Series: Standalone Genre: Young Adult, Dystopia Publication.Date: September 9, 2014 Pages: 319 (ARC paperback) Published By: Faber & Faber Website: Kate A. Boorman Winterkill on Goodreads My review copy: Provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review
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Where Emmeline lives, you cannot love and you cannot leave...
The Council's rules are strict, but they're for the good of the settlement in which Emmeline lives. Everyone knows there is nothing but danger the other side of the Wall, and the community must prepare for the freezing winterkill that comes every year.
But Emmeline struggles to be obedient under the Council's suffocating embrace - especially when she discovers that a Council leader intends to snatch her hand in marriage.
Then Emmeline begins to hear the call of the trees beyond the Wall... (Goodreads)
I sigh and turn my eyes back to the walls - these looming walls standing at attention, keeping us safe from whatever lurks beyond. I watch and watch, until my toes are near frozen through my moccasins. By and by, despite the dark, it all becomes a mite deadbore. The backward part of me starts to hope something will happen. That we'll see something.
And then I've willed it upon us, because Andre sucks in his breath.
Dye for the ceinture fléchée.
The woman ahead of me put their heads together, talking excited-like, but I feel a pang of disappointment. Surely our salvation can't lie in the brilliance of an orange thread.
After reading the synopsis, I felt this book had a similar vibe to The Village. A mysterious town in the middle of nowhere, lead by overbearing individuals who are only doing what they think is right for their people.
Emmeline lives in a small settlement of four quarters - north, east, south, west. Each quarter represents a different group that founded the settlement five generations ago. The settlement is led by the Council and those who are Wayward are punished (hanged) at the Crossroads for their Waywardness. Waywardness can come about from something as simple as missing the nightly Virtue Talks or sleeping with a bonded (married) individual. Depending on the infraction, the Council does follow and "three strikes and you're out" policy.
Emmeline however was born Stained. Her grandmother went to the Crossroads before she was born and the shame is handed down to each new generation. While this "stain" allows Emmeline down a road of self-pity, she puts herself in this weird position of defying the Council (missing Virtue Talks, wondering deep into the woods, etc) and trying to make her father proud.
The plot of Winterkill is a bit slow for my taste. I kept waiting for something formidable to happen, but it never did. The writing was exceptionally well done, but the plot is lacking. It's a slow procession with moments of suspense, but once those moments are done we're back to the mundane aspects. Day to day life, tidbits of the history of the settlement, whether or not Emmeline will accept Brother Stockham's proposal, and her desire for Kane.
Speaking of Kane, I never saw the attraction between Emmeline and himself. Other that the "mysterious hot guy," there is nothing there that is appealing. These two don't interact enough, or really interact in the ways that matter, to form a connection outside of "Hey, you're cute" and "Yeah, you're cute too."
The world building is a bit iffy as well. The settlement is based on a lot of myths, most of which seem to serve the purpose of scaring the settlers into submission, that aren't fully explained. I know it's a little tricky doing so in a first person narrative and you can't explain everything when, but I was confused more often than not. A little more backstory would have definitely helped me get more into the plot and become more intrigued by the story itself.
Winterkill is Kate's debut YA novel and it shows. I don't necessarily mean that in a bad way though. More so, in a promising I can see the potential way. It reads like a debut novel, but it has the necessary structure. Like I said earlier, the writing is good but the plot didn't do it for me, which is a bit of shame. So even though Winterkill didn't do it for me, I intend to keep an eye out for Kate's next novel with the full intention of giving that one a read.