Author: Frankie Rose
Age Group: Young Adult
Release Date: 30th March 2013
Publishers: Self published
Available from: Amazon
She has no name. She has her knives; her training; her halo. The first and second give her the tools and the skill to defeat the opponents she is pitched against each month. The third frees her from pain and fear. From any kind of emotion at all. Everything is as it should be. Everything is as it should be, until…
When a newly-named Kit escapes the Sanctuary after killing her best friend, the last thing she needs is another knife in her hand. Or Ryka, the damaged, beautiful blonde boy, who she refuses to let save her. Still learning how to process the onslaught of her new feelings, the sights and sounds of Freetown are overwhelming and strange. There are a hundred differences between her old home and her new one, but one thing remains starkly similar: the matches. Yet where the blood in the Sanctuary landed only on the colosseum floor, Kit will quickly learn that a river of red runs through Freetown’s very streets. Freed from the oppression of a society who stole her right to feel, the true horror of her old life leaves Kit wondering if she really has been freed at all. Would she be better off without the crippling horror of all the blood on her hands, or is the love of one boy worth living through all the pain? Raksha is the call of the dead. The rumbling chant for fresh blood from the other side, the demand for sacrifice. The colosseum is behind Kit. The fighting pits await.
I love Frankie and her books, so I jumped at the chance to be able to beta read Raksha, plus I love dystopias. I thought it was good then, but the finished product is awesome! She has created a compelling dystopia that rivals the many already out there; with a futuristic version of ancient Roman Gladiators. The Coliseum where Kit fights is as brutal as you'd expect. Fighters are almost revered, but are still socially marginalised because they have to wear halos that clearly defines their place in Sanctuary. If they fight, or even, die well they are admired especially if they make a lot of money for their House. While reading Raksha, I found it incredibly easy to 'see' the world Frankie has created. Scenes jumped out at me and it felt almost as if I was right there alongside Kit.
Kit has spent her life training and fighting, but she only really lives half a life with her halo on. A halo is a device that is affixed around her neck and releases a drug to control her emotions. When that's gone she has to experience a lifetimes worth of emotions and feelings, which gives her an intensely vulnerable side. Reading about her experiences without her halo is sometimes funny, refreshing and heart breaking. She deals with them as best as she can but they sometimes get the better of her. Kit is the sort of female character I love to read; she's got a core of steel so she can always rescue herself and a determination to right the wrongs she now understands. After fleeing the Sanctuary, Kit meets Ryka. She is immediately suspicious of him and goes out of her way to avoid him. In the end though she agrees to go along with him to Freetown.
Ryka is just as badass as Kit, having grown up training and fighting as well. In the beginning he thinks Kit's claims of being the best fighter Sanctuary are ridiculous. He informs her that Freetown isn't like where she's from, females don't fight and they certainly do not carry knives. Although Ryka isn't as tragic as Frankie's other book boys, he is definitely a keeper. He can be incredibly frustrating, and has a smart mouth. Ryka is fiercely protective of those he loves and has a stubborn streak to rival Kit's. The interactions between them have to be some of the best parts of the book.
Then there's Falin Asha; Kit's sparring partner for ten years and almost friend. You don't understand his motivations straight away, but when you realise what he went through to set Kit free, it will tug at your heart strings. Because you learn alongside Kit, you get to experience how raw her emotions are and that she would never get to know him like she should have.
Raksha's secondary characters will also warm your heart, especially Ryka's younger sister Olivia. She made a decision that left a crater in their lives and I'm hoping her story isn't over yet. Overall Frankie has created a heart pounding book full of action, violence and romance. It will leave you wanting more. If you're a dystopia fan then grab a copy of Raksha!