Review: Seeker by Arwen Elys Dayton

Series: Seeker #1

seeker -arwen elys daytonThe night Quin Kincaid takes her Oath, she will become what she has trained to be her entire life. She will become a Seeker. This is her legacy, and it is an honor.

As a Seeker, Quin will fight beside her two closest companions, Shinobu and John, to protect the weak and the wronged. Together they will stand for light in a shadowy world.

And she’ll be with the boy she loves–who’s also her best friend. But the night Quin takes her Oath, everything changes.

Being a Seeker is not what she thought. Her family is not what she thought. Even the boy she loves is not who she thought. And now it’s too late to walk away.

2 Drink Me Potions

Seeker was fantasy novel set in something akin to modern day Scotland and Hong Kong. It had huge potential to become something exciting and intriguing. Magical swords, secrets centuries old and a family heritage of honorable warriors. Sounds like a great synopsis doesn’t it?

Well, that’s where your hopes go south. Dayton turned a very interesting plot into a monotonous journey between 4 narratives. How did it go so very wrong? Why, let me list them out for you.

1) World building
It may be set in Scotland and then in Hong Kong, all very familiar land marks, but that’s no excuse for the vagueness in the Seeker’s history and uh, what exactly they are and do . All you get is that they’re “honourable” and “help to change the world” with their “life or death decisions”. Such power. Of course that would mean some would stray from the noble route to follow their selfish heart’s desires.

So what exactly are those “bad deeds” that Seekers now do instead? Such terrible things that it scarred Quin and Shinobu so much when they took their oath?

Uh, they became assassins? It doesn’t get graphic or anything, but the vagueness of it takes away from their GIGANTIC reaction after realizing they’ve become “monsters”. Quin is so mortified that she wishes to never remember any of it. Shinobu follows the path of self-destruction through drugs, booze and reckless actions like building jumping. These plot elements took up so much space and time in Seeker, you’d expect to be more understanding of their predicament.

And then there’s also the confusion regarding the Seeker’s abilities. It takes a while into the novel before things start becoming more clear. Just what the heck do they do? Why are they so special or powerful? But the long-winded way it took to reach those answers could’ve driven many people away from the book by then.

2) Plot pacing
It was so BORING in the middle. I was occasionally flipping ahead just to see whose narrative we’d get to follow next ’cause the one I was on just wasn’t cutting it for me. Nothing truly exciting happened. Bad men chase the “good guys”. They fight back or they’re too busy drowning in their own problems to even notice or want to get away from danger. More mysterious tidbits into the Seekers but nothing solid to lure your undivided attention in.

The last 10-15 chapters picked up a bit, and I kinda wished the novel was like this for the most of it. The sections in Scotland in the first part was the hardest to get through. I can totally understand why so many people just DNFed. It took way too long to get the action going.

3) Characters
In Seeker, everything is written in 3rd person but we switch between following 4 different people. Quin and Shinobu are your typical protagonist narratives. They weren’t so bad to follow, except when they both bugged me to no end.

Quin was torn after learning of her beloved John’s other side, the darker side he kept hidden from her. The side that sought revenge over anything else. I just wanted to shake her. Can’t she see he’s so broken that she can’t heal him? I know love makes people blind, but it took a while for her to stop letting his mere presence interfere with proper thinking.

Shinobu’s walk into reckless self-destruction was so selfish. He thought he was only hurting himself, but he hurt those around him by being the way he was. They were so broken after becoming full-fledged Seekers and doing their “evil deeds”, but I wanted to poke at him to throw off the self-pity party already. He could still be the honourable hero he had always wanted to be. Drowning his sorrows like this didn’t make him any better of a person. However, I’m glad that it doesn’t end with him in his poor state, and for that it helped redeem his character as it showed a true depth to his growth and ability to find redemption for himself.

As for John, he’s like the book’s minor antagonist. There’s the big antagonist that is Quin’s awful Seeker father, but at least I could outright hate him. John? He was a different story. From his backstory that very slowly unfolded through his narrative, I couldn’t help but pity his descent into hatred and bitterness. It’s not simple to call him “evil” and be done with that. He cares for Quin (to my utmost chagrin, ’cause I don’t think he’s good enough for her), but he let his promise for retribution take over. His obsession for revenge drove everyone away. Maybe we’re supposed to feel bad for him, but all I can feel is tons of pity .

The last narrative is a girl named Maud. She’s something called a Dread, the youngest one in fact. Something else that belongs to Seeker history that we’re not so clearly explained for a long while. Actually, it’s still not fully explained by the end of it, but at least you learn a little bit more from her backstory. Her role is like to judge and monitor the actions of the Seekers, to prevent them from abusing such power. Ha! Where were they for the last few centuries? Although her narrative was the most confusing, she was the one person whom I didn’t want to strangle at some point through the novel. I’d say that’s a pretty good thing.

So that actually wasn’t all that short, but those were the things that annoyed me incessantly. Why the heck did I finish it? you may ask. Well, that’s a very good question. Sure, I was still a little bit curious about the Seekers. But mostly, it went down to the fact that a) I hate not finishing a book unless absolutely necessary, and b) I rushed through it to make sure Quin chose Shinobu. He was clearly the better candidate, and he understood her feelings perfectly. They were IN THE SAME BOAT. The sequel better have something nice going on for them, ’cause this book was NO ROMANCE. It would’ve spiced things up a little bit, especially when the plot action lacked so badly. It’s a shame it really didn’t go that way until the very end.

Oh, and you know what bothered me the most?

Wait for it.

The cheesy way Quin and Shinobu would always say “evildoers beware” over and over again. I think I just found a new pet peeve.

Overall Recommendation:
Seeker has many points against it, from slow pacing to annoying characters and very vague world building. This urban fantasy set in such beautiful settings like Scotland and Hong Kong could’ve made it truly adventurous and exciting, especially with a plot about secret powerful families. But it truly was missing the excitement factor, whether it be from learning more about Seekers or a forbidden romance. However, it literally read like a magical version of Revenge or something. All I can say is that there are not a lot of redeeming qualities to it, so here’s to hoping the sequel would be lots better from the low beginning.

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