Category Archives: Dystopian

Book Review: ‘The Killing Grounds’ by Simon Corn

Title: The Killing Grounds (The Assassin Series Book 1)

Published: 1st April 2016

Author: Simon Corn

Facebook: www.facebook.com/SimonCornAuthor

Twitter: @si_corn_author

 

Synopsis:

Alara has only one choice to make, kill or be killed. Assassins are waiting in every shadow and she needs to finish in the top five in her class or she will be retired to the mines with the rest of the failures. Lord Osari, the most deadly assassin in city has chosen her as his apprentice and she intends to live up to his standards, no matter the cost. But when Lord Osari goes missing in action, Alara finds herself alone in a nest of young assassins, and with no one to trust she will have to retire them all and rescue her Lord by herself. After all, assassins have no friends. Her story takes her on a roller-coaster journey where she finds both good and evil lurking in the hallways of the rich and powerful families and three mythical dragon statues that hold everything together. But where there’s power there’s politics and with politics there’s greed and in the middle of it all stands the Assassin’s Guild, The Killing Grounds!

 

Review:

An interesting fantasy thriller read that is going to keep you guessing throughout, especially when it throws in a few twists and turns along the way.

The world changed after the ABC wars, which affected the Poles, shifting them so it changed how the world, and everything in it, worked. Holes in ozone layers appeared, magnetic waves started altering satellites, TV, Internet, radio and even animal populations who used them to survive suffered. Everything was thrown into chaos. These changes however brought with them gifts, something happened to the people who survived – they started to get powers, magic – they became Artists. A gift or a curse? There are always two sides to everything.

Now in this new world if you do something wrong you are retired to the mines. Retired as in dead to be brought back to work. Well for some anyway, others I’m guessing would just stay dead. This would be the job of an Assassin. Osari, a high level Guild Assassin, knows trouble is brewing and it starts with the arrival of Alara, his new spotter – someone who has to see the kill so he can get paid. She might have gone to him to be his new spotter but it seems he wants her to be his apprentice instead. Something to do with a tale long told to him about how he may have to rely on a stranger with certain gifts. Training begins at the Killing Grounds, where not everything is as it seems.

Now the Quartermaster at the Killing Grounds is someone you don’t want to mess with. He is the person that bounties of people to be taken out go to, all having committed a crime of some sort. He also seems to be a powerful Artist – side note mind tricks can be painful so Alara better watch out. He has some sound advice for when she starts training, inside the walls she’s safe but out she’s fair game. Every other apprentice in the Killing Grounds is an enemy and would try to kill her first chance they get. She needs to watch her back with the path she has chosen. This training school is a bit different with how you pass. It’s large at 32 and with the instructors wanting it to be cut down quick things are about to get dicey. Only top 5 will go into the Guild to become Assassins, so to get there a lot of others are going to need to go and by go I mean gone for good.

Now this is one class you don’t really want to be making friends. Gideon seems pleasant enough but whether he’s friend or foe only time will tell. He is the A1 for the group, top of the class. Black, A2, is very standoffish but could come in handy when trouble arises. They definitely have a bit of a rivalry complex with each other. There are only 3 other girls for Alara to contend with, Lucinda being the only one of note to worry about.

Training is hard enough but when word comes of Lord Osari’s early retirement Alara she knows she needs to watch her back, as danger might be coming from more than just her classmates. She might be catching up in the credits to go up in rankings but still has a way to go. When the council send members to ask questions about who could have retired Lord Osari, as it might be someone from her class, she knows she needs to find out too. She starts by finding his death stone within the Assassins vault. Each apprentice gets one, half to stay with you and the other for the vault, and only when you have been retired will it die. When she sees his still have life in it she knows he has been taken. She just needs to figure out by whom, how to get him back and how it’s linked to her. Is there anyone she can trust to help? Something has been set in motion; she just needs to figure out what before the danger gets too close.

Alara, Black and Lucinda are a team to be reckoned with. But are they really ready? Graduation is deadly but what follows is about to get worse. A twist at the end you won’t see coming. Whose side will our 3 assassins fall on and who really has Lord Osari? Answers entwined in this fast paced thriller read.

4 out of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the author for my honest review.

