Countdown

Michelle Maddox
2008, Futuristic Romance
SHOMI, $6.99, 368 pages, Amazon ASIN 0505527553

Grade: B-
Sensuality: Warm

Michelle Maddox is aka Michelle Rowen

Countdown is an exciting futuristic romance reminiscent of the movie The Running Man. A couple faces a series of challenges while subscribers ďwatchĒ through brain implants. If they win, they will get their heartís desire. If they lose, they will be executed.

Maddox's book takes place decades in the future. With human habitations on other planets, itís possible to move off-world - and plenty of people want to do just that. An epidemic has killed millions and many who remain on Earth yearn for a new start in a new world. Kira Jordan is one of them. Her family were all murdered and she has surviving on her wits and street smarts ever since. As the book begins, Kira is congratulating herself for lifting a pair of snazzy red shoes when suddenly everything goes black.

When Kira wakens, she is in a strange room, handcuffed. Thereís a man in the room too Ė a handsome, wounded man who turns out to be Rogan Ellis. Rogan is a mass murderer and a rapist serving a life sentence in a maximum security prison. Rogan and Kira have been selected to play Countdown Ė a game where they have to pass tests on several levels. Subscribers to the game have implants in their brains which allow them to follow along and vicariously take part in the game. Rogan and Kira have implants too; if they get farther away than 90 feet from each other, they will die.

For the most part I enjoyed this one, but how I wish that it had not been told only from Kiraís point of view. Not that she isnít a likable character...she is, and resourceful and brave...altogether an admirably kick butt heroine. Itís just that Rogan is potentially just as interesting and has a fascinating past which we donít get to explore very much. His past has influenced the Countdown game (to say more would be a very big spoiler) but all we really know is what he tells Kira and what she observes. And what she observes is that he knows more than he's telling. Normally, I like first person point of view, but not this time.

I can recommend Countdown, but with reservations. Itís an exciting book, the characters are wonderful, but if only it had been told differently, it would have been a keeper. Even so, itís fast and fun and made me want to watch The Running Man again - and I don't do reality shows.

-- Ellen Micheletti

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