Book Review: SEEKER, by Arwen Elys Dayton

SEEKER, by Arwen Elys Dayton

Quin, Shinobu and John—three very different young people with three very different destinies that are compelled to intertwine. All three train to be a Seeker, but each for a different reason. Quin seeks to bring about justice and set things right. Shinobu wants to please his father and be near Quin. John has ulterior motives and a promise he needs to keep to someone. The only problem is: None of them have any clue what’s in store for them, and becoming a Seeker isn’t what any of them believe it to be.

Fast-paced, quick action and never a really dull moment can be found in this book. While I wouldn’t necessarily call it a page-turner, you definitely won’t find many moments in which you’re compelled to skim or skip anything, because everything has a purpose and the action just never lets up.

I like the characters, though I do feel Quin acts out of a character sometimes—it’s not enough that it ruins the enjoyment for me.

Where I have a problem with this book, and what keeps it from getting the highest marks from me on star ratings, is the world-building. We start the book off in a barn, training with high-tech, futuristic weapons, but with descriptions of a world that feels like it’s in the 1800s still. Then later, we get descriptions of rustic clothing and the Dreads, who are wearing capes and ‘old world’ style clothing, while everyone lives on an estate with a ‘castle’ type main building. It makes it feel like this is in our past. But then suddenly, a helicopter lands on the property and I find myself feeling really disoriented—are we in modern times or in the past? Quin then is watching a television in the loft, a portable one. Then there’s talk of leaving, but they are riding horses for their estate transportation while someone else drives a car/vehicle onto the estate, and then they talk of a ‘ship’ that flies in the sky where John’s grandfather is, which feels futuristic. Then, in Hong Kong, we have an old-fashioned medical ‘healer’ shop where Quin is training as an apprentice (feels like past), but then there’s this technology of the submersible that goes underwater, takes pictures, comes up and connects to the internet to send the pictures. What time period is this story set in? It never settles down!

Then to make it worse, the story goes back into the past. At one point, all of the main characters are about the same age (around eight years old or so) and the Young Dread is about their age too—but they are in modern times, and she’s in the 1400s? But then later, they are all still the same age, about fifteen, but the three main kids have only lived seven years and the Young Dread has lived literally thousands? Well, okay, eventually, the story explains this, but not until closer to the end, so this all adds to the confusion of not knowing: is this a fantasy story set in a past-like time or a science fiction/fantasy story set in modern or future times? The weapons were hinted at coming from the future, but then nothing else was ever mentioned about that.

It was very confusing. If that had been made more clear to me, so I could get the mental images in my head right, I think I would have liked the story so much better. As it is, I liked the story quite a lot, but it was tough to get into the story, to lose myself in it, when I’m sitting there reading with my forehead creased trying to figure out what time period we’re in.

That brings me to the last part I didn’t care for in the story: The ending. While it does give us some finality to the current situation, there are so many unanswered questions. I want to believe that this wasn’t bad storytelling that did that, but rather the fact those questions will be answered in future stories. Series are great and all, but it’s seeming everyone is writing series now, and I almost wish authors would just writing whole stories, whole books, and just make them all in the same universe, instead of writing a series where there’s no ending or finality and we have no choice but to read the next book, because we don’t have the whole story, or else abandon the series. I think I’m more apt to abandon the series in frustration. I’m not saying don’t do books in a series—just be sure to give the reader some finality, so that they can read a complete story no matter which book they pick up in the series. This doesn’t do that. The book doesn’t really end. If you want the answers to the questions left open, you’ll have to read the next book in the series.

I liked the book and the story idea and concept enough, I will probably read the next book, if it comes out soon enough and I remember it or another series doesn’t come along to pique my interest (see the problem with doing serials?)

There are some dark moments in this book. While I feel the book is geared for the middle-grade fiction reader, it’s a bit too dark and graphic in some areas for all middle-grade readers. And while I do think high-schoolers and young adults and some adults (like me) will really enjoy this book, in some ways, it’s too ‘young’ for that age group. So it doesn’t have a clear, set age appeal. But with the type of books kids are reading these days, perhaps reading about blood, gore, a young boy seeing his mother murdered in a brutal way and seeing a family with children slayed and skewered to the wall with blood all over the killers, or seeing teenagers being used as assassins… you get the idea. It’s a bit dark in some places.

Now that you’ve read all my problems with the book, I realize I can’t tell you the good stuff without giving away spoilers, and I hate to do that. But I do like what happened with the love story part of this book (though that is a minor plot point). The book is told from four points of view, but without repeating any of the scenes. It lets us get closer to each of the main characters, without revealing too much. I found the Dreads fascinating and look forward to learning more about them.

I noticed this book was optioned for a script and movie treatment. It will be interesting to see if that happens. I, for one, would be very interested to see how, with the strangeness of the time setting of the book, how someone else turns this into a movie and visualizes it. I think it could be a great action-adventure film and I would very likely go watch it.

The book is worth picking up. It’s not a super-fast read, but it’s one that you can read easily, and it is paced perfectly to keep you reading. I think you’ll enjoy it if YA is your genre of choice. I certainly did.

 

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