You might have missed C.L. Denault’s Gambit, and that makes me sad for you

You might have missed C.L. Denault’s Gambit, and that makes me sad for you

I had never heard of Gambit until it popped up on a NetGalley, and it published months ago.  I was really surprised by that in light of the strong writing and the engaging narrative voice.  There is a sort of X-Men thing going on, and the futuristic and dystopian setting should have gotten this book more notice.  I don’t think this book will appeal to every reader (as I will certainly explain in detail below), but I think it has a lot of potential to make you a happy reader.  I gave it four stars, and so did most other reviewers on Goodreads.


Goodreads Summary

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?
My Thoughts

I have always liked the long lost princess storyline, and Gambit puts it to good use in this futuristic tale where having the right DNA can make you both valuable and a target.  This is a well written and engaging book that drew me in from the start.  I liked Willow as a narrator and a character because she came across as smart and independent.  I particularly liked how devoted she was to her friends and family.  This book follows her through a Buildungsroman arc where she is ripped from the life she knows and must struggle to find her new place in the world.  I liked that she had a few false starts because that seemed realistic, and she does, over time, learn the lesson she needed most – if you are going to fight, you need to fight smart.  Her constant defiance did start to wear on me, though, so she might not be as appealing to some readers who don’t have the patience for the constant challenging of authority.  I struggled with the characters from The Core, the privileged few who live in the cities.  They were a lot less emotional, so I couldn’t always read them or their intentions.  I think that was the point, but it made me feel hostile and suspicious of almost everyone in the second half of the book.  Even Reece, the first Core character readers encounter, didn’t quite feel sincere and I’m still not convinced he isn’t going to turn on a Willow sometime in the future.  I wasn’t quite sure if I wanted the relationship between Willow and Reece to stop being contentious, and I think other readers will feel the same way – he really feels like he is working on an agenda I couldn’t see, even at the end of the book.  This is a long read- over 500 pages, and I have to say I felt the length.  The story covers a lot of events in detail, and I felt like it dragged enough to be noticeable.  That is the trade off for a lot of careful character development which I can appreciate, but there were times when I really wanted to fast forward through sickbed scenes, combat lessons, a detailed makeover, or some of the conversations.  Overall, I think this is a book that lots of readers can enjoy.  The setting was something I had never seen before, and the addition of genetic alterations and the powers that come with them are interesting and fresh in this context.  Readers who like dystopian settings or strong, defiant female protagonist will definitely want to give this book a shot.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


About queenbook

When the final bell rings, I stash those messy piles of essays and analysis assignments in a desk drawer and I head home to a pile of good books. My kids and dog eat too many chicken nuggets and the house could be neater, but as long as I get my daily read, I guess we are doing all right. When I was twelve and fifteen and eighteen and twenty, I believed I needed to get out there and do those things I had just been reading about, which ended in disaster, tears, a tattoo that scares me every time I catch a glimpse of it in the mirror, and the realization that some of us are meant for action, and some of us are meant to critique the pace of action in a book. I read primarily YA fiction as I have a rather hulking classroom library and a hundred high school readers to engage daily. Nothing makes me happier than coming to school and finding an impatient teenager waiting by my door to turn in a book and get another one just like it. I adore a good zombie, a medieval princess, or girl assassin (I would like them all in one book if you are a writer looking for some inspiration). I add historical mystery to my wish list a year in advance, and you should get out of my way when the next Outlander book comes out. I have an embarrassing fondness for rock star books, but only if they don’t get too trashy and embarrass me. My favorite book of all time is The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery. My book boyfriends include Gilbert Blythe, Alonzo Wilder, and Jamie Fraser. They are mine and you can’t have them.

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