Publisher: Scholastic Press
Published: April 2015
Genre: young adult, science fiction, romance
History has a way of repeating itself. In the Sunken City that was once Paris, all who oppose the new revolution are being put to the blade. Except for those who disappear from their prison cells, a red-tipped rook feather left in their place. Is the mysterious Red Rook a savior of the innocent or a criminal?
Meanwhile, across the sea in the Commonwealth, Sophia Bellamy’s arranged marriage to the wealthy René Hasard is the last chance to save her family from ruin. But when the search for the Red Rook comes straight to her doorstep, Sophia discovers that her fiancé is not all he seems. Which is only fair, because neither is she.
As the Red Rook grows bolder and the stakes grow higher, Sophia and René find themselves locked in a tantalizing game of cat and mouse.
The French Revolution meets The Scarlet Pimpernel in this daring, futuristic adventure. Technology is banned, and for a good reason: polar shifts caused technology to malfunction and satellites to fall from the sky, effectively ruining the lives of the Ancients. To adapt to a new way of living, the surviving humans vowed to never use machines again. Race forward a couple centuries, and this new regime works a step further to punish dissenters. The Sunken City, once Paris, is filled with “criminals” locked away in the Tombs. One vigilante, the Red Rook, saves these unjustly imprisoned citizens and leaves behind a rook feather tipped in red. But soon the Red Rook’s nighttime rescues come knocking on Sophia Bellamy’s door, bringing danger, high stakes, split-second decisions, spies, double agents, and one René Hasard.
This feels like historical fiction thanks to the French Revolution atmosphere (rich versus poor, unjust law, and the philosophy that religion should be dropped for chance or Fate), but very clearly set in the future (the characters uncover shiny plastic discs (CDs), cross-shaped handles with buttons (Nintendo game controls), and space debris (NASA)). We, today in 2015, are considered the Ancients, the population intensely connected to and dependent on technology to function day to day. I loved reading Cameron’s Author’s Note, all the “what ifs” meeting “history repeats itself.” Seriously, when you’re done reading this book, you’ll begin to wonder, too…
While I found the world at first difficult to wrap my brain around, I was really into the characters and their individual stories. Especially when I was trying to figure out who was on what side and double-crossing whom, and seeing what was happening to one person in this ten-minute time frame while something else was happening to another (the last 150 pages, for example!). This was probably the most intricately plotted book I’ve read this year, and now I’m very curious to see what The Scarlet Pimpernel is like!
Sophia is definitely a girl you want on your side. She’s daring and compassionate and wicked intelligent. Her steamy scenes with René were fantastic, too, though it took me much longer to like him the way Sophia did. Must’ve been that skepticism and inability to trust anyone I experienced while reading.
Read this when you’re mentally prepared for a thriller, for espionage, for a book so detailed you can devote hours to it just following the strings. I was not prepared for what this turned out to be! I think, with another reread, I may bump my rating up to 4 or 5 stars. In the meantime, check out Lindsey @ Bring My Books‘s post (especially if you’ve read Cameron’s other books) and Morgan @ Gone With the Words‘s post (especially if you want to look at her character casting)!