Ratings: ☕☕☕ (3/5 coffee cups)
I have never really read any of Sharon Cameron‘s books before, and despite having a wonderful world-building, loveable characters, a strong female lead, humor and romance, Rook was just not the book for me and I really regret not picking up her other books first. It’s not to say that this book is terrible or even bad, in fact I actually find this novel to be very well written and enjoyable, but as I have said before, it is simply not for me and that is no fault on the writer or her story’s part.
Writing: There really isn’t anything wrong with the writing style, which was the one of the things that made me want to keep reading this book. While I didn’t really find the narration or the description of the scenes to be anything extraordinary, it wasn’t exactly mediocre either and makes for a fun, suspenseful read. Sharon Cameron makes you keep wondering what would happen next, and rarely did I manage to guess the plot twists correctly. I had a particularly difficult time figuring out who the real villain was, and I loved how it was all a mystery that I had to solve a bit at a time.
The later parts of the book were, in my opinion, the best part, when the final showdown began. The frequent switching of POVs during those last chapters of the book were written so carefully that it did not feel confusing at all, and the way the last line of each character’s perspective and the first line of another character’s perspective connected only made the story even more exciting to read.
However, despite being only 341 pages long (I read the ebook version) the writing and the plot made this book feel like it was ten times longer. I have no problems with slow paced books if there is a reason for it, but in this case the story took an unnecessarily long time to pick up which still would have been okay if it build the setting and the characters. Unfortunately that did not happen. While I did like all of the characters and found them well fleshed out, and while the setting was also very creative and interesting, I wasn’t very impressed by either–I did not love or even connect to the characters and neither did the setting appeal all that greatly to me.
Characters: Our protagonist Sophia Bellamy is the stereotypical depiction of a strong female lead, but unlike in many books that I can mention, she did not feel like a cliche. Her temper, her mischievousness and at the same time her intelligence, sensitiveness and her love for her family and friends somehow made her different from all the other “strong” female protagonists who throw raging fits, are impulsive and go around claiming they can literally and metaphorically kick asss but not really doing it. This strong female lead was an intelligent girl trying to save her family from bankruptcy, rescuing her friends from losing their heads under a guillotine for false accusations with careful and precise planning, and trying to find out who she truly was and what she really wanted from her life. She was different from all the other Badass Heroines™️ because she felt like a real girl who wanted to make a change–and eventually did.
Same goes for Rene Hasard, our other MC and the protagonist’s love interest. He was a fun, interesting joyful character who you cannot help but warm up to, and while I did not really feel the chemistry between him and Sophia, the sense of teamwork and understanding they had made them an ideal couple.
The other characters– Benoit, Orla the antagonists LeBlanc and Allemande and each and every supporting character, especially the members in Rene’s family and some of the people working for Sophia, had equally important roles to play. The only character I couldn’t bring myself to care much about was Spear, Sophia’s best friend who had an almost over-controlling attitude when it came to Sophie and that was something I simply could not tolerate.
However, although this book features a well rounded cast of characters I really could not care much about any of them or even connect to them. Was I interested in what was happening to them? Did I care if they died? Yes, I did, but they were not the kind of characters who I think might just jump out of the page and make me want to beg them to take me along on their adventures.
Plot: While Rook does have a great plot, it kinda fails to reach its full potential because of the pacing of the book. This book had everything–mystery, romance, humor, suspense, adventure, and dystopia all rolled up in a neat way that should have worked but simply didn’t. Again, I blame this on the pacing, but the plot was still good enough for me to not DNF the book at 60% which is how long it took to pick up.
The Ending: The ending of the book was certainly not what I was expecting, and while it did wrap all the loose ends, I couldn’t help but feel like it took a long time for it to happen. Regardless, I thought it was a good conclusion to a good story, so that earns this book a coffee cup from me.
Final verdict? Give Rook a try. It’s written by a very skilled writer, and has a lot of good things to make it worthy of a recommendation despite my low ratings, which is only a result of how this was simply not the right book for me. If you are still unsure, save it for a rainy day.