Series: The Raging Ones, #1
Published by Wednesday Books on August 14, 2018
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult Fiction
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FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Today is my stop on the St. Martin’s Press blog tour and I’m thrilled to be able to share my thoughts with you on The Raging Ones by Krista and Becca Ritchie. For those who are familiar with the Ritchie sisters, you’re aware that they are well known for their steamy romance novels. The Raging Ones is a different kind of adventure, however. It’s equal parts coming of age story and space epic, and it’s sure to keep you on the edge of your seat!
The Raging Ones is the exciting first book in a new science fiction/fantasy series from authors Krista and Becca Ritchie. The world this series is set in fascinated me from the moment I started reading. The landscape itself is cold, and the way of life is equally cold and impersonal. Saltere-3 is a world where everyone knows the exact day they’re going to die and so their entire existence is basically structured around that knowledge. There are Influentials, who have the longest life expectancies and are given the best educational opportunities and a higher social standing as they are expected to, as their name indicates, have a major impact on the world they live in. Beneath the Influentials on the social scale are the Fast Trackers, who are expected to live between 13-29 years. As their name indicates, they live hard and fast, trying to squeeze as much life as possible into the short lifetime they have. Lastly on the social scale are the Babes, whose life expectancy is no more than 12 years. What little time they have is spent living an innocent existence with their families. Everyone accepts this as the normal way of life because no one can escape their death day.
Or can they? Enter our main characters, Franny Bluecastle, Court Icecastle, and Mykal Kickfall. On the surface these three characters have absolutely nothing in common – Franny is a poor but street smart Fast Tracker who is preparing for her death day, which is imminent. Court is a wealthy and educated young man who has done time in prison and now just wants to start a new life somewhere other than this world that he feels has wronged him. Mykal Kickfall is a Hinterlander who is super protective of those he loves and who also happens to have an unbreakable bond with Court. Wherever Court goes, Mykal is going with him.
So, what do these three characters have in common? All three miraculously manage to dodge their death days. How? No one knows. It’s problematic for them, however, for two reasons: 1) they now have no idea when they’re going to die. It could happen any minute or it may not happen for years. What was utterly predictable is now the unknown. And 2) because no one is supposed to be able to escape their death day, they fear what the government will do to them if they were to find out. So Franny, Court, and Mykal all end up on the run trying to make sure no one finds out that they’ve somehow done the impossible. Their only hope to avoid detection is to get off Saltare-3 and so they decide to hide their identities and participate in a rigorous competition for highly sought after spots in a new mission to space. If they can get off the planet, they’ll be safe. The only catch? They’ll be competing against the elites of society – people who are better educated, have had far more advantages throughout their lives, and who know (because they know when their death days are) there’s no way they can possibly die no matter how intense and dangerous the competition gets.
I was hooked on Franny, Court, and Mykal right away since I always love to root for underdogs and they are immediately cast into that role as soon as they enter the space mission competition. They are up against nearly impossible odds and the Ritchies do a wonderful job of using that competition and its elimination rounds to build up suspense and convey just how high the stakes are for Franny, Court, and Mykal. I found myself unable to put the book down once I started reading about the competition because I just had to know if all three of them were going to advance or be eliminated.
Franny was the easiest character for me to relate to, mainly because of the three, she is the last to dodge her death day so all of this is new to her, whereas Mykal and Court dodged theirs years before and so have had time to adjust to the idea that they are different from everyone else. She’s in the same boat the reader is as far as trying to understand and make sense of a world she thought she understood. I also loved what a scrappy character she is.
Mykal was also a favorite, mainly just because he’s big and burly but gives off this teddy bear vibe at the same time. I adored his immediate bond with Franny. They had this brother/sister thing going on that was just so sweet.
Court was a little harder to get to know because he seems to have put up a lot of emotional walls around him, but I enjoyed watching Franny chip away at those walls and eventually strengthen her bond with Court.
So, what are these bonds I keep speaking of? This is actually my absolute favorite part of the book. How did Franny, Court, and Mykal even find each other in the first place? Because they are empaths! They share an actual bond where they can basically sense anything and everything about each other. They sense each other’s emotions as well as physical pain and pleasure. This sharing can get awkward at times, particularly if either of them becomes physically intimate with someone, because the other two can sense what they are experiencing. There’s a lot more to the bond, but you get the general idea. Anyway, by the time the book opens, Court and Mykal have been hanging out together for a while so they’re pretty used to it, but it’s fascinating to watch Franny try to adjust to life where she’s suddenly connected to two people she doesn’t even know. At times it’s funny and at other times, it can be flat out awkward, but it’s always entertaining regardless.
I also loved the intricate world building with the death days and the social hierarchy of babes, fast trackers, and influentials. It was all so utterly unique. What I thought was particularly interesting about the worldbuilding is that the Ritchies do not do a huge info dump at the beginning like some books do. Instead I had to exercise some patience while I was reading and watch the details of this world gradually unfold. Again, like Franny, I had to learn as I went. That might bother some readers but I quite enjoyed the journey.
Lastly, there’s also a plot twist/cliffhanger ending that had me wishing I could immediately get my hands on the next book in the series, so if you like a jaw-dropping ending, this might be the book for you!
There were a few times along the way where I had a little trouble distinguishing between the points of view of Court and Mykal. I don’t know if it was because their bond was so intense or if it was something else altogether, but sometimes I found myself flipping back to the beginning of a chapter to remind myself whose point of view I was getting. This was mostly at the beginning though and it got much easier to distinguish between them as I got further along in the book and got to know Court and Mykal better.
If you’re looking for a unique sci-fi fantasy read with compelling characters and a riveting element of competition, I’d highly recommend giving The Raging Ones a try. I personally think it’s worth a read just for the experience of following three empaths and exploring their bonds, but the rest of the story is equally riveting as well.
In a freezing world, where everyone knows the day they will die, three teens break all odds.
Franny Bluecastle, a tough city teen, dreams of dying in opulence, to see wealth she’s never known. Like the entire world, she believes it’s impossible to dodge a deathday.
Until the day she does.
Court Icecastle knows wealth. He also knows pain. Spending five years in Vorkter Prison, a fortress of ice and suffering, he dreams of life beyond the people that haunt him and the world that imprisoned him.
Mykal Kickfall fights for those he loves. The rugged Hinterlander shares a frustrating yet unbreakable connection with Court—which only grows more lawless and chaotic as their senses and emotions connect with Franny.
With the threat of people learning they’ve dodged their deathdays, they must flee their planet to survive. But to do so, all three will have to hide their shared bond as they vie for a highly sought after spot in the newest mission to space. Against thousands of people far smarter, who’ll live longer, and never fear death the way that they do.