ISAN by Mary Ting is a young adult, science fiction dystopia that is recently published on May 1st, 2018 by Vesuvian Books.
I picked up ISAN because it claimed to be a science fiction, dystopia but was pleasantly surprised to find the romance impressive enough. The story revolves around Ava who has been in ISAN (International Sensory Assassin Network) after she ran away from her foster home. ISAN, as you might be wondering, is a secret agency that trains young adults to fight and well, assassinate. But the catch is: it isn’t simply kicking asses. It’s kicking asses with a serum running in their blood and this serum, called the Helix, is the hero-cum-villain of the story. The serum heightens their senses and this power is used to fight. I won’t delve much into it due to my no-spoilers policy, but rest assured, the revelations are unpredictable at times and things aren’t what they seem to be.
Of course, being a dystopian, it had its set of tropes to muster and while this called for some eye rolling at times, I found myself giving in to the big twists for they were timed pretty well. It’s too early to comment on the overall plot since there’s a sequel in making but if I consider this sole piece, it was well planned and executed. The story starts off and ends at somewhat same but still completely opposite notes and I love that little cliffhanger that has killed me. There are enough events to give a sense of a complex science fiction and the action scenes don’t fail to push that adrenaline through you.
The characters are something that both pleased and disappointed me. I’m not going to mention any side character’s names because I personally feel that would take away the surprise elements, so bear with me. Ava, the female protagonist, is a tough girl who aces all her training missions and is now ready to fight the real ones, but the humanized side of her was well explored when she questions killing someone or anyone for that matter. You guys know how I am about humanizing so yeah, I like a tough girl who isn’t heartless. However, she does sometimes annoy me with her actions and dialogues which makes me question why I’m still reading and that isn’t cool. She had this underlying urge to prove herself to the people who might’ve (as a fact) stated that she failed and this gave a subtly ominous side to her character, in my opinion.
The side characters aren’t developed themselves. I’m going to say this outright because that’s exactly what I felt and though I think I should give this a benefit of doubt since the sequel is still in progress, I shouldn’t because this book had 300 pages. By the way, I’m saying this for the majority. Two were pretty well developed and there’s one who won my heart. That half star is there for him. Yeah, it’s a boy!
The writing is impressive especially with the action sequences that excited me. It’s written in the first person point-of-view. The backstories are built coherently and don’t make me question the planning stages of this novel at all. Overall, there were a few bits that fell off for me because how many dystopias can I actually love with the protagonist fighting for an organisation that he/she questions over the course of the story. Anyway, this was overall a pretty good read because of the few impressive climaxes that the story had through the middle. And of course, the cliffhanger that’s making me scream for more.
I received a digital copy of this via my participation in a promotional blog tour but that in no way influences my rating and/or opinion about it. Thank you, XpressoTours and Mary Ting!
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