Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Raksha Blog Tour: excerpt and review

This Tuesday we feature a sci-fi/dystpoian YA book featuring a tough female heroine. We are today's stop on the Raksha Blog Tour hosted by Lady Amber's Tours. There's an excerpt and our review. We thank you for stopping by.

Raksha by Frankie Rose
YA sci-fi/dystopia*Paperback/eBook
 first Published March 1st 2013
Purchase: Amazon

She has no name. 

She has her knives, her training, and her halo. 

The first and second give her the ability to defeat the opponents she is pitted against each month. The third frees her from pain and fear. From any kind of emotion at all. Everything is as it should be. Everything is as it should be, until… 

Fear… Pain… Anger… Happiness… Desire… Guilt…


When a newly named Kit escapes the Sanctuary after killing her best friend, the last thing she needs is another knife in her hand. Or Ryka, the damaged, beautiful blond boy, whom she refuses to let save her. The sights and sounds of Freetown are new, yet one thing is familiar: the matches. The only difference? Where the blood in the Sanctuary landed only on the Colosseum floor, Kit will quickly learn that a river of red runs through Freetown’s very streets. 

Without her halo, the inhabitants of Kit’s new home consider her saved, but is that really the case? Would she be better off free of the guilt associated with all the blood on her hands, or is the love of one boy worth living through all the pain?

Raksha is the call of the dead. It is the rumbling chant for fresh blood from the other side, the demand for sacrifice. The Colosseum is behind Kit. The fighting pits await.

I mmm doubtfully, scratching Jada behind her ears. She seems to like that. Cai’s face is gone now, although who knows how long the reprieve will be. When I look up, Ryka is watching me pet Jada.

“She likes you,” he says.

“You sound surprised.”

“I’m not. My sister’s a good judge of character. If Liv likes you that pretty much means everyone else will. Including my fickle dog.” He whistles softly and Jada pricks her ears at the sound.

“And you?” I ask.

He smiles. “Seriously?”

I nod, and Ryka’s mouth pulls up to one side in a way that makes my heart race. He looks wicked.

“Well, we’re friends. In that weird way where you’re eternally mad at me, and I’m eternally imagining what you look like naked.”

“What!” I go to slap his arm but he ducks out of reach, grinning. From the way my insides react to his words, it feels like I’ve swallowed something entirely too hot. Is this normal? Is this what liking someone feels like? It’s confusing and frustrating and frankly—okay, I’ll admit it—kind of wonderful. But what the hell am I supposed to do with that? How do I change who I am, sixteen years of fighting, a life of blood? How do I trade in all that confrontation for something a little sweeter? I think it’s probably too late.

“I really didn’t do myself any favours when I met you, did I? You still don’t trust me?” Ryka tips his head forward, smiling ruefully at his feet when I shake my head. “In that case I suppose it’s pointless asking if you’ve fallen in love with me yet?”

The boy is determined to make me die a death this evening. It’s all I can do not to choke as I shake my head. “Sadly, no. I don’t think I want to kill you anymore, though. So there’s that.”

In the moonlight, Ryka’s eyes bow as he smiles broadly. “There is that. We’ll have to see what we can do to change your mind, though. I’ve never been very good at waiting for anything I want.” He shoves me gently with his shoulder and my heart stumbles.

“You want me?”

Ryka’s smile is devastatingly sharp. “You own me, remember. And now, after the other night…well, I guess I kinda own you, too.”

About the author:
Frankie Rose 

Frankie Rose is a British expat, who is currently enjoying the perks of living in Australia- her awesome husband, sunshine, and vitamin D. She spends her time creating fictional universes in which the guy sometimes gets the girl, the heroes occasionally die, and the endings aren't always happy. But they usually are.

Life in Lockdown varies depending upon your caste. For one teen girl--an undefeated prized fighter--she is revered for her physical prowess and being a sure bet in The Colosseum battles. Yet, she is not treated like a princess. When her next battle is announced, she learns she is to fight her closest friend, Falin Asha, to the bloody death. He has accompanied her to her house after their training sessions for the last dozen years. He is the closest friend she has. One would expect her to be concerned, show a flicker of emotion, but in The Sanctuary,  inhabitants have a silver band around their necks--a contraption called a halo--which prevents them from feeling emotions. When Fanil throws the heavily bet upon battle, shocking her and forcing her to deal the final deadly stab, he says something to her. "It's going to be okay, all right? Remember that." His next action confuses her. Falin tugs on her halo, severing its connection on her neck. She may have won the battle but her only friend wanted more for her. He wanted her free.

She has no name until Fanil's sister Penny tells her he renamed himself Cai and called her "Kit" so she takes claim to his name. Given a holostick he left for her, Kit has to decide what to do with her broken halo. Tell the technicians so it can be repaired or leave it alone and do what Cai wanted her to do--flee. Leave. And so when Kit decides, her true journey begins.

I always highlight notes when I read eBooks for review. For Raksha, I have many notations. There is a lot to keep track in this dystopian new world of The Sanctuary. Classifications, terminology, roles of the True father and birth mother, one can't zip through this story. Then there's life in Freetown, the place Kit winds up in after she leaves her homeland. Here she encounters a male teen, Ryka, and then his townspeople, including his sister and grandfather and an entire new set of rules to live by. 

Life becomes an enigma for Kit now that she has to deal with the strange feelings flooding her mind and the effects of withdrawal coursing through her system once she is truly free of the halo. Author Frankie Rose has quite the imagination to create a knife wielding once emotionless young woman now conflicted by new emotions and her hesitation to melt down her halo. Things become even more complicated as her body begins to react to seeing a bare chested Ryka sparring with other men. In this new society females are not allowed to fight. A group of High Priestesses declare who may spar. As Kit wars with her emerging humanity and finding a place in Freetown, she must also decide whether or not to return to Lockdown--to retrieve her younger brother and help raise the resistance of others who walk there halo-free, waiting for the right moment to declare a revolution. Or should she simply roam the outer lands as a Radical? Where does a young woman who has killed belong?

Raksha is an intense, engrossing read. The beginning was a bit slow to get into while I began to understand this new world order. I took my time while reading to fully comprehend these futuristic worlds and soon found myself enjoying the book. Watching Kit change from cold fighter to a young woman figuring out her place in life and what role a certain blond-haired guy plays in it as well, was interesting and fun. Yes, there is violence, but it's not gratuitous, and Kit is immensely likable as the story progresses. Frankie Rose has this love story develop over time for which I am grateful. Kit's acceptance with her freedom also emerges gradually and we are spared passages of an angsty-teen girl. Touches like these help give this tale realism and I respect the characters more. As a fan of books like The Hunger Games and Girl in the Arena and movies like Gladiator, 300 and HBO's Rome, Raksha offers us a new heroine to support and love. I can easily see this book being made into a movie or cable series. Easily recommended to older teens and adults.

Rating: 4

Cover comment:
It's an effective cover but I wanted to see the halo around Kit's neck or in her hand.

Book source:
I received a promotional copy in return for my honest review.

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