Title: Gambit (The Prodigy Chronicles #1)
Author: C.L. Denault
Genres: Dystopia | Paranormal
Length: 556 pages
Source: Author / Giveaway
Sixteen-year-old Willow lives in a world where humans with extraordinary skills lead lives completely apart from the normal ones. Her life in the small village compares nothing to the Core, but she is free… Until her secrets are exposed and Willow is forced to choose between her freedom and the life of her family.
Gambit had a bumpy start for me because I could not take to the main character. She was made to be too much of a bad-ass – He planted a delicate kiss on my forehead, the one man in the room brave enough to dare such a thing, and went back to work. – and was manipulative of those who care about her (father, best friend, etc). I really didn’t like that, although it played into the story. Still, she was just not someone I liked and that remained throughout the book.
Then there was the all too seen best friend who wants to be something more and the main character doesn’t. At this point I was wondering what I had gotten myself into.
However, the prose is so engaging that next thing I knew I had read well more than half the book in one sitting and it was the wee hours of the morning. I had to force myself to stop because, you know, headache, blurry vision and so on.
There were quite a few characters, so I had to keep reminding myself who was who but after a while I got used to it and each had their own voice. This is a long book and I got a good idea how it was like for Willow in her life before all the madness happened and then with all the changes she endured.
The novel sets a new world well, where for some reason I kept hearing Hook from Once Upon a Time every time a villager spoke with their ‘Aye’ and addressing Willow as ‘love’ or ‘lassie’. At the same time, it touches quite a few important issues, specifically human ambition and its potential consequences. Genetic manipulation and irreparable damage to the environment surely loom in today’s future so to some extend this was pretty believable.
There were a few things I didn’t get.
I didn’t quite grasp the concept of the Surge. It seemed like something that should be hidden in case you were a normal hiding a skill but at the same time it seemed expected that Willow go through it, regardless of being a prodigy or not. Did everyone go through it? Always at 16? I didn’t even get how people went from begin normal to becoming prodigies and that seems pretty basic world building to me. I am hoping this and other things left unexplained will be addressed in further books.
I had major issues with the men in this book. First of all, every man that shows interest in Willow, which is pretty much any male she comes across, seems to be coveted by numerous females, including her teasing best friend. Then I don’t understand why rebellious-I-can-take-care-of-myself Willow would trust Joshua so blindly from the moment they met. Not to mention it’s totally creepy, with him at least looking twice her age and all. And the way he kept calling her little one got old really fast. I realise it was probably done to keep from such climate was emerging but it was still creepy. And then the level of intimacy 23-year-old Reece had with Willow was just plain wrong. She’s 16, for crying out loud. Yes, he was respectful enough, but it just feels wrong.
Action takes place in former London but American spelling is used everywhere.
Why would Reece saying that he is genetically incapable of lying be enough for Willow? He could totally be playing her this whole time! Why did she not even consider double checking this information??
I wanted to know the secondary characters better. Several people, not least of them Willow’s parents, had who they thought for sixteen years was their daughter suddenly taken away and I could not get a glimpse of how this affected any of them, least of all big-hearted Fenn.
I was sorry to see so much was left unexplained at the end of the book. I at least wanted to know what secret Reece was keeping.
All in all, Gambit was a fast-paced adventure that is sure to keep you entertained and there is enough tension that will keep you wanting to know what comes next. Personally, I needed more character and world development and a few clichés eliminated from the narrative to feel fully satisfied but I believe YA fans will enjoy it very much and do recommend it.
Disclaimer: I would like to thank the author of the book and the author of the blog that held this giveaway.
Read from Apt 8th to Apr 9th, 2017