Review of “Gambit” by C.L. Denault

Gambit by C.L. Denault A review by Amanda.

I would like to thank the author and publisher for allowing me to read Gambit in exchange for an honest review. There are mild romantic spoilers in the last paragraph of this review.

Sixteen year old Willow Kent has a secret. More than one, actually. She has a skill, a genetically enhanced ability that makes her extremely valuable to the Core, the ruling industries of war-torn Earth. It’s been centuries since battles over genetic coding destroyed Earth as we know it. Now, the population is divided. Those who live in the Core have every technological advantage conceivable; elsewhere, citizens live in primitive villages where technology is forbidden. Patrols from the Core round gifted individuals up to be put to use working for the wealthy or breeding to make stronger skills. Willow has done everything she can to keep herself out of the hands of those who would use her skill, to keep her freedom, and to keep her loved ones safe. When an elite patrol arrives just ahead of terrifying news from the Core, everything Willow has worked for will be undone.

I am a big fan of speculative and dystopian fiction. As such, this story drew me in immediately. Willow is smart, stubborn, and tenacious. While those traits could have made her come across as harsh or cold, the author does an excellent job of balancing with Willow’s warmth and humor towards her family and closest friends. The story itself is intriguing, combining science with fantasy. The differences between Willow’s village and the Core give the story a time-travel effect; the village lifestyle has a 19th century feel to it, whereas the Core is much more modern and advanced further than today’s technology by far.

The Core commander who throws Willow’s life into disarray is sharp, cruel, and intimidating. He alternates cruelty with kindness and confuses Willow more than anything. This is the only aspect of the book that gives me pause. It bothers me to see another YA story with the heroine finding herself attracted to someone who has hurt her, both emotionally and physically. He blames her for his actions and either apologizes or does something kind to make up for it. He also uses his powerful position to manipulate her. That being said, he is still a fascinating character and to my chagrin, I found myself warming to him. I can only hope that his character changes for the better.

The real heart of this story is in the richness and depth of the supporting characters. I will definitely continue with this series.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

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