Monday, April 13, 2015

Acquisitions by Christine Haggerty - Book Review

Hello again, my book loving friends! Today I'm reviewing a book by a fellow Utah Fantasy Guild author Christine Haggerty, called “Acquisitions”. It is a Young Adult Dystopian novel, and book one in the Plague Legacy series. 

Synopsis: Half a century after the world was decimated by a bio-engineered plague, military scouts are acquisitioning a new supply of exports—slaves. Orphan, Cameron Landry, is dealing with the loss of his family, most recently his revered older brother Dom. As Cam tries to forge new friendships and navigate the awkwardness of his first experiences with teen romance, he is also running from the aggressive mutant bully, Devon Miller. Against a background of burned homes and a rusting ship, Cam has to find the strength within himself to survive. Cam and his friends are on different sides of the mutant and immune societal divide—even though they are teenage orphans who are largely left to govern themselves, they live in a post-apocalyptic society that has taught them to believe that there are distinct differences in the categories of human beings. 

The Pros: First off, I must admit I'm not one of the scores of readers in the world that adores Dystopian novels. In general they just don't do it for me. This is mostly because the concepts behind their new world governments, and the reasons behind the former societies collapse, are convoluted at best. I will say that this is not the case with “Acquisitions”. Everything made sense within this world and I really appreciated the effort the writer put into making this world seem realistic. I found this book to be very well-written. There were great descriptions throughout and occasionally those descriptive moments took my breath away. The author has a very good grasp of her characters. This made it easy to get to know each new person that came into the story without feeling like the reader was being spoon-fed information. The writer doesn't make you feel stupid by pointing out the obvious; she lets you experience the story as it plays out. The lead character, Cameron, was very likable and easy to root for. Although he does have that annoying trait most teenage boys have of not knowing exactly how he feels toward the two female characters and does the typical guy things. However, this did make him feel realistic, so I forgave him. After all, most teenage boys act like a deer caught in headlights when they first encounter love, they can't help it. I really liked that the two female love interests were opposite from each other, yet not so much that it seemed unrealistic that Cam would like both of them. They still had enough similarities to have appeal to the same guy. The setting and era of the story was well done and felt very real for me. Overall, I loved the concept of the world that the author created.

The Cons: Although they're headed to a fascinating world called Salvation that seems a throwback to Roman times with Gladiators and such. The world we start off in isn't very exciting at all. Cam's world is that of a dying nation, that is really just a carcass of its former fatty self. It makes for an interesting backdrop but it's not a terribly exciting place to read about. I must warn you that this is the first book in a series and just like most first books it has to carry the heavy burden of establishing a world on its fledgling shoulders. This means that not much happens within its pages besides character development and world building. It is at its heart a travel log. (Think "The Hobbit" or "The Fellowship of the Ring"). In my opinion the other two books in that series, "The Two Towers" and "The Return of the King" are faster paced and more interesting reads. I'm hoping that this is the case with The Plague Legacy series and that next book, “Assets: The Plague Legacy, Volume 2”, is even better than the first with faster pacing without losing attention to details

(Spolier Alert!! Skip this next paragraph if you don't want the ending given away) 

Overall, the books pacing was just too slow, which is funny for me to say since I generally don't go for fast-paced action-packed books. This is probably the first time I've ever really enjoyed a book, yet felt a little bored at the same time. I think this is in part due to the fact that I was expecting a more action-packed read because of the books blurb. I think I was expecting to get to Salvation a lot earlier in the book and for there to be more action and gore. Don't get me wrong there is some action throughout the book. Tension builds between Cam and his mutant rival Devon from the very beginning but it gets derailed on their journey across the Ocean. When Devon gets sent into solitary confinement for a few days the tension lapses and I think this hurt the books ending making it anti-climatic for me. I understand why the author removed Devon from the main action for a bit, if she hadn't, Cam would never have gotten a chance to get close to Devon's twin, Tara, who Devon guards protectively like an obsessive lover. While this helped the romance along it killed the overall tension and made Cam's overcoming Devon as an obstacle less fulfilling for me. In fact, Devon's comeuppance was over way too quickly and the ending just felt too abrupt. 

Despite all this, I still really enjoyed the book and give it a four star rating! I think it's a great improvement on the typical Y.A. Dystopian novel with hints of Charles Dickens in its tale. I would call it a mix of “Oliver Twist” and “Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome”. Christine Haggerty created a nitty-gritty world that is perfect for a coming-of-age adventure that both sexes can enjoy. (Here's a little old style Mad Max for your amusement below!)

Now go forth and read people, read! If you want to read this book in particular you can find it here! And yes that was Tina Turner in the video. "Rolling, rolling, rolling down the river!" She was awesome in that film. And yes Mel Gibson was once a total hottie, too bad gravity ruins everything :(

Till next time,
R.J. Craddock