Rook by Sharon Cameron
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
There are only so many post-apocalyptic dystopia concepts that exist in the world, and, thanks to the mad rush of YA science fiction sprang into being following the enormous success of The Hunger Games, it’s almost—almost—impossible at this point for an author to come up with a brand-new one. In Rook, however, Sharon Cameron may just have pulled it off. The world that protagonists Sophia Bellamy and René Hasard inhabit is full of not-so-subtle overtones of the French Revolution, with lower-class mobs overrunning the Upper City and a massive, blood-spattered blade decapitating enemies of the state. But this isn’t eighteenth-century Paris—this is Europe hundreds of years after the polar shift that wiped out most of humanity. The loss of all pre-apocalypse technology has forced society to backtrack several centuries to a bloodier and more brutal time. The characters are almost as interesting as the setting—Sophia may be a classic YA heroine fighting off the advances of two devilishly handsome suitors, but at least the love triangle has some political intrigue to spice things up. (Nearly all the characters are benevolent criminals of some sort.) Rook is lengthy, but readers will forgive its heft once they get caught up in the engaging narrative and well-conceived setting.