Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Hunted


Hunted
Rating: 5/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the author

Still reeling from the betrayal and subsequent execution of her best friend, Talia jumps at the chance to be distracted....and see her boyfriend Erik. Talia packs up her bags and heads to Washington DC to help administer the annual Talent Aptitude Tests, which will analyze and identify any children with Talent. Talia finally has a purpose again, but she has to work with Cadence, and there's no love lost between the two. Talia has always known that the Mandatory Testing Law's are controversial, she isn't sure she agree's with them herself, especially now she's seeing up close and personal what happens during the testing, but she's still shocked by the protesters she see's lining the streets. She's even more shocked when she finds out there's a city wide curfew during the testing, it seems that while Penny was a traitor, most people aren't happy a teenager was executed. Talia's misgivings and distrust of the agency and Mac begin to grow, with what Penny showed her, and what she see's happening around her.

 When Erik enlists the help of a friend working in the medical unit, the reason for Talia's seizures is revealed, as well as what the drug is that they're giving her...not to mention a shocking secret of the Agency's. As if that wasn't enough to put a crack in Talia's trust of Mac and the Agency, Mac assigns her a task that will destroy everything she thought she knew. Mac sets Talia, Erik and Cadence up with an extraction team to retrieve a child. A child that is 4 years old. A child that doesn't even have to be tested yet. A child that belongs to a face from her past. When it goes wrong, Talia will have to make a tough decision, one that will take her away from everything she knows and set her on a path of uncertainty, and discovery.

Life altering decisions will be made. Earth shattering secrets will  be revealed. Loyalties will be tested. Enemies will become allies. And a War is about to begin.

The plot thickens. The stakes are raised. And I have never been more shocked the entire way through a book. I'm still processing what I've just finished reading. I mean...wow.

The world building in Hunted is on par with the previous two books. The world of the Dystopian Washington DC is embellished on what we've seen so far, we see the dark underbelly of it, and we get another mini world built on in the form of the Underground. When you start reading the book, or when you go back to it after you've had to force yourself to sleep, you're immediately sucked in to the world, and that's a quality about these books that I love, and is consistent. You get lost in the world, and everything can be pictured so clearly with so few words.

The prose continues to be atmospheric and cinematic. It continues to be concise and is not bogged down with useless information. We learn things as Talia learns them, any background given is kept to the point and doesn't interrupt the flow of the book or the narrative.

The previous book was fast paced, but this book seemed even more so, with so much happening the book. We went from DC to the Underground, to the location of the extractions. There was so much information to process, but it was presented perfectly with great flow from location to location and event to event.

My love Talia grows with each book, when you're reading you feel like you're connected to Talia, we learn things as she learns things, we feel what she feels, and we love her to bits. In Hunted, we watch as Talia loses control of herself and her emotions and how that makes her feel, which I thought was beautifully written, I felt for Talia, and it was realistic in that if I was in her shoes, I feel I'd react the same way. Talia is still the strong character we love, she's just a little bit more flawed which makes her more human and even easier to relate to. We're on this journey with Talia and we're watching her grow and develop and question things. Talia is even more of an amazing character than I first thought, I mean agreeing to look after Alex, after she finds out Donovans his dad? I can honestly say I would not be able to do that.

Erik is still amazing. He's patient with Talia, he's there for her he's perfect. But at the same time, he has very realistic reactions to things, like in one scene when he says he's tired of the mood swings, but then he's still there. He keeps her safe, and his over protectiveness is written perfectly so it comes across as sweet, and funny rather than kind of creepy and scary like so many books that missed the mark with that aspect. I'm excited that Erik's past is revealed a little more, and I'm excited to see more of his past with the introduction of his family.

Donovan. Oh Donovan. Just when I was feeling a little bit sorry for you and thought "hey...you know what..maybe I could like you" you had to go and out douche yourself. I'd suspected for a while that he may be behind her seizures, I just wasn't sure HOW. So ya know..he knows he's the reason and he's not said a word....kind of douchey. But the main reason he's kind of an a-hole, is bigger than that. I get why he hid the kid away, I do. It was very noble and I felt bad towards the end for him. But I just can't get past the fact that he cheated on Talia with Candice, got her pregnant, had a son with her, tried to get back with Talia and was NEVER going to tell her?! Then there's the whole "I love you, I still love you" thing, yet Mac appears to have forced him to date her? I'm curious to see if Donovan will be hard core redeemed, he was working his way there, but this kind of made me hate him again.

