by Kate Ormand
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Release Date: June 3rd 2014
The future world has been divided into sectors--each the same as the other. Surrounded by thick steel fences, there is no way in and no way out. Yet a cyborg army penetrates each sector, picking off its citizens one by one, until no one is left. Behind the sectors' thick walls, the citizens wait to die. Few will be chosen to survive what's coming; the rest will be left behind to suffer. A new world has been created, and its rulers are incredibly selective on who will become a citizen. They want only those with important roles in society to help create a more perfect future.
Sixteen-year-old Sia lives in one of the sectors as part of a family that is far too ordinary to be picked to live. According to the digital clock that towers high above her sector, she has only fifteen days to live. Sia has seen the reports and knows a horrific death is in store for her, but she is determined to make the most of her final days. Sia refuses to mourn her short life, instead promising herself that she'll stay strong, despite being suffocated by her depressed mother and her frightened best friend. Just when Sia feels more alone than ever, she meets Mace, a mysterious boy. There is something that draws Sia to him, despite his dangerousness, and together, they join a group of rebels and embark on an epic journey to destroy the new world and its machines, and to put an end to the slaughter of innocent people.
Dark Days is the story of Sia and her family who live in a 'sector' of uniform housing where a giant countdown in red ticks down the days you have left to live. If you're deemed worthy a plane flies in and whisks you away to the New World, created by a man named Damien Hoist who only wants the best for his brave new world. Rather than just give up Sia creates a 'bucket list' which, being a teenager, includes 'kiss a boy/fall in love' along with things like climb the only hill in the sector and swim in the lake. Her parents both handle the imminent demise of their family in their own ways, her mother sits in front of the television watching the 'Reports' becoming more depressed by the day whilst Sia's father Len starts to disappear for hours on end every day. Thanks to this Sia is pretty much left to her own devices, banned from seeing her best friend whose father thinks her relationship will jeopardize their chances of being chosen she meets a boy, Mace, and makes a new friend, Lilly.
Dark Days moves at a swift pace, the book itself is quite short, so there is a lot crammed in and something happening on every page. Sia goes through the hideous bad luck of finding her mother dead a few days into the book, whether from suicide or wasting away from not eating or moving is unclear but this ultimately pushes Sis into making some of the extremely unwise decisions she makes. After meeting Mace that old chestnut 'insta-love' rears its ugly head, given that they only have 15 days left this is almost excusable but it was still a bit unbelievable for me. Mace seemed to be the wrong fit for Sia, there's another a bit further on in to the book who has known Sia all of her life and he seemed to have much better chemistry with her than Mace. I guess at that age though, knowing you're going to die, it's the thrill of the unknown. If I was about to become target practise for a cyborg I think I would be slightly irrational too!
Becoming involved in the Resistance Sia makes some startling discoveries, such as the identity of the leader of the small band of people who have decided to fight back rather than give up and she realizes how far she will go to stay alive by making choices that will ultimately cost people their lives. The action kicks up a notch towards the end of the book and there are some great fighting scenes, you know the confrontation is coming but until it actually happens you have no clue just how bloody it's going to be. Like one of my favorite authors who shall not be named but writes a series I think most of the world knows Kate Ormand is not afraid to kill characters left, right and center!
Ultimately, as much as I wanted to love Dark Days there were a few too many flaws for me. I loved the originality of the cyborgs with knives for fingers but I found it hard to believe a group of 20 men, women and teenagers could destroy a whole army without being slaughtered. I also found Sia's reaction to the death of her mother and a couple of other characters who I won't name so as not to spoil anything mighty strange. I get that they were all about to die anyway but it's almost like they were completely forgotten about seconds after their deaths were discovered. I don't think Sia would be able to process anyone's death let alone her mother's that quickly and so that didn't work for me. The big thing for me though was the lack of information, I wanted to know more about how the sectors came into being, what disaster or war had caused all this to happen and exactly whos was this charismatic man that people started blindly believing, to the point that he could get away with slaughtering the majority of the world's population. It's still a highly original story and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, I'm hoping that there's going to be a sequel/prequel/companion novel which will maybe fill in some of the blanks which I would definitely read. If you like original dystopian fiction and can see past the almost reasonable case of insta-love then do read Dark Days, fast paced and well written it will hold your attention from page one.
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KATE ORMAND is a YA writer represented by Isabel Atherton at Creative Authors Ltd. She lives in the UK with her family, her partner, and a cocker spaniel called Freddie. She recently graduated from university with a first class BA (Hons) degree in Fine Art Painting. It was during this course that Kate discovered her love of reading YA books, prompting her to try a new creative angle and experiment with writing. Kate is also a member of an online group of published writers and illustrators called Author Allsorts. And she writes children’s picture books under the name Kate Louise.
You can see more about Kate and her writing by visiting her website (www.kateormand.wordpress.com) or on Twitter (@kateormand).
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