Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Book Review: Countdown by Michelle Rowen

Countdown is exciting. I flew through this book, and enjoyed every minute of it.

Let's get the inevitable comparison to The Hunger Games out of the way. Two kids in a life or death contest, must meet six different challenges in order to survive. The prize is "whatever they desire." A romance develops. Sound familiar? Yes, but trust me, it doesn't matter. It's different enough, and if you liked The Hunger Games why wouldn't you want more???

The setting is the future after a plague has killed a large portion of the people. Kira is homeless and living on the street since her parents and sister were murdered. Rogan is a convicted murderer. They wake up together in a dark room. They hear a coundown.. 59..58..57..56...and realize they must get out of the room before they are out of time.

Rogan knows what's happening. He's heard of the very secret game show, available by subscription only to the most wealthy people, called Countdown. He explains to Kira that they must meet six challenges. The penalty for failing is death. They have implants in their heads and must stay within 90 feet of each other. They are on camera the entire time.

There are surprises along the way. We find out more about Rogan and his crimes as well as the brutal murders of Kira's family. The relationship and trust between these two builds very slowly. There is a technological aspect of Countdown that I enjoyed. It felt like a future United States, unlike The Hunger Games which to me felt like a more primitive society somewhere else.

The pacing of Countdown is nothing short of breakneck.  While I felt like some of the challenges were a bit easy or convenient to solve, it did keep the plot moving. I guess that's my one complaint. I felt like things happened so fast there was little time for relationships or getting to know the characters. But for teens, that is a small price to pay for a book that will be easy to devour.

I'll definitely recommend Countdown widely. I have a lot of students wanting "books like The Hunger Games," and Countdown will fill the bill. I think Countdown would be a great recommendation for the typical reluctant reader, boy or girl.

Published by Harlequin Teen, September 24, 2013
eARC obtained from NetGalley
336 pages (qualifies for my Books You Can Read in a Day Challenge!)

Rating: 4/5

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