Countdown [NOOK Book]

Overview


3 seconds left to live.

Once the countdown starts, it cannot be stopped.

2 pawns thrown into a brutal underground reality game.

Kira Jordan survived her family's murder and months on plague-devastated city streets with hard-won savvy and a low-level psi ability. She figures she can handle anything. Until she wakes up in a barren room, ...

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Countdown

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Overview


3 seconds left to live.

Once the countdown starts, it cannot be stopped.

2 pawns thrown into a brutal underground reality game.

Kira Jordan survived her family's murder and months on plague-devastated city streets with hard-won savvy and a low-level psi ability. She figures she can handle anything. Until she wakes up in a barren room, chained next to the notorious Rogan Ellis.

1 reason Kira will never, ever trust Rogan. Even though both their lives depend on it.

Their every move is controlled and televised for a vicious exclusive audience. And as Kira's psi skill unexpectedly grows and Rogan's secrets prove ever more deadly, Kira's only chance of survival is to risk trusting him as much as her instincts. Even if that means running head-on into the one trap she can't escape.

GAME 0VER

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781460319673
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 9/24/2013
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 59,425
  • Age range: 14 years
  • File size: 313 KB

Meet the Author


Michelle Rowen is an award-winning, national bestselling author of paranormal books for both teens and adults. She lives in Southern Ontario. Visit michellerowen.com for more information about Michelle and her books.

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Read an Excerpt

It's called nyctophobia. I looked it up once. It's the official term for an abnormal and persistent fear of the dark. I've had it ever since my parents and sister were murdered during an in-home burglary while I hid under my bed.

In the dark I couldn't see anything; all I could hear was the screaming.

And then the silence.

So, yeah. I've been scared like hell of the dark ever since. Go figure.

Unfortunately, that's where I found myself when I opened my eyes. Frankly, I didn't remember closing them. I'd been in the mall, I remembered that much. I'd just lifted a new pair of shoes—my old pair was worn out since all I do is walk everywhere in the city, day in and day out. This pair was nice. Red. With strong laces that, if necessary, could double as a weapon.

The streets were tough sometimes. Especially at night. Especially in the dark.

Like right now.

But this wasn't the street, I knew that much. I was inside. Somewhere.

Choking panic began to flood my body. I knew freaking out wouldn't help, but sometimes you can't stop yourself—or reason with yourself—when you're in the process of freaking out.

I felt a pinch at my right wrist and reached over with my other hand, trying to feel my way through the inky blackness. It was a metal cuff. Attached to a chain. Attached to the smooth, cold metal wall behind me.

What the hell is going on?

Had I been caught shoplifting? Was this prison? I wracked my brain to try to remember being arrested, but came up blank. No, I'd grabbed the shoes, shoved them under my coat, and left the store to go into the half-abandoned mall where I'd put them on and thrown my old ones in a garbage can. And then…then what happened?

I remembered wanting to grab some food. I'd had two bucks to my name, so I'd figured I could buy a small order of French fries at one of the few restaurants that were still open. That would last me a day before my stomach would start complaining again.

Had I even made it to the food court?

I couldn't have. I was still hungry. Starving. My body felt as if it was eating itself, but that was a bit of an exaggeration, I guess. Yesterday I'd had an entire meal. Ordered off the menu even, and then tried to skip out before the bill came. The owner of the diner had caught me, reprimanded me, and I'd figured that that was it—he'd call the cops.

Instead, he'd taken pity on me and made me wash dishes.

It was a humbling experience, but I'd had a lot of those since my family died.

In the end, I appreciated his kindness. Washing dishes was a whole lot better than getting arrested.

Okay, breathe, Kira, I told myself. And I did. I took a deep breath in through my nose and let it out through my mouth. My heart thudded hard in my ears.

Why couldn't I remember what had happened after I'd taken the shoes? Damn it. And where was I?

I seriously had to calm down. This wasn't helping.

I took another breath in and out and forced myself to listen. For anything. There had to be something other than this total silence that told me absolutely nothing helpful.

And then I heard…something. I pushed my fears out of the way as best I could and strained my ears.

Breathing. I could hear soft breathing.

Someone else is in the room.

This realization did not ease my mind. Just the opposite. The thought that somebody was in the darkness with me scared me enough that I almost started to cry.

But I was tough now. At least that's what I tried to tell myself every morning when I woke up to face another day. This shouldn't be any different.

"H-h-hello?" Stuttering does not help the situation, I thought. "Who's there?"

