Friday, 23 January 2015

Reboot by Amy Tintera

It’s difficult to exactly pinpoint why I liked this book so much. I think it was partly because it took me by surprise - I don’t often read the blurb for a book before I start it; I like to have little other than the cover art and title to go on. (Sometimes I haven’t even got that). I think also it’s partly because I’ve read too many teen novels in a row, mainly science fiction, and I may have been ready to throw the next at the wall. Right now they all seem to be lessons in what not to do.

But this one took me entirely by surprise. The kickass beginning, for example. It’s brilliant. The author plonked her reader right in the middle of Wren 178’s daily grind, which is hunting humans. Immediately the questions begin. If she’s not human, what is she? If she’s so powerful, why does she submit so quietly to the guards? Is she a prisoner? If she’s a prisoner, why does she willingly hunt other prisoners? The questions were relentless for the first couple of chapters, and Tintera’s pacing of the answers was excellent. Never too much at once, and never forced. I heard an author once say that if you had to give too much back story, you’re starting in the wrong place. The author started in just the right place.

I was drawn to the whole idea of Wren’s world. It was simple but at the same time had depth. It was interesting. But most of all, it was different. The usual teen storyline is here - girl meets boy, they overcome their differences and develop feelings for each other, there is a risk of separation, there is a conclusion. The usual dystopian storyline is here - groups with control, groups without control, brain washing and propaganda, and something to scare the living heck out of us because it’s frighteningly possible (in this case it was disease and containment). But I really felt that all these issues were hung on brand new shoulders, and I loved the freshness. The world which Tintera has given us is one I’ve never encountered before, giving her the chance to really mix things up a bit. However, at the same time she provides all the elements which teenagers have come to know, love and expect. I didn’t like the romance, but I appreciate its role in the story and I appreciate the reason why it’s there. I understand that it’s for a particular audience.

I loved the gender switching which Tintera played with. The girl is small, slight, and a cold blooded killer. She’s the trainer. The boy is big, friendly and a vegetarian pacifist. I love how they come together and how it actually “works”. Not always believable and sometimes a little cring-y, but definitely entertaining. He basically has to teach her how to care. I wondered at one stage how far the author would go in their journey towards each other - she definitely had to become more like him, more human, but how far would Tintera go in making him more like her - the cold blooded killer? In the end I think she erred on the side of caution. I wonder if she will play with this further in the second book.

The romance elements, although clichéd, had an importance within this story which was refreshing. Usually I get the feeling that an author has added a romantic component simply because they feel they need to keep their readers happy. In Reboot, the romance is absolutely fundamental. Wren ruminates over whether she can love at all; whether through her conditioning or the amount of time she spent dead (178 minutes) she is incapable of feeling at all. So the journey to her openness is fascinating.

Towards the last third of the book I began to flag, mainly because the rest of the book I felt was not written for me. I didn’t need (or want) the physical closeness which Wren and Callum begin to explore, but as I mentioned before, I understand its place within the story.

When you use an emotionless killer as one of your main characters and work out a way to make your readers sympathize with her, it’s interesting. When you explore a way for her to fall in love it becomes fascinating. And what about making her the narrator, whose point of view your readers come to trust? Tintera does all of this is a way that seems effortless. Her readers will not be able to stop themselves connecting with Wren 178, because essentially she is still just a normal teenager coming to terms with a whole load of emotions she has not experienced before. Team that with her enjoyment of killing and the fascinating dystopia which Tintera has created, and you get a rollicking good read which has something new to say in a very popular genre.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys science fiction with a little romance, ultimate kickass female heroines, and anyone who glazes over at the thought of yet another dystopia. It’s a bit different.

Oh any anyone who likes zombies - or vampires! The z and v-words are never mentioned in this book… Ms Tintera you are very very clever.
Goodreads Link.
Amy Tintera's Website (including her blog)

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