Arwen Elys Dayton
Random House Children’s, Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Published February 10, 2015
Quin is proud of her family’s legacy. She comes from a line of Seekers, warriors who protect the weak and bring justice to the world. Along with two other initiates – her best friend and the boy she loves – she prepares to take an Oath that will brand her a Seeker forever.
Upon her initiation, she discovers that nothing is what she thought. Now it’s too late to escape the fate she’s chosen.
The balance between the three central characters – Quin, Shinobu and John – worked well. All three characters share in the telling of the story. Each viewpoint adds something the others lack. Quin bears the greatest guilt and emotional turmoil. John’s perspective shows the dichotomy between his intentions and his actions and what that means to the others. Shinobu’s point-of-view adds a lighter element (with one exception) and even splashes of humor.
The story was a bit darker than I expected. Even apart from the drug use and the corruption of the Seekers, there were a lot of dark elements: John’s grandfather’s condition, the Young Dread’s treatment by her mentor, the relationship between Quin’s parents.
Despite its heaviness, the story has a great message. At one point, the Old Dread, the wisest of the three tells his young protégé, “Great minds are not what’s wanted. Only good hearts. Good hearts choose wisely.” This theme presents itself among the Seekers as well as the Dreads. When what was once a good, pure venture has been deeply corrupted, it’s difficult to see the way back to that purity. Only good hearts will be able to accomplish such a task.
Brief, sometimes intense kissing.
A woman works as an escort, and while all that entails isn’t specified, it’s definitely implied.
Quin, Shinobu and John aspire to become Seekers, warriors who use powerful artifacts to transport to other places where they are tasked with bringing justice and protecting the innocent.
Quin’s mother can hear the thoughts of others.
Three people called Dreads stand apart from the Seekers acting as judges. They can step out of time and stretch themselves, meaning they live for hundreds of years without aging.
A girl uses her Seeker abilities as a healer, focusing in on the body’s energy and coaxing bad energy patterns back into good ones.
Several battle sequences in which characters use swords, knives and a vicious weapon called a disruptor. (The disruptor essentially causes fatal madness.) In one scene, new Seeker initiates receive a brand on their arms.
Assassins kill John’s mother and other members of his ancestors. He views photographs taken of their murdered bodies.
A young man tries but fails to commit suicide. The attempt serves as a wake-up call, leaving him energized and determined to help his friends.
There are hints and brief descriptions of abuse by the Middle Dread on the Young Dread. In the worst instance, he tears her garment, exposing her body and cruelly pinches one of her breasts.
Quin’s mother is an alcoholic. She’s clearly using alcohol to numb out, it’s unclear at first what she’s trying to escape. A boy falls victim to several different forms of drug abuse. Some scenes depict his drug use or the effects of it. It’s never portrayed in a positive light, and consequences to his actions are pretty serious. He nearly causes a loved one to overdose.