Seeker by Arwen Elys Dayton
Hardcover: 448 pages
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (February 10, 2015)
After taking a Christmas break to read books irrelevant to children and teen fiction I looked at Netgalley with fresh eyes to see about acquiring new books for review and possibly lining up new books for our school library. This intriguing note pops up about up and coming new fiction with a cover reminiscent of the Heir series and I said sure, sign me up. This book was free in exchange for an honest review.
First what genre is this? Part science fiction, part historical fiction, part fantasy….I am going to stick with urban fantasy, and it takes place between rural Scotland and gritty Hong Kong sometime in the future, and a little bit in the skies over London. It is told in three parts and involves three central characters. Well actually three sets of three, and the three move about a bit. You have the apprentice Seekers Shinobu, John, and Quin. You have the three Dreads Young, Middle, Old. You have the male parents John’ Grandfather, Quin’ Father, and later Dr. Tam. Then you have the mothers. Threes seem to be important in this sometimes confusing tale of love, betrayal, and finding yourself.
These very young characters act very old for their age, and I would forget that Quin and Shinobu, and John are barely into their teen years when most of this book takes place. Be warned this is neither a Hunger Games Dystopian novel nor a Divergent cast like system. It is closer to War of the Roses using magical knives. If you read this expecting heroic characters fighting against the “Big Bad” you will be disappointed. Everyone is a bad guy, and everyone does horrific things. Yet, the world is intriguing and the concept of three time stretching monks who judge the actions of the Seekers (think Ancient Greek Mythology here folks) is a cool twist on a very old story. I did feel a little lost at times especially with the jumping and oddly phrased wording, but a solid start to a new series.
Parents please note, this is Not a young teen friendly book. This is a Young Adult book for good reason. It is not a happy book with a strong moral compasses either, and definitely Not a romance (so no HEA). Most of the characters kill, abuse drugs, attempt suicide, and extort from those less powerful and do it all before they turn seventeen. There is Extensive drug abuse, prostitution, and graphic violence including but not limited to child abuse, murder for hire, and betrayals by people who should know better with little consequences. The instant sober up at the Opium Den and the instant withdrawal cure annoyed me since no long term consequences to that much drug use seems stupid and a bit of a cop out. It also made the character less sympathetic since part of what makes a great novel from a good one is characters that experience consequences good and bad. I enjoyed it, but this is not a story for everyone.