Character development is strong in this one!
At first I want to thank Kay L. Moody, the author of Truth Seer, for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review. I was so happy and felt really flattered – so THANK YOU!!! And then, let’s look at that cover! Isn’t it gorgeous? Very intriguing, and the little quote on top reflects the character development in the book perfectly. Now, let’s get straight into the review!
Sci-Fi isn’t a genre I usually read, but I was really intrigued by the blurb, so I thought why not try out something new? And I’m glad that I did! It provided me insight into a new genre that I might consider for my future reads as well, something I probably wouldn’t have done otherwise.
“The truth hurts. But if you can accept it, it will make you stronger.” (p. 180)
The story revolves around Imara, a 21 year old girl who has the hila (a kind of special talent, or gift) of seeing whether someone lies or tells the truth. Not only that, she can also see emotions surrounding a person in different colours and shapes. I thought of it as similar to auras. The evening of her older sister Naki’s graduation party from hila school, a group of taggers, some kind of terrorists, arrives and gathers for a demonstration in order to raise awareness for their cause. Not only that, but their leader, the so-called Judge, also takes hostages. Amongst them is Imara’s sister, and so begins the quest of coming to their rescue. Will Imara and her friends find her sister and the others in time, and can they stop the Judge..?
I found the concept of the story quite intriguing – after all, what’s not to love about an adventurous quest? – but I had a few problems with the realization of it. Let me explain why.
The year is 2121, and there are many technological advancements, which I found quite interesting! The story features rings that function similarly to smart phones, but they have hologram screens that open up when you tap on them, and temperature controlled underclothes that can be controlled though the apps on the ring. Then there are also special items, the so-called transporters, that can be used to teleport from one place to another – all of these advancements I found quite intriguing! Maybe it would have made it easier if these technologies were explained more properly in the beginning though, so that one would have a thorough understanding of how the world works (after all, it’s the year 2121!)
I liked how strong and self-sufficient Imara was. She has a strong personality, and trusts her own instincts. She knows she is good in what she does, which is normally a good thing, but it also made her quite unlikeable, at least in the beginning of the book. Her hila is to see truths, and she usually judges people based on what she sees, not on what they act like or tell her. She basically has an advantage on them and is quite prejudiced, because she sees things they are not prepared for others to see. In this regard, I found it a bit shallow of Imara to dislike the taggers and their cause, because as far as I understood it, tagging is basically what Imara does – they brand people on their negative character traits so that everyone can see them. How can Imara judge the taggers when she basically does the same?
Another thing that bothered me a bit was the actual journey of Imara and her friends (and the school’s director) through the catacombs (this reminded me a bit of both The Hunger Games and Journey to the Center of the Earth). The storyline itself sounds interesting, but there were several inconsistencies in my opinion. The first would be how easily they overcame the challenges that were put in their way. Usually, Imara used her abilities to look past illusions put there by the taggers in order to keep people out of the catacombs very easily, and so the suspense couldn’t really grow. We later learn the actual purpose of this, but I found it a bit… well, boring, or lacking in suspense at times, and wished for harder challenges that actually challenged them and held them up for a while. There also wasn’t really a feeling of true danger, which I thought was a pity, because it could have been made so much more suspenseful otherwise.
What I found good, though, was that it was Imara who took the lead and led the group through the catacombs, and not one of the other (male) characters of the group. However, the way she did it made her mostly unlikable, as she was quite bossy which again, made her a bit off-putting as a character; she came across as a know-it-all more than once.
Interestingly, though, it later dawned on me that this was intended. Siluk, one of the boys that joined Imara on her quest, told her directly that nobody actually likes her because she gets into everybody’s business. So maybe this was intended in order to make her change in the end seem all the more powerful? When she looks into a mirror – which she dreads, by the way, Imara sees herself in this negative light, too: “Judgmental. Mean. Greedy. Selfish” (p. 183). “Imara searched, but every emotion staring back at her was negative. It made her insides boil with hate. A self-loathing she had learned to ignore” (p. 184). I found that this revelation made her all the more likable as a character, because she didn’t choose to ignore her negative feelings towards her own personality. That’s when I started to like her more. Imara is not only hard on others, but also on herself, which made her much more pleasant.
However, I didn’t really understand how the group did not have to be more careful to not make any noise in case the taggers were there, because the way I understood it, the catacombs had many twists and turns and hiding places, so the way they ventured through them seemed a bit dangerous in my opinion. Another thing that had bothered me for most of the book was that I didn’t really understand the concept of (and danger behind) “tagging”, which is explained only quite late into the story. The same was the case with the terrorists/extremists – I didn’t see the danger behind their intentions until the end of the book, when Imara has to face the Judge.
At times, there also seemed to be a lacking consistency in the book, for example concerning the technologies they use. At one point towards the second half of the story, the Judge appears and with the use of explosives, the girls are separated from the others and the Judge, and they are happy to know that the Judge cannot be with them in the room, when there is the transporter that might actually make the Judge appear besides them. There were several times when I thought “Wait a minute, but there is xxx, could they not use that to do that/go there instead?”, which I thought was a pity.
What I did like, though, was the growing relationship between Imara and Abe (though I thought their first kiss happened a bit too early-on – just a couple of hours after they had first met). Also the twist in the end was quite a good one, and I totally did not see it coming! Now looking back, it does make sense, but I didn’t expect it at all, which was a plus in the suspense-department! Also, I really wanted to know what the Judge was all about, so I kept reading and reading until I had finished the book in a couple of hours.
Another slight negative I have to mention was that I didn’t really see what part Mr. Nazari, Abe’s father, played in the group. He was never really there when they needed him, and he didn’t really play an active role in the plot, so I thought he could have easily been left out. Also, why did he not make sure that the Judge, once they had him, was trapped or secured properly, so that he couldn’t escape them? That happened several times, and I thought they were all quite careless in that regard, but I have to point an accusing finger at Mr. Nazari especially!
In the end, I was quite relieved to find that I liked Imara a lot more than I had in the beginning! One of the things that happened (which I don’t want to spoiler here) in her confrontation with the Judge made her start to question her own abilities and actually start to see the good in people, which I liked a lot! Also, her relationship with her family changed towards the better, which was nice to see.
If you like a futuristic sci-fi story with a strong female character that goes through a lot of changes, I suggest you read Truth Seer and see for yourself how you like Imara and her quest! This book has hologram screens, teleportation, eraserfalls (a kind of waterfall that takes away your hila if you happen to fall into it), and a dash of romance (which – let’s be honest, is always a plus).
3 stars from me – with the prospect of more in the next installment – I’m very much looking forward to read book 2 and see how everything develops!