Sunday, January 18, 2015

[Review Request] Kicking Ass and Taking Names: A Review of Katherine McIntyre's Snatched

Title: Snatched
Edition: Jupiter Gardens Press (PDF, 2014)
Pages: 188
How I Came By This Book: This book was sent to me by the author. 

About the Author: Katherine McIntyre is an author of steampunk adventure, dark comedy, urban fantasy and paranormal romance stories. She splits her time writing and working the day job, but as for creative pursuits, she's dabbled in a little bit of everything. A modern day Renaissance-woman, she's learned soapmaking, beer brewing, tea blending and most recently roasting coffee. The one constant from a very young age was her passion for reading and writing. For more casual content, she’s a regular contributor on, a geek news website. With more imagination than she knows what to do with, writing proved to be the best outlet. (from GoodReads) Visit her website for more information.

Synopsis: When Kara was ten, the shifters took her parents.

A year ago, they took her best friend Hunter.

And now, the night before her first military strike against those monsters on the surface, the shifters take the only person she has left: her little sister Lizzy.

The snatched don’t come back. That’s what Kara’s believed her entire life, but the first person she finds above ground is the best friend she thought lost forever. Turns out, the higher ups lied. Other colonies are out there, hell even folks who toughed it up above. If anyone knows how to get her sister back, these people would. However, unless she can rally these surfacers into an army, one girl with a shotgun won’t survive long against the very creatures that overturned her world.

Review: Snatched came to me as review request from the author and, the night that she sent me the PDF, I read the first paragraph and went, "Dammit, I can't read this until I finish the book I'm currently on." With a highly-imaginative world; strong, relatable characters; and a huge talent for description, Katherine McIntyre's novel of a young woman trying to save her sister (while dealing with the fact that everything she'd ever known wasn't quite true) is a delightful and terrifying page-turner that will leave you wanting more of Kara Orris.

From the moment you step into the broken, post-apocalyptic world of Snatched, you leave your world behind, seeing what strong-willed Kara sees, feeling what she feels. McIntyre is a skilled author who delves deeply into the ethos of those who live underground: what they believe, what they value, how they view religion. I was struck by the spiritual aspect of the book and how unique it was compared to other similar novels. The tunnelers talk about the Great Spirit, the Phoenix, the Leviathan. Kara's mother was a shaman who used herbs and made her own incense. It was a refreshing change and one of the reasons I fell in love with this book so soon after starting it.

The characters in Snatched are likable, well-developed, and grow organically with the story. My favorites of these characters are Kara, a 17-year-old girl who has just returned from her first surface mission only to be thrust into a dangerous attack on the horrifying shifters; Jared, the stoic young soldier who has to reconcile what he learns on the surface with what his superiors have led him to believe; and Tweak, the surfacer girl of few words who helps the tunnelers navigate a world they've never known. In one particularly memorable (and genius) scene, the tunnelers encounter rain for the first time and freak the hell out. It was the first time in a while that I'd seen a believable reaction to an unknown stimulus and it really endeared me to the characters. Watching them react to the newness of everything was what made this book far more than just an adventure story.

All the same, however, it is an adventure--and a thrilling one at that. You know how when you watch an action or horror movie and you talk yell at the characters or wince when they get hurt, etc? This is the first book I've ever read that made me do that. My husband kept looking over at me and asking if I was all right because I would make noises of surprise or disappointment. One time I let out a big, "OH NO!" and he instantly asked me what was wrong. Of course, then he decided not to let me tell him because he wants to read it, too, so I had no one to share my despair with. 

This book provides an interesting twist on the Damsel in Distress trope, with the rescuer being a young woman and the "rescuee" being her younger sister. Watching Kara fight for her family and for what she wants was inspiring, even more so considering that she stayed very focused on her mission and didn't let herself get too embroiled in what could have, in another author's hands, been yet another ridiculous love triangle (or, square, in this case). Instead, Kara keeps her head on straight, her priorities in order, and her hormones in check. She is an exceptional young woman and I would love to see her in another novel in the future. 

I don't have many big complaints about the book. In fact, the only bit of constructive criticism I have is that, while McIntyre is great at creating a world and describing it completely and succinctly (no Tolkien-esque, long-winded descriptions in this book), she relies very heavily on similes. After a while, I found them to be a bit too frequent for my tastes. Other than that (and a few minor editing issues), I have nothing but praise for this book. 

I'm giving Snatched 5 out of 5 Gabriels AND I'm giving it the (NEW!) Gabriel Seal of Approval for its independent and totally role-model-worthy heroine.


PS: Check out my interview with Katherine McIntyre on Saturday, January 24!

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