Reckoning - Kerry Wilkinson
ISBN - 9781447235309
Publisher - PanMacmillan
Release date - May 22 2014
In the village of Martindale, hundreds of miles north of the new English capital of Windsor, sixteen-year-old Silver Blackthorn takes the Reckoning. This coming-of-age test not only decides her place in society - Elite, Member, Inter or Trog - but also determines that Silver is to become an Offering for King Victor.
But these are uncertain times and no one really knows what happens to the teenagers who disappear into Windsor Castle. Is being an Offering the privilege everyone assumes it to be, or do the walls of the castle have something to hide?
Trapped in a maze of ancient corridors, Silver finds herself in a warped world of suspicion where it is difficult to know who to trust and who to fear. The one thing Silver does know is that she must find a way out...
I picked up Reckoning on a whim after reading several of the author's adult crime novels featuring Jessica Daniels. Intrigued by the completely opposite direction he has taken with his first YA novel I settled in not quite sure what to expect. Three hours later I turned the last page and was so pleased I had a review copy of the second book in the series, Renegade, to start!
Imagine if you can, a dystopian fantasy version of the not-too-distant UK. Oil has run out, England and Ireland have been separated into four realms and Scotland has become the 'country who shall not be named'. On reaching the age of sixteen all children must go through something called the Reckoning, a test that is different for everyone who takes it, to determine their usefulness to society and, more importantly, their rank. It's here we meet Silver Blackthorn, named for the silver streak in her hair, her best friend Opie and her family.
Silver is a very determined teenager whose strengths lie in technology, thanks to the illicit trips she pays to the dried out lake near the village where she lives. Full of technology that has been discarded over the twenty five years since the war began Silver teaches herself to put back together and mend things that she finds along with determining how her 'thinkwatch' works, the tech that all children now have and not beyond the realms of possibility in reality. Chosen as a Member, Silver thinks her Reckoning is over and with Opie she can begin to move on but there's a shock in store. Silver becomes the Member Offering for the North and is ripped away from everything she knows in the north to live in the south, at Windsor Castle, as a tribute to King Victor, the charismatic ruler who pulled the country back together again. The only problem is nobody knows what happens to the Offering when this happens as none of them are ever heard from again.
Determined to make the most of her situation and quickly realizing that Victor is nowhere near the beneficent ruler he appears to be when in public Silver has to adapt to another life, one harder than the one she left behind. Thrust into a world of violence, starvation and isolation Silver struggles to survive but meeting Imrin, another Offering, helps her to look beyond the castle and to dream of escape. The castle is a horrifying place, with guards dressed in uniforms made from futuristic fabric hard to find, dungeons that are still very much in use and the Offerings pitted against each other as entertainment for King Victor. Silver knows that she has to get out and so starts to form a plan to do just that.
Reckoning was a nail-biting read and a page turner, you never knew what to expect from one scene to the next and Wilkinson was not afraid to pull the punches. There are some great characters developing here, particularly Silver and a couple of the other Offerings from the girl's side. Apart from Imrin there's only really a couple of other male Offerings that we get to know, Lumin (who Silver works with), Hart (an Offering from Silver's village a few years prior) and Rush, one of the newest Offerings who we meet on the train heading south. It was hard to know who to trust, who was on Silver's side and to be honest I still have my doubts about Imrin but time will tell. The best thing about Reckoning though? That it's set in the UK. It was great to read about what had happened to England and Wales thanks to the raging civil wars and I am definitely intrigued to find out why we can't talk about Scotland...