Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Review: Rules of Survival by Jus Accardo

Rules of Survival
Rules of Survival by Jus Accardo
June 2, 2014
Entangled Embrace
290 pages
Genre: New Adult/ Coming-of-Age
(Contains: Mature language, some sex)
Source: eARC from publisher for Honest review
Book Synopsis:
If you want to survive, you have to follow the rules…

Mikayla Morgan is wanted for her mother's murder. She's been on the run for almost a year now, avoiding not only the police but the real killer. Tired of running and desperate to clear her name, she breaks one of the most sacred rules: never return to the scene of the crime.

Every bounty hunter on the Eastern Seaboard is after the Morgan girl—but Shaun Denver and his partner snagged her. She's a piece of work, and Shaun can't decide if he wants to kiss her or kill her. When things take a sharp turn south, Shaun does the only thing he can think of to keep her close—he handcuffs them together.

As the danger mounts and the killer closes in, the chemistry between them threatens to explode. Shaun and Kayla will need to break all the rules if they hope to get out of this alive.

My Review:

Rules of Survival is the story of Mikayla (aka, Kayla), on the run for the past year for the murder of her mother, that she didn't commit. Bounty hunters, some of which have been after her and her mom all her life, are after her now. When Kayla is cornered by Patrick and Shaun, two of the hunters, while trying to figure out how to clear her name, the game of survival just kicked into overdrive. Honestly, I have mixed feelings about this one. There were parts I really liked, parts that were exciting, parts that were mysterious, parts that were predictable, and parts that just didn't work for me. Here's a bit of what I liked and didn't like:

What I Liked:
  • I would place this between Mature Young Adult and New Adult. I liked that this is a gentler transition between the genres. Kayla is 18 and Shaun is 20-something. But it's from Kayla's POV and reads as an 18-year-old. While there is sexuality, it is not the heavily-ladled borderline erotica many "new adult" books are putting out there.
  • The main characters had sympathetic pasts that had a decent complexity. I enjoyed getting to know them. Kayla is a tough girl, a survivor, who has lived a very unique life, and she never quits. I liked her, even though she was easily distracted by a cute boy. And Shaun's backstory, especially the bits with Patrick, was both heart-breaking and sweet. Once you get past the superficial, Shaun is very endearing.
  • There was a certain complexity that Accardo created that made the story interesting and not run-of-the-mill. There's mystery and suspense, trying to puzzle missing pieces together, trying to read through lies, deceptions, and misconceptions. While some of it was predictable, it was still interesting and thoughtful.
  • Though the mistakes here were big and far-reaching, it does showcase that even parents make mistakes, and how a child might cope with those mistakes, forgive, trust, and unconditionally love.
  • I liked the ending and the story itself felt complete. Not everything was all rainbows and flowers in the end, but what started as a very difficult reality for Kayla, ended with peace and hope, and I liked that.
Not so much:
  • The first chapter sets the precedence for the tone of the book that didn't sit great with me, and affected the rest of the read. Kayla doesn't run away. Kayla kept trying to read the letter instead of stuffing it in her pocket for later when she was out of mortal danger. Kayla's eying Shaun like she's never seen a cute boy before. Kayla says there's no alternative exit when there's suddenly an exit. No one seems to have any weapons or protection. Of course, if she had the letter there would have been no story, but I was still bothered by the girl's poor choices. It set a precedence for future blunders.
  • Insta-whatever it was. I don't mind insta-attraction or even insta-love in general. I remember the first time I met my husband fondly. But for me the "insta" between Kayla and Shaun just didn't work for me considering the delicate situation they were in to begin with. In the first few chapters, reading about all the flirty looks and lusting and being so easily distracted just felt far-fetched and forced. They were in a life-threatening situation minutes into meeting each other. There should be no googly eyes! Their growing feelings felt more realistic, but the beginning kinda ruined the spark for me.
  • A couple predictable parts I figured out and was just waiting for Kayla to catch up. And there were a few things that were just off or plot holes, which I won't spoil. The book was still enjoyable, but these left it a little less satisfying.
Overall, this standalone was a quick, enjoyable read for me, but nothing to jump up and down about. I love Accardo's Denazen series, and her writing here was still really good, I just didn't like it as much. But I am still a fan of Accardo and will continue to read her books. But don't let me discourage you. If you are looking for a suspenseful read, a bit of a whodunit with a sweet romance, and some action-filled moments, then Rules of Survival may just be for you.

3-1/2 STARS

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