ARC Review: The Dark Intercept by Julia Keller


Title: The Dark Intercept

Author: Julia Keller

Book Details

Format: Kindle E-book

Series: The Dark Intercept (Book 1)

Hardcover: 320 pages

Publisher: Tor Teen

Publication Date: October 31, 2017


The State controls your emotions. What would you pay to feel free?

In a radiant world of endless summer, the Intercept keeps the peace. Violet Crowley, the sixteen-year-old daughter of New Earth’s Founding Father, has spent her life in comfort and safety. Her days are easy thanks to the Intercept, a crime-prevention device that monitors and provokes emotion. But when her long-time crush, Danny Mayhew, gets into a dangerous altercation on Old Earth, Violet launches a secret investigation to find out what he’s hiding. An investigation that will lead her to question everything she’s ever known about Danny, her father, and the power of the Intercept.

Available Editions: E-book and Preorder Hardcover Copy | Amazon


Disclaimer: I received an ARC copy from Netgalley and Macmillan/Tor Teen in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

I received The Dark Intercept a couple months ago and I had started reading the book just a few days after receiving it as an ARC. After only a few pages, I had to set it down. I couldn’t get into it. So I gave it some time and finally picked it up again to finish. And after having done so, or should I say, after having forced myself to do so, I can truthfully say it wasn’t a pleasant experience. There are several aspects of this story that I found to be severely lacking, particularly concerning the plot, characters, and setting.

First things first, the characters are hollow and breathtakingly two-dimensional. Violet Crowley is one of the most unlikable protagonists I’ve come across in a while. She’s unapologetic, but in the worst possible way in that she has no good reason to be; she’s arrogant and manipulative and not very clever; her motivations are thin, and she uses people for her own gain and feels no remorse.

“She didn’t really care. she was just being polite to Sara. Because she wanted something from her.”

And her longtime crush on Danny Mayhew is never really explored. There’s not much to know about Danny and for what we do know, he’s achingly boring and unoriginal. It’s incredibly hard to dig up any sympathy for Violet as she pines after Danny because we know next to nothing about the guy. And the same goes for Violet. There is nothing intriguing or idiosyncratic about her, and her relationships with her father and her best friend, Shura, are flat and mechanical at best.

The world-building is severely lacking to the point where it’s non-existent. There is little explanation of how Old Earth reached such a horrible state other than there were Water Wars and Mineral Wars. What are these wars? I couldn’t tell you. We don’t know if Old Earth experienced some grand apocalypse or if it just degraded naturally from both natural and human disasters. As for New Earth, I had a spectacularly hard time picturing its environment. The story is set far into the future but there was little to no futuristic technology or imagery to help ground us in Violet’s world.

“‘What happened to us? How did we let this happen to the Earth we love, to people we should care about?'”

As a whole, the plot isn’t very concrete or definitive. It’s not really something you can sum up and say, “There it is, that’s the beginning, middle, and end. That’s the conflict, the climax, and the resolution.” There’s so much happening, but not much going on. The concept of the Intercept is fantastic, and yet, its potential is wasted in execution. There is the looming threat of this system that gathers human emotion and weaponizes it to corral human behavior, and it’s something that can really place a dark cloud over the text, but it doesn’t. You never really feel that lurking sinisterness. There’s a band of rebels who oppose the Intercept, but their schemes are incredibly anticlimactic as is the end of this book.

The writing is lazy in that all the history is explained in blocks of information handed out by Violet’s father in the forms of stories and remember-the-times rather than seamless bits of information weaved within everyday conversations, the setting, character thoughts and memories, and other clever ways of dispelling important information. And more often than not, the author tells you rather than shows you details about her characters and plot, allowing no room for imagination when its most needed.

“Her father told her the story over and over again. She always wanted to hear it just once more.”

This book has so much potential, especially with that clever idea of the Intercept, but it’s missing so much heart. The story feels like words on a page, the characters are mannequins with voice boxes, and the futuristic world they live in is blurry and hard to see through all the foggy and unclear details. I wish I could say I’d be excited to read the next book in this series, but sadly I cannot 😦

My Rating:

2 stars

About the Author

52145857Julia Keller, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and former cultural critic at the Chicago Tribune, is the author of many books for adults and young readers, including A Killing in the Hills, the first book in the Bell Elkins series and winner of the Barry Award for Best First Novel (2013); Back Home; and The Dark Intercept. Keller has a Ph.D. in English literature from Ohio State and was awarded Harvard University’s Nieman Fellowship. She was born in West Virginia and lives in Ohio.”

8 thoughts on “ARC Review: The Dark Intercept by Julia Keller

  1. Oh it’s such a shame this book was such a disappointment Azia. I’ll admit when I saw the cover and read the blurb I was hooked, it’s a gorgeous cover and the blurb sounded incredible, but then I read your review and, yeah, I probably won’t be adding this to my to-read list after all.
    I always hate it when the world building is never explored to its potential in fantasy books, I mean, the main reason I read fantasy books is because I want to escape to another world and I can’t do that if the setting hasn’t been developed properly. That was one of the main issues I had with Magonia when I read it last year.
    Still great review, and I hope the next book you pick up is a much more enjoyable read for you. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know right? The cover is so gorgeous and the blurb sounds so exciting but the writing simply did not live up to the concept. The world building was probably the most disappointing part about this book. There was really nothing defining about her setting, and so it was hard to immerse yourself in the story. And it sounds like Magonia’s in the same boat. Beautiful cover. Exciting premise. Bad execution. Oh well, on to the next one haha. Thanks Beth! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. If the story was as good as the blurb suggested and as the cover made it seem I could easily imagine this being a five star read for you (and me as well if I’d ever picked it up).
        Yeah world building is such a major part of the story for me that it would be my most disappointing part in this book as well. Ohh, yeah I remember talking to you about Magonia. I was so disappointed by that book and I really get how you feel about this one a lot better now. 🙂
        That’s all right! 😀 ❤️

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I know, right? It had all the parts, but nothing fit together properly.
        I’ll be on the lookout for another dystopian to catch my fancy, though. Haven’t read one in a while, and though this one wasn’t that good, it’s put me in the mood to read a couple more dystopians!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Yeah, now that I think about it, I feel the same. I think Hunger Games is the only dystopian I really liked back then. Now I have Scythe and The Blood of Eden series (though Eden is more a post-apocalyptic than dystopian LOL). Other than those two, I’m having a hard time naming some of my favorites…Would The Host count as a dystopian?

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I think The Host counts but it’s more of a blend of sci-fi, post-apocalypse, dystopian rather than just dystopian you know? For me my main faves are Gilded Cage and Penryn and the End of Days, other than that I’m coming up blank as well. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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