Gambit by C.L. Denault

Willow Kent is about to have her life turned upside down. First she discovers that she’s a prodigy with special powers, then she’s taken away from her quiet village life to live in the Core with people she’s never met before. Not only that, but she’s forced to associate with the man largely responsible for these changes–Commander Reece. She wants to hate him, but it’s kind of hard to hate someone who makes your stomach do flips every time he’s nearby.

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What a gorgeous cover, right? That’s what immediately drew me to this book and I’m happy to say that it’s actually relevant to the story. After that, I’m afraid the rest of this review will not be quite so nice. First, the story opens and we’re not sure where we are. Is this the future? The past? Are we still on Earth? Or is this some other world entirely? Let me just clear things up for everyone who wants to read this book: this is future Earth. Something obviously happened (that the reader is not told about) to make some sections of the world regress to little villages, but then there are also some technologically advanced cities who keep themselves separate from the villages. The beginning of this book felt overwhelmingly clunky to me. There really is no other word for it. I didn’t feel like the narrative or dialogue flowed well together and it seemed like there was just a lot of set-up involved with introducing readers to this futuristic Earth. I hoped that the story and writing would smooth out as the book progressed, but unfortunately it never really did. The writing continued to be clunky throughout the book.

I had a very hard time connecting with Willow. I didn’t really like her as a character–she was too chippy. Why does she have this chip on her shoulder? Yes, I understand how hard it must have been to leave her family. I understand that Reece did some pretty bad things in her village, but I still don’t feel like all of her anger and attitude was warranted. If anything, I feel like Willow should be more resigned to her fate. Willow knows that if there is no Roanoke heiress that war will break out and her family will probably become casualties anyway. At least she has some power to stop that war. I wish she had concentrated more on that than the fact that she hates everyone.

There were a lot of other things I just didn’t understand in this book. I already mentioned that the futuristic Earth is kind of weird and there’s no backstory given there. I also don’t get the whole “tiger in her belly” thing? I just don’t understand what that’s supposed to be. Her temper? Her second phase power? I just don’t understand and it’s never really explained why she (and Reece I guess?) have these “tigers” inside of them or what they do. Also, Willow’s relationship with Joshua is WEIRD. I was super uncomfortable reading scenes between the two of them but I can’t quite put my finger on why.

Overall, I feel like the story has potential. I’m interested in finding out what happens next, but I feel like there are a lot of improvements that could be made. For example, the book was much longer than it needed to be in my opinion. I mean, it takes 200 pages just for Willow to leave the village. Not necessary. I’ll probably try the second book when it comes out, but if it’s too much like this one, I don’t think I’ll be reading the rest.

Overall Rating:3
Language: Mild
Violence: Heavy, some gore.
Smoking/Drinking: Moderate, especially in the beginning. Not so much with the rest of the book.
Sexual Content: Mild. Nothing crude really.

Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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