The breathing hitched. I heard something heavy shift against the floor about fifteen feet away.

Then the something spoke. "Wh…what the hell?"

A guy's voice. His words were gruff and raspy as if he'd just woken from a deep sleep.

"Who are you?" I ventured again.

Why did I sound so weak? I hated that. He cleared his throat and groaned. "Shit." Well, he did seem to have a fine command of the English language.

I strained to see something, but there was only black. "Tell me who you are."

There was a pause, and then another groan. It actually sounded like a moan of pain as I heard him shift position again.

I frowned. "Hey, are you okay?"

He snorted. "Fantastic. I'm just fantastic, thanks for asking. And you?"

Sarcasm. Yeah, I recognized that. "I've been better, actually."

Chains rattled. Not mine, so that meant that this guy was also restrained. But why?

"I'm Rogan," he said after a moment. "So pleased to meet you."

"Where are we?"

"I tell you my name and you don't reciprocate? Didn't your mother teach you any manners?"

"My mother's dead."

That shut him up. Momentarily. "Sorry to hear that."

"It was a long time ago."

"Doesn't make it any easier."

Very true. Two years. Felt like forever—yet, at the same time, it felt like only yesterday. "My name's Kira."

"Well, Kira, where we are is anyone's guess." I pressed back against the hard wall.

We could be anywhere, and there wasn't a damn thing to give me a clue where that was. Except for the main drags, the city was so vacant that we could be in any one of dozens of abandoned warehouses or factories. And nobody would ever find us.

I'd heard about kids who'd vanished from the streets never to be seen again. I was sure they weren't stories with happy endings.

"What's the last thing you remember?" I asked. "Who brought you here? Are you chained, too?"

"I don't know who brought me here. And, yeah, I'm locked up real tight."

"Who would do this?" My voice caught on the words.

"Try to relax."

"I'm relaxed."

"Doesn't sound like it to me."

I banged the back of my head lightly against the metal wall and hugged my knees in close to my chest. "You sound relaxed enough for the both of us."

"What can I say? So far this is a lot better than where I was scheduled to go in a few days."

"Oh? And where's that?"

He was silent for a moment. "You really want to know?"

Not really. I didn't care. "Sure."

There was another lengthy pause. "Saradone."

My blood ran cold. Saradone was the maximum security prison just outside the city limits. Only the worst criminals were sent there; some for life, most for death. Horrible people who'd done horrible things. Luckily, they didn't put girls who stole shoes there…yet.

He laughed at my answering silence. "Guess you've heard of it."

I was in the same room with somebody bound for Sara-done—so that meant he was dangerous. Criminally dangerous. Panic returned to swirl through me, constricting my chest, my breath.

Both of us were chained. What was this? What was going on?

A cold trickle of sweat slid down my back.

"Why were you going there?" I tried to make the question sound flippant, as if I was making conversation about the weather.

"My days at St. Augustine's end in a couple days when I turn eighteen."

St. Augustine's. That name I also knew. It was a juvenile detention hall located on the west side of the city. If I ever got arrested, that might be where I ended up.

I'd heard that it was hell.

I hesitated to ask, but couldn't help myself. "What were you at St. Augustine's for?"

"Murder," he answered simply.

"Oh." My stomach churned as I tested the chains again. They were too strong. I wasn't going anywhere. "Was it self-defense?"

"No." There was a sharp edge to his voice now. "But what do you care?"

"I don't."

But I did. Of course, I did. I cared because I was trapped in this room with an admitted murderer—stuck in the dark with him, just as I'd been when my family was murdered.

Maybe I was just having a really bad dream. Maybe I'd fallen and hit my head in the mall and was passed out cold in front of the understaffed burger place in the food court. Maybe some gorgeous rich kid would find me. He'd fall instantly in love with me, kiss me like Prince Charming did with Snow White, wake me from my deep sleep, and we'd ride away into the sunset, away from my past and into a bright, exciting future, just the two of us.

I blinked against the darkness.

No, I was awake. Definitely awake.

Too bad.

"You're quiet all of a sudden," Rogan said. "Don't want to talk anymore?"

"Not particularly."

"Why not? Because you're scared of me now?" Pretty much, but I wasn't going to let him know that if I could help it.

"No. Mostly because I've decided that you don't know anything that can help me."

"Doesn't mean you have to be rude."

"Rude?" I felt a flare of anger and then settled back, trying to remain calm. My ass hurt from sitting on the hard metal floor so I shifted to cross my legs. "Yeah, I'm so rude. Sorry about that. I guess you've been treated so nice at St. Augustine's that my behavior's a real shocker. Besides, sounds to me like you deserve rude. Or worse."

