Saturday, June 6, 2015

Rook by Sharon Cameron {review}

by Sharon Cameron
♦publisher: Scholastic Press
♦release date: April 28th, 2015
♦hardcover, 456 pages
♦intended audience: Young adult
♦source: from publisher for honest 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.

Review: Rook is just made of cleverness. A clever premise, clever writing, and cleverly perplexing characters. It's a dystopian homage to the classic The Scarlet Pimpernel that will often have you forgetting that it's set hundreds of years into our future rather than hundreds of years in our past.  And it's in this richly imagined setting, where part of Paris has fallen into the earth and the revolution has begun anew, that Rook's heady theme is so perfectly played out. Nothing quite explains it like this quote:

"Have you ever thought," he said after a moment, " that perhaps...all of this could have happened before? That the people of the Time Before, no matter how weak we think them, that they were only making mistakes of their ancestors, and that we, in turn, are only making the same mistakes as them? Technology or no? That the time changes but people do not, and so we are never really moving forward, only around a bend? That the world only every turns in circles. Do you think that could be so?"
(quoted from Rook ARC copy, pg. 205)

The world has basically reset and all technology is shunned. Part of what made this fun is being so immersed in this chaotic ancient-feeling world and being jarred into remembering that it's set in the future---like when the characters talk about "artifacts" and you suddenly realize they are referring to a CD or a game controller or some other piece of our everyday world.

Sophia is a bold and fierce character, willing to do anything to save innocent people from The Blade. When her risky actions cause her brother's arrest, the plan is set in motion to get him back. I loved that almost every other character aside from Sophia and her brother are  set up for suspicion. The reader is kept constantly guessing who will turn out to be loyal and who will turn.  There is, of course, a slow-growing and uncertain love story chock full of caution and suspicion---and really, what other kind of romance can you have between two strong characters who so comfortable with deceit and sneakiness! Each moment was wildly entertaining as they circle each other and slowly grow closer.

The plot is incredibly rich but this, for much of it, was a very slow read---sometimes "good" slow where it forced you to really savor and enjoy the story unfolding, and other times it was just slow.  But I highly recommend pushing through because it definitely picks up in the last half! Rapid scene changes sometimes make it hard to follow, but as the story climaxes, the scene-to-scene transitions are done using a captivating style, a sort of wordplay where the following scene plays off of the last words of the previous scene, and I absolutely loved that.

Another incredibly imaginative tale from an author who has quickly become one of my favorites!

Find Sharon Cameron online:  Website  •   Twitter  • Facebook

Purchase Rook: Indiebound  •  Bookdepository  •  Amazon


  1. Yay! I know what you mean about the slowness! i'm sure stuff could have been cut and it would've been fine, but somehow I didn't mind much? I just loved Sophie and Rene and everyone so much! I know you've loved her other books, so after I was so gaga over this one, I need to check those out. :) Great review, Becky!!

  2. I really like the idea of this book, not my normal thing but I think I might give it a chance and add it to the TBR pile :) x

  3. Yes yes yes. <3 I'm so thrilled you loved this book Becky :D It was a four star for me too. I also loved the writing. <3 I adored the romance, but angry about it being so small, lol :p But eek, that quote is so awesome. Sigh. I loved the world building in this one too :) Thank you for sharing your thoughts about it sweetie. <3 Stunning review, as always :)

  4. This one sounds and looks really good. My daughter just got back from study abroad Paris and it would be interesting to see how this "new" Paris is.

  5. Oh yes, the characters were all fantastic--Rene was so funny, but serious in all the right ways, too :) I hope you do get a chance to check out here previous series--I loved it!

  6. I definitely recommend it! Such an imaginative concept!

  7. LOL, I'm not if the romance was small or the rest of the story just had such an epic grande scale! It was fantastic and yes, I love this world that felt old and new all at once. So brilliant!

  8. Well, be glad she wasn't living in the Rook's Paris--it was quite terrifying! But Paris as it is today--sigh...what a fantastic experience she must have had! Lucky girl!