By: Melanie | September 25, 2013 | (24) Comments

Review: Coutdown by Michelle RowenCountdown by Michelle Rowen
Publisher: HarlequinTeen
Release Date: October 1, 2013
Genres: Dystopia, Romance, YA
Pages: 336
Source: Received in exchange for review
Goodreads | Purchase

3 seconds left to live. Once the countdown starts, it cannot be stopped.

2 pawns thrown into a brutal underground reality game.

Kira Jordan survived her family's murder and months on plague-devastated city streets with hard-won savvy and a low-level psi ability. She figures she can handle anything. Until she wakes up in a barren room, chained next to the notorious Rogan Ellis.

1 reason Kira will never, ever trust Rogan. Even though both their lives depend on it.

Their every move is controlled and televised for a vicious exclusive audience. And as Kira's psi skill unexpectedly grows and Rogan's secrets prove evermore deadly, Kira's only chance of survival is to risk trusting him as much as her instincts. Even if that means running head-on into the one trap she can't escape.


My Review

“Time’s ticking.”
“Isn’t it always?”

Countdown promised a lot. However it did not deliver as much. I feel like I’m slowly falling into a reviewing slump (therefore sorry for my lame review) so I think this review will be more effective in point form. And here we go…

1. The world building was narrow. I truly value the amount of world building in dystopian novels; it’s probably one of the most important elements in a dystopian novel. Hence immediately, my view on Countdown began to worsen as I found it awfully hard to visualise Michelle Rowen’s world. I do believe this is a standalone which just strengthens my point in saying that Countdown needed more of a back story, of how the society grew to what it is.Β  The lack of knowledge of the world I was reading about just made me feel detached from the characters and even agitated. Like what other psi abilities were there? How did they come to exist? Why is there the divide of the rich and the poor? And so on and so forth.

2. The characters were typical. Kira, the main character was actually a decent one, not whiny and was quite fierce; she soon learns that she has psi abilities. However the main problem was that I could not connect with her at all. I’m not sure if it’s just me as I don’t seem to be connecting with anything of the late or the actual book. Kira also doesn’t have much consistency in her personality. One minute she’s all sceptical the next minute she doesn’t have a care in the world. Rogan was no better, he was actually worse. Far worse. Rogan: mysterious, humorous, ‘good looking’, badass, ‘romantic. Yeah… no. It’s happened multiple of times and I am utterly fed up with character clichΓ©s.

3. The romance was like a switch. On and off. On and off. I believe you, I don’t. Make up your mind Kira! I do like the fact that there is the never ending theme of trust and faith in Countdown however taking it to the extremes in romance was a bad idea. The romance wasn’t necessarily instant but it was just as cheesy and inconsistent as ever.

4. As original as paper. I’d be shocked to ever come across someone who has never read The Hunger Games. Countdown felt like a copy of The Hunger Games, just changing the names and setting and adding some psi ability there. I am not a fan of comparing books but the similarities between these two was literally glaring at me.

All in all, I wouldn’t say that I’d recommend this to anyone. While I loved the concept of The Game, the characters, originality, romance (which was a bit dominating) and world building was poorly executed.

Β ~Thank you HarlequinTeen for sending me this copy!~

2 Stars
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Owner (and crazy nut) at YA Midnight Reads
Melanie is one of the totally fabulous bloggers at YA Midnight Reads. She's a 16 year old student from Melbourne, Australia. She is normally found binge watching TV series, reading , blogging, procrastinating or fangirling about how Percabeth is the best ship ever. She's also a lover of caps lock and uses it excessively.

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24 Responses to Review: Coutdown by Michelle Rowen

  1. Tanja says:

    Well did sound to got to be true. Anyhow lately all dystopain books have that problems that they do get some interesting idea of the story but it all ends up with same old characters, annoying romance and etc. This one seems to have nothing new. Sorry it disappointed you but great review πŸ™‚
    Tanja recently posted…Waiting On Wednesday (#62)My Profile

  2. Thanks for the honest review Mel, I have this one to read soon and good to come in with adjusted expectations. I think you need an awesome book to knock your reading slump away! I had that a few months ago, having read so many cliche YA paranormals I just had enough lol.
    Jeann @ Happy Indulgence recently posted…Reboot by Amy Tintera Review: Humans reboot as perfect soldiersMy Profile

  3. Amelia says:

    Oh it’s such a pity that this did not work out for you as it could’ve but it really does sound like The Hunger Games! Not sure if I want to read this then if it’s exactly like THG and as original as paper…Fabulous review πŸ™‚

  4. Emily says:

    EEP. I read this too, and I certainly felt the same way over several points of the novel. While not the biggest fan of The Hunger Games, I think it had a lot of ideas taken from it >< And I think the world-building was unsatisfying as well. While it has a good premise, it was inconclusive and was only dealt with on a rather superficial level if I may say so, so that was the biggest disappointment for me. World-building is normally my favourite part of Dystopian novels, but this one just fell flat for me.
    Great review as always though, Melanie! <3
    Emily recently posted…Exam Hiatus!My Profile

  5. Oh, that’s such a shame that the world-building is lacking, Melanie. I’d had some very high hopes for this one. I think that that often is what makes or breaks a story, and it’s a shame to hear it was the downfall. Thanks for your honest review though, doll! πŸ™‚

  6. In books like this, world-building is such a must for me. It’s a shame that you couldn’t really connect with the main character either. And a constantly changing romance? Sounds a little frustrating! I’m glad that I wasn’t tempted to download this one in the end. Thanks for the helpful review, Melanie!
    Sam @ Realm of Fiction recently posted…The Killing Woods Blog Tour: 1st Chapter + Giveaway!My Profile

  7. Celine says:

    Awh, another diappointment. It sounds like a cheap rip-off :\ Oh well, I guess it’s a book I can take off my massive TBR list.

