Author: Michelle Maddox
Copyright: 2008 (Shomi); 293 pgs.
Who: Kira Jordan and Rogan Ellis
From the Back: Kira Jordan wakes up in a pitch-black room handcuffed to a metal wall. She has 60 seconds to escape. Thus begins a vicious game where to lose is to die. The man she’s been partnered with — her only ally in this nightmare — is a convicted mass murderer. But if he’s so violent, why does he protect her? And stranger still, what is it behind those haunted sea-green eyes that makes her want to protect him?
Comments: One of the great discoveries for me, last year, was the Shomi line from Dorchester. This is the third book by them I’ve read and I haven’t been disappointed yet.
Countdown is set in the near future. Technology had been advancing steadily and a new, life-sustaining world had been discovered. Then a great plague struck, killing millions, and society never fully recovered. Those who could afford the price of transportation left Earth for the new colony. Those still on Earth trudged on, many dreaming of one day leaving it behind, too.
One of the pastimes, for those who can afford a subscription, is “watching” The Countdown, a win-or-die type reality game show. The patrons — subscribers — have computer implants in their skulls, allowing them to view the contest wherever they might be. Since the game is illegal and secretive, the show runners can afford to drop their unsuspecting contestants into public places knowing that nobody would believe them if they tried to get help. The game is divided into six levels. Contestants are given very little information to work with, and even that isn’t always reliable. They are normally criminals, with life sentences, recruited with the promise of freedom if they play the game and win. Rogan Ellis, with his 500-year prison sentence, was given a choice. Kira Jordan was not.
Seven years ago, Kira’s parents and sister were murdered. The killer was never caught. Since then, Kira’s been on her own and on the streets, surviving the only way she knows how. She’s a petty thief, not a hardened criminal, who had stolen a pair of sneakers just prior to waking up handcuffed to the wall. Kira has a talent she calls “flexing” — she’s a psi. She has to be touching the person she’s trying to read and it’s usually very painful to do, so she doesn’t do it very often. Sometimes, she can just sense a person is bad and she uses that to decide whether or not to pick an individual’s pocket — she doesn’t feel right stealing from decent people.
Though Kira initially believes Rogan is guilty of the crimes he was sent to prison for, he doesn’t have that bad guy vibe she usually senses from the criminal set. Since the disembodied show announcer is telling the viewers things that aren’t completely true about her, she begins to wonder how much truth is behind the things said about Rogan and she slowly begins to believe his innocence. Rogan has his secrets and things he’s guilty of, but not mass murder. Four years ago, he was set up and sent to prison. Nobody doubted his guilt, nobody questioned the evidence. They believed what they were told. Four years of life in prison has left him haunted and in despair. Kira is the first person to ever believe he is innocent.
To say much more would give away plot twists. The book is fast paced and easy to follow, and I really liked it. I thought Kira and Rogan were likable characters. Kira is fully capable of taking care of herself, but because of the situation, she must work as a team with Rogan. Her acceptance of Rogan’s innocent was well-paced — not too soon, nor was it dragged out once she got a good read on him.
Started: 3 May 2009
Finished: 11 May 2009
This is a re-post, due to technical difficulties. Comments, if any, were lost. I apologize for the inconvenience. (Aug 09)
KristieJ, 2009-05-26: I really enjoyed this one too. I thought the author did an excellent job with building suspense. I’ve had mixed success with the Shomi line – some, like Countdown, I’ve really enjoyed, others not so much. I was reading at DA a while ago though that they aren’t going to continue this line. They will still be publishing books like this – just not in a separate line.
Me, 2009-05-26: I’ve been lucky, I guess, picking the books that hook me. So far. I think I have them all. Yeah, I noticed. The follow-up to AJ Menden’s Shomi book was/is released this week and it’s published under the Leisure imprint.
Brie, 2009-05-28: Hi Christina, I”ve had a little sucess with the Shomi line, but a few books have been duds for me. After your review, I will be on the lookout for Countdown. It seems like something that I would really enjoy.
Me, 2009-05-29: Hi, Brie! I imagine that I”ll eventually come across some that don”t work for me. They all sound so interesting, though. Earlier this year I picked up “Irreversible” by Liz Maverick, not knowing it was a sequel to “Wired”, and almost wrote it off as a “No go” because I was so confused! 🙄
Angie, 2009-06-27: Thanks for this review. It sounds like COUNTDOWN would fit my current mood quite well. It sounds fun! I”ll be on the lookout for a copy.
Me, 2009-06-28: It was a fun read. I hope you enjoy it. 🙂
This is a re-post, due to data loss. (Oct 09)