Countdown by Michelle Rowen

17622950Title: Countdown
Author: Michelle Rowen
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Format: Electronic ARC
Source: From Publisher, For Review (via NetGalley)
Overall: 3.5/5 

3 seconds left to live. Once the countdown starts, it cannot be stopped.

2 pawns thrown into a brutal underground reality game.

Kira Jordan survived her family’s murder and months on plague-devastated city streets with hard-won savvy and a low-level psi ability. She figures she can handle anything. Until she wakes up in a barren room, chained next to the notorious Rogan Ellis.

1 reason Kira will never, ever trust Rogan. Even though both their lives depend on it.

Their every move is controlled and televised for a vicious exclusive audience. And as Kira’s psi skill unexpectedly grows and Rogan’s secrets prove evermore deadly, Kira’s only chance of survival is to risk trusting him as much as her instincts. Even if that means running head-on into the one trap she can’t escape.


My Review:

Kira Jordan isn’t exactly the same as other girls that share her age. After the brutal murder of her family and the loneliness and difficulty and grief that comes with fending for oneself, she finds herself pick-pocketing wallets and living dangerously throughout the city streets. Or, what’s left of the city. The rich members of the world have abandoned their homes for the Colony, a safe haven for all individuals within it. In the Colony, there is food. Education. Safety. A chance to make something out of one’s life. For those who can afford the ticket to get there. Kira definitely can’t afford that one trip, but it is her greatest dream to somehow end up living within the Colony. On a seemingly normal day, Kira goes off to the populated parts of the city to hopefully pick some wallets… and she wakes up with her arms in handcuffs and a dangerous boy within a few meters from her.

The infamous Rogan Ellis has spent the last few years of his life in juvenile delinquency. Sentenced for the murder of 9 university students, he is one of the most well know criminals in the city. And he, too, is handcuffed across Kira with a time limit on their lives. Kira and Rogan have unknowingly become contestants on Countdown, an underground reality show followed by the elite members of society. They are pushed into dangerous situation by dangerous situation, and are forced to work together in order to survive. It doesn’t help that Rogan only gets more confusing as they continue throughout the game, and Kira’s psi levels grow more powerful. As the mysteries within the Countdown begin to reveal themselves, the two must decide between their own wants over the greater good of society. With six unimaginable levels, only one pair of contestants have ever survived the Countdown. And if Kira and Rogan want to live, they will have to find a way to be the second.

This was my first venture into Michelle Rowen’s writing, and I am pleasantly surprised. This was a really fun and exciting book to read. Kira is a wonderful protagonist. She is strong and smart and brave, but she also trusts too easily. She is flawed, and it was good to see that. She is a teenager. She should be confused by her feelings and by her loyalties and her goals in life. Rogan is a really likable character on his own. As a reader, I could really tell that he wanted to right all of the mistakes that he had made in his past, and it really got to me how shocked he was that someone believed him. That someone believed in him. I liked most of the secondary characters as well; I loved that all of the characters somehow related to one another and had an important role in the story.

The story itself is very action-packed and it makes it a quick and enjoyable read. I actually was relieved that this turned out to be more sci-fi than dystopian, because it made Countdown much more unique and interesting, with a take on sci-fi that I have not seen in quite a while. There are some aspects that are reminiscent of The Hunger Games, but I think that since Countdown does have more of a sci-fi impact, the stories themselves turn out to be quite different. The romance is solid, a slow build that develops from the required trust of putting your life into a stranger’s hands. It was very realistic considering their situation.

I do think that Rogan was trying to do too much, trying to fix everything all at once. It made the latter parts of the story seem rushed and I do think that Rowen could have continued this story with a sequel, because the final 3/4 just seemed too rushed. Too much was happening and it took away from the importance of the moral of the story – that hope can spring from the smallest, slowest thing. From years of waiting. From protecting the ones that you love. From that little tiny part of a brain that will scream for the right thing, even if the rest of it is against it. That no matter the circumstance, things can change. And it was fantastic to see that, even if it were just for a few chapters.

Michelle Rowen has created a very entertaining and fun story in Countdown. She has created characters who all want the same thing, which is to save the ones that they love (and maybe the rest of the world in the process). It is a story that I did enjoy quite a lot. For readers of YA dystopia and science fiction, Countdown is definitely worth looking in to.