Tuesday, March 11, 2014

River's Recruit - Charlotte Abel

Did it convince me to keep reading?
YES (for the secondary characters & mysteries)

How far did I get?
("Reuben was over a hundred years older than Shula and her only full-blood sibling.")
The story:
The setting's concept is "Werewolf Dystopia." There's a society of shifters with an upper class who live inside a mountain and a lower class who live outside on the surface. The relations between the sexes are also uneven, with females forming an unbreakable bond with a single male, but males forming no such bond and taking multiple mates & concubines. However, there are hints that at least one character is figuring out ways to get around the restrictions of the system.

The main female character, River, is a surface-dweller who has already experienced injustice at the hands of the mountain-dwelling upper class, since they executed her mother for the justifiable homicide of a mountain-dweller. Now the neighbor who took her in, Reuben, is arranging her marriage to a mountain-dweller. So far her characterization is "feisty, flat-chested, good with horses" and it hasn't really grabbed me. She's okay, I guess, but nothing special yet.

The main male character, Jonathan, is an ordinary human, a young U.S. soldier in Afghanistan. He's from a Mormon family but has become a "bad boy" whose main characterization so far is as a horndog; I assume that his character development in the rest of the book will be him becoming more mature. I haven't felt anything for him yet.

For me, the most interesting things so far are the secondary characters and the mysteries hinted about the worldbuilding.

Reuben definitely knows something mysterious: his negotiations as he arranges River's marriage imply that he's trying to let her escape the life-bond system -- but how does he know how to do that, and why is he going to so much trouble to arrange this escape for River? And Eli, the man that Reuben is arranging River's marriage to, is going along with the plan because in return Reuben will help him rescue his real love, Aspen, from the slavery that he accidentally doomed her to. We haven't met Aspen yet, and I would really like to meet her and see her and Eli together.

Also, Eli had been assigned by the ruling council to sabotage a mine, flooding it, but making it look like a natural disaster. Why? What is the council up to? And just before I stopped reading, reference was made to a "Year of Cleansing" when all the shifters will spend one year sealed inside the mountain -- what is that about?

So my verdict is "yes," the book has convinced me to keep reading -- just to find out what's up with Reuben, whether Eli and Aspen can have a happy ending, what the sabotage is about, and what the Year of Cleansing is. I don't actually care much, at this point in the book, about River and Jonathan.


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