He was silent so long that I felt even more uncomfortable than I had been to start with.

"And are you so innocent if you're here with me right now?" His words were clipped, sounding as if I'd struck a nerve. "What did you say your name was.Kerry?"

"Kira," I corrected. What a dick this guy was. "I'm not innocent, but I know I won't end up at Saradone."

"Don't be so sure."

I guess I could thank this jerk for keeping my mind off my fear of the dark. He was getting me angry enough that fear had moved a couple notches down the list.

I chewed my bottom lip. "I haven't murdered anybody."

"Not yet."

"Not ever."

"Yeah, we'll see about that."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"They've got you now. They'll make you do whatever they want you to do, and don't kid yourself. You'll do it."

"They? Who are they?" Rogan went silent.

My heart pounded in my ears. "You can't just say something like that and not say anything else. Who are they?"

"The ones who put you here. Who put me here."

"I thought you said you didn't know who put you here?"

"I have an idea."

"Want to share?"

"Maybe not. You're not all that nice." It sounded as if he was smiling now. Was he mocking me? "I'm not all that nice?" I repeated.

"Is this a surprise to you? Do you normally charm the pants off the boys you meet? Because you're failing big-time with me."

"Who put us in here?" I said it flatly. I wanted him to realize I wasn't joking around. If he didn't tell me, then I was going to scream and keep screaming until they—whoever they were—dragged me out of there.

"They gave me a choice," he said after a moment. "Go to prison for the rest of my life, or come with them and play their sick little game. At least here I might have a chance. A small one, but a chance. As soon as I agreed, they knocked me out.

And then I woke up a few minutes ago to have this fascinating discussion with you. And…and I think they did something to me when I was unconscious. To my shoulder. I'm hurt pretty badly, but I'm not sure how. Or why. Probably to slow me down." He snorted. "Playing fair isn't exactly their style."

"I didn't agree to this." I pulled at the chain until my wrist felt raw. "I want to leave."

"I'm sure they'll let you. Just like that. Sure."

"You said they gave you a choice. Why didn't they give me one?"

"I have no idea." He paused. "You said your mother was dead?"

"Yeah."

"And the rest of your family?"

"All dead." My voice broke as I said it.

Silence again. "So you're on your own."

"When I have to be." He didn't deserve more of an answer than that.

I'd been on my own for the past two years, since I was fourteen. Before that, I was safe and relatively happy and free to do what I wanted with the love of my family to support me. But once they were gone, I had nothing.

The courts had wanted to put me into foster care, but I'd run instead. A friend of mine had gone into foster care a few years ago, and I never heard from her again. Not even an email.

"Why would they pick you," Rogan said, but it sounded more like he was talking to himself than to me, "other than the fact that you have no family? What did you do?"

I hissed out a sigh of exasperation. "At the risk of sounding like I'm repeating myself, who are they?"

"You haven't murdered before…so that's out. Are you." He paused and then laughed softly. "Of course. You're a thief, aren't you?"

I let the darkness answer the question for me.

"A female thief without a family. Perfect." He let out a long, shuddery breath. "Well, thief-girl, I have to admit that I'm not feeling so great over here. Whatever they did to me…I don't think they'll have to worry about me finishing off my sentence. An eye for an eye and all that."

I licked my dry lips. "You think you're dying."

"Feels like it."

"Why do you sound so calm?"

"Because I'm not an idiot. There's no escape. We're both going to die."

"Shut up. There's a way out, I know there is."

Just as I said it, light flooded the room, blinding me. Ironic. Didn't these people believe in happy mediums?

I rubbed my eyes, which had started to water at the unexpected light. I blinked at the room as my vision slowly came into focus.

I sat against the wall in an entirely silver room. Floors, ceiling, walls, all made from smooth, cold metal. I'd never seen anything like it. The silver metal band that circled my wrist was attached to a silver chain secured to the wall. It was all very bland, very clinical, clean and pristine.

Almost all.

My gaze moved to the other side of the room and locked with that of the most dangerous-looking boy I'd ever seen in my life.

He stared back at me with a half smirk. His hair, plastered across his forehead, was dark and unkempt. He wore a shirt that might have once been white but was now torn and dirty.

A dark and angry red stain near his left shoulder stood out as the only color in the room. No, scratch that. His eyes. They were blue-green—the color of a tropical ocean and surprisingly jarring in their intensity.

