Halo by Frankie Rose
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Halo by Frankie Rose was a quick read, action filled, and I honestly was unable to put this one down. It has a unique plot and some interesting characters. I say this a lot but characters on top of a good story really make me love a book and this one has both. Honestly there was so much I enjoyed about this book I don’t really know if I will be able to do it justice in my review but I will try.
First, the story. The main character, Kit, has grown up in the Sanctuary and as far back as she can remember, has been a fighter. As Falin Kitsch, she is one of the most successful fighters and as a fighter; she also wears a halo which regulates her emotions. The halo actually makes it so that she doesn’t feel pain as well as have any feelings or emotions which as a fighter have helped her but in other areas of her life; it has definitely been a drawback….something she doesn’t realize until it is gone.
As one of the best, she is finally matched up in the ring with Cai, the fighter she trains with. Cai is also the person she is closest with, or as close as she could be with someone that she can’t feel anything for. As Kit and Cai begin their match, Kit begins to see that something isn’t right. Cai is a better competitor than he is appearing and eventually she realizes what he is doing. He is giving up his life so that she can live. As a last parting gift to her, he yanks her halo loose and her life changes forever.
Kit begins to realize Cai wasn’t really what he appeared. His halo stopped working 8 months prior and he was on a mission to find a way out for both of them. He had feelings for Kit for a while and had come to realize how much he really cared for her. Now that he is dead, Kit makes the decision to run and get away from the Sanctuary.
As she is escaping, Kit crosses paths with Ryka and things get really interesting. Not only is Kit exposed to a different environment and rules, she is also experiencing a lot of emotions that she isn’t used to as well as comfortable with.
One thing I wish was that we had gotten more about how the world came to be and why the Sanctuary existed with their caste system as well as the outsider groups outside the fence.
Now – the characters. I really liked Kit. Before she left the Sanctuary, she seemed machine-like and seeing the change in her as she let go of the halo was important. I loved how Ryka made her see there is more to life than just hiding from the pain of everything life throws at you. As she adapts to the onset of emotions and feelings she definitely questions whether she did the right thing. Throw on top of that the fact that she is having odd feelings towards Ryka, and her whole world is out of whack.
I also loved Ryka. He is from Freetown and crosses paths with Kit as she is escaping and takes her back with him. He too, is a fighter in his town but they have very different rules and as we find out, his childhood hasn’t been easy either. As he and Kit become closer, he is one of the people that help her realize that the Sanctuary wasn’t the best place. I enjoyed the banter between Kit and Ryka and then seeing their relationship become more than just antagonistic. Now, I don’t usually find myself drawn to the blonde guys but Ryka might actually change my mind. He is described as:
His hair is bright blond and tied back into a messy ponytail. It’s so short I can tell he must have to re-tie it fifty times a day. Strands of it hand down into his face even now. His eyes are startlingly dark, a very intense brown. He also has a dimple…come on!
Also, the scene with the knives singing, their first kiss and when he is trying to convince Kit not to put the halo back on…dead.
“You say this is your choice, Kit, and you’re right. I’m begging you not to choose this. Choose something else. Choose the possibility that there could be something else worth feeling all the bad stuff for. Choose me.”
I enjoyed the secondary characters in this story as well. From Grandfather Jack to James, they all had a role in this book but my favorite was Olivia. She was so key to helping Kit adapt to the new town as well as being around others. From the moment they met at the side of the river, they were destined to be friends. The part I liked the most with Olivia because it actually revealed a lot about her character was when she had the bed made for Kit and they have the following conversation:
“No one’s ever done anything like this for me before.”
“Get used to it. I like doing nice things for people. It’s a simple joy in life, making others happy.”
As the story progresses, quite a bit happens. Despite the fact that Kit has found a new life in Freetown, she can’t let go of the fact that her brother is still in the Sanctuary along with a number of others who are looking for a way out. Because of this, they make the decision to go back and try to save them. Upon their return, a number of things go wrong and I’m not going to ruin the story for anyone so no details…sorry.
Although it isn’t labeled as a series, I am optimistic that it truly is. Rose definitely left things wide open with where the conflict between the Sanctuary and Freetown is and I am curious to see where things progress with the priestesses as I quite honestly can’t figure them out. James is also another one I need more of…not because I like him. Clearly he is up to something and is power hungry. I’m not sure what will happen with him but it definitely can’t be good for Kit and Ryka.
I’m glad I picked this one up and definitely recommend this to anyone who likes the dystopian genre. The halo puts a slight twist on the story and although I wanted more backstory, I thought Rose did a great job describing the world as it is today. Rose also created some solid characters and an action packed story that includes a little bit of romance. I’m pretty sure I’m going to need to know what happens next as soon as possible – anyone know when the next book comes out?