I love reading more than just about anything else and can't wait to share my views with you.
This review is also available on my blog, Bows & Bullets Reviews
Krissa Channing's never had any problems abiding by the governments rules. Then she meets Braiden and things change some. He rebels against their governments pairing rules and the need to allow them to govern their positions in life. Suddenly she is pushed down a path she never thought she'd have to travel and her once bright future is looking dimmer by the minute.
I've kinda been avoiding reviewing this. I hate writing negative reviews for books that I got from the author. I know logically (and statistically) that I'm not going to love every book that I'm given the opportunity to read, but that doesn't make writing the negative ones easier. I hate taking something I know the author worked hard on and writing less than positive things, even if the negative criticism helps them improve the novel. Who am I to say what is really bad? Who appointed me the knower of all great things literary? I guess I did since I'm the one who started reviewing books in my spare time, but I digress.
I had many issues with this short novel, this biggest one being it's length. It's very short, 150 pages, and it felt very rushed. Every interaction between the characters is quick and to the point, with very little dialogue or interaction. They meet for dinner, eat, say a handful of words to each other, and then leave. Bam, scene over. It's really that way with everything. All of the scenes or situations we see Krissa in, she dwells on the problem for a minute or two and then pushes it to the back of her mind to focus on whatever is directly in front of her, but then we don't really see that either. That's my number one comment is that we need more. More interactions and more emotions, maybe smoothing things out that were a bit too choppy.
My other big issue is that I didn't care for any of the characters. As much as Krissa is put into a situation I should be able to sympathize with, I just can't. Braiden is an asshole, with a capital A, and all of her problems stem from that relationship. If she'd stop being an idiot and get away from him, her life would improve, but she doesn't. She keeps trekking through, hoping he'll get better. I hate (hate hate hate) relationships like that. Maybe it hits too close to home because my best friend is in the exact same position (well, add in a few years and a few kids) and it drives me fucking nuts. Why do you stay with this jackass? Why do you love him when he's borderline abusive towards you? And the way he treats the unexpected surprise had me immediately wishing Krissa would come to her senses. She never does.
Another problem is the lack of world-building. This is presented as a dystopian, but really it's contemporary. This is much more about Krissa's relationship struggles than it is about the world it takes place in. And only a few minor things have really changed, with the government being involved in pairing (aka marriage) and where you live. I think it's trying to straddle the line between the two and it doesn't work well.
I hate that I didn't love this, but it just didn't work for me. Characters I couldn't stand that don't really grow or evolve, just dither about trying to make the same bad situation work even though it's obvious it never will. It's ending leaves something to be desired, simply leaving us with "To be continued" but none of the outlets show a sequel. If you are gonna leave us hanging, at least give us an idea of when we'll get the sequel. (EDIT: Per the author the sequel will be released in June of this year, so we do know now when we can get the next installment, should we be so inclined.) Sadly, I don't have the slightest desire to read any more of this series because it just didn't work for me. I'm all about the characters and since I couldn't stand either of the main two here, I just can't recommend it.
****Thank you to K D Ferguson for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review****