Recruitment: A Dystopian Novel by K.A. Riley is my first book review in an age and the first of its kind here on my author blog. I spent the past year building a book review blog called Action-Packed Book Reviews, and you may have come across it at some point in 2021.
However, since I just don’t have time to read and review books regularly these days, it made more sense to merge that blog with my author website. That said, you can expect between 2 and 4 book reviews per month in addition to my regular content involving author marketing that you can find in the Author Advice Section.
I still wanted to mix things up a bit with book reviews that coincide with both the genre and theme of my own books. And Recruitment: A Dystopian Novel fits the mold.
No, you won’t find elemental magic or much with epic fantasy tropes like sword and sorcery in it.
But you will find tropes like tyrannical governments, lies, and deceit, also found in the Elementals Universe.
So I’m happy to say that if my books pique your interest, Recruitment by K.A. Riley will do so as well.
Imagine, If You Will…
You’re turning six tomorrow. And life has never been better. The late-summer sky is a crystal-clear blue. There are no clouds to be seen for miles, and the humidity most know your region for has dissipated. You couldn’t ask for a better birthday.
Mom and Dad have invited all your friends to celebrate the occasion. And you know your sixteen-year-old brother is about to surprise you with your first bicycle because you overheard your best friend telling their older sister about your big birthday present.
Then the earth quakes. Billows black out the sky. And in the distance, you hear what sounds like distant explosions. Only it’s drawing nearer. Within the hour, the ear-splitting blasts reach your neighborhood. Mom and Dad throw you and your brother into the basement as an explosion tears your home from its foundation. But they were too late to save themselves.
The next day, a group of burly army recruiters take your brother and others between the ages of sixteen and eighteen away in military trucks. They’re conscripted into fighting a notorious invading force that has dubbed themselves as the Eastern Order. And the day you turn of age, they will return and recruit you into their ranks.
But until then, you and the rest of the kids and surviving adults must somehow rebuild society from the rubble the Eastern Order left behind. You vow to avenge your parents’ deaths when your army recruits you.
But what happens when you eventually discover there’s more to this war than meets the eye?
My name is TC Marti, and here is an Action-Packed Book Review.
A Quick Look at Recruitment: A Dystopian Novel
K.A. Riley’s work turned three years old just four days before I wrote this review. As of December 2nd, 2021, it has generated 701 global reviews and holds a solid 4.3 out of 5 stars on Amazon. The book also features an ensemble cast of protagonists told in first-person, present-tense point of view of our main character, Kress.
Recruitment is also part of a trilogy called The Resistance, not to be refused with Tracy Lawson’s Resistance Series. Though the latter serves as one heck of a comp title featuring similar themes. And it’s a series I had a blast reading in January 2021.
K.A. Riley has Recruitment available in four formats including kindle, audio, hardcover, and paperback. Allowing you to enjoy the work regardless of whether you’re cool with today’s popular e-reader format if you’re old school and love the feel only a physical copy can bring.
If you are a fan of The Hunger Games and Divergent, as it says on the sales page, you will love Recruitment: A Dystopian Novel. I have read The Hunger Games in the past and I can see the similarities. Kress isn’t necessarily Katniss Everdeen, but the deadly task(s) she faces with her team will bring you some Hunger Games nostalgia.
What I Liked About Recruitment
For one, I’m a sucker for all things dystopian, especially involving the tyrannical government trope. So it was natural for Recruitment to pique my interest upon seeing it as a recommendation thanks to Amazon’s (sometimes sleazy) algorithms.
For another, I loved the way Kress and the other seven main characters came together. They had their differences, and at times, they were islands. But at the end of the day, they put their differences aside, became a team, and uncovered an inconvenient truth. One that left a few of them with their jaws hanging open.
The character development also impressed me. Kress found herself throughout the novel, while another character became a significant contributor to the group. Three characters went from falling for the soon-to-be-revealed lies to becoming solid team players. And one character reminded me of a teenage Jack Shepherd (Lost), but with far more common sense.
What I Didn’t Like
I found Recruitment to be clunky at times. Some reviewers on Amazon complained it could be “cheesy,” and a few claimed to have found minor plot holes. I didn’t necessarily find plot holes. Though I found many abrupt transitions. Especially before the climax.
I also didn’t feel Riley explained one particular character’s ability well. I’m not going to name-drop the character to avoid spoilers for obvious reasons. But their ability was abrupt, even if their arc was spot on.
Ditto for when Kress reveals her alarming concerns in the pre-climax. It didn’t seem like she needed to spend time convincing three characters (names also withheld) regarding these concerns. They just seemed to go with the flow, which until that point, was unlike any of their personalities.
Would I Recommend Recruitment: A Dystopian Novel?
Overall, given the trope and the fast-paced storytelling, I highly recommend Recruitment to all readers. I breathed a massive sigh of relief when I realized Riley did not need to beat around the bush and overly-explain things. Although they could have been more specific at times, as mentioned in the above section.
Recruitment takes on a futuristic approach and authors feel they need to explain every detail of the surrounding. Riley does not and allows your imagination go to work.
I will be reading Book II, entitled Render. In many trilogies I read, Book II is often the make it or break it book. One recent trilogy I had high hopes for (whose first book I loved) crashed at around the 35% mark. Overall, I often make it to Book III about half the time when I read trilogies, so I’ll soon discover whether The Resistance joins the Book III Club.
Is Recruitment a Comp Title to the Elementals Universe?
Although they are two different genres, I saw many similarities between Recruitment and the first three books in my Elementals of Nordica Series. When it came to the cast of characters in Recruitment, I felt like I was reading about my own main cast in Wind Wielder.
The tropes also remain similar not just to Elementals of Nordica, but also to Chronicles of Rondure. The latter of which is more in-line genre-wise, given its dystopian setting. So if you have read Recruitment, odds are you will like my own work as long as you’re cool with fantasy elements like elemental magic and sword and sorcery.
If you’re not a fan of fantasy, other good comp titles involve The Resistance Series by Tracy Lawson, The Preston Six by Matt Ryan, and the Beyond Trilogy by Kate L. Mary.
Overall, Recruitment is an excellent read for anyone looking for a fast-paced dystopian novel featuring a young adult cast. There are some cool sci-fi concepts involved, such as Kress’s connection with her raven, Render, along with the advanced military training base she’s about to enter.
While the work has its flaws, it could be nothing more than Riley’s minimalist writing style taken to the extreme. And while I’m a fan of minimalism, authors such as myself who engage in the practice run the risk of explaining too little. Something I need to get better at, myself.
If Riley adds just a little more detail to Render, it will be a novel that boasts few, if any, flaws.
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