Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Seeker - Arwen Elys Dayton

Title: Seeker
Author: Arwen Elys Dayton
Publication Date: 2/10/15 (today!)
Pages: 448
How I Found It: NetGalley
Date Completed: 2/5/15

Summary: Scottish teenager Quin lives in either an unknown future or a parallel universe to our own. She has spent her whole life on her family estate, training to be a Seeker. Upon taking the oath, she realizes the role is not at all what she expected. Suddenly, the world and those she held dear are foreign and dangerous. 

What I Thought: NetGalley advertised this as the next big hit for fans of Hunger Games, DivergentLegend, and Game of Thrones. Quite the list to be on. The letter from the editor in the start of my advance reader's copy said "it sparkles with the kind of textured storytelling that the most literary works are beloved for, and yet it readers at a page-turning apce to rival the most accessible adventure." Oh, how I wanted that to be true. Unfortunately for the hopeful (myself included), Seeker falls short of the examples on that list. 

This book really had a lot of promise. The concept and characters are there for an interesting, exciting, intriguing adventure. I wanted to like the story and to root for the characters. However, I really struggled to connect. Dayton tried to make it captivating right from the start, yet I failed to be captivated. She consistently tells instead of showing, which remains one of my largest literary pet peeves.

Dayton's biggest downfall here is her lack of world building or even some of the most basic explanations. Her world is fantastical and carries some pretty significant differences from our own. Hence, my suggestion in the summary that it may take place in a parallel universe rather than the future. Time is at the mercy of those with special swords called athame. The Seekers are purportedly knights of some kind, chosen and trained to protect the weak and guard...well, something. Quin quickly learns that's not the case - although Dayton leaves it entirely up to the readers skills of deduction to understand the murder by hire that is actually taking place on the job. I finished the book being just as confused and uncertain about some of my basic questions as I was at the start. I fully respect creating a different, intricate world. I even respect withholding some information about it so the reader can discover it throughout the book or series. Yet, at the end of the day, the reader needs enough information to understand the motivations of the characters and Dayton did not always provide that - at least not to an acceptable level. 

In an effort to say a few positive things as well, I do appreciate the continued trend for gender equality in young adult literature. Girls are fighters and warriors without sacrificing their femininity or emotions. It's refreshing to see and the literary world could use more characters like that - of either gender. I also liked how Dayton inserted a section in the middle of the book entitled "Other Times and Places" which she used for a few flashbacks and various scenes we may not have seen had we stayed exclusively with the main storyline. 

There are some great elements to the book, but I feel as though they all still lie partially hidden under the surface, yet to achieve their potential greatness. Maybe the best way to say it is that this book felt like an early draft to me, not a polished, ready-to-publish work. 

Quote I Liked: "It was my belief that great minds with the proper tools could change history."

Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Will I Re-Read: Doubtful
If You Liked This Try: Legend / Cinder / Relic

A Reduced Review: Trying to be the latest, greatest YA dystopian-type novel is not that easy. Case in point. 

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