Monday, September 1, 2014

Book Review: Winterkill by Kate A. Boorman

Title: Winterkill (Winterkill #1)
Author: Kate A. Boorman
Publication Date: September 9, 2014
Publisher: Amulet Books
Pages: 319
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I received this book as an ARC via 
Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Emmeline knows she’s not supposed to explore the woods outside her settlement. The enemy that wiped out half her people lurks there, attacking at night and keeping them isolated in an unfamiliar land with merciless winters. Living with the shame of her grandmother’s insubordination, Emmeline has learned to keep her head down and her quick tongue silent.

When the settlement leader asks for her hand in marriage, it’s an opportunity for Emmeline to wash the family slate clean—even if she has eyes for another. But before she’s forced into an impossible decision, her dreams urge her into the woods, where she uncovers a path she can’t help but follow. The trail leads to a secret that someone in the village will kill to protect. Her grandmother followed the same path and paid the price. If Emmeline isn’t careful, she will be next.
When I first saw this book one thing came to my mind: The Village. I think this is an obvious conclusion to draw from the description and I'm clearly not the only one to go there. Coming out of this reading experience (and it really is an experience), however, this book was so much more than what I'd expected.

Winterkill is about Emmeline as she approaches her sixteenth birthday. She is thrown off guard when she receives a proposal from an unlikely suitor at the same time that she finds herself falling in love with someone else. The love triangle, while technically there, did not feel like much of a "love" triangle at all and was tactfully handled.

The characters in this book were very well developed - especially that of Brother Stockham, the settlement's leader. I found him to be, at first, not that bad. I honestly couldn't understand what Emmeline disliked so much about him. It wasn't until much later (after the onion of his true self started revealing itself) that I found myself truly repulsed. Emmeline herself was an enjoyable protagonist. It was easy to sympathize with her need to discover more of the world beyond what she has always known.

The world building in this book is kind of a multi-faceted issue. What the author shares of the world is amazing. I could fully envision the wall and the woods beyond. Everything about the settlement made me feel like I was there. My problem with the world the author lays out is that there's not enough backstory for my liking. There is no way to know whether this story is set in the future or the past, although, maybe that was intentional. It certainly does add to the mystery surrounding the settlement and its history. While I wasn't sure about the strange, not-quite-placeable dialogue at first, it really did end up adding a lot of authenticity to the story and made me feel even more immersed.

Now my favorite: The plot of Winterkill is outstanding and it really made the story for me! I am all about a plot driven story. I was afraid right along with the rest of the settlement when I was supposed to be afraid and excited when I was supposed to be excited. While the beginning was a little slow, once Emmeline started venturing beyond the walls and into the woods, this book was really, REALLY hard to put down. And I really had to put it down because it was the first week back at my university!

Winterkill is The Village meets The Forest of Hands and Teeth while still being entirely original. The author has done an amazing thing here and I really cannot recommend this book enough!