Y’all get a bonus review this week because today I have the privilege of participating in the blog tour for E.K. Seaver’s upcoming book, The Reflections!
What is The Reflections?
Everyone in the Alliance knows about the Reflections. It’s the opportunity to get into the University, the only government-recognized form of education, and those accepted are guaranteed success and comfort for the rest of their lives. Thus, when Em Gades receives the silver invitation, her future is secured. The worst that could happen is she gets sent home, right?
Until she arrives, and the rumors about the Reflections prove true. The only way to live is to get into the University, and to do that you must be one of the four remaining Chosens at the end of the competition. Although she was warned beforehand to trust no one, Em quickly forms attachments to her fellow teammates with the hope that as many of them can survive as possible. However, as Chosens are rapidly executed for failing competitions, Em struggles to understand that, if God is real, why he would let something so terrible happen to a group of mostly innocent teenagers. With likely no more than a few days left to live, she and the other Chosens must navigate life or death situations and find answers to the question:
Are their lives worth the deaths of others?
I enjoyed this book. It was a little hard to keep track of, and not the most emotionally gripping book I’ve ever read, but I enjoyed it all the same.
There were a lot of characters to keep track of. I got Nathanael and Michael mixed up at least once. A lot of the other characters I just didn’t even try to keep straight because (honestly) I figured they would die, anyway. The 4-6 core characters were mangeable, so I stuck with those and with whatever other characters had notable enough features to cement them in my brain.
I didn’t connect a whole lot with Em, but y’all know I don’t normally connect with MCs anyway. Her thoughts on things did more waffling than I might have liked, going back and forth between “FIGHT THE ALLIANCE” and “go along with the Alliance ’cause maybe we can change it later,” which might have stuck out to me less if those transitions had been smoother; they felt a little choppy and unexpected a lot of times.
I did like Flinn. Flinn was great. A little more forward than I generally like, even with a flirtatious type, but still fun to read overall. And I liked the way he made Em feel safe. I’ve known guys like that, guys who take care of those around them and just feel safe, so I could connect with him and with Em’s feelings toward him.
Choi deserved more page time. I wanted to know more about him, about his relationships with his girlfriend and his sister. He was such a sweet character and I would have liked to see more of him.
I was pretty lukewarm about the other characters; since there were so many, very few characters really got a chance to develop as deeply as I would have liked for getting to know them, but I think that’s just one of the hazards of a large cast when the large cast is a necessity of the setting.
The plot had moments that felt quite reminiscent of other dystopian stories (notably Divergent and The Hunger Games), but that didn’t bug me too much. I enjoyed those setups, and dystopian seems to be more trope-heavy than some other genres.
I would have liked to know more about the world. (I know, I know.) It wasn’t under-described, exactly. We did technically know everything we needed to know about the setting. But I was never able to get clear on why The Alliance thought The Reflections were a good idea (or why they’re called The Reflections), or exactly how the government connects with the school, or what is the bigger picture of the world… I would have liked more depth and cohesion to all of that, and more on how it impacts everyday life and not just The Reflections.
I did like the faith elements woven in. They felt organic to the character and they added a depth and a bit of a different dynamic to the story. SPOILERS AHEAD I also liked that the conversion scene was simple and not a big to-do; there was no artificial structure, no lightning strike, just the peace of someone turning their heart over to God. END SPOILERS
Overall… I guess I would have liked more depth all-around (and more research into ballroom dance and the relaxation of muscles after death, but that’s just me being a nerd and knowing things), but The Reflections was an enjoyable story, a good balance of “oh no we’re going to die” and down time for the character relationships to develop, and an interesting introduction to a larger world. I’m curious to see where Emily goes next, both with this series and her writing as a whole.
Rating: 4 stars
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