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Countdown by Michelle Rowen


by Michelle Rowen

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Originally Reviewed At:Mother/Gamer/Writer
Rating: 4 out of 5 Controllers
Review Source: NetGalley
Reviewer: Me

Countdown was another fast-paced Science Fiction read for me. Although I read Countdown on the heels of Pawn, I thoroughly enjoyed this far-fetched cat and mouse, creepy android robot book. I managed to finish both novels in a span of one day – which is saying something. Though the plot twists seemed to be a bit nonsensical, I could NOT get enough of the GAME Kira and Rogan were forced to play.

Our main character Kira is thief. Choosing to live her life on the streets rather than in the foster care system after the brutal murder of her parents two years ago, she learns very fast what a pretty smile and quick hands can earn you in life. Until one day when she wakes up and finds herself in a dark room, handcuffed and sitting across from a mysterious boy – and known murderer—Rogan Ellis. Both are now part of a secret game called Countdown. Where the stakes are high and so is the reward if you make it through six levels without being disqualified or eliminated…aka, not dying. To win, Kira must learn to trust her inner “psy” abilities, and also the boy who may or may not have killed A LOT of people, including her family.

Now, the plot reminded me a lot of the sci-fi movie GAMER. Where people could essential control “Sims” and go out into the world and do whatever they wanted. On the other hand, they could also play a multiplayer game called “Slayers”, which would allow them to control prison inmates in chaotic battles. If the inmate won, they received their freedom. Essentially, this is what the game of Countdown is. Except, they aren’t being controlled by people yet the people are able to watch their every move via the chips in their heads. Maybe I’m stretching it, but I could see many parallels between the two. And since I might be one of the rare people who enjoyed GAMER, you can see why I enjoyed Countdown too.

My only criticism of the novel is the AI. I found this to be…well…a bit ridiculous. I started laughing towards the end because I just couldn’t bring myself to suspend my disbelief any longer. At first, I was on board with the artificial intelligence when I thought it was just droids in the game. However, once the other plot twist happened I was constantly *face palming*. LOL. Yes, it’s still kind of funny for me to even think about. Nevertheless, it didn’t stop me from enjoying the overall novel. Though, the last few chapters after the game is over, left me wanting more of just…the game itself.

Overall, Countdown is a solid novel. The first 50-60% of the book is pure awesome. Just remember though that there will be some weird shenanigans towards the last little bit. If you’re looking for an action filled book with great characters and over-the-top science fiction, then I do recommend picking this one up.

( )
  momgamerwriter | Feb 6, 2014 |
I haven't read many dystopian novels that are set within a game. It was really unique and I enjoyed it, however I never really felt that attached to the characters. I didn't really care whether they lived or died. Their romance came on way to fast. It was hard for me to believe they fell in love within a matter of days. I wish we could have seen more background on Kira and Rogan, and then maybe I would have felt more connected to them.

Overall, I enjoyed the book, but it wasn't one of my favorites. It was just the middle of the road for me. ( )
  ConstanceMcCauley | Dec 17, 2013 |
Review courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales

Quick & Dirty: Filled with suspense, mystery, killer robots and just a hint of romance. YA Dystopian and gamer fans will really enjoy this action packed adventure book.


The Review:

Twenty-five years ago a virus hit the earth and it took out 60% of the world’s population. Those that survived moved on because they had no other choice but nothing was quite the same afterwards. People started to abandon cities in hopes of getting away from all the crimes and illnesses, but whether you choose to live in the city or the country, it wasn’t going to be easy. A utopia city called the Colony has risen where it is said you can live a full and healthy life. It is rumored there is a train that will take you there but only the very rich, or someone with connections is able to score a ticket.

Kira Jordan is a thief. Two years ago her family was brutally murdered, and instead of going into foster care, she has taken her chance on the streets. To survive she has learned that with a pretty face and the right smile it is easy to distract someone long enough to steal whatever she wants from them. It’s not an ideal life, but it is all she has. Until one day when she wakes and finds herself locked in an empty room with the infamous Rogan Ellis.

They have entered into a deadly game where if you win, the reward will be greater than you could ever imagine, but if you lose there will be no walking away. If Kira wants to survive she is going to have to trust Rogan even though everything she has heard about him makes her want to run the other way. With the stakes higher than ever and the clock ticking, Rogan and Kira will have to be cunning and resilient to make it out alive.

Kira was an awesome heroine. She is resourceful and shows great intellect when put under pressure. The last few years of her life have been difficult but she never gave up, and while she had to do things she’s not proud of, she always stayed true to who she is. Her drive and determination made it easy to admire and respect her. Overall, I thought that she was a very strong character and I really liked her.

Rogan quickly became one of my favorite book boys. With his bad boy good looks and secretive past, what’s not to like. He has spent the last few years in a detention center for young adults for a horrific crime. He is in no way perfect, but as each layer of his character was peeled away, I found myself totally falling for him. He is brooding and smart, but when his vulnerabilities showed through, I found I could really sympathize with him. As for him and Kira, they have pretty hot chemistry and I really loved watching them interact.

