Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Review | The Initiation by Chris Babu

Image and video hosting by TinyPicThe Initiation by Chris Babu
Series: The Initiation #1
Published On: February 27, 2018
Published By: Permuted Press
Genre: YA, Dystopian
Pages: 320
Format: eBook
Source: Netgalley
Rating: ★★½

Amazon | Goodreads

In a ruined world, Manhattan is now New America, a walled-in society based on equality. But the perfect facade hides a dark truth. 
A timid math geek, sixteen-year-old Drayden watches his life crumble when his beloved mother is exiled. The mystery of her banishment leads him to a sinister secret: New America is in trouble, and every one of its citizens is in jeopardy. 
With time running out, he enters the Initiation. It’s a test within the empty subway tunnels—a perilous journey of puzzles and deadly physical trials. Winners join the ruling Bureau and move to its safe haven. But failure means death. Can Drayden conquer the Initiation, or is salvation out of his grasp?

*A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.*

I wanted to love this book. As soon as I read the synopsis, I knew it was my kind of thing. I love anything that involves some kind of game or challenge so a life or death challenge taking place in abandoned subway tunnels, that sounds amazing to me. Unfortunately, not everything was executed particularly well in this book.

It wasn't the basic plot of this story that was disappointing. I felt the Initiation itself was great. The challenges were well thought out and I was on the edge of my seat while reading throughout most of them. Chris Babu did a great job of building suspense throughout and there were various twists that I did not see coming, which added to the suspense and emphasised the real 'life or death' aspect of the story.

What was disappointing were the characters. I was so invested in this intense challenge and feeling the desperation of all of the characters to get through it, and then in between the individual challenges I had to deal with Drayden. Our main character, in the middle of a LIFE OR DEATH challenge, spends almost all of his time thinking about which girl he likes more. I just couldn't get past the fact that was all he seemed to care about for much of the book. I also found the drama with Alex to be completely unnecessary. It seemed to escalate quite dramatically and I didn't really see the reasoning behind it.

Outwith the Initiation, I found the world building to be quite impressive. New America, formerly Manhattan, is split into several zones, and though this may not seem like much world building would be involved as it is simply using a place that already exists, it felt like a whole new place entirely. The changes to society and how people live were described in a way that made it seem less like fiction and more like a possible future.

While the world was well developed, many aspects felt a bit unoriginal. There were just a few too many things that were very similar to well-known dystopians. The zones for example, seemed like a cross between the districts in The Hunger Games and the factions in Divergent. Eli Holst was basically a slightly less creepy President Snow. This may just be coincidence but it did make me feel as though it was lacking some originality.

Overall, this was an enjoyable read. The intense challenges of the initiation kept me turning the page but some small issues with various other aspects of the story did hinder my enjoyment somewhat. I would recommend giving it a go if, like me, trials and challenges are things you enjoy in a book. While I didn't enjoy this one as much as I hoped I would, I do think it is a book that many will thoroughly enjoy.

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