Friday, July 25, 2014

Blog Tour: Drowned (Drowned #1) by Nichola Riley @cynbalog @HarlequinTEEN @ladyreaderstuf

Title: DROWNED Author: Nichola Reilly Release Date: June 24, 2014 Pages: 304 Find it: Amazon || Goodreads Genre: Fiction | YA | Fantasy

Coe is one of the few remaining teenagers on the island of Tides. Deformed and weak, she is constantly reminded that in a world where dry land dwindles at every high tide, she is not welcome. The only bright spot in her harsh and difficult life is the strong, capable Tiam—but love has long ago been forgotten by her society. The only priority is survival. Until the day their King falls ill, leaving no male heir to take his place. Unrest grows, and for reasons Coe cannot comprehend, she is invited into the privileged circle of royal aides. She soon learns that the dying royal is keeping a secret that will change their world forever. Is there an escape from the horrific nightmare that their island home has become? Coe must race to find the answers and save the people she cares about, before their world and everything they know is lost to the waters. 

The Cover Contessa's Review:
I was sent this book early by the author to read and give an honest review. Receiving the book for free has in no way altered my opinion or review.

I was drawn to this book as soon as I saw the cover. I had no idea what it was about, but I knew I would have to read it just based on that. It's quite breathtaking and really captures the mood of the story once you read and understand the elements that are presented.

I'm a big fan of dystopia. I love how authors can shape their worlds from what they know and make it into something totally different and unique. Reilly certainly does this with her world. Who would have though of a world that is almost always covered by water with a population that is constantly trying to avoid it to stay alive? It's a unique idea that will definitely drew me in.

Coe is the MC of the story. When I first started reading, I couldn't quite make out how old she was. I knew this was a YA book, but age ranges tend to be broad with this genre depending on the maturity level of the character. Turns out she was much older than I originally thought. I expected her to be more mature for her age, but she didn't come across that way to me. Overall I liked her character. She has many great qualities: she's kind, caring, and above all loyal. All qualities that are important in a story such as this. She did possess some of the teen angst we tend to see in YA. It did not put me off, which was a plus because sometimes such angst makes me want to cringe. I think it was just the right amount. And I loved that Reilly made the character a bit self-loathing. It went along with the total devastation of the world in which she was living. I also loved the touch of the disability (which I won't disclose as it's better if you read it for yourself). Coe has had to adjust so she can stay 'afloat' in her world. It made the character much more real for me.

I liked Tiam's character but in all honesty can not picture him in my head. I would have liked a bit more description of how he looked. I do like how protective he is over Coe. You get the feeling that he would put himself on the line for her life no matter what. Partly because her father asked him too and partly because that's just the kind of guy he is. I did get the feeling that he was a bit taken with himself, thinking he was better than others (though I don't know if this what the author intended). Coe tells us he's handsome and strong, and that everyone likes him. But when it comes down to it, it seems he's not as loved as she had once thought. 

The secondary characters certainly were also very interesting. The princess with her tower and her fancy clothing. The King who rules over all the people is questionable. And those who were asked by Coe's father to watch over her turn out to be more enemy than friend. It makes for a great mix of personalities and interesting interactions with the characters.

I really enjoyed Nichola's writing. It's easy to read and flows nicely. She has a good way with description for the most part, although I do think her descriptions of some of her characters could have been better. But I can picture the world in my head, surrounded by water that continuously rises and recedes with the tide. The world building is interesting. I will say that I would love a bit more background, although I understand that it is part of the mystery the author is trying to build. I can totally picture a world taken over by water because of climate change. It addresses something key in our current society, which makes it more realistic, as if it could happen tomorrow so we need to be prepared.

The book was certainly a page turner for me (as noted by the fact that I finished it in three days with all those interruptions of life). I didn't find myself bored. I will say that Rielly addressed certain things more than once and it made me feel like I was going in circles at times. As if the main character just could not break out of her rut to get to the nitty gritty of what she needed to learn. I like to have an idea of what's really going on in a book by about half way through, but that didn't happen for me until about three quarters of the way through and then I felt like the ending was a bit rushed because of it. I was also taken aback by the fantastical element that is introduced. While I kind of had a feeling something like it might happen, when it did, it really wasn't addressed well in my opinion. I feel like it should have been more of a big deal, and that emotion did not come across to me (from either the main character or the secondary ones who knew/found out). I like that it was included, I just wish there was more information and character realization centered on it when it did.

