I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Series: The Gatekeeper Chronicles #1
on December 29, 2014
Genres: Science Fiction & Fantasy, Urban Fantasy
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It’s not always easy to differentiate between the good guys and the bad guys, especially when your heroine is a trained killer and she may be falling in love with her evil hunter…
Emma Hayes, a former military Special Forces Operative turned mercenary-for-hire, finds her tightly controlled world turned upside down when she is attacked by horrible monsters.
Emma must use every skill in her arsenal to stay alive as she tries to solve the mystery of why she has been targeted. Her list of enemies keeps growing - from Zane Shayde, an evil Mage, to a secret branch of the US government - and she doesn't know if there is anyone left she can trust.
To complicate matters further, Emma is inexplicably drawn to Zane in a way she doesn’t quite understand, even knowing her life is forfeit if captured. Who is he and why does he have this affect on her? How can she fight a being that calls to her, body and soul?
Emma is left haunted by questions, doubts and fears as to why she has been targeted, when they will come for her next, and how she will possibly be able to survive against an enemy she doesn't understand.
I’ve been on an urban fantasy streak lately (not that I’m ever not in the mood for UF, but I’ve been hunting out UF series in particular in the past month or two), and I was hungry for new series to try. Thanks to the abundance ebooks allow, I ditscovered a happy handful, some of which I’ll be featuring in the next few weeks. One of these was a title I spotted on NetGalley, whose cover instantly drew my attention. I know, I know, we aren’t supposed to judge books by their covers, but let’s admit it—many of us are guilty of giving the back covers of prettily decorated books a read while passing on plainer, less eye-catching titles.
Still, it wasn’t the cover that sucked me in within a couple of minutes of starting this book. I lay the blame on the intriguing and dangerous world the author has built around her cast of characters, which has a kind of Men in Black-meets-Hydra vibe, thanks to the heavy-handed governmental agencies and the band of rebels, outcasts, and misfits that pulls together to see things through.
Other than that, there’s the mystery of main character Emma Hayes, who is particularly interesting because her past is even a mystery to herself, given that she lost her memory at 16, during the car crash that killed her parents and left her comatose for a year. Except that, over the course of this novel, she finds out that the past as she knows it has been a carefully constructed fiction, and she will have to beat down some strong and trauma-filled mental barriers before she can really get at the truth. What was great about this book was that I found myself all the more sympathetic with Emma’s frustration at being the last to know important details about who she is and where she came from. If this is how Given plans to peel the layers off of all her stories, then I guess I’ve got a few page turners in my future, especially knowing that book 2, Unraveled, has been out for the past couple of months or so.
There is, of course, a love story to be had here, or the beginnings of one at least. There’s a potential love triangle, possibly even a love square. And while I love me my romantic elements, part of me feels like the dominant love story that develops in this book was a bit rushed. And this is not just because of the quickness of the novel’s pace in general; I felt that the character gave her trust too easily, especially considering she’s supposed to be a battle-hardened mercenary, and as a result the love story was a little less believable. In fact, this is probably something I should bring up: how quickly Emma is to love, to make friends, and even to believe in a world she should’ve thought impossible. It just seems quite at odds with the way she’s painted as a character. She also has a few damsel-in-distress tendencies that hover just short of being annoying, so it will be good to see how she recovers from the sheer number of bombshells dropped in this book.
Looking back on the book as a whole, I would probably call this a decent start to a series that has quite a bit of potential, so I’m really hoping that in the next novel, the character dials it back on the DID vibes and starts kicking butt with a to-thine-ownself-be-true sort of mentality. My biggest problem, as I can see it, was that I wasn’t sure if the main character’s main flaw was intentional or not. Still, if you’re a fan of action, intrigue, and adventure, the fun never stops with this novel, at least not until you get to the end. And while I found myself wishing occasionally that the major plot points had been given more buildup so as to come away with a harder emotional hit later on, I still took down the details for book two and added it to my ever-growing to-be-read list. I’m especially to learn more about three mystery men in particular: uber-rich and on-his-own-agenda Nathan Anshar, enslaved madman Zane, and Vincent Darko of the oh-so-villainous name.
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