Thursday, April 23, 2015

Early Review: Rook by Sharon Cameron

by Sharon Cameron
Read: April 13 - 20, 2015
April 28, 2015 by Scholastic Press
Source: ALA via Danielle @ Love at First Page
Category: YA, future/dystopian, history themes, Paris, England, 

Find: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Indiebound

History has a way of repeating itself. In the Sunken City that was once Paris, all who oppose the new revolution are being put to the blade. Except for those who disappear from their prison cells, a red-tipped rook feather left in their place. Is the mysterious Red Rook a savior of the innocent or a criminal?

Meanwhile, across the sea in the Commonwealth, Sophia Bellamy’s arranged marriage to the wealthy René Hasard is the last chance to save her family from ruin. But when the search for the Red Rook comes straight to her doorstep, Sophia discovers that her fiancé is not all he seems. Which is only fair, because neither is she.

As the Red Rook grows bolder and the stakes grow higher, Sophia and René find themselves locked in a tantalizing game of cat and mouse.

Set-up Sometime in a future time when the world is a different place - though maybe not so much, Sophia Bellamy is a socialite from the Commonwealth (formerly Britain) whose family is relying on her arranged marriage to save their home and her father from debtors prison. She's also secretly the Red Rook, rescuing families from death by razor (also known as a guillotine) in the Sunken City that was once known as Paris. Her fiancé René Hasard appears to be a fool whose favorite occupations are fine clothing and flirting, but of course, appearances can be deceiving. The question is, what is true and what is false, and can Sophie save her family and her loved ones from the razor before she or anyone else is killed? 

My Breakdown The tagline on the cover of Rook is "What will be has already been…" and I love how author Shannon Cameron plays off of the The Scarlet Pimpernel and the French Revolution but with a fresh twist, setting her story in a future world that fears technology and is fascinated by the past. History has always been my favorite subject, especially when I can connect to it through stories, and I enjoyed the opportunity to see our current world as the distant past. Watching the characters emulate 18th and 19th century clothing styles, try to figure out the uses for objects they've found from our time, an also seeing how the landscape of the world has changed, fascinated me. But more sobering is the theme that history repeats itself in horrifying ways, as we witness the Sunken City undergo another blood soaked revolution against the wealthy. 

Neither Sophia or René are what they seem, and watching them discover that about each other is one the best parts of this story. They do not like each other at first, but the more they work together, the more that changes. Even when he is playing a fool, I loved René, and the romance features some heart melting moments, but I swooned the most because René sees Sophia clearly, always supports her and never tries to change who she is. He is what great love interests are made of.  Although it takes her more time, Sophie too, comes to love all of  René's character. I really liked the way this story incorporates the theme of seeing and accepting all parts of a person, as well as the danger that comes when you try and make a person one thing or the other. People - and life - aren't black and white, but made up of a lot of other colors as well, an idea that carries through this plot in more areas than the romance.  

This book is dense and not quickly moving, especially through the first half. I would read and read, and find I hadn't gone many pages. But I was never bored, and couldn't wait go get back to reading it again. Sophia is the main narrator, but we get a few glimpses of René as well as several other characters. The switching third person perspective slowed down the narrative, although I enjoyed digging into the characters and the setting, as this pacing allowed. However, it was in the last 100 pages that this pacing affected my reading experience. The dense text coupled with the continually switching perspectives through the climax became more tedious than exciting. Then once the climax is reached, the story continues for several more chapters. I think some of the drawn out action, and especially the after section, could have been condensed. 

Despite the pacing and extended content issues, I enjoyed this book tremendously, and would definitely recommend it. You don't want to miss sword wielding Sophia or gold jacket, hair powder wearing René. 

Love Triangle Factor: None - Another character is interested in Sophia and that does affect the plot, but she is always clear whom she wants and does not waver. 
Cliffhanger Scale: Standalone, as far as I know. The ending is settled, however, the last few pages set up the potential for a future story.


