Saturday, September 7, 2013

Nowhere by Jon Robinson

Imprisoned for a crime they don't remember committing, separated from their friends and family, and encouraged to confess their crimes - it's not a nightmare, it is the reality for a group of one hundred teenagers in a mysterious facility in the middle of nowhere.  The teenagers are controlled with the liberal use of ibises, an advanced weapon that can incapacitate, knock you unconscious, and causes incredible pain.  Some of the teens have given up, accepted their crimes and their sentence, the other teens call them turned, and some of them are not planning to stick around and see it happen to them.  Jes, Alyn, Ryan, and Elsa want nothing more than to escape, but they are badly outnumbered and the guards hold the balance of power - or do they?

Nowhere is the first book in a series which blends together elements of a thriller, a conspiracy theory, something a little hinky, and a smidgen of something else that is hinted at but I don't want to spoil the surprise (or maybe get it wrong as the inkling is just an inkling).  Nowhere was an interesting read, a little unpolished and a little bit wonky in places, but it was told with dynamic switches between point of views for different characters, and the conspiracy at the centre of the book (and series) really kept me intrigued from beginning to end.

Lots of stories get compared to each other and one of the big comparisons at the moment is "this book is like the Hunger games" - I can't honestly say that here, but what I can say is that Robinson has made a bold statement with his debut novel, an absorbing read that has you hooked from chapter one right to the last page where there is a taunting/teasing cover shot of the next book in the series Anywhere

I can be quite a harsh critic sometimes because I see so many books each year, and because I like my stories to be absorbing and hard to put down - this sometimes means that my reviews come across as negative of a book.  While Nowhere was not as polished as I would have preferred (a little awkward phrasing, a few fumbles where I had to go back and double check something, the odd time when it was hard to keep the characters straight) it was an excellent read and I was reluctant to put it down anytime I was interrupted.  Robinson has great promise and if he can keep up the quality of his plot and character development and get a little help from his editor to polish things a little more, then he has the potential to become a leading force in writing quality adventure thrillers for teenagers.

If you like this book then try:
  • Proxy by Alex London
  • The recruit by Robert Muchamore
  • Variant by Robison Wells
  • Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
  • Numbers by Rachel Ward
  • Agent 21 by Chris Ryan
  • The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau
  • Wolf brother by Michelle Paver
  • In the after by Demitria Lunetta
  • Framed by Malcolm Rose
  • The industry by Rose Foster
  • Jimmy Coates by Joe Craig
  • Reboot by Amy Tintera
  • Slated by Teri Terry
  • Finding the fox by Ali Sparkes
  • The hunt by Andrew Fukuda

Reviewed by Brilla

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