Seeker by Arwen Elys Dayton
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
[Disclaimer: I received a free e-copy of this book from NetGalley.]
**To clarify my own thoughts because I was left feeling so muddled after finishing, I have been skimming other reviews. I had the same opinions as many others so I'm reiterating them here.**
Seeker is a difficult book to review. Overall it was well-written grammatically, pretty well-edited, and not altogether boring. But I didn't find myself engaged with any of the characters, or even the story. I hated the structure of it, where we get a different character's perspective in each chapter (at least the author didn't attempt to write from four different POV's but still). This technique dragged out scenes that should have lasted maybe 10-15 pages to what felt like more than 50. That huge battle at the estate in the first I think 25% of the story bounced between perspectives I don't know how many times, and it took me a good half hour to get through it all. And the way the back story was structured drove me nuts. We'd be getting along with the present story, and BAM we're in the past again. Also, I still have no clear idea of what a Seeker is. And isn't that the entire point of this book? That we're supposed to figure that out? Apparently they're just people who travel through "anomalies" and kill people. But WHY?
The fact that John was so consumed by the promise he made to his mother completely ruined him as a character. He showed zero progression as a character, no true remorse for anything he did. The constant, "Oh I hope no one hurts Quin, I don't want to hurt Quin, but she better help me or I'm going to hurt her!" only reinforced that he's a terrible person.
I think Shinobu is the only character who really evolved in this book. And I didn't even really like him that much.
I couldn't figure out the "when" and "place" of it all either. Some years were mentioned, but they were several hundred years in the past, and whenever the present was discussed it was stated like, "It's been some four hundred or more years since then," or some other such nonsense. I'm thinking the book takes place in some alternate reality, not based on the present but in an alternate steam-punk-wannabe parallel present. But I'm not entirely sure, because while we got some descriptions of the Scottish estate, and Hong Kong, and a few vague ideas about Traveler, there was no real sense of place or world-building to the story. I didn't feel at all that the estate was in Scotland, because the only person who spoke with an accent (and that wasn't even consistent) was Alastair. Hong Kong didn't feel like a real place either, because all I could figure out was that they lived near a bridge at Victoria Harbor. Traveler was barely described, and I didn't even realize it was an airship until the very end of the book.
The book was okay, but I don't think the author could decide whether to make it a young adult fantasy or a new adult romance. (Not that I think new adult romance is a real genre, but bookstores seem to think so.) And the romance was terrible. Quin is stuck choosing between someone she thinks of as a cousin (and who is constantly referred to as her cousin, even though he's barely blood-related to her, which makes this a completely weak plot line), and a full-tilt psychopath who has no qualms about hurting her to get what he wants, all the while protesting that he doesn't want to hurt her. And when he's done hurting her, they can be together!
Lastly, I was super annoyed by the fact that the pronunciation of "athame" was included RIGHT IN THE TEXT. If you need a pronunciation guide, put it at the beginning or end!
All told, I didn't like it all that much. I am willing to admit it was well-written grammatically for the most part, and readable, but I would not recommend this to anyone I know.
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