Overall the story is filled with action, emotion, romance, and fear. I am definitely intrigued to see where Rielly takes the next book, especially with how this one ended. I think readers of Kagawa and Meadows will like this post-apocolyptic fantastical world.
I write things on the sand so I won't forget them. Things I like. Darkness. Dreams. Clam. Buck Kettlefish. Things I want. A warm dry place. A long night of sound sleep. I watch the waves come and erase the words from the shore. Erased from existence. From possibility. It's almost as if the waves are taunting me. For thousands of tides I am sure people thought about how and when the world would end. Maybe they wondered whether it would happen while they were alive, or if their children, grandchildren, or maybe even their great-greatgreat-great-grandchildren would be the unlucky ones to be there when the world crashed down around them. But I don't have to wonder. I know it is going to happen soon, and maybe in my lifetime. Every morning I wonder if I will see the sunset. Every breeze is like death breathing down my back. The sun burns like fire among black smokelike clouds on the horizon, making my eyes squint and burn. High tide is approaching, the waves slowly coming closer. With every breath, every heartbeat, they rise a little more. Soon almost everything will be underwater. I stand and shake the sand out of my mat, then roll it up and affix it to my knapsack. I've gotten pretty good at doing all these things one-handed. My clothes are wet, and my lips taste like salt. I'm not sure why I'm yawning because I had a pretty good spell of sleep. Nearly half a tide. Half a tide where, at least in my mind, I was somewhere warm and dry, somewhere that didn't smell like crap or rotting fish. I plod along with the others, away from the steadily rising waters. It's chilly but at least my tunic is only slightly damp; it doesn't stick to my skin. Nothing is ever dry here. It's either sopping wet or damp, and damp is a blessing. It's time once again for formation. We all know the tides. We must, or we'd pay for our ignorance with our lives. It's time for all of us, all 496 of us, to trudge to the platform that stands maybe sixty of my feet above the ground, at the center of the island. At least, at last total, there were 496 of us. I don't like to count because our numbers are constantly falling. We all know this, which is probably why nobody looks at or speaks to anyone else. Better not to get too familiar. When someone disappears, we all assume the worst. Because the worst is usual. The only person who does look at me is Mutter. His face is dark and leathery, and his beard is scraggly and foul, greenish-gray, filled with old, dead things. He has his own scribbler scars, but at least he has all his limbs. He is useful. He sneers at me, disgusted. "Waste of space," he hisses as I find my spot on the platform. "Scribbler Bait." I wipe away the sand with my bare foot. The number two is scratched there. Number two is my spot, for now. It's near the dry center of the circular formation, where things are safer. There are 496 circles arranged around it, spiraling out from the center. The circles are small; there's barely enough room to stand. There used to be thousands of circles, one for every person on the island. But the only thing constant about the island we call Tides is change. Children get the central spots. When I reach my sixteenth Soft Season, when I am an adult, I will be given a new spot based on the importance of the job I am given. Mutter is right, though. I don't have any special skills, and my deformity makes it difficult for me to pull in the nets or do the things fishermen do. I'd barely make a good scavenger, the lowest of the low. People call them Scribbler Bait. "I saw a scribbler on the platform last night," Xilia whispers to no one in particular. She is a scavenger, too, and quite mad. But many of those who occupy spaces on the outer edge of the formation are crazy, because they brush with death every time the tide comes in. And nobody can deny that the scribblers have been getting braver. That's not the name we always had for them. When I was young they were called spearfish, because they'd often spear fishermen as they brought in the nets. But then they started coming onto the sand when the tides receded, sunning themselves. They'll attack us on land, ripping through our flesh with their spear-shaped noses, then feasting on our blood. They're getting smarter, too, because after a while they began burrowing under the sand, hiding from us, and springing out whenever a human came too close. They make long, winding paths in the sand with their sinewy black bodies—like scribbles, my father had said. My father started calling them scribblers, and everyone followed him, as they usually did. I've never seen a scribbler on the platform before. The thought makes me shudder. The platform, however small and inadequate, is our safety. But I know our safety is eroding. It has always been so. A thousand tides ago, the platform was twice the size it is now at high tide. There was room for twice as many people. Now we are under five hundred. I know this because there are fewer than five hundred spaces. The largest number that's still visible, though it is nearly half eaten by the tides, is 496. At least, that was the number the last time I had the energy to look. I sigh and throw my things down on my spot. The spot is so