Review: Countdown by Michelle Rowen

CountdownSource: Harlequin Teen/Netgalley – I received this book in exchange for an honest review. I received no compensation
Publisher: HarlequinTeen
Edition: eARC, 336 Pages
Genre: Young Adult Sci-Fi Dystopian
Purchase: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository*
*I receive a small monetary kickback from Amazon purchases
Rating: 3/5

3 seconds left to live. Once the countdown starts, it cannot be stopped.

2 pawns thrown into a brutal underground reality game.

Kira Jordan survived her family’s murder and months on plague-devastated city streets with hard-won savvy and a low-level psi ability. She figures she can handle anything. Until she wakes up in a barren room, chained next to the notorious Rogan Ellis.

1 reason Kira will never, ever trust Rogan. Even though both their lives depend on it.

Their every move is controlled and televised for a vicious exclusive audience. And as Kira’s psi skill unexpectedly grows and Rogan’s secrets prove evermore deadly, Kira’s only chance of survival is to risk trusting him as much as her instincts. Even if that means running head-on into the one trap she can’t escape.


Countdown follows two teens as they struggle to survive in a twisted televised game, while learning to trust each other and finding out just who their real enemies are. The story is set at a quick and breakneck pace and while the overall concept is interesting I found a few elements distracting.

The Countdown is a tv show broadcast to a limited number of subscribers where two unlikely and mostly unlikeable people are pitted against danger after danger, and offered the chance at a new life free from their prison binds if they can survive. Kira is now the only female competitor and the only person to be picked up outside of the prison walls, and the subscribers love her. She’s feisty and independent, and with added combo of a sad past and a rough life she’s just the kind of girl who might survive the Countdown. However she is paired with Rogan who is a notorious criminal with a wrap sheet she doesn’t want any part of. I initially enjoyed these two together because Kira is standoff-ish and keeps her distance, it’s a working relationship with no added tangles. However it does began to blossom into something more and while I understood the need for the emotional attachment, I just wasn’t really feeling the connection. I think it might have been the amount of twists and turns that theses two have to go through.I do like that Rogan is more than he seems, but he’s increasingly frustrating in his tough guy routine that he uses to deflect conversations with.

The plot is set at a heart-racing speed that really pulled me in. I loved the idea of the television show and how horrible it was. It reminded me a Doctor Who episode where is a network full of game shows all set to eliminate constants in the most permanent way possible. I even like the reason behind all of the evil. There isn’t much world-building to be had though we do get a bit of info on the world and why it is the way it is, but I wish there had been a bit more. However I did have one glaring problem with the plot which was her physic ability mentioned in the summary. It isn’t really brought up until about half-way into the novel and at that point it felt too late for it to be introduced. I was already committed to the story and the way it was going, so having this new element suddenly made it feel bulky. It wasn’t really a unnecessary addition it just felt odd to suddenly learn about something so out there and I wished it had been at least hinted at or mentioned earlier on.

Overall I found Countdown to be a high-octane ride with a lot of twists and turns and despite it’s issues I still enjoyed it. I believe this is a standalone novel, so it was nice to be to sit down and enjoy a complete story without having to wait a full year for the next one.

3 star

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5 Responses to Review: Countdown by Michelle Rowen

  1. Octavia says:

    I’ve had my eye on this one for a while. After your review I probably won’t buy it but I’ll definitely see if my library has it! Fabulous review Michelle. 🙂

  2. Hey, fellow Whovian!

    I’ve seen this book reviewed a lot lately and being it as a standalone is a plus. Fab review!

  3. Gah weren’t the psi abilities frustrating, like why aren’t we given any details about it and where it came from? I liked the concept of it, but yeah, it lacked on detail about the psi and world building. Great review as always Michelle!

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