The Runebinder Chronicles #1
by Alex R. Kahler
Published on November 14, 2017 by Harlequin TEEN
Genres: Dystopian, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
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Magic is risen.
When magic returned to the world, it could have saved humanity, but greed and thirst for power caused mankind's downfall instead. Now once-human monsters called Howls prowl abandoned streets, their hunger guided by corrupt necromancers and the all-powerful Kin. Only Hunters have the power to fight back in the unending war, using the same magic that ended civilization in the first place.
But they are losing.
Tenn is a Hunter, resigned to fight even though hope is nearly lost. When he is singled out by a seductive Kin named Tomás and the enigmatic Hunter Jarrett, Tenn realizes he's become a pawn in a bigger game. One that could turn the tides of war. But if his mutinous magic and wayward heart get in the way, his power might not be used in favor of mankind.
If Tenn fails to play his part, it could cost him his friends, his life…and the entire world.
I almost DNFed Runebinder. I wanted to love it because it’s diverse. It’s YA. It’s fantasy. I mean, you can’t lose, right?
Heh. About that. . .
So this book’s major problem right off the bat for me was the fact that I had no idea what was going on. For starters, I thought this was a fantasy (as in, a story set in another world) but it’s actually set in OUR world in some alternate future where magic comes back and screws things up. So it’s more dystopian/urban fantasy. Not what I was expecting but I can live with that. I recently read Nora Roberts’s Year One that was similar to that. But it’s written like we should already know what’s happening.
Perhaps I missed the part where our world had magic and I lived through that change?
In any case, there was a lot of world and not enough time spent fleshing it out on the page so immediately I started losing interest based on confusion and no connection to the story.
Then it brings in the story. Runebinder fell prey to what I mentally call “first epic syndrome” where it acts as the stage-setter for what will likely be an even grander story. Which meant for a somewhat slow read with book 1 rather than an engaging action-packed read (I mean there’s action and all but I wasn’t really hooked so it didn’t do much good).
And that ties into Tenn. Our protagonist. Our annoying protagonist. I just didn’t like him at all. Nothing about his personality made me want to read about him. Hard to care about a book when you’re struggling to understand the world and you have no interest in the main character.
But, and I save this for last because it’s the one redeeming factor about this book. The rep. The diverse rep. Oh my goodness it was GREAT. Here you have a book where you can just assume that the character is NOT hetero until told otherwise and I loved it! I’ve never read a book, much less a fantasy, where it was normalized and written in such a way where it feels natural. Not tossed in last minute as I’ve seen in the past. If not for the other aspects of this book, I would be recommending Runebinder to everyone.
Unfortunately, from an entertainment perspective, I didn’t enjoy reading this book for the story so it was a bust for me. But the reviews seem to be all over the place so if you’re interested in Runebinder I wouldn’t pass over it just yet. Give it a go and hopefully you’ll enjoy it more than me!