Monday, September 19, 2011

YA book review: Initiation by Rebecca Royce

Format: Kindle Edition
File Size: 745 KB
Publisher: Decadent Publishing Company (February 2, 2011)

Blurb: My name is Rachel Clancy. Thirty years before I was born, the world ended. Today is my sixteenth birthday. Today I will go Upwards to fight the monsters and, statistically speaking, I won’t be coming back—at least not still living.

Initiation is the story of sixteen year old Rachel Clancy, born with a specific set of genes that let her fight monsters, she has trained her entire life to kill Vampires and Werewolves. Knowing since birth what her destiny would be has not made the onslaught of emotions she faces as she journey Upwards any easier. It doesn’t help that her father is drunk and her best friend just doesn’t get ‘it.’

Rachel isn’t prepared for the level of deception she faces, and before long she will find herself on a quest she is in no way prepared to handle. What happens next will alter not only Rachel’s life but the lives of everyone she knows. She will learn beyond a shadow of a doubt that sometimes the monsters we know are worse than the ones we don’t and that love can surprise us when it comes from somewhere we never anticipated it.

If she lives, she will be a Warrior. If she doesn’t, no one will ever remember her name.

My review: There are some books I berate myself over--why didn't I read it sooner? Why did I let it sit on my TBR pile for so long? When I first read the summary for Initiation, I wondered if it would be similar to the Hunger Games series. Yes, it's set in a dystopian world and features a strong female heroine. But in this novel, Rachel Clancy is born to be a Warrior, it's actually in her genes. So apart from being in the same genre, this book is nothing like Katniss' saga and I should have picked it up as soon as I received it.

From the two opening lines "My name is Rachel Clancy. Thirty years before I was born, the world ended," I was intrigued. A world where humans live underground, separated into two factions, the regulars and the one who defend them called Warriors, this was a unique world. At night, the Warriors go above ground to fight and destroy vampires and werewolves (both are depicted as true monsters, responsible for Armageddon decades before which forced the humans to seek shelter underground). Both of Rachel's parents were Warriors--her mom was also a patriot and her dad was the best fighter in their history--but after her mom is killed by vampires, her dad consoles himself with alcohol. Subsequently, she is raised by a loving family and their daughter, Tia, becomes Rachel's best friend.

There was such a vast array of characters, from the Warriors, Rachel's friends and teachers, to the werewolf family she meets and the young man, Jason, whom she falls for. Each was fully fleshed out into realized beings. The pacing escalated right along with Rachel's tension towards her sixteenth birthday and her 'initiation' night--the first time she goes above to fight with the Ones and Twos. I loved how the author really increased the tension by having her teacher pull a stunt on her that morning. That stunt laid the foundation for Rachel's physical and emotional journey. As we watch and witness, she has to grow up, face the repercussions of her father's abandonment of the Warriors and pay for his indiscretions, as well as begin to question authority. I truly felt for Rachel's plight, her parental abandonment, and her own inability to love another. This was all combined with other surprise revelations and the romantic attachment by an otherworldly creature she was taught to kill.

I had to remind myself to slow down in parts for once Rachel was above ground, I couldn't wait to see what she encounters. Royce's writing was clear and concise and held me in each moment. There were a few occasions I wanted to see a little more detail in Rachel's fighting (the scene towards the end with the caged humans needed some more detail to convince me) and the romance between her and Jason, despite my understanding of Rachel's feelings, I still felt their relationship developed too quickly (I suspect this was done on purpose). 

Fans of YA dystopian will really enjoy this first book in the Warrior series. I really liked Initiation, the strong minded Rachel and a fascinating cast of characters, and cannot wait to dig into the next title, Driven.

Rating: I really, really liked it.

Favorite excerpt: "I grinned back at him. It was amazing how fast I'd gotten used to all this craziness.

And that made me really, really nervous."

Cover comment: The photo reminds me of the cover for The Vampire's Warden (by S.J. Wright) and didn't do the novel justice.

Book source: From the publisher for my honest review.


  1. Sounds good. I just finished The Hunger Games, so I'm in a dystopian mood. I might have to pick this one up. Great review! :)

  2. Ooh, this sounds like a good book to add to my to-read shelf for one of these upcoming days. From the sounds though, it's not actually dystopian, just post-apocalyptic (The Hunger Games wasn't really dystopian either). I hadn't heard about this before, so thanks for the review! ^_^

  3. I like this twist enough to overlook my burnout on vampires and werewolves. Thank you for the review, I think I'll pick it up!

  4. Thanks Alyssa!

    Rywn, I agree with you, I think some books get mistakenly labeled dystopian.

    Heather, I'm a little tired of vamps and weres too but Halloween is coming!

    Rebecca, thank you! Really liked your book:)