Winning Strategies…?

5 Aug

  Gambit by C.L. Denault
Publisher: REUTS Publishing
Publication Date: August 2015

Willow is not what you expect.  She’s a tavern owner’s daughter and works hard to keep the tankards flowing. She’s chosen to get an education and shows up for class every day.  And she’s just turned 16.  In the society yet-to-be, 16 is the time when you may go through the Surge or not.  If not, you’re a normal.  Lucky normals eke out a life in the “uncivilized” Outlying Lands.  If you go through the Surge, you may become a Prodigy, or someone with a special gift.  The gifts range in strange and interesting ways and the gifted are always wanted by the Core.

A Core officer shows up in Willow’s small town even before the news arrives that the Heiress to the Roanoke’s Family is a fake.  In short order, Willow goes through the Surge, gets taken by the Core officer, goes through a second Surge and is declared the missing Heiress.  Now she’s forced to leave everything she’s every known behind and follow a man she doesn’t like to a city she doesn’t know to meet her birth parents and fiancée.  Oh, and did I mention that really all that matters is her DNA and the rebel forces intend to get her (kill her?!) to get her DNA. 

It’s not really clear what the rebels are rebelling against.  And, Willow will occassionally mention the fake Heiress but never seems to make a move to meet her or get to know her personally.  She doesn’t even seem interested in her other than as competition for a man.  The mysterious protector, Joshua, pops in and out without explanation.  Her skills from her two Surges at some point are referred to as a tiger and seems to take on a personality of its own.  But no one advises her very much.  It’s all very vague.  Her birth mother comes across as coldly calculating and yet others say she should form a relationship with her.  When the Core officer, Reese, promises her anything to make her happy, I’m sure that Willow will ask for her friend Piper, also taken by the Core.  But she doesn’t.  In fact, she doesn’t ask for anything other than minor, occassional contact with her adopted family.

In the chess game of the Core, Willow is a gambit.  But what’s the game? What are the stakes? And how curious am I to find out?

The story hooks me at the start and runs fairly well.  But the last third of the book, when I thought at least some answers would be given, they make up more problems.  Instead of trying to clean up issues, the author just tries to build more suspense for the next book.  I’m not sure leaving all sorts of things out (like Piper’s fate which was so important at first) is a good idea.  I’m not sure I care enough if Willow can’t follow through on caring about her friends.  I may purchase this book for my school, but I’m not sure I’ll care about the sequel.

Recommended: Grades 6 & up

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