Tuesday, December 31, 2013


HALO by Frankie Rose (previously named Rashka) -4 STARS 

She has no name. 
She has her knives; her training; her halo. 
The first and second give her the tools and the skill to defeat the opponents she is pitched against each month. The third frees her from pain and fear. From any kind of emotion at all. Everything is as it should be. Everything is as it should be, until… 
When a newly-named Kit escapes the Sanctuary after killing her best friend, the last thing she needs is another knife in her hand. Or Ryka, the damaged, beautiful blonde boy, who she refuses to let save her. Still learning how to process the onslaught of her new feelings, the sights and sounds of Freetown are overwhelming and strange. There are a hundred differences between her old home and her new one, but one thing remains starkly similar: the matches. Yet where the blood in the Sanctuary landed only on the colosseum floor, Kit will quickly learn that a river of red runs through Freetown’s very streets. 
Freed from the oppression of a society who stole her right to feel, the true horror of her old life leaves Kit wondering if she really has been freed at all. Would she be better off without the crippling horror of all the blood on her hands, or is the love of one boy worth living through all the pain?
Raksha is the call of the dead. The rumbling chant for fresh blood from the other side, the demand for sacrifice. The colosseum is behind Kit. The fighting pits await.
You have been called to the fights

*ARC provided by net galley in exchange for an honest review.

When I started this book I wasn't sure what to expect. But this book surprised me. I really fell in love with the characters (Kit and Ryka) and the story line.  It reminded me of Gladiator meets a Knights Tale with some futuristic elements. (maybe Elysium?). It was a VERY different and interesting read for me and I really want to read the next one. I loved the development and world building. The author did such a great job of taking the main character, devoid of emotion and showing the ever changing and ranging motions of a young woman, no longer immune to emotions.   So intriguing. It was dark, scary, romantic, with possible witch craft and lots of plots for death and overthrowing the government.Generally speaking I did like the book and while there were some negatives (discussed below) I found myself engrossed in the novel and wanting the read the next.

Plot and Characters--This was quite the turn for me. At first, I was intrigued by the premise, and the more I read the more engrossed I became. The plot follows a Falin soldier who's halo is knocked off during a battle in the Sanctuary, confused yet? When she begins to realize she's been drugged her whole life, she takes off into the unknown only to find a similar type of battle occurs out in wild, but she also happens to find a new family and to fall in love.

What kept my attention in this book was more the way Kit built her relationships and learned about herself and her surroundings than anything else. Note though this book is full of violence. Even so. The book has a lot of great romance and wit, sarcasm and dark humor.

I loved that the main character,Kit, a female and a badass. And not in the same way Katniss Everdeen is a badass. Kit can take care of herself. She is strong, defiant, complicated, and in the process of learning how to feel.  Everyone has a weakness, for Kit its the new emotions, though I wish I would have experienced this more with her. She never gives up and is always willing to fight for those beliefs! Love her.

As for Ryka. Oh boy. He is so confusing. And he is supposed to be. I was right there with Kit and her crazy emotions. Does he like her? is he just putting up with her? whats going on with them?! But in the end I truly loved him. He needed her to figure herself out before he was willing to let her know anything more. Ryka is the kind of guy that is stubborn and honest but it can be cruel at times, not intentionally though. He was protective and caring and always seemed to know when Kit needed him.

Taylor Kitsch in HALO as Ryka
Taylor Kitsch as Ryka. 
The negatives: it dragged a little in the middle, where the author tried to get the reader to know the characters better.  Also there were definitely some things that struck me as odd and out of place. For instance, I was confused that Kit seemed to adapt so well to the new environment, considering he prior drug induced emotionless state. I was also thrown that the one place she left, seemed to be the exact place she ended up. Kit went from being a warrior, to being a warrior- neither of which seemed to be of her choosing. The one aspect I really hated was the religion- I understood the aspect, I think to some religion is an answer, and its acceptable for the topic to be in the book, but I was really bothered by the barbaric nature of some of the scenes. I dont know why Kit would want to live in that environment. I agree with some other reviewers as well that the idea of breaking in, seems beyond what the group outside the walls would do, given theres no real reason for them to help those on the inside. But perhaps thats to be answered later.

I think what kept me most confused throughout the book, was why families would essentially sacrifice a child to be a Falin...what family wants to sacrifice their child for money, watching them train and fight to the death? Perhaps its too dark to understand.

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