I received an A.R.C for this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
This review comes with spoiler warnings, which will be placed right before any spoilers are mentioned.
Status: Finished Reading (19 June 2018)
Edition: Kindle ARC
Edit as of 24 Jun 2018: I no longer support these authors or their works. The following review was written before this turn of events.
The Raging Ones is Krista and Becca Ritchie’s YA novel expected to be published this August. A blend of sci-fi and fantasy, it follows the lives of three main characters – Mykal, Franny, and Court – all of whom live in a world where people know the exact day they will die. That is, until, they defy their death days.
The story tells us about their adventures, the lives they’re no longer content with living, and the emotional bonds they form – all while trying to beat a competitive selection for a space mission.
I have to say, my interaction with this book was unexpected. Familiar with K.B’s work from the past, I had a completely different reader experience with TRO. Given the genre it stands in, K.B are writing a plot-driven story which is vastly different from their previous character-driven ones. Safe to say, I was not at all disappointed.
The story is extremely interesting, and the authors do a good job of spooling together all the threads that tie together a good SFF novel – the plot, the characters, and the emotions. I genuinely felt for all the POV characters, as well as the cast of side characters that we were introduced to. Moreover, while the plot was set in an unfamiliar world, at no point did the world-building seem confusing or like a regurgitation of the plot bible. Everything was explained subtly and at the most relevant moments.
The highlight of the book for me was the interpersonal relationships between the main three characters. Their chemistry with each other was so unique (not just as a trio, but Mykal and Franny’s, Mykal and Court’s, and Court and Franny’s) and so palpable. Never did I feel like I was only being told what their emotions are towards another because it was evident in their behaviour. Their characterisation was also very consistent – which does not surprise me because K.B have always created good characters.
I’m going to keep this part review non-spoiler, so I won’t be adding how I feel about anything plot related, other than that I did not see a lot of plot twists coming (also something K.B have always been good with) and the ending absolutely blew my mind. Every subplot tied itself up quite well, I believe, and in the end, everything worked towards what (I think) they intended to achieve.
As far as criticism goes, I will say that there are certain parts of the book I highlighted as slightly confusing – and those would be the mid-POV scene transitions. Specifically, any time the setting changed within the same POV chapter, I found myself being confused because there was no indicator that the character had moved to a separate place or that a time skip had occurred. I would suggest that the editors include scene breaks to make the transitions clearer.
There are also a few scenes where the characters change actions in a confusing manner. For example, there is a scene where Court is driving a car but then starts doing things that would be impossible to do while driving – but it’s not made very clear that he has stopped the car. Nitpick-y things for me to be pointing out, but those are the only real things that took me out of the story.
I also feel like we could’ve learned more about what Court, Mykal and Franny look like. The only reason I was able to picture them very clearly was because of the Pinterest boards that include fancasts. I had no issue visualising the side characters, who were all well described and extremely intriguing, but we could’ve gotten more of what the main three looked like – especially Court. I had a hard time pinning down his appearance and ethnicity, unlike Franny and Mykal’s.
The romance in the story was pretty interesting to me but I wonder if there’s a chance of polyamory happening in the future – whether or not that happens, I still think that this is a very interesting dynamic between the three of them. I will say the romance caught me a little off-guard – not because it was unrealistic! I was just expecting some more on-paper build up and expected it to happen later in the story, so that threw me off, a little. It was still pretty sweet, though!
I’m going to wrap up this review here before I mention one spoiler that I think needs to be pointed out, but to anybody who is interested in a fun new SFF to read, I highly recommend The Raging Ones! It won’t disappoint!
[ MAJOR SPOILER WARNING: STOP HERE IF YOU WISH TO AVOID SPOILERS ]
There is something that didn’t quite sit comfortably with me, at the 90% mark on the Kindle version of the book. After the final Saga 5 have been chosen, it says:
“Only a few candidates seem disheartened. If the mission had been to colonize a new planet, more might’ve been glum.”
I feel like this needs to either be removed or explained better. It’s confusing what the authors are implying – are you suggesting that more would’ve been disappointed if they decided to colonise a new planet because they’re against it, or would they have been disappointed because they would’ve wanted to participate in it?
I think either way, that’s (colonize) not a good word to use, especially with such a diverse cast that includes POC. Implying that any of them might want a hand in colonization – or are on the side of colonizers – becomes very tricky. It might’ve been something you could work around if it was an entirely reimagined universe or history was being coded, but since we know Earth and humans exist in this universe, it becomes worse. It will also bear on how Franny and Court are written, since they’re not just POC but also POC from Earth.
Please consider either rewriting this line or removing it altogether. Aside from that, I think the book was an amazing read. I look forward to re-reading the final copy!