Countdown was full of action and suspense. Once I started the book, I ended up finishing it in one setting because I just couldn’t bring myself to put it down. The idea was original and very intriguing. The characters were fun and engaging. The plot was pretty predictable, but for some reason that didn’t bother me. I would have liked to have seen a more descriptive setting and there were times when things were a little too convenient. But honestly for me, this was a great read. Yes it had its faults, but I just couldn’t bring myself to care about them. I don’t know if it was the mood I was in or what, but this book really captured my attention and stuck with me. I have read a lot of mixed reviews about Countdown so I know there are people who don’t feel the same, but for me this was fantastic book and I would highly recommend it. If you like YA Dystopian novels or you are into gaming, I suggest you give this book a try. I think you will really enjoy it.

Notable Scene:

I didn’t know what I was looking for. Even when I found it, I still wasn’t sure.


It was a bell attached to a sign that read: Please ring bell and the receptionist will be right with you.

Okay, it was something.

I held my breath and rang the bell.

Nothing happened for a moment, and what little hope I had started to fade, but then I heard something. A heavy, metallic sound.

“Kira. Look.” Rogan pointed at the ground.

I looked over the edge of the Dumpster to see that a door in the ground had slid open. I hadn’t even noticed the edges of it before.


I launched myself out of the garbage like somebody possessed and grabbed Rogan’s arm. There was a flight of stairs leading down. I pulled him with me, and we quickly descended into the semidarkness below.


FTC Advisory: Harlequin Teen provided me with a copy of Countdown. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review. ( )
  DarkFaerieTales | Nov 19, 2013 |
Countdown is a fast paced, action oriented read that kept me flipping the pages. This is mostly plot and action driven, and was just what I needed after an emotional whopper of a last book.
Kira is paired with murderer Rogan, who is handsome, mysterious and she has to begin wondering what if there is more to the story, what if he didn't do it, what if he did. Kira's family was murdered in this violent, cruel and chilling dystopian society and she is forced to the street before she ends up fighting alongside Rogan against the countdown, for her life.
I didn't think I would enjoy the romance as much as I did, but it was a nice addition to the action and the story.
While this isn't anything earth shakingly unique in the dystopia genre, it was well written, and the characters had enough depth to them that they didn't seem like accessories to the plot. It all flowed well, and I am glad that I took a chance and requested on netgalley and got around to it because the twists were nice, and I did like the computer aspects that were added into this one.
I thought that the ending was really going to let me down, but it managed to give me what I needed as a wrap up and still fit the story.

Bottom Line: Quick and action packed with romance I enjoyed ( )
  brandileigh2003 | Nov 16, 2013 |
Yes, the game is over. I have to say this one was a let down for me. The levels in the game weren't terrifying to me. I never felt like I was IN the game. It was a poor man's Hunger Games. I never felt an urgency as the clock ticked down because I knew they'd have to continue on for the book to keep going.

I was expecting something fresh and exciting. Dangerous, life threatening games, perhaps dangerous gangs, animals, surviving overnight in a wilderness so harsh no one would expect them to last more than a few hours. That's not what happens. I'm not sure the game, while it was played, lasted more than a day. There was insta love. And I think I can always forgive insta love when you are in a life or death situation and you are constantly in danger and saving each other's lives. But this one was actually thought about. They considered how they felt about each other. So it was still insta love yet carefully thought out. I was really confused with that one.

I knew who was going to die before they did. The plot was somewhat predictable though I did get thrown off course a time or two. The underlying villain and his reason for being that way was very clever. But still I kept feeling the game let me down. And then the ending, I kept waiting for some kind of treachery. It was a good ending and I didn't see the very end coming, but maybe I'm so used to trilogies and cliffhanger endings I just couldn't believe that it was actually going to end without some horrible cliffhanger.

So, yay for no cliffhangers! Yay for a complete ending. Yay for a really strong female character. Yay for a standalone. Pretty good world development. And the not so much- less than stellar games, shallow character development, and a predictable plot.

Don't get me wrong, I read the entire book in almost one sitting. But that was because it was a quick read and found myself skimming some of it. I think plenty of you will like it better than me. I'm just a bit tired of books like this. It wasn't terrible, it wasn't fascinating. It was in the middle and unfortunately it is not memorable. But please remember, that is just my opinion. I've seen a lot of reviewers that loved the chemistry between Kira and Rogan. So please read the reviews on GoodReads before you decide.

I received an e-ARC of this novel from the publisher for review through NetGalley. I was not compensated for my review. The opinions expressed are my own. ( )
  hrose2931 | Oct 4, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0373210906, Paperback)

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 ever more 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. 


(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:00 -0400)

Surviving the murder of her family and months on the streets of a plague-devastated world, Kira Jordan, a low-level psi user, wakes up one morning chained to the notorious Rogan Ellis in a room where their every move is controlled and televised to a vicious audience.… (more)

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