Review: Seeker by Arwen Elys Dayton

Review: Seeker by Arwen Elys DaytonSeeker by Arwen Elys Dayton
Series: Seeker #1
Published by Random House Children's Books on February 10, 2015
Pages: 448
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Quin Kincaid has been put through years of brutal training for what she thinks is the noble purpose of becoming a revered ‘Seeker’.

Only when it’s too late does she discover she will be using her new-found knowledge and training to become an assassin. Quin's new role will take her around the globe, from a remote estate in Scotland to a bustling, futuristic Hong Kong where the past she thought she had escaped will finally catch up with her.

I received this book from Delacorte Books for Young Readers in exchange for an honest review.

I’ve been sitting on this review for several weeks because I haven’t been able to figure out whether I like this book. What a way to open a review, I know. I know plenty of seasoned reviewers who gave this book a DNF. I know others who gave it 5 stars. I know others still who are floating somewhere in the middle. I have to wonder if books like these are the best because they spur the most discussion. Here’s the bottom line for me: the book is intriguing and infuriating.

The premise of this complicated story is that Seekers are supposed to have the ability to do good in the world, right wrongs, and bring justice to those who deserve it. Somehow, they’ve become corrupted and are now nothing but assassins for hire. The new inductees don’t realize this until it’s too late. They have these stones called athames (ath-uh-mays) that allow them to tear open space and travel through that tear to a place called There, where they split open space again and walk out at their intended destination. This idea is interesting because it’s not a traditional take on the space-time continuum. I’m not sure about the physics of it, but it’s fiction, so I was able to suspend my disbelief a little.

The setting of Seeker is all over the place. At first, it’s set in a secluded area of Scotland. Then it takes us to Shanghai. There’s a little London thrown in there too. I think the Scotland setting feels unrealistic. It’s a convention that I see often in YA fantasy. I got more of a medieval feeling from the Scotland scenes than anything else. I didn’t realize they were in a modern setting until later. So that was problematic. But it wasn’t something that infuriated me.

The characters infuriated me. Dayton’s way of creating conflict is through creating stubborn characters who don’t listen to anything anyone has to say. John and Quin are good examples to use here. They supposedly love each other. But when John is dealt a grave injustice, Quin doesn’t listen to him. He tells her, “Teach me to use the athame. We can choose how we use it. We can choose our destiny.” She thinks the thing is evil and that anyone who uses it is evil and refuses to think of it another way. This ruins their relationship and sends John into pseudo-villainhood. Then at the end, Quin is given another athame and is suddenly like, “OMG. I can CHOOSE how I want to use it! It doesn’t have to be used for evil!” John was only trying to tell her this for the entire book. If I could have flung the book across the room, I would have. This is one bad thing about having a Kindle. Here’s my problem. Dayton spends this time setting John up to be a villain when really, he’s just frustrated that no one will listen to him. I felt bad for him. He wants what is rightfully his and not even the woman he loves will listen. This single moment makes me hover between 2.5 and 3 stars.

I only liked Maud, the young Dread, 100 percent. She is a complex character who embodies the idea of what a moral gray area is. Though I think Dayton tries to make this a common thread with her other characters, I do not think she was successful. Maud stops, thinks, evaluates, then acts. Everyone else is impulsive. Yes, I understand that sometimes you need to be impulsive in the moment, but sometimes, you don’t ALWAYS have to act right away.

In the end, I’m not sure whether I can recommend this book. Some people DNF’d. Others loved it. I fall somewhere in the middle. There are too many settings, too many story lines, and not nearly enough explanation.

two-half-stars

© 2015 – 2016, Jessica Workman Holland. All rights reserved.

  • Great review. I kind of had to force myself to finish this book. I agree that the setting was just all over the place. And there were way too many questions about everything. While I liked Maud, I STILL have no clue what a Dread is or what their place is. Usually I will read the second book in a series just to see if it gets better and to see what happens. But I have no need to finish this series.

  • It’s so frustrating, isn’t it? I feel like a should read Traveler, but I really have no desire for it, which is unfortunate because the story does have potential.