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Book Review: ‘Monarchy’ by Laura Pritchard

Title: Monarchy (The Monarchy Trilogy Book 1)

Published: 26th April 2017

Author: Laura Pritchard

 

Synopsis:

In the times after the reformation, the leaders of the new world have created the perfect society. There is no exaggerated wealth or famishing poverty. There is no starvation or crime or disease. The citizens of the sectors are secure and well nourished, forever protected by the life the Monarchy have so gracefully afforded.

No one mentions the things that are lacking. Constance thinks about it often.

At the age of sixteen, Constance is snatched from her family in a twisted ceremony called ‘Removal.’ Forced to reside in the Citadel, the fortress of the Monarchy, she faces a brutal induction to evolve into a soldier of the Brigade; sworn peace keepers of the sectors. While she grapples with the feeling of revolution that rage in her mind, Constance is trained by Calloway, the guard with an elusive past who shadows her every move.

Remaining peaceful, however, is the last thing on the minds of the inhabitants of sector six. Uprisings and rebellions are common place with her own kinsfolk being injured and killed as a consequence. When the time comes, Constance must decide which side she will choose in a battle that will determine her future. It is a choice that she should never have to face; weighing her own life against the lives of those that she loves.

 

Review:

Think Hunger Games and Divergent mixed together to give you a starting point to how the world of Monarchy has been created and where things might go.

So as the eldest child in the family on her sixteenth year Constance is required to join the Brigade for the Monarchy as part of the Removal. She needs to be strong and not let them break her, something her father is adamant she does, first bit of advice he’s given her in years. She is to go to the Citadel to train to either become a peacekeeper, warrior, or another role within the Brigade if they aren’t strong enough, for the Monarchy and society. When taken from Sector 6 she is not alone, Annabeth is taken with her. At first she sees her as nothing more than weak from how she acted when the guards took them away. The longer she is with her though the more she sees that appearances can be deceiving as to be smart is as good a skill as being strong. Mental and physical strength is needed to survive but the whole idea of training is to break the new recruits so they can be molded into just the right way to be the perfect weapons of choice when or if the need arises.

The Monarchy felt the need to create the Brigade seemingly for the good of all people, not just themselves. The time before the reformation was bleak but now there is no poor/ wealth divide, no one going hungry, all are equal with what they have. Crime, disease and hunger plagued their society but things have changed. Nothing is ever quite as it seems though. They might not have those things but you just don’t want to mention what you don’t have – true freedom being on of those things.

When taken to the Citadel the training begins and it’s just as bad as they had been told. Their trainer Lex being the demon from hell, a complete hardass but needs to be so he can break them so they can become the soldiers he needs them to be. Each new recruit gets a guard (another Brigadier) to watch over their every move. They are your shadow, watching your every move, meant to intimidate you with barely a look. Everything they do is to break you, so to truly survive you need to be strong. But how much can you handle before your resolve snaps? New recruits need to stick together and they do (to start with anyway). That way they need to break the group of 15 not just one. Makes the Brigadiers job harder and your inner strength stronger. Not long before peoples characters start to change and they start to think of themselves alone.

Though Constance thinks of herself as alone, even with the others going through the same training, she feels a connection to her brigadier; one I think he feels too. She passes the training to become an armed guard, along with two others Daisy and Theo. It’s her brigadier who is now going to show them the ropes and she finally finds out his name, Cal. What they just went through was induction, now the real training begins and it only gets harder.

It seems Sector 3 (where Theo is from) and Sector 6 are starting to cause trouble for the Monarchy. The Brigade is soon going to be called in to stop it. Seems a rebellion is in the making and the new recruits are about to be thrown right into the middle of it.

Constance goes through a variety of emotions towards what she has had to become. Starts out hating the Monarchy with forcing her to become a member of the Brigade. Her views change as she starts to be viewed as a leader within the training programme. She wants to rebel but needs to learn what battles to push and when to hold her tongue as she may cause more trouble than help those that need it. They are made to believe that the Monarchy help to keep everyone alive but the more you learn you more you feel it’s more about control and experiments to play God. She needs to be careful of how many emotions she shows as dangers will soon find her. She may break and start to follow the rules but the more she learns about her new world the more she comes to resent it in different ways. She is made to do things she didn’t think she would be able too but needs to protect her friends. Theo, Daisy, Cal and her have created a unit, one that they strive to keep together but soon to be pulled apart.

You do get vibes from Hunger Games and Divergent within the story a bit but it’s still a good read with interesting characters that draw you into the world they are a part of.

4 out of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the author for my honest review.

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