October 18, 2015

Allison Rose: "Tick"

Title: Tick [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: Tick (1st of 3 books)
Author: Allison Rose [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Sci-fi, Dystopian
Year: 2015
Age: 14+
Stars: 3.5/5
Pros: Not your usual dystopian. Never a boring moment. Romance plays a very small part in the story (which I think should be the case with a sci-fi book).
Cons: Main character is not easy to empathise with. Near-future L.A. and lead's relationships would have benefited from a little backstory.
WARNING! Very graphic violence and gore.
Will appeal to: Those who like action, conspiracies, stories about redemption, and tough girls who can cry nevertheless.

Blurb: Jo Bristol has a tick...she has visions of killing people. Los Angeles is under attack from cyber terrorists, and in an effort to stop them, the city uses spy drones to seek out civilians with brain abnormalities and adjusts their brains to remove any criminal tendencies. Jo has spent her life evading the drones and having her brain manipulated by keeping her tick a secret, until a week before her seventeenth birthday her visions threaten to become reality. Having always wanted to be a painter, Jo knows any adjustment to her brain could alter her artistic sense and she could lose all that makes her who she is. She must do everything she can to hide the darkness in her mind or lose her muse completely. (Amazon excerpt)

Review: First off...DISCLAIMER: I won this book in a giveaway. And I did befriend the author on Twitter after that. She even commented on one of my posts. This didn't affect my review in any way.
I was sold on this book after I read the blurb. I so wanted to read the story of a girl who fights in order to stay who she is and preserve the very thing she values above anything else. Also, the art theme, in all its forms, is very dear to me. I ended up reading a book that soon took a different route than I expected, but it was gripping and entertaining in its own way. The only thing that prevented me from giving it a higher rating (apart from not getting the story I thought I'd read, but it's not like I meant to punish the book for that ;)) was the fact that I found Jo a bit hard to empathise with...but I suppose it couldn't be avoided, given what happens to her and the predicament she finds herself in. I reckon the author didn't give birth to Jo with the intent of creating a character you could connect with in the usual way - by putting yourself in her shoes. (That's just my opinion though). But since I tend to need to do that with my characters, it had an impact on my rating, if small. On the other hand, I highly appreciated the work and thought that went into crafting this story, and the fact that it didn't shun going to very dark places - and I'm sure most people would be more than willing to rate it four stars and more :).
Don't get me wrong, Jo is not your average love-to-hate character. Not the petty queen bee who takes pleasure in bullying schoolmates, or whose main interest is painting her nails à la mode, but who is forced to become a better person as the story proceeds. She's not perfect by any means, but just wants to be able to paint, and fights in order to preserve her vision. Too bad that there are other kinds of vision that plague her, and soon swallow her whole life, spitting out a nightmare. Things get very rough for Jo, but those around her pay a high price for that. One begins to question what tells her apart from your usual killers who claim they don't take pleasure in offing people, but simply can't help doing it again and again...until...Jo starts a path of redemption, and we get a final revelation (though still very mysterious) that makes us understand there's a lot more to her "killer instinct". [...]

The story obviously takes place in a near-future America, Los Angeles to be precise. There's some advanced (and scary) technology, but nothing that can give us the impression of a huge gap between our world and the one we get to see in the book. Then again, even before chaos ensues, Los Angeles has become the ghost of what it used to be, and I had to wonder how it could have happened in so brief a time span, and how the factions that are at war with each other came into existence. I would also have liked a little backstory for Jo and Madri's friendship, because they come from very different backgrounds, and it's difficult to imagine what brought them together in the first place. All the more so because we see that Jo needs Madri, but it doesn't seem like the reverse is true. I hope we'll see Madri again in the next installment, and maybe get some answers :).
I'm not going to mention all the characters who populate this story, but Evie was fascinating, a mix between innocence and the toughness that spurs from having to fend for yourself in a merciless world. I really liked how protective of her Jo is, and how Evie tries to convince Jo that she doesn't need protection, but fiercely clings to her - though sometimes it's difficult to tell who's protecting who ;).
The pages before the actual ending are really evocative, and though - on a conscious level - I thought that Jo's art had been given a power that (IMO) it would hardly have hold in real life, I was still happy to suspend my disbelief and enjoy what it's capable to do in the story.
I was able to spot a handful of typos in the 230+ pages of Tick, which, admittedly, is not much in an indie book. Especially since I've seen some in traditionally published ones lately...Anyway, they didn't detract from my enjoyment of the story.
In the end, I encourage you to read this couple of articles that Allison Rose posted on her site, in which she explains how the idea for this book came to her, and all the scientific research that went into it. Don't worry, it's nothing intimidating, and you'll get to read some profound thoughts about how artists have to bleed for us...
The Science of Sci-Fi, Tick Style: Pt. 1 | Pt. 2.

For more Sci-Fi books click here.


  1. AHHH!! Deleted comments! I'm really glad you reviewed this. I've been thinking about it since the author signed up for Awesome Indies.

    1. I'm looking forward to your interview then! Judging from her posts, she does have interesting things to say :). I'm also looking forward to the sequels - Vice (out in March) and Mark.

      Deleted comments, ugh.

  2. Minimal romance sounds nice, but I'm just not a dystopian fan.

    1. This one is not very typical...as in your usual "the Earth became a wasteland and a girl alone can save the world"...so maybe it could appeal to you a bit more, who knows? :)

  3. I really like the sound of this one - I like it a bit darker - especially with dystopians.

    I often feel out of the loop for the *why & how* of the world building too and I've learned to go with the flow and hope that pieces get filled in (same with the characters/friendships) over the course of the series.

    I haven't read a dystopian novel in years but I'll keep Tick in mind if I decide to dabble int he genre again since it sounds a little different than the norm.

    Karen @For What It's Worth

    1. It is! I'm looking forward to exploring the rest of the series (book 2 "Vice" is scheduled for March).


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