Author: Laura L. Fox
Genre: Sci-Fi, Dystopian, YA
Source: Ebook from publisher in exchange for an honest review
A dystopian, sci-fi which will send a chill down your spine, Initiate is beautifully written and filled with intricate detail and devious secrets. There is mystery, friendship, betrayal; not to mention a touch of romance which is one of the more realistic portrayals of a relationship beginning I’ve seen in a while (no insta-love here).
Initiate follows Riga, a girl who has spent her entire life living in the Tunnel, an underground outpost beneath Antarctica, as her life is turned upside down, following the sighting of a whale, something she and her best friend Mynta thought long-extinct. From there they start to unravel a conspiracy which will tear them apart.
I was hooked from the start and, despite all the intricate detail and setting up, Initiate was not a slow read in the slightest. I tore through the pages as the mystery gradually revealed itself and we got to see more of the characters. The plot itself was interesting. While the general themes were something I’ve seen before; the setting, characterisation and reveals made it an incredibly unique read.
The only issue I could find with the plot itself was with what type of whale it actually was. One moment it’s identical to one type of whale; the next they’ve decided it’s another type. This took me out of the story and I did spend a while going back and forth trying to work out which was correct before deciding to just continue. It didn’t really matter in the long-run, just confused me a bit while I was reading. That being said, I did love the use of marine biology in this book – it definitely grounded it and made the story a lot more realistic, as applying a level of science usually does.
Riga, Rhys and Mynta are fantastic characters. Each one is clearly defined and so very easy to imagine. As the story is told from Riga’s perspective, we got to see a lot more of her and by the end of the book, it felt like I was living in the world and seeing everything through her eyes rather than just on a page. I really enjoyed her relationships with both Rhys and Mynta, although was a little disappointed that we didn’t get more of the three of them together. Mynta disappears a bit in the second half of the book, while Rhys is barely there in the first. Needless to say, however, both Mynta and Rhys were well-developed and I enjoyed reading about both. I just hope we get to see more of Mynta in the second book.
Aside from them, we don’t get to see too much of the other people living in the Tunnel. There are a few minor characters, including Alchemy, a teacher who really should be fired, but it is Riga’s mother who we see the most of. I did have a light niggling issue with the fact that of the two mothers represented in this book, the stay-at-home mum was depicted as a perfect mother while the working one was pretty terrible at it. However, the threat of the novel does explain Riga’s mother’s actions in part and you do get a sense that she cares about her daughter.
From characters to setting – Fox can do it all. The writing of this book is phenomenal and so it only makes sense that the world Fox has created beneath the ice mirrors that brilliance. I loved the whole concept of the Tunnel – from the Atrium, to the Woolery, to the Luging tunnels. Everything about it worked and made sense given the circumstances. It wasn’t just there as a place for the book to occur either; the Tunnel was part of the story and parts of it helped to develop characters and deliver on plot. How it was described was easily one of my favourite things about Initiate.
However, as amazing as the setting it, some parts did not quite add up for me. The time since people started living in the Tunnel to the story taking place is around 35 years; so everyone 40 or older would have at least some memories of life beforehand and why they had to move into the Tunnel in the first place, including both of Riga’s parents and Mynta’s parents. I could just be missing something, but I feel like the big secret of the novel doesn’t quite add up with who it is being kept secret from and some of the consequences which follow. I may be missing something, but this did confuse me at times.
I started reading Initiate with very little idea of what it was about, by the end I was curious for more. While there were a few things which did confuse me a bit, the novel, on the whole, was incredibly well written and researched. The world is crafted so well I could nearly feel the cold while reading and the characters are brought to life beautifully. I cannot wait for the next book in this series and, if the preview of it is anything to go by, it is going to be good.
Initiate will be released on 15th November 2016.