16 Jun 2016

CRUEL REALITY: GAMES OF LIFE AND DEATH.


CRUEL REALITY: GAMES OF LIFE AND DEATH by C.J. WHITLEY.

AMAZON.CO.UK BLURB: Taken by masked men in the night, a host of British people find themselves at the mercy of unknown abductors. They cannot guess where they are going, or why they are going there. When they find an arsenal of medieval weapons in their new prison, horrific possibilities are imagined. When the cruel reality of their fate is revealed to them, they must learn a new way of life. Fight or die. There is nowhere to run.

FIRST SENTENCE { Chapter 1}: Mike's eyes opened slowly as he woke to a deafening roar.

MEMORABLE MOMENT {Page 246}: Then he stopped chuckling, realizing that the very same thing could happen to him or any of the other warriors while out in the forest. If they were hiding and waiting in ambush, they could be betrayed in the same way. 

SOURCE: A Proof Copy received for review from the author.

MY THOUGHTS: Though as always left to the individuals discretion - in this case, I would have thought, an adult's discretion as to its suitability for younger readers - Cruel Reality is aimed at the Young Adult market and with very good reason. Though not what I thought of as gratuitous there are of necessity some themes that are unsuitable for young readers.

One of those books I admit I had second thoughts about accepting. A fairly lengthy tome of nigh on six hundred pages, would my attention be held throughout? Informed by the author (and I quote) 'A very brief way of describing it might be to say it is a bit like The Hunger Games, but set in the present day, real world'. Would it be too much like The Hunger Games OR, worse still, would it be written in such a way that whilst a book it was obviously written with a film deal in mind?

Not that I've read the books but I have seen the films and judging by these and these alone I think the author does himself a bit of a disservice. In my opinion better than The Hunger Games (the film adaptations at least) - whilst there is just as much action, I felt that there was more of an actual story to Cruel Reality.

A big book but with lots of short chapters. In my experience often a plus when it comes down to YA novels. 

Though definitely main protagonist Mike's story, there is in addition the occasional point of views from main female lead, Kay, and the entwined 'stories' of two others (I won't say what part they play in the book overall for fear of spoilers) which not only keeps the story fresh but, with a main male and female character, ensures the book as a great read no matter what your gender.

And as well as the action scenes - all well done which is surely testament to the author having had six months of sword and archery lessons - there are also lots of big themes throughout (the notion of leadership and fealty and, even, perceived sexism included). 

All factors which contributed to the plot flowing nicely. All ensuring the reader a roller coaster of a read, the family dynamics and tender, if largely understated, love story between Mike and Kay an emotional one.

But what of the characters?

Well developed each and every one of them. All manner of characters are covered and yet despite there being so many you really do come to know them as individuals and, if you are anything like me, will find yourself rallying for your favourites.

Worthy of every one of the five stars I awarded it on GoodReads/Amazon.co.uk. I wonder how many will manage to read the novel without pondering on what they'd do if it came down to fight or die. Not many I'm betting.



17 comments:

C. J. Whitley said...

Great review Tracy - I'm so glad you enjoyed it. "better than The Hunger Games" - wow! I'll try not to let that go to my head. Interesting to hear that you were concerned it might be too much like the hunger games - I'll have to reconsider my sales pitch. I wrote it long before I'd heard of the Hunger Games (which I haven't read either, and have only seen the first of the four films), so there was no risk of it being a copy. Thanks for accepting it, despite your doubts.

Kelly said...

What a glowing review! I read and enjoyed the Hunger Games (and did prefer the books to the films) so perhaps I might enjoy this as well.

Personally, I like short chapters in any book I read. I'll certainly keep this one in mind.

Melliane said...

it's great to see you had a good time there! I didn't know about this one but I'm definitely curious now!

Brian Joseph said...

This sounds very good.


Strong characters always help. Sometimes stories such as this lack them.

It is interesting that the author is knowledgeable about fencing and archery and that these were incorporated into the book. I think that many authors write about these things who are not so well versed.

C. J. Whitley said...

Brian, while I have done some fencing, when I mentioned to Tracy that I'd had sword lessons, I was actually referring to lessons using a (blunt) hand-and-a-half bastard-sword, involving lots of severe bruising and some fractured bones. It gave a much deeper appreciation of the fear involved in a sword-fight, as well as how physically exhausting using a sword really is. Hopefully some of that does show through in the book.

Natasha Hill said...

This sounds really good - I'll have to make sure I get a copy when it comes out, love the themes of family and the slightly dystopian ideals around it from the sounds of your review. Will have to keep an eye out for when it hits the shelves! - Tasha

Barbara Fisher said...

Hi Tracy, I always trust your reviews and have read some great books because of them. You obviously enjoyed this one, and it has gone straight on to my must-read list.
I’ve not forgotten the tag you kindly included me in. I’m in the process of putting something together and will post it when I start blogging again at the end of July.

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

Oh this sounds good. I also love it when it is so well researched you really feel for what the characters are doing and not just the characters. Oh this does sound like something I'd enjoy.

Yvonne@fiction-books said...

Hi Tracy,

Any book and author, which can engage younger readers for almost 600 pages, has to be worthy of a high rating and judging by the overall average Goodreads ratings, many others agree.

Personally, I don't really enjoy such lengthy tomes, although I quite like shorter chapter breaks, as they generally highlight a natural break point if I need to stop reading.

You compare the book to 'Hunger Games' which I'm afraid I haven't read either, it's just not a genre I am really comfortable exploring.

Having said all that, the passion in your review really shines through and offers an honest insight for anyone considering reading the book :)

Yvonne

Literary Feline said...

I tend to pass by books that sound too much like The Hunger Games nowadays, but from the sound of it this is very different and is a worthwhile read. I will have to look for this one.

Suko said...

Terrific, enthusiastic review, Tracy! It sounds like this book truly was your cup of tea. I'm glad you enjoyed it so thoroughly. Have a wonderful weekend!

ClaudineGueh@CarryUsOffBooks said...

Hi Tracy, how've you been? I like short chapters and greatly admire the author for taking months of lessons so his writing sounds authentic.

Nikki-ann said...

I've not heard of this one before, and I'm not sure if it would be my cup of tea or not...

kimbacaffeinate said...

Lovely review, I am quite curious and delighted it is not like the Hunger Games.

Stephanie@Fairday's Blog said...

Yeah! So glad to hear you enjoyed this one so much. I am definitely intrigued by your review and have added it to my list. I don't recall hearing of it before. Thanks for sharing! :)

Brandi Kosiner said...

Great to hear that there were good themes throughout and the characters were well developed. I haven't heard of this yet, but sounds like its worth the read for sure

Gina R said...

Ooh! Sounds like you found a winner! BIG books can scare off an audience sometimes but there are those that are worth their weight in words. Thanks for the rec!