Monday, February 16, 2015

Review: Seeker - Arwen Elys Dayton

Seeker by Arwen Elys Dayton
Series: Seeker #1
Genre: YA, fantasy
Published on February 10, 2015
Published by Delacorte
Pages: 448
Read From: 2.6.15 - 2.8.15

Quin Kincaid has been put through years of brutal training for what she thinks is the noble purpose of becoming a revered 'Seeker.' 
Only when it's too late does she discover she will be using her new-found knowledge and training to become an assassin. Quin's new role will take her around the globe, from a remote estate in Scotland to a bustling, futuristic Hong Kong where the past she thought she had escaped will finally catch up with her.


Initial Thoughts: I was intrigued by Seeker's vague and ominous synopsis. And because I'm also a fantasy fan, I couldn't resist. Seeker held my attention from the very beginning, and I was very pleased to discover that I liked a lot of the characters. However, the middle dragged and I found the world building to be lacking.

Characters: Quin is a pretty strong female protagonist. She's no-nonsense, straight-forward, and doesn't have a thing about her that I would call annoying. At the same time, I also felt mostly so-so about her. Didn't hate her, wasn't hugely attached to her, accepted her as my protagonist. Shinobu was pretty awesome, though as the story progressed and his character took a downward spiral, I felt less and less sorry for him and just wanted him to pick himself back up and stop destroying himself. I didn't hate him, though, because his self-destruction was a little understandable. He and Quin both discovered that they had been lied to all their lives by their own parents; it would be pretty earth-shattering. John was, however, my absolute favorite. His worst fault was not telling Quin everything when he should have. Quin, at the same time, never listened when John had a chance to explain. And John didn't always make the right decision; I totally get that. But you know what? After hearing his story, I just couldn't fault him at all for what he did. I simply couldn't. I am absolutely on John's side. Get your revenge, man; restore your house. I'm with you all the way.

The Romance: The story begins with John and Quin being in love. As the story progresses, John's love for Quin becomes a bit obsessive and sometimes creepy. He does genuinely love Quin, but he has a duty - and promise - to keep to his murdered mother, and unfortunately his promise to her takes precedence over his love for Quin. If he has to hurt her, he will. Totally and absolutely reluctantly, and he will never lay a finger on her himself. But his lackeys will if Quin refuses to cooperate. I found their romance to be both heartbreaking and then a little creepy - which I think it was supposed to be. John does care about Quin so much, and he's torn between that and his duty to his family. The conflict kind of drives him a bit crazy, and after a little while I was like, "Okay, John, you can stop that any time. It's a little creepy now." Shinobu, meanwhile, also loves Quin. They're cousins, true, but so distantly related that it really doesn't matter. Quin, unfortunately, only sees Shinobu as her cousin. Or does she? Yeah, there's tiny bit of a love triangle going on. But it's the way a love triangle should be handled. Quin loves John just as much as John loves her. But when John goes off the deep end, things change. I actually liked the romance. John obsession and conflict added so much more to his motivations and struggles. Shinobu loving Quin wasn't creepy because they were so barely related. And Quin doesn't do flip-flopping. There's "I love John" and then "John isn't who he used to be; I'm breaking this off now."

Plot: Quin and Shinobu have been raised to believe that Seekers are good. That their mission is to protect the innocent, destroy the wicked and the evil, restore balance to the world. Quin and Shinobu have been training for this calling all their lives. But when their initiation comes, they discover that they've been lied to. And that Seekers are themselves the very evil in the world that they thought they were being trained to fight. John knew what they were, and he's been training to be a Seeker to exact revenge and regain the stolen honor of his ancient family. He'll stop at nothing to fulfill his promise to his murdered mother. But things aren't as simple or as straight-forward as either Quin or John thought. And they will all be tainted with blood by the time it's done. The thing that kept me reading the most is that for a long, long time the Reader is not actually told what happens on the night of Quin and Shinobu's initiation. It's easy to guess, but still - there's that tantalizing "what exactly happened? I must know!" I loved the premise of this story: four ancient houses with the ability to travel through the fabric of time and space (I think) to exact justice - but it turns out that that isn't their mission after all. The problem? The world building was a little weak. I got the impression this took place in the future, but there was very little exploring of this futuristic world. And how futuristic is it anyway? I also didn't totally understand the whole There concept. Were they time traveling? Traveling through dimensions? Ripping a hole in the fabric of space and time? It was muddy, and not all of it because the characters themselves didn't understand everything. The middle part of the book was also unnecessarily long. There's nothing but action in the beginning, then flashbacks to John's previous life, and then we jump ahead a few months/years. Quin has amnesia, Shinobu is destroying his life, and John is still looking for revenge. Quin's amnesia creates a whole host of problems: she doesn't remember anyone, she doesn't know why they're after her, et cetera. Where there should have been more world building, we were instead treated to page after page of needless tension and ambiguity.

Believability: Not applicable.

Writing Style: Third person, past tense. I have no complaints about the writing style. There are four narrations: Shinobu, John, Quin, and Maud (a character I didn't talk about because I can't without giving stuff away). I always love this technique, as you get multiple perspectives.

Content: Blood. Lots of blood.

Conclusion: The plot does pick up again at the end. A tiny bit more world building and explanation happens, but still - the world building is murky. I am still so on John's side, and I like Quin and Shinobu pretty well. Seeker is an interesting story and I look forward to seeing what happens next!

Recommended Audience: Girl-and-guy read, seventeen-and-up, fans of fantasy.

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