The plot definitely thickens. There are so many threads coming together, including threads from the first book, to create an intense and rich plot for this book, and for the final book coming up. Hunted was so brilliantly written, that it's like we're Talia. I'm trying to think how to describe this so bear with the rambling! We don't see how shady some characters are, until Talia does, so we start off loving Donovan, then feeling what Talia feels. We have until this point, felt what Talia felt for Mac. We liked him, thought he was a great guy, but as of last book slightly didn't trust him. Now in this book, as Talia has started to have no trust for Mac, we've started to not trust him either. Along with Talia, we've started to realise that Mac and the Agency may not be what they seem. I can't describe how that makes the experience of reading the book so awesome.

Along with Talia our suspicions have built up, doubts about what we thought we knew are appearing, and for the entire book there's a sense of growing distrust, and you can feel while you're reading that all is not as it seems. This is pretty good indicator of not only how good the writing is, but how invested you become in the books. You're fully immersed in the world. The entire book you're feeling the tension and unease while you're reading, it set me a little on edge, I kept waiting for the bomb to drop, while  being glued to the book.

The bomb did indeed drop. Several of them actually. I love these books  because they're not predictable, and Hunted is no exception. There where so many plot twists that I never saw coming. Yes I said earlier I figured Donovan was the reason for Talia's seizures, I don't view that as a predictable plot twists because I didn't know how he was responsible. That was all part of another huge plot twist that dents Talia's trust hugely. Then we have the kid thing. Then the Penny's alive reveal which is the only one that didn't have me gasping in shock. I'm fairly certain I squealed at a level only dogs could hear. Mac's true colours where revealed and Talia finally realizes who killed her parents among other things.

All these plot twists made for truly explosive reading. You're not expecting them, it just adds to the impact as you turn a page and read another huge plot twist that you didn't see coming. Some questions from the previous books are answered, some threads come together and tie up, but there's many more questions, and there's more threads being added in. You spend the whole book gasping in shock, unable to put it down as the tension mounts and the stakes get higher.

We see more clearly how controlled everything is by the Agency. You can feel revolution in the air. *Do You Hear the People Sing plays*, yes I may have hummed that to myself once or twice at certain appropriate parts. Sue me.

Sophie is one of few authors I know of who can build up the anticipation, and set the scene perfectly for the next installment, without taking away from the storyline of the current book, it's always a well written secondary thing. Believe me when I say Sophie has set up when hell of a finale. The epilogue itself built up so much anticipation I can't even handle it.

The books have, for me, journeyed from a kind of cute romance with some action thrown in, to a mystery with a smidge of romance and building intrigue, into the third book which for me was a book where the action and the intrigue, and the plot are front and centre, and the romance is secondary, but still strong and enjoyable. The books have gotten more serious as it goes on, and the war is pretty much upon them. And ya  know...I'm still reeling from what we discovered in Hunted about the Agency. I mean this is the first Dystopian book that is actually rivaling Hunger Games in the genre in my opinion.

It's just so perfect, and each book just get's better and better as we follow the over arching storyline, we learn more about the characters, we find out more about what's going on, as we follow the path to the end. I can guarantee that no-one who's read all the books has the same opinion of certain characters *coughMaccoughDonovancough* as they did in the beginning. I can't stress enough how much I love that our opinion of the characters changes as Talia's does.

I swear to God Sophie has implanted some sort of mind melding technology in her books so that you are one with Talia. I feel like I've not read Hunted. I feel like I've lived it. I'm simultaneously excited for the final book, but not because you know...it's the end. We're going on a real journey here and Hunted was the climax of that journey.

Hunted is page turning, gripping, on the edge of your seat drama. Shocking revelations abound, and characters appear in totally different light. Questions are answered, but more appear, and the threads of the plot are coming together into an intense spiders web of intrigue, mystery, action, romance, and war. You can't tell me you didn't read this book and get way too emotionally invested in the characters!

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