comfortable and familiar to me that I feel as if the imprint on the stone conforms perfectly to my feet. Sweat drips from my chin. My eyes sting from the glare reflecting off the white concrete. Little Fern, who is seven, comes hopscotching up to space number one, scrawny as a sprig of seaweed, two white-blond braids framing her sweet smile. She has a little stick in her hand, something she's never without. When she steps next to me, she touches the stick to my elbow. "Your wish is granted," she says with great flourish. If only. If only the stories I told her about fairies were true. There are so many things to wish for. I was space number one until Fern turned five, when we all moved over a space to make room for her. Before then, she occupied the same spot as her mother, who was a fisherman before she died many tides ago. They used to give mothers spaces in the center of the formation when they had children, but then things became so dire that some women had babies just to get a better spot. I was told Tiam's mother had, and my mother had, though I can't remember ever squeezing next to her on her spot. Two babies in a season was a virtual baby boom. So they put an end to that practice after I was born. Now nobody has children. It just means more people. And there are already too many people. After all, when a baby is born, it just means that when that child turns five, we'll all have to move one space to the left. The person at the very end of the spiral is out of luck. Space is something people have been known to kill for. I'm grateful for Fern, though. She is the only one who still smiles at me. As for the others, we are not friends. We do not trust or like anyone, even our own family members—if we have any of them left, and most of us don't. We all know what is coming, and we've all lost enough to know that caring for another person doesn't make things easier. Which means I have a big problem. "Hey, Coe." Just like part of the formation washes away in every tide, part of me is lost every time I hear his voice. "Hi, Tiam," I say, staring at the sandy ground. Looking up at him, at those liquid sapphire eyes, will just make the pain worse. Besides, I already have every inch of his face memorized. Him? If I hadn't been required to assume the space next to him for the past ten thousand tides, if there weren't slightly under five hundred of us, I doubt he'd know my name. Fern waves her wand some more, granting wishes to the air. I wonder how obvious it is that most of the wishes I have in my head involve Tiam. It's not that I want to wish about him. It just happens. Tiam drops his stuff in space number three. For as long as I can remember, he has been beside me. When I was young he used to hold my hand to keep me from being scared. He is never scared. I move as far away from him as I possibly can, which isn't far enough. The spaces are only maybe two of my feet in diameter, so now that we are older, we rub shoulders. Even though I try to wash up every day in a tide pool, I know he can smell me. I have the luck of having the job that makes me reek a hundred times worse than the normal, forgettable stench that most of us carry. Mine seems to bury itself deep under my skin. No matter how much I bathe, it never completely goes away. If he does smell me, though, he never lets on. In twenty tides or so he will reach adulthood, and I'm sure he will have a good spot in the formation. A spot for the most valuable people. He is smart enough to be a medic, strong enough to be a builder, brave enough to be an explorer. He is everything I am not. Tiam always comes to the formation at the last moment. I think it's his way of laughing at nature, while the rest of us cower before it. He says, to no one in particular, "So, what is the news?" I know that isn't directed at me. I spend most of my free time alone, so I don't ever hear any news. But formation is the time to catch up on the latest gossip. Burbur, in space four, who is one of the most respected royal servants, says that she heard the king coughing in his sleep while making her normal rounds in the palace. Tiam raises an eyebrow, and everyone murmurs, "Ah, really?" Finn, a fisherman, whispers that the food brought in during this morning's harvest was "pitiful," and people shake their heads and say, "Is that so?" This goes on for a moment as I wonder whether or not to submit the only piece of information I have gleaned in the past hundred tides. Finally I clear my throat. Tiam and ...
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Nichola Reilly is Cyn Balog’s post-apocalyptic fantasy-writing alter-ego.  The first book in her series, DROWNED, will be releasing from Harlequin TEEN sometime in 2014, followed by a sequel, BURIED, in 2015.

About Cyn Balog: Cyn Balog is a normal, everyday Jersey Girl who always believed magical things can happen to us when we least expect them.  She is author of young adult paranormal novels; FAIRY TALE (2009), SLEEPLESS (2010), STARSTRUCK (2011), TOUCHED (2012), and her most recent release: DEAD RIVER (2013).e.  She lives outside Allentown, Pennsylvania with her husband and daughters.She also writes under the pen name Nichola Reilly Nichola Reilly is Cyn Balog’s post-apocalyptic fantasy-writing alter-ego. The first book in her series, DROWNED, will be releasing from Harlequin TEEN sometime in 2014, followed by a sequel, BURIED, in 2015.
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