There was a scar on his face that ran from the top of his left eye down to his cheek like an angry exclamation point. It was still reddish, as if it had healed recently. It didn't do much to take away from his looks—which were incredible. Clean him up and I'd have to guess he'd be painfully handsome.

He wore faded jeans, also stained and dirty, and scuffed black boots with untied laces. A silver shackle led from his right wrist to the chain to the wall behind him.

Despite the good looks beneath the grime, he looked like a murderer. Like trouble. Like nobody I wanted to be trapped in a room with now or anytime soon. I was almost sorry that the lights had come on.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 11 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 21, 2013

    Kira has survived many things like her family getting murdered a

    Kira has survived many things like her family getting murdered and living on the streets. She does good at getting by until she wakes up chained next to Rogan. Now she finds she has to play a game for the entertainment of some. If she wins she gets the life she has always wanted if she fails she dies. She doesn't trust Rogan but has to depend on him to get through some of the obstacles. With the help of her psi ability she discovers more than she thought possible in this game for her life.




    Kira has an ability she really doesn't use a lot. She doesn't trust easy and at times feels a little guilty she survived and her family didn't. I will say I was surprised by her actions at times as I thought she would do something different. I really liked her and how she is strong and does not give up.Rogan is from the spoiled lucky ones in this new world and should have it made. He doesn't and has been thrown into the game as punishment. He has a fews secrets that he doesn't want to come out. He keeps trying to help Kira even if she doesn't trust him. I liked him a lot. He seems like the bad boy at first bur the more you get to know him the more you see beneath at what he really is.




    I have read a few dystopian books like this one but it does stand out and is very entertaining. I didn't want to put it down as I had to see what happened next. It seemed like half the time they wouldn't make it off the show alive. I loved all the twist and turns you didn't see coming. The author does a great job keeping you on your toes. Kira really has no one she thinks she can trust and while she thinks her ability is nothing big. it comes in handy in this book. I like giving her a smaller power and seeing what she can do with it. I will say don't think you have it all figured out or who you think is good or bad because you may be wrong. If you love dystopian books try this one and the cover matches the book really well.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 16, 2014

    Sounds good

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2014

    I Also Recommend:

    I had my doubts about this book but I actually found it pretty i

    I had my doubts about this book but I actually found it pretty interesting, was it the best book I have ever read, no. WOuld I recommend it though, yes. It was a very interesting view on the online world that I found fascinating! I would most likely read this book again, just not anytime soon. I like more series books. I felt like it was too short but it had to be that way and I understand. I hope you enjoy the book! :-)

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  • Posted January 13, 2014

    (Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a re

    (Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to Harlequin Teen and Netgalley.)
    16-year-old Kira lives on the streets following her family’s murder two years ago. When she wakes in a dark room, shackled, and having no idea how she got there, she panics – firstly because she’s afraid of the dark, and secondly because she can hear someone else in the room with her.

    17-year-old Rogan has been in prison on several counts of murder, but now also finds himself in the room with Kira. Things are about to get much worse when the lights come on, a countdown starts, and they have 1 minute to get out of the room before they die.

    Even after escaping the room, they are not safe though, as they learn that they have 5 more levels to complete to be declared winners.
    Can Kira and Rogan win ‘The Countdown’? Who is behind this awful game and why? And will they make it out alive?


    This was an interesting sci-fi/dystopian, with plenty of action.

    Kira and Rogan were both okay characters, and although I didn’t like how Rogan tried to live up to his image at the beginning of the book.

    The storyline was pretty good, and I liked the action and pace, especially in the first half. I did think that one of the levels was a bit poo, but never mind. The tasks did escalate, but I think they could have been worse. It sort of reminded me of the film ‘The Cube’, crossed with ‘Big Brother’! I did think that if it hadn’t been life or death, people would have played the game for fun, so you can see what I mean about it not being that bad!

    There was some romance with was nice, but it wasn’t the main focus of the story. It did seem fairly likely that this would happen though being as they were paired up for the game.

    There were some plotlines that I didn’t see coming, but there were others that were really obvious, that I could see coming right from the start.
    The ending was okay, bar a few deaths, and I was glad that we got a ‘happily ever after’.
    Overall; a sci-fi /dystopian with plenty of action.
    7 out of 10.

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  • Posted January 3, 2014

    I was really looking forward to reading this one as I am always

    I was really looking forward to reading this one as I am always looking for young adult dystopian reads. Countdown is a fast-paced book filled with lots of action- but I felt the world building and characterization was really lacking. However, as a surface level book, I can honestly say I enjoyed reading this one.

