Published by Scholastic Inc. on April 28th 2015
Source:Copy provided by publisher for review
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.
I really, really liked Rook. Like, a lot. It has a lovely spot on my “4 Stars and Up” shelf, right above my desk. So I am going to gush in a minute, but there is one thing that is stopping me from giving it a full five stars, and one thing that I think is super important for readers to know: It starts off really slowly.
The first 50 pages or so were painfully slow to me, but I kept going, because I was interested in the characters from the start. The problem is, in the beginning, there is a lot of information coming, and a lot of names too. And a lot of these names are French, and I got a little lost. So for the first bit of the book, I was bored, and I was confused, and I didn’t think it was going to be a good experience. But, I am so glad I didn’t stop reading, because things got really good!
What did I like about Rook, other than the obvious “set in sunken Paris” and “Red Rook saving people” thing? So very much:
- Sophia and René were fabulous. Sophia had me from the first page, I knew I’d adore her. She is strong, and brave, and basically she’s pretty amazing. She isn’t perfect, not by a long shot, she has her flaws. She’s quite naive about so much, and she is stubborn too. But her flaws work for her, and she is believable because of them. René is… well, book boyfriend worthy. He is charming, and witty, and charismatic, and brave in his own right. Still, I was never completely sure that he was being authentic, which was good for the story. Very good.
- The other characters were amazing too! Even the more minor characters were very well fleshed out. Sophia’s brother Tom and friend Spear were basically the people she’d grown up with. Tom was a good, if not particularly exciting guy, and Spear… I couldn’t quite figure him out a lot of the time either (again, this is a good thing). The villain… well, I spent most of the book wondering if he was actually insane, like, requiring a legitimate diagnosis. Dude is messed up! Obviously, anyone who gets their jollies from beheading citizens is probably not going to be in his right mind but… wow. He brings it as the villain for sure! This is seriously just the tip of the awesome-character-iceberg, but I could go on and on, so I’ll stop there.
- The plot is very captivating, after the initial slow start. Of course you want to know all about the Red Rook. Why is this person freeing prisoners? Why are the prisoners there to begin with? There’s political turmoil, financial turmoil, and what is pretty much a guillotine. Basically, there are a lot of questions, and a lot of people who may or may not be what they seem (which, I loved trying to figure out)!
- The world is incredibly unique and has a pretty fascinating message in itself. First, it;s in Sunken Paris. I don’t think settings get more unique or creative than that. This story is set years after a major cataclysmic event that basically decimated the Earth, and now, to try to prevent history from repeating, most people are very anti-technology. The setting is dark, and quite depressing, and it comes through very vividly. I love that we are getting to see a post-apocalyptic Europe too!
- The romance is slow, and swoon worthy, and lovely. Sophie and René are engaged mostly because her mess of a father is about a day away from losing their house due to some bad financial decisions. He isn’t particularly concerned about Sophia in general, so it really doesn’t matter to him. And Sophia doesn’t trust René as far as she can throw him. This certainly makes things interesting, to say the least.
Bottom Line: Yes, it starts off slow, but give it a chance, because the slowness does not last. It is very worth it in the end!