  1. Great review! I adored Sharon Cameron's Dark Unwinding duology, and I'm happy to see that many of the same things I loved about that are present here. She has such a great command of history while adding her own flair, and she avoids the irritating love tropes that chase me away from so many books. The pacing bit worries me a little, but not too much. As long as I can fall in love with the characters, then the denseness will be an inconvenience but not a dealbreaker.

    Sarcasm & Lemons

  2. I am immensely excited for this one and have an ARC waiting for me at Mail Services--if only I had the time to run over and start reading it! I've heard this is a longer-than-necessary type of read but I'm glad it didn't bore you and, honestly, if everything else in the novel is up-to-par than a bit of drag won't bring it down. I adored Cameron's debut duo so I'm really looking forward to seeing what she has come up with for her sophomore venture. Thanks for such a detailed, comprehensive review, Lauren! I'm looking forward to meeting Sophia and Rene! :)

  3. I'm glad that despite having some issues you were able to enjoy this one overall Lauren, I've read some reviews that also mentioned some issues with pacing, but its good to know that these didn't take away the enjoyment factor away from you. I do love it when couples start out not really liking one another, but once the story progresses, their relationship develops into something wonderful! I really can't wait to meet Rene ;)

  4. Great review, Lauren! You liked this one a bit better than me, but my patience has been wearing thin these days. :) The romance was truly a delight though - I loved the progression of Sophie and Rene's relationship, and their banter was terrific! I just could have used 100 less pages. :P

  5. I have set this book aside and probably won't be picking it up again. I did like the take on the whole Scarlet Pimpernel story but the worldbuilding was sorely lacking for me. I felt like, wow, let's take London and Paris and make it "different" but not really explain in any detail what happened (at least not by the time I put the book aside. Maybe there's more later...) and then let's switch the boy with a young girl and, hey! It's a story. Of course, I've been a cranky reader lately so maybe I'm just picking things apart.

  6. I'm about to start this one right now! I'm determine to finish it quickly, although everyone says it's really slow. I'm glad you enjoyed this book! The romance sounds wonderful, it reminds me of Charlotte and Henry's romance in The Infernal Devices series. I love the setting idea and can't wait to see how their love of history and fear of technology really influence the book. Lovely review, Lauren!

  7. So glad you enjoyed this one, I keep reading negative things, especially about the pacing, but I sometimes don't mind dense books as long as the story is good. And I'm really a fan of the shifting POV even though it makes me crazy sometimes when it takes chapters to get back to a certain character and find out what's happening. Great review! ~Pam

  8. Gorgeous review Lauren. <3 Yay for mostly loving this book :D I think it sounds so awesome. Sigh. Hoping to be able to read it very soon :D My copy arrived today, but waiting on another book, so I can't read anything just yet :p but sooon. I'm hoping to love this boy as much as you did :) Sigh. He sounds awesome. And you make the plot sounds great too. So happy you liked it :) Thank you for sharing sweetie. <3

  9. I was just commenting on another site that I loved this cover. I had no idea what the book was about, though. I like the sound of it, and the fact that it seems like a stand alone. Lovely review, Lauren! :)

  10. Amazing review, love! I'm so excited to see the positive response to this book :D Even Rashika enjoyed this one, and I think having you and her sign praises about this speak volumes about how fantastic Rook is. The fact that you never got bored even with the length is a testament to that. I wouldn't mind reading such a slow pace book as long as it is good you never want it to end.

    Faye at The Social Potato

  11. I have an ARC of this and started it, but the denseness of the opening and the fact that I'm on cold medication meant that I had to put it aside for a fluffier book. I do want to read it, though!
    Jen at YA Romantics

  12. Yup, Rene is what great love interests are made of. Rene is just so great. Like there just need to be more love interests like him in the world because he is the complete package.

    I also agree that the book is a little dense and the first half took me a while to get through but like you, I was never bored. I was a little intimidated that it was taking me so long but I was also enjoying myself!

    I am so glad to see you enjoyed this book as well, Lauren!! :)

    Fabulous review! :D

    Rashika @ The Social Potato


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