Synopsis: The day Em Gades received the summons letter that she, of all the nine thousand people left on earth, had been chosen to compete in The Reflections, she had no idea what she’d be up against. When she arrives a few days later, she’s met with a corrupt government, danger on all sides, willful murder, betrayal, and more questions than there are answers.
Y’all, it seems like just yesterday that I was signed up to beta-read The Reflections, and yet it’s been a year and a half! I’d only just “met” E.K. the month before on Kingdom Pen (a Christian writers forum), and we’d talked back and forth about biblical worldview in fiction, portraying death and murder, and more.
Here we are many months later, and this amazing dystopian novel is finally coming out into the world! (And Seaver and I are buds now...who still talk about death occasionally.)
First of all, I am SO excited to see Christian elements woven into The Reflections (there weren’t originally)! Seaver did a fantastic job of weaving the faith elements (or...lack-of-faith elements...maybe?) into this story in a way that was relatable, simplistic, and genuine! Em’s doubts and questions were geared toward the circumstances of The Reflections, but we’ve all asked the same ones ourselves, and I really enjoyed reading about her spiritual struggles and what will hopefully become her relationship with Christ!
Second, I personally though the death/murder was portrayed rather well. A bit gruesome at times (which doesn’t bother me), but Em saw it as wrong and even without her perspective on it, there were still obvious consequences and affects that drove the point home. Murder certainly wasn’t brushed off like it is in secular fiction (or in the absolutely vile Lady Alyssa’s mind).
Now, on to the meat of the story!
For me, this was a unique concept. I don’t read a lot of dystopian/speculative fiction, so naturally I didn’t have a lot to compare this too and I thought the premise was intriguing. Yes, it’s a lot like The Hunger Games (from what I’ve read on Wikipedia about it *winks*) and To Best the Boys by Mary Weber, but it has its own style and personality (some of which can be attributed to Seaver herself). For some, maybe it’s cliché. For me, I enjoyed it!
I feel like there could’ve been a little more development, though, because the beginning and ending were so rushed! I know most people advise writers to jump into the action on the opening page, but I prefer to get to know the main character and come to care for them before they’re thrust into that precarious situation. As for the ending...either I read it too fast (I was cramming so I could get this review in, after all) or the Death Maze and everything came and went very quickly. It did leave things open for the second book, though, which works out great!
Some instances didn’t flow well, as if we were missing scenes or information, and I still feel like there should’ve been more on how everything operated! Maybe I wanted Lady Alyssa’s POV...or I needed some explanation on why she did what she did and how it furthered her plans (then again, she could just be insane). Hopefully that’ll be addressed in the next book, because I do feel like there were some serious loose ends.
On my final negative note, the writing. Like, to me, Seaver’s third-person novella The House That Didn’t End had better prose. It was sarcastic, it was poetic, it was balanced, the characters’ voices shone...but in TR? Nope. I hate to say it, but there were so many instances where the story read like this: “I trip and fall. I hit the ground. I land on my hands and knees.” Very stilted, unemotional, unengaged (not a word, but you get my point). I felt more like Em was narrating rather than experiencing at times, which didn’t work for first-person present tense.
I needed more flow, more balance between action and emotion. Even more clarity sometimes too.
That said, there were times where paragraphs flowed better, and Seaver made use of many fantastic metaphors/similes/analogies that gave her prose some of the flavor it was missing!
As for the almighty characters...y’all. Em was great. Sure, she wasn’t the best narrator and I didn’t connect to her character (I rarely ever connect to heroines; y’all know that), but she was still fabulous. She was real. Relatable. Normal. Not a feminist! Like, thank You, Jesus, because I am SO fed up with bratty, sarcastic heroines who act like they’re better than everyone else...when they’re not and they have no personality at all.
Not Em. Nope, she was just an average sixteen-year-old who was struggling with everything. She cried. She ran and hid. She trembled with fear. And then she had moments where she stood up. She dried her eyes. She helped others. So, yeah, perfect balance. Loved it.
And the secondary characters? Y’ALL. They were so vibrant and real and perfect and I just loved them all. I needed more. So. Much. More.
Like Flinn, for example.
*pauses for a moment*
You’ll understand after you read.
The characters really were the best part, I think.
Oh, and this: “I thought I had nothing to live for...but I found something better to die for.”
I think that about sums it up, folks. Would you die for your friends? Would you die for a stranger? Would you die to further an evil agenda?
More than that...what—or who—would you live for?
Long story short (actually not that long this time)...The Reflections quite literally had its ups and downs. Some things could’ve been paced better, written better, developed better...but in the end, the beautiful characters and themes redeemed this intense, insanely high-stakes YA dystopian novel!
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary review copy from the lovely author. All opinions expressed are my own.
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About the Author
To find an E. K. Seaver, you must set a trap. The best option is to lure her in using chocolate, blankets, and a typewriter, but if none of those are on hand, spare books and Broadway music can be easily substituted.
She prefers to be wild and free, though. Whether it includes adventuring through the Rocky Mountains or curled up at a local bookshop, she uses her freedom to produce art. From books to scarves to paintings, Ms. Seaver strives to honor her King in every aspect of her creative works. She desires her stories to hold meaning beyond the tale and attempts to follow in the footsteps of storytellers who came before her.
You can find her and her wild adventures at ekseaver.wordpress.com or on Instagram @ekseaver.author.
Interested in reading more thoughts on The Reflections? Wanna know more about this exciting new release? I am glad you asked, dear! I just so happen to be a part of the blog tour for TR, which means I've got a whole list of epic posts to share with y'all!
April 2- https://www.graceajohnson.com/blog
April 3- https://discipleshipwithjoy.com/
April 4- onceuponanordinary.wordpress.com
April 6- https://rmarcher.com
April 7- yourwriterlyfriendkads.wordpress.com
Happy reading, everyone, and don't forget to preorder a copy of The Reflections while you can!