    It also sounds like it’s time to reread Pivot Point, haha. Wouldn’t want you to get in a slump!
    Celine recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday #8My Profile

  8. Sorry you didn’t like this one. It does sound a lot like the Hunger Games, but I haven’t really read much dystopia besides that. It just never really screams “READ ME” haha
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  9. I don’t get it. This was an adult project first and she actually bothered to rewrite it and adapt it to be YA. WHY, if it isn’t worth the trouble? And why would the publisher support such a feat? She is a decent writer, and a fairly versatile one, surely she could have done better.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
    Maja (The Nocturnal Library) recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday: Bitter SpiritsMy Profile

  10. Giselle says:

    I had a bad feeling about this one and I guess I wasn’t too far off with my instinct. Everything told me that this was going to be TYPICAL and same old same old. Dunno why. Guess the blurb/cover doesn’t particularly scream originality and epic read to me. And YES just the blurb sounded like the Hunger Games!! But anyways, crappy world building like that makes me not really care about the condition of the dystopian in the first place. I need to believe and know how it got to that point. I love the ones that are actually plausible for a future of earth you know. Otherwise it’s boring to me. And what is up with the hot/cold romances? I rarely am able to stand them. It’s a shame though you seem to not be having the best of luck with books lately πŸ™
    Giselle recently posted…Review: Unbreakable by Kami GarciaMy Profile

  11. Oh noes! I was kinda looking forward to this one. D:
    I need world building in dystopian books, so that would definitely be an issue for me. I know for a fact that the romance would piss me off. I hate hot/cold relationships. Either hate to love or a slow burn kind for me, please! And I despise cheesy romance!
    I’m not sure I want to read this one anymore. I really liked Michelle’s adult series Nightshade, but I didn’t like Dark Kiss much at all. At the very least it’s getting pushed to the bottom of the pile!
    Jessi @ Auntie Spinelli Reads recently posted…Books I Didn’t Finish: September 2013My Profile

  12. It does sound like your typical Hunger Games ripoff… Have you read The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau? You shouldn’t, because this book sounds almost exactly like it (and 20 other books trying to make a buck off of Suzanne Collins). Plus I can’t stand on-off wishy-washy romance.
    We’re All Mad Here recently posted…WWW WednesdaysMy Profile

  13. Oooh, Hot/cold romances and unoriginal plot equals not a fun time. I’ll probably stay away from this one because I’m not really interested in Hunger Games knockoffs, which there seem to be a lot drifting out there! Thanks for the honest review πŸ˜€
    Becca @ Nawanda Files recently posted…TV Pilots in Review: Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.My Profile

  14. Candace says:

    You might know this already, but I’ve been told this was originally wrote and published before The Hunger Games. I thought I’d mention that because I’ve heard some go off about her being a copy cat and while I didn’t get that from your review I wasn’t sure if that’s what you were thinking.
    I haven’t had a strong urge to read this one, it seems like most reviews are just so-so. I’m sorry you’ve had some bad books lately though!
    Candace recently posted…Young Adult Book Review~ Confessions: The Private School Murders by James Patterson and Maxine PaetroMy Profile

  15. So glad I didn’t request this one, though I was really keen to! Ha, yes, COUNTDOWN doesn’t have a very original-sounding plot, but I guess I hoped that Michelle Rowen would’ve come up with a big spin on the “fight to the death in a game” genre, but alas. (THG seems to be making all these cliche trends pop up!)

    As I’m a big fan of world building in all kinds of books — though mainly dystopian, like you, and fantasy — I think it’s amazing you managed to push through nearly 350 pages of scruffy world building! I think that the history of dystopian society is what is sorely lacking from books these days. Even THG, which I loved, didn’t have much of a history, but it had other aspects that made up for it. Meh.

    Oh my gosh, characters with mood swings are one of the WORST. I read another book that had a character JUST like Kira, and it annoyed the hell out of me. One minute she was this kind, goody-goody girl, and the next, she turned into a bitchy python. And seriously — what’s up with the “mysterious” bad boy trend? Mysterious people are the ones our parents taught us to stay away from, because we know nothing good can come from THAT. So, ew for the stereotype characters.

    I can say with certainty that I won’t be checking this one out. I liked how it sounded as well, but I think it’d be a waste of time and money if I were to read it. Thanks for such a helpful review though!
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  16. Aww, and this sounded like such an interesting read D: The characters and the world building sounds really disappointing, and the romance sounds like something that’ll probably annoy me. Those on and off romances really bother me -___- And, eek – HG copy? *covers eyes* I was really looking forward to this one, but now… Meh. Thanks for the honest review!

    Chri @ Fathomless
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  17. I agree that this book was completely plot-driven, which isn’t usually my favorite kind of book. But once I just adjusted to the idea that was what I was reading, I enjoyed it well enough!

    Jen @ YA Romantics
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