Thursday, 12 April 2012

The White Oak

Kim White

Bookshelves: Cyber punk, Dystopia, Young Adult, Fantasy

My Rating ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

What the Blurb said

In The White Oak, the first book in the Imperfect Darkness series, Cora Alexander falls through a sinkhole and enters the underworld still alive. Her living presence threatens the tyrannical rule of Minos and the infernal judges who have hijacked the afterlife and rebuilt it, trapping human souls in a mechanical, computer-controlled city that lies at the core of the earth. To survive, Cora must rely on her untrustworthy guide, Minotaur, an artificial intelligence built by Minos. She is helped by a mysterious voice, and by Sybil, underworld librarian and author of each person's book of life. Sybil's collection holds the key to humankind's intertwined life stories. When Cora's own book is destroyed, Sybil gives her a magical golden pen and sends her to the underworld city to write her own destiny. Along the way, Cora finds the ghost of her dead brother, Lucas, a genius programmer who alone is capable of finding the chink in Minos's armor. But will he be able to get Cora out alive, or will they both succumb to the seemingly inescapable underworld trap?


The best thing about this book was the novelty of the plot. I found it refreshingly original and I have to say I'm impressed by the author's ability to come up with something that's different, blend it with cyber punk, and make it work. 

I admit I'm used to slow readings, so much so that I've also developed this bad habit of not paying attention during the initial paragraphs. I'm reading, yes, and I'm registering the names and such but I'm kind of skimming through it most times. Yes, guilty as charged. 

So I practically felt ambushed when I was taken headfirst into the story right on the first page. I was like Whoa! Wait a min! Go back, I don't get what's happening! Normally, I like my books to start out slow, giving bit by bit at a time before moving on to the bigger, actual plot. Anyways, during the first time, I paused and bookmarked it because I had realized this book had details that I couldn't pass of as light reading and I needed the full capacities of my brain if I were to enjoy it. I'm glad I did.

The next time I started at the beginning and I almost couldn't keep the book down. It was very intriguing, the idea of an artificial intelligence ruling the realm of death or underworld as we say it. It's like reading Dante's inferno in a time soon to come. I like how Kim White has etched out her version of purgatory, the levels of the underworld, the souls, the ferry rides, the mechanizations, it's surrealism at it's best. I would not have said no to a couple more chapters on the descriptions and workings of the underworld. It was all very captivating. This book unfolded like an epic journey, there were a lot of interesting things, scenarios that kept me eager and anticipating. My favorite chapter has to be when she goes to meet Sybil in the library, it's fantastic and beautifully written.

I'd have liked to get to know Cora and Lucas, more than the book allows, I wanted to know them in detail. The characters didn't seem very deep to me, specially Cora, I guess I'd have liked to read what goes on in her mind, her thoughts, her emotions a lot more but I think this kind of detached emotional state kind of complimented the cyberpunk theme. 

A lot more is to come in the sequel obviously, I'll just have to wait, I liked the bond the two siblings shared, and I loved the fact that even in death her brother was concerned about Cora's safety. These two make an epic team. Minotaur is another interesting character, I think he's good but he hasn't made up his mind yet. He's bound to his maker, and therefore he has to do everything his master says. I like the fact that Minotaur likes emotions, he wants to feel, makes me smile quite a bit. And let's not forget the voice that comes to Cora when she needs the most help! Oh I'm dying to find out who this person is. 

Another scene I really enjoyed reading was the trial, it somehow reminded me of how the Queen of Hearts put Alice on trial. Perhaps it's just the element of something so amazingly different. Loved the clear and simple description. Over all, The White Oak was thrilling, an exciting adventure, where no one could be trusted, where one can't be sure where the other's loyalties lie. Can Minotaur be trusted? Can Cora connect with the mysterious voice again? How is she going to write her destiny? These are all the questions I can't wait to find out.

Definitely looking forward to reading the next book. 

Oh and I forgot to mention, I absolutely love the cover!