Monday, March 3, 2014

My Review of Remnants: Season of Wonder

Here's a description of the book from Goodreads:

"In the first book of the new futuristic dystopian series from author Lisa T. Bergren, the chosen remnants must work to redirect humanity’s course.

The year is 2095. Gifted teens known as Remnants have been chosen and trained to act as humanity’s last hope to rectify the horrors that are now part of everyday life.

The Community has trained these teens as warriors and assigned them Knights of the Last Order as protectors. Together, they are a force that will be difficult to bring down.

But the Sons of Sheol, of course, are determined to do just that. As the Remnants begin their mission to course-correct humanity by saving and protecting key individuals, their enemies move to stop them, placing the entire world in peril.

Bestselling author Lisa T. Bergren presents the first book in her new YA futuristic dystopian series—The Remnants Novels—fitting in with the current dystopian trend in the marketplace."

My Rating

Fall

My Review

For those who love young-adult reads with a heaping helping of action, suspense, and romantic tension, this first book in the "Remnants" series delivers. Bergren's talent for penning an engaging story can't be denied, and I zipped through the first half of this book in one rather late night. I admire the creativity involved in creating this series, as well as the variety of characters and settings. For me, though, not everything came together in a fluid way.

First, I'm confused as to where the story is taking place. We've got forests, deserts, a monastery, palaces, a glimpse of the ocean... Some elements reminded me of the Middle East; some reminded me of the United States. Basically, I didn't really feel grounded, and the fact that the story zoomed from one place to the next didn't really help me connect with the settings and the diverse people groups who populate them.

And I think that really was a huge problem for me - a lack of connection with the characters. Don't get me wrong! I was intrigued by the Ailith, and I appreciated the emphasis on community (as well as the sweet friendships and romances blooming). But only being inside one character's head (Andriana's) limited my sympathy for the other Remnants and Knights. I would have loved the chance to get to know the other main characters on a deeper level, and I think that would really have broadened the emotional scope of the story. Also, as much as I adore romantic tension, I got a little frustrated with the strange pseudo romances seeming to occur between Andriana and several of the male characters at one point or another. Not to mention that the Community is seriously setting their Remnants and Knights up for failure by pairing a male and a female up as children and then forbidding them to fall in love! Seriously...

The story has plenty of danger and interesting situations, but I was left confused by the overarching plot. Where is Pacifica in relation to the reader's time? What is up with the two princes? How does all of this affect the whole earth, and how did things get to be this way? While there is some explaining, there just wasn't enough to make me really care about the world's fate (as presented in the book) or contemplate what the book has to say about where we're headed. It felt almost more fantasy than dystopian.

The fantasy feel is only compounded by the sort of "mystical" elements. With references to the Maker, I realize that the gifts of the Ailith are supposed to be more spiritual, bestowed on the characters by the Creator. But Andriana's gift, in particular, didn't really come across as strong empathy so much as an ability to "probe" another's feelings, as she's constantly talking about "reaching out" to other people to try to read what they're thinking/experiencing.

Basically, Season of Wonder is an interesting beginning to the series, and perhaps with some more background and stronger characterization the series can come together in a clearer and deeper way. As it is, the first book left me with more questions and frustrations than I'd prefer.

*With thanks to Zonderkidz and NetGalley for providing me with an e-ARC of the book in exchange for my honest opinion.*

Note: Remnants: Season of Wonder releases April 8, 2014.

6 comments:

Laura Pol said...

Wow this is so interesting because I thought this was the best book I have ever read! I felt God's hand was all over this book and the powerful message Lisa presented! I'm sorry it wasn't what you had hoped!

Amber Stokes said...

Laura,

Yes, I saw your review, and I'm so glad you enjoyed it! I guess it's true what they say that not every book is going to win every reader over... Even still, I did enjoy this one for the most part, and it was very creative and interesting. I know others are loving it, too, and I think that's awesome that it encouraged you in such a big way. :) Thanks for taking the time to read my thoughts!

~Amber

Brooke @ i blog 4 books said...

This book just came in the mail today, so I'll be interested to see what it's all about. I will say that I'm a little intimidated by how long it is!

Amber Stokes said...

Brooke,

I'll be curious to hear your thoughts! And I heard that it does look really long... I read it via NetGalley, and I guess that's one nice thing about e-books - there's no intimidation factor unless you know the page count beforehand, LOL. ;) But don't worry - it is a longish read, but there's a lot of action that gives it a quick pace!

~Amber

Julie said...

I too read it from NetGalley and I have to say I didn't get the feeling that it was long at all. I was very surprised when I received the actual book because it does seem much bigger than what I read ;) I enjoyed it. My review for the blog tour is scheduled for April 24th so you have to wait a while for my thoughts ;) It is interesting how people can have such different opinions about a book. I'm looking forward to reading other people's reviews now that I have mine written and ready to go. I don't like to read reviews before I write mine as I don't want to be influenced by others views. I always like your reviews Amber, you are honest without being harsh :)
Julie @ My Favorite Pastime

Amber Stokes said...

Julie,

I know - it doesn't really feel super long as an e-book! Glad you enjoyed it; will be curious to see your review when the time comes. :)

I totally hear you about reading others' reviews! Sometimes I do read (or at least skim) reviews ahead of time...usually before requesting or purchasing a book, as I like to get an idea as to whether or not I should pick it up. But I like to wait to read other reviews when I'm supposed to review the book, as well, if I can help it, just because it is hard not to be influenced by others' thoughts...and then I freak out if somebody says the same thing or something similar, afraid that my review might be considered a copy or something. *sigh*

Thank you so much for the the sweet words! That means so much to me, to know that my reviews come across as honest but not harsh. :) I'm so glad!

~Amber