michelle Rowen
PROS:awesomely tough heroine who is easy to root for; crushworthy co-fighter; thrilling from start to finish
CONS:I want more story, the ending hints at such an interesting future, I wish we'd seen some of it
A thrilling new dystopian survival story for fans of The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner and Divergent.
Kira and Rogan wake up locked in the same room, and soon they find themselves in a deadly reality TV-style survival game that takes place in a gritty dystopian world. Sound familiar? Well, it might surprise you to know a version of Michelle Rowen’s Countdown was originally published BEFORE The Hunger Games. Now, years later, Harlequin and Rowen are republishing a YA version of the story. In spite of the slew of dystopian books that have come and gone in the years before this version, Countdown still manages to carve out space for itself with a thrilling and intense story. While Countdown is sure to draw Hunger Games comparisons, I’d also liken the game-like action and character dynamics to The Maze Runner and Divergent.
The scenarios Kira and Rogan face as they try to survive are full of pulse pounding danger, and you’re never quite sure who to trust as they make their way through the levels of the game. If you like conspiracies, action-packed fights and plenty of kissing, you won’t be disappointed. Kira is a tough, streetwise heroine with a vulnerable side who is easy to root for immediately, and Rogan is an enigmatic guy with a nice face and too many secrets—it’s hard to know whether to kiss or strangle-hold him. Their relationship is certainly insta-lust, but not insta-love, and they lean on each other and grow into something more meaningful through the intensity of the game, though there are secrets and mistrust to overcome.
While I liked their relationship progression, I did feel that Kira trusted Rogan a bit too easily, especially in the beginning. I mean, he basically admits to being a murderer, and Kira’s family was murdered, which is essentially the whole reason she’s a homeless thief who is in a position to be plucked from the streets and thrown into a deadly game. If Rogan hadn’t been so good looking, with such kissable lips, perhaps she would have been a bit more wary and second guessed everything? Or maybe Kira’s SO streetwise, she knows the rules of dystopian romance—quickly forgive nearly all infractions with your co-gamer hottie so you can get your makeout on, because life is grim and short and you may as well enjoy yourself. Can’t really blame her for that logic.
Overall, Countdown was such a fun ride from beginning to end, even if the territory might feel well worn after so many dystopian reads in my rearview mirror. I normally have a bit of dystopian fatigue, but I didn’t feel that during this story. In fact, I wish I could get MORE. The ending does provide a resolution, but it’s such an interesting resolution, it had me excited to read the next chapter in Kira and Rogan’s story. If you’re a fan of The Maze Runner, The Hunger Games, and Divergent and you aren’t suffering from dystopian fatigue, definitely give Rowen’s highly entertaining Countdown a read.
Make sure to check out our interview with Michelle on the Countdown blog tour and enter to win a copy of the book as well as a HarlequinTEEN goodie bag!