Monday, July 1, 2013

Reboot by Amy Tintera: a Review

Goodreads Blurb:

Five years ago, Wren Connolly was shot three times in the chest. After 178 minutes she came back as a Reboot: stronger, faster, able to heal, and less emotional. The longer Reboots are dead, the less human they are when they return. Wren 178 is the deadliest Reboot in the Republic of Texas. Now seventeen years old, she serves as a soldier for HARC (Human Advancement and Repopulation Corporation).

Wren’s favorite part of the job is training new Reboots, but her latest newbie is the worst she’s ever seen. As a 22, Callum Reyes is practically human. His reflexes are too slow, he’s always asking questions, and his ever-present smile is freaking her out. Yet there’s something about him she can’t ignore. When Callum refuses to follow an order, Wren is given one last chance to get him in line—or she’ll have to eliminate him. Wren has never disobeyed before and knows if she does, she’ll be eliminated, too. But she has also never felt as alive as she does around Callum.

The perfect soldier is done taking orders.

That summary sounds kick-ass. The premise of the book, even more so. The main character sounds awesome. So why two stars, Nicole?

Well, first, let’s recap. Wren is a Reboot, a reanimated (read: undead) soldier who supposedly retained only a small fraction of her human emotions. She’s happy enough to be an unstoppable killing machine for the government when she meets another Reboot at her training facility, Callum. Callum has retained a lot more of his humanity than Wren, and at first she finds it frustrating… until she doesn’t.

Let’s be honest, it’s clear from the summary what happens next: they fall in love and Wren discovers she’s not as cold and unfeeling as she thought she was. So I think it’s not fair to complain about the romance. It was pretty obvious a romance was coming.

And anyway, my problem with the book was not the romance. I actually found the romance pretty cute and d’aww at times. Even where it crossed the line into cheesy (when Wren is supposed to be teaching Callum to fight, she lets him teach her to slow-dance instead. Sans music.)

I loved the action sequences. I loved how Wren was unstoppable and basically badass and didn’t become less so with a love interest around. Some reviewers thought the book was too violent, but I disagree. The beginning was great. So great that I was all, please don’t let me down now…

My problem, however, was much more subtle and not as easily fixable as that. I’ve seen the same problem in a number of manuscripts I’ve critted over the years. The thing is… once the main plot kicked into action, everything was too linear. Too easy. (Highlight for spoilers) Wren needs to escape with Callum before the agency she works for kills him? They do. Wren needs to rescue another Reboot girl to get a map to the Reboot reservation? She does. Wren and other rebels need to break into the government facility to get medicine for Callum? They do, everything goes swimmingly, there aren’t even any casualties. This is a top-security government facility, pretty much THE law-enforcement center of the city/state, but Wren never encounters a real obstacle. Wren needs to free other Reboots at the facility? Done and done! Wren needs to give Callum the medicine before it’s too late? She makes it on time and the medicine works without a hitch. They all need to steal a shuttle and fly to the Reboot reservation? No problem.

The number one rule of writing fiction is, everything that can go wrong must go wrong. So I kept waiting for the dramatic reversal, the insurmountable hurdle. The problem with Reboot is, nothing goes wrong. And no amount of cool world-building or great characters or even a romance that works can fix that.

I admit I hesitated before posting a not-so positive review. So let me say this was just my opinion, and for all I know you'll love Reboot to death (lame pun intended). This book does have some pretty great action sequences and a really unique, creative world. I know you can't fall in love with everything you read, and in the case of Reboot, I just didn't fall in love the way I hoped. 

My rating:  two and a half stars.

Nicole River is confused about writing her bio in third person. She's an aspiring author of edgy YA horror and an appreciator of all things dark and spooky. Her own blog is here. Or you can always follow her on Twitter

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