Lovin' los libros

A book blog dedicated to young adult and new adult novels

ARC Review: Countdown by Michelle Rowen

By 10:57 AM , , , , ,

  by: Michelle Rowen

Publication Date: Oct. 1, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin TEEN
Genre: Dystopian
Age Group: Young Adult
Source: e-ARC provided by NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Page Count: 336 pages
Order Links: Amazon | B&N
My Rating: 3/5 stars

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.


I was really looking forward to reading this one as I am always looking for young adult dystopian reads. Countdown is a fast-paced book filled with lots of action- but I felt the world building and characterization was really lacking. However, as a surface level book, I can honestly say I enjoyed reading this one.
I thought the premise of this book sounded pretty cool- we are immediately thrown into an underground reality game where two teens are forced to play and do what they must in order to survive to the next level. The book focused on the game, rather than the dystopian world surrounding it. All we really learn is that there was a plague and that there is a Colony where the elite, rich live. We don't get a whole lot of insight into the rest of the population. Kira, our female MC, lives a life of theft after her family's murder. Apparently, she has a special skill that allows her to empathize with others and by touching them can feel their emotions. This would have been a pretty cool extension of the storyline had it been developed more. We are just kind of told she has it and she can do it, and apparently there are others who have gained it after the plague also. But, that was kind of it. We see her read a few individuals in the novel and she gains some insight into their emotions, but I don't know. It just felt like a weak sub-storyline to be honest.
I suppose I liked Kira well enough. She is thrown into this game without any warning and is forced to work alongside another teen, Rogan, who she learns is a murderer. She is wary of him, but knows she has to work with him in order to survive. Rogan has a lot of secrets and she is right to be distrustful of him. Things don't add up where he is concerned, but after he hesitates on a mission, all of a sudden she starts to wonder if she's been told the truth about him. Kira does a complete 180 where Rogan is concerned and soon she's falling for him. Yeah, we have insta-love folks. Insta-love doesn't bother me, but it was like, one second she doesn't trust him for anything and the next they're making out and ready to jump into bed together. Whaaaat? I just didn't feel any kind of attachment to these characters and I didn't find their development to be very believable. The story occurs in a very short amount of time, so there really wasn't time for either of those things, but I still felt we only skimmed the surface of what could have been.
I did like that I didn't know what to expect. Each level of Countdown was a mystery, though I did figure the last level out, as it only seemed fitting. The fact pace and the action is what really kept me reading and I was completely immersed and engaged in the book. I would give this one a shot if you are an action fan, but if you are looking for a young adult dystopian, I don't feel you are going to get that here.

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  1. Great review girl! It's too bad this one fell a little short. It sounds like it had a lot of potential. I definitely need really good world building in a dystopian book. Also, I'm not big on insta-love.

    1. Thanks Chelsea! It definitely had potential, but without good world building it really makes it more difficult to like! And yeah, the dreaded insta-love. BLAH.

  2. I've found that dystopian can be so hit it miss. I either love it or I'm just like meh. The premise sounds interesting. It's a shame it didn't live up to it. I'm with you on insta love I don't mind it as long as I can believe it. Thanks for the honest review.

    1. You are absolutely right friend. I don't find many middle of the road dystopians. I was really interested in the blurb, but sadly this one just didn't do it. Oh well.

  3. Ugh did NOT get on well with Countdown at all. Completely agree about the insta-love, I was so sure I'd missed a chunk because their relationship changed so quickly. Great review, Jess :)

    1. YES! I felt that way too Rebekah! I was like, WHAT? Gah. What a shame. I'd heard good things about Michelle's books too. I'll have to try her older ones.

  4. Not much world building in a dystopian is a big no-no :( This one sounds interesting enough, but that mixed with the insta-love has me a little nervous to read it.

    Great review girl!

    1. I agree Tonya! While I enjoyed this at face value, I doubt it will be very memorable.


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