Friday, May 8, 2015

Book Review: Gambit by C.L. Denault

In Earth’s battle-ridden future, humans have evolved. Those with extraordinary skills rise to power and fame. Those without live in poverty.

Sixteen-year-old Willow Kent believed she was normal. But when a genetically-advanced military officer shows up in her village and questions her identity, long-buried secrets begin to emerge. With remarkable skills and a shocking genetic code the Core and its enemies will do anything to obtain, Willow suddenly finds the freedom she craves slipping through her fingers. Greed, corruption, and genetic tampering threaten every aspect of her existence as she’s thrust, unwilling, into the sophisticated culture of the elite Core city. To ensure peace, she must leave the past behind, marry a man she’s never met, and submit to the authority of a relentless officer with a hidden agenda of his own.

Her life has become a dangerous game. How much will she sacrifice in order to win?



Gambit is a story full of mystery and intrigue with hints of science based superpowers and political tension. I dove into Gambit not quite knowing what I was getting myself into and found myself more than pleasantly surprised. As I read I became more involved with the world and characters that I had no problem reading through this story as quickly as I could turn the page.

At first I had been confused with the accents and where/when this story took place but I quickly understood as I read on. I believe it takes place in the United Kingdom in the distant future but the part that threw me off was the beginning which read more to me as a historical because the lack of technology, only as Willow moves to the Core does the technology become futuristic. 

I liked all the characters, they are well written and complex. While I like Willow, I didn't agree with all her decisions and/or her feelings. I definitely could relate to her situation and why she felt the way she did at times. Other times it was tougher for me understand, such as her romantic feelings or her anger. I liked that she challenged the authority but sometimes I wished she did it in a more clever manner or at least learned from her mistakes. Otherwise, I liked her as a heroine and am sympathetic to the things that come at her.

The writing in Gambit is mesmerizing, Denault has a writing style that grips you and doesn't let go until you complete this emotional roller coaster. Even if you take a break, you can dive right back in without a problem. She has a way with words that tangle with your emotions and you can feel as if you're there with the character or at least imagine them vividly in your head. 

I would consider the story's pacing a fast, steady, and intriguing journey because I always wanted to know what would happen to Willow. However, when I hit the climax, I didn't know I was there. I feel that it could have been written with more stakes at risk. I didn't know what the big climax would be, the big battle was against mostly an unknown force. Just a mass group of bodies without a face. All of a sudden it was like, boom, here's the climax, but there wasn't enough foreshadowing or stakes at risk for me to care. I did like Willow's first bold move at the end to get what she wanted and respect her for that.

Although I did notice a cliche or two in the story-telling, I found that Ms. Denault expertly wove the story together in a manner that is refreshing and entertaining. Something that did irk me was the lack of Willow's interest in seeing her friends that she lost during the transition to the Core, she didn't fight to find them or see to their well-being personally, instead she took someone's word for it and that's not enough for me. I would have liked to see her take more initiative for that like she fought to see her family.

Personally I was not a fan of the relationship between Willow and her love interest in the story so far. It was too hot and cold for me and I didn't appreciate the wishy-washyness of Willow's feelings. While it's probably good for the story for pacing, I'd prefer if she just hated him and didn't like the complexity of it. Also the age difference definitely put me off, but I could see Willow change and grow into a more intelligent and mature woman as she goes on in the story.

The conclusion didn't quite leave me as satisfied. It was open ended and didn't quite share what would happen in the next book. While I certainly want to read the sequel, a reader who is indifferent to the story at the end may not be as interested to pick it up. There was no cliff hanger that had me craving to read the sequel right this moment if I had the option. 

This story is well written and if you like stories with super powers, political tension/marriages, and strong character development then you can't go wrong with this story.

4.4 out of 5 rating for me!

(A copy was provided for an honest review. I was not compensated in any other way.)

About the author:

C.L. Denault is a speculative fiction writer who loves dreaming up tales of adventure and intrigue. A former systems analyst, she gave up her nerdy code-writing skills to care for her family (including a son with special needs), and currently lives among the vast stretches of cornfields in Illinois.

Writing stories and posting on The INFJ Café are her biggest passions, along with drinking coffee and watching sci-fi. When she’s not hanging out with her husband and kids, she can usually be found at a library or tucked away in the shadowy corner of a hip coffeehouse. She’s also been glimpsed sneaking into her garage, late at night, to work on her time machine.

Her debut novel, Gambit, is the first in a Young Adult dystopian series.

Find out more at, twitter or facebook.


cldenault said...

Thank you so much for the review and for having me on your blog! :)

Aisazia said...

You're welcome! Thanks for having me on the tour! :D