    I thought the premise of this book sounded pretty cool- we are immediately thrown into an underground reality game where two teens are forced to play and do what they must in order to survive to the next level. The book focused on the game, rather than the dystopian world surrounding it. All we really learn is that there was a plague and that there is a Colony where the elite, rich live. We don't get a whole lot of insight into the rest of the population. Kira, our female MC, lives a life of theft after her family's murder. Apparently, she has a special skill that allows her to empathize with others and by touching them can feel their emotions. This would have been a pretty cool extension of the storyline had it been developed more. We are just kind of told she has it and she can do it, and apparently there are others who have gained it after the plague also. But, that was kind of it. We see her read a few individuals in the novel and she gains some insight into their emotions, but I don't know. It just felt like a weak sub-storyline to be honest.

    I suppose I liked Kira well enough. She is thrown into this game without any warning and is forced to work alongside another teen, Rogan, who she learns is a murderer. She is wary of him, but knows she has to work with him in order to survive. Rogan has a lot of secrets and she is right to be distrustful of him. Things don't add up where he is concerned, but after he hesitates on a mission, all of a sudden she starts to wonder if she's been told the truth about him. Kira does a complete 180 where Rogan is concerned and soon she's falling for him. Yeah, we have insta-love folks. Insta-love doesn't bother me, but it was like, one second she doesn't trust him for anything and the next they're making out and ready to jump into bed together. Whaaaat? I just didn't feel any kind of attachment to these characters and I didn't find their development to be very believable. The story occurs in a very short amount of time, so there really wasn't time for either of those things, but I still felt we only skimmed the surface of what could have been.

    I did like that I didn't know what to expect. Each level of Countdown was a mystery, though I did figure the last level out, as it only seemed fitting. The fact pace and the action is what really kept me reading and I was completely immersed and engaged in the book. I would give this one a shot if you are an action fan, but if you are looking for a young adult dystopian, I don't feel you are going to get that here.

    *Received a copy of this book via NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.*

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 8, 2013

    Awesome Book

    I absolutely loved this book! The action, plot and pinch of romance was amazing! I would read this book again and again! Rogan and his back story was very interesting and complex. I loved it! He was the perfect character for Countdown as well as Kira for partners. This book was just amazing and awesome. If there was another book, I would read it! Overall, I recommend this book to everyone --> more specifically action, futuristic, plot twists lovers!!


    *SPOILERS*
    My favorite part of the book was probably ... I honestly don't know. The bok was just so great.

    The part that frightened me the most was probably when Gareth grabbed Kira's foot towards the end of the book when they were in the dark and no one knew who it was. Kira thought it was Rogan, but it wasn't him, so it was the supposed dead Gareth. Which was creepy and scary.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 29, 2013

    Fantastic

    Couldn't put it down!!!!!

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  • Posted November 16, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Countdown is a fast paced, action oriented read that kept me fli

    Countdown is a fast paced, action oriented read that kept me flipping the pages. This is mostly plot and action driven, and was just what I needed after an emotional whopper of a last book. 
    Kira is paired with murderer Rogan, who is handsome, mysterious and she has to begin wondering what if there is more to the story, what if he didn't do it, what if he did. Kira's family was murdered in this violent, cruel and chilling dystopian society and she is forced to the street before she ends up fighting alongside Rogan against the countdown, for her life. 
    I didn't think I would enjoy the romance as much as I did, but it was a nice addition to the action and the story. 
    While this isn't anything earth shakingly unique in the dystopia genre, it was well written, and the characters had enough depth to them that they didn't seem like accessories to the plot. It all flowed well, and I am glad that I took a chance and requested on netgalley and got around to it because the twists were nice, and I did like the computer aspects that were added into this one. 
    I thought that the ending was really going to let me down, but it managed to give me what I needed as a wrap up and still fit the story. 




    Bottom Line: Quick and action packed with romance I enjoyed

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  • Posted October 14, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Read from October 09 to 10, 2013 Book Info  Paperback, 336


    Read from October 09 to 10, 2013




    Book Info 
    Paperback, 336 pages
    Published October 1st 2013 by Harlequin Teen
    ISBN 0373210906 (ISBN13: 9780373210909)
    edition language English
    other editions (5)
    Source:Netgalley EARC




    Book Buy Links 




    AMAZON 




    B&N 




    BOOK SYNOPSIS








    3 seconds left to live. Once the countdown starts, it cannot be stopped. 




