Book lover. Stephen King Fanatic. Will try anything once. General Lover of Fiction. Reviewer Everywhere. All views my own. Mostly.
Publication Date: Available now from Hodder and Staughton
Rose Elmsworth has a secret. For eighteen years, the world has been divided into the magically Gifted and the non-magical Ashkind, but Rose's identity is far more dangerous. At fifteen, she has earned herself a place alongside her father in the Department, a brutal law-enforcement organisation run by the Gifted to control the Ashkind. But now an old enemy is threatening to start a catastrophic war, and Rose faces a challenging test of her loyalties. How much does she really know about her father's past? How far is the Department willing to go to keep the peace? And, if the time comes, will Rose choose to protect her secret, or the people she loves?
So I have to say first, that this book was written in first draft form when Helena was 13. Now upon publication she is 15. While we chew over that for a moment I have to say if this is the level she is writing at right now, good golly miss molly I'm dying to know what we'll be seeing a few years down the line...
Anyway more to the point - I thought this was brilliant and loved it with a fiery passion. Storytelling magic, especially if you like your Young Adult Dystopia novels but with a real world grounding, even more especially if you love adventure, intrigue, a touch of romance and a spot of outrage at the thought of having to wait WAIT for the next instalment.
We meet Rose then. Nearly 20 years ago, before she was born, something happened and after that night the world was utterly changed. Now society is divided, the Department enforces the law, but within its ranks there are hidden secrets. Not the least of which is Rose herself, who is hiding something that could destroy her.
It is intensely addictive for a few reasons. First of all Rose is terrific - feisty, determined but also emotional and often impulsive, which gives you an anchor into the rest of the tale. Which is ever so well constructed and often edge of the seat stuff. Secondly the world building is super - I found the premise to be really compelling and Helena Coggan gives it huge depth, taking her time over the course of the novel to embed in your mind all the different nuances of this new reality that Rose finds herself living in, sometimes learning things as she does and therefore feeling the impact. Mesh those two together, great characterisation and some stunning imagery and there you have it. A stonking good read.
Somehow there is also a twisty turny thriller in here - just when you think you have a handle on a situation, BAM, it all gets turned around on you. The grey area's between good and evil are beautifully drawn, really take your pick as to who's side you will end up on. Certainly Rose has her work cut out for her working out who to trust, which way to jump, what to do for the best. It is all very appealing and completely lively throughout.
It has had mixed reviews but for me this was an absolutely impressive debut novel from a young voice who is fast going attract a huge following. Hunger Games eat your heart out.
Loved it. Highly Recommended.
Happy Reading Folks!