    2 pawns thrown into a brutal underground reality game. 




    Kira Jordan survived her family's murder and months on plague-devastated city streets with hard-won savvy and a low-level psi ability. She figures she can handle anything. Until she wakes up in a barren room, chained next to the notorious Rogan Ellis. 




    1 reason Kira will never, ever trust Rogan. Even though both their lives depend on it. 




    Their every move is controlled and televised for a vicious exclusive audience. And as Kira's psi skill unexpectedly grows and Rogan's secrets prove evermore deadly, Kira's only chance of survival is to risk trusting him as much as her instincts. Even if that means running head-on into the one trap she can't escape. 




    GAME OVER!




    My Thoughts




    Read from October 09 to 10, 2013




    Video games made into big screen movies are great, have watched them for years and think Countdown by Michelle Rowen has the "feel" of a movie but like the fact that we use our imagination to bring alive the characters and the action in our minds because it would be hard to translate a lot of the story from print to film.




    So turns out this book was issued first in 2008, revamped by author for a teen audience and then released in early October of 2013. 




    Good decision as it was a great fast paced, action filled, easy to follow read that managed to capture both the spirit of other books in the genre while standing apart with enough different aspects to make it unique in it's own right.




    As one who has enjoyed for years reading about "survival after the Plague/Virus/War" post apocalyptic genre this book was a great addition to it and hopefully will garner enough of a following to make it worth while releasing a second time.




    I felt that this has more to offer than just the one book, be interesting to see if the author decides to continue Kira and Rogan's story in future.








    [EArc from Netgalley in exchange for honest review]

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  • Posted October 8, 2013

    One word. Awesome. Call me crazy, but I absolutely loved this

    One word. Awesome. Call me crazy, but I absolutely loved this book. Yes, there have been reality tv-type stories done before, but this one was so unique. It was like reality television meets The Hunger Games. The story had quite a few things about it that made it really different than others of its kind.

    First of all, there are very few characters in the story. The majority of the book takes place between just Kira and Rogan. You'd think this might be boring, but uh, hells no. There was very little down time for you to get bored in because the story just punches right along with this super fast pace that keeps you on the edge of your seat. The game of Countdown has different levels, and when the countdown on each level begins, Kira and Rogan have only moments to complete a task before they both die. Between each level is a very small rest period before the new level begins. The fact that the author was able to use those miniscule moments to not only reveal things about the story and the purpose behind the game, but also she managed to provide some amazing characterization and a progressive romance between the two characters. To do such thorough characterization in so few moments was amazing. And despite the fact that, again, there were only moments here and there, the romance never felt rushed in any way. It was slow-building at a perfect pace.

    These two characters are so brave and strong, and they fight so hard through each level that you just find that you're holding your breath as you root for them, both to win the game and beat the bad guys, and to be together.

    This was definitely a fast-paced and action-packed story that kept me on the edge of my seat. Lastly, I loved that this was a standalone novel. In a world of series stories, finding a great standalone is refreshing. The writing in this book was amazing, and I immediately wanted to read the book again. Get this book!

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  • Posted August 23, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    A MUST READ for Dystopian YA Fans!

    Raise your hand if you are a fan of well-written YA dystopian fantasy! I am, and although the basic premise isn’t new, trust me, Countdown by Michelle Rowen is one adventure that will have you hanging from your fingernails as a twisted society pits two teen “throwaways” against the evil machinations of artificial intelligence and a society that craves the thrill of an extreme reality show, from the safety of their viewing implants. Sick? YES Twisted? YES Unimaginable? Sadly, not so much, just take a look at what contemporary TV has to offer today.

    A plague has shattered society, life is chaotic and the powers that rise are lax, survivors are often left to fend for themselves, no matter how old they are. Kira was a young teen when her family was brutally murdered before her eyes. Now she runs the streets, alone. Rogan is a street-smart convicted mass murderer with enough hidden baggage to sink the Titanic. Together, they make one strong team, guaranteed to make the sponsors some big money! Will they learn to trust in each other, as well as their own instincts to survive? Will outside forces come between them in a brutal mind game? To what lengths will they go to survive?

    Michelle Rowen has created two very likable and strong characters who try to overcome insurmountable odds to survive in a game they didn’t ask to play. Loaded with great dialogue, a deviously twisted plot, and intense friction, action and tension, Countdown and Michelle Rowen prove that a complete escape into another world and reality is just the turn of the page away!

    This ARC edition was provided by NetGalley and Harlequin Teen in exchange for my honest review.

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