Review of The Headhunter's Race by Kimberly Afe

Sixteen-year-old Avene was sentenced to prison at thirteen for a crime she didn't commit. Now she has a chance to win her freedom back – if she enters the Headhunters Race. Second prize isn't so bad either, an upgrade to the Leisure Prison if you make it to the finish line. To win either prize, Avene and the other prisoners must navigate one hundred and fifty miles of dense forest, desert, and worst of all, cannibal territory. With a mechanical collar timed to strangle the prisoners if they're not back in nine days, Avene allies herself with seventeen-year-old McCoy, another prisoner that insists on helping her at every turn and a boy she's trying hard not to fall for. Together they battle nature, other prisoners, and the timed death collars to win the coveted prize. But when Avene is tested with one deadly conflict after another, she realizes there is more at stake than winning her freedom – first she has to survive. 

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What first caught my attention was the gorgeous cover, it's really pretty and as I discovered later, fits in well with the plot too, which is a rare event in typical Teen books I've found. The book itself is a quick read, only around 200 pages but packed with action all the way through. Our protagonist is Avene, a 16 year old girl who has been sent to prison for the death of her mother. It's not mentioned in the description, but she's sent there not for the murder but as an accomplice to Gavin, her brother's crimes, who was accused of the murder. However, her brother escaped and Avene was thrown in the prison knows as the Dead Man's Pen where it's every man or woman for themselves.

At least, I think Gavin is her brother. Due to either my lack of attention or bad editing, I didn't see the word brother at all when Avene recollected the event early on, and I thought he was just a random person, kitchen staff perhaps. It wasn't until she mentioned the word brother later on that it clicked and at first I thought he would be a secondary love interest, as these things usually go. Honestly, I'm very, very confused about this as even after 3 years she's not sure she can recognise him, the guy she says she's spent years with.

I did enjoy this book. It has some very unique elements in it that kept me reading long into the night. Avene's plan is to get out of the Pen and the only way to do that is to run The Headhunter's Race and if you finish in time you get to be not dead and upgraded to a leisure prison, with decent meals and a warm bed. However, if you come back with Gavin (or his head), you get to walk free. Which is exactly what Avene plans to do.

 A lot of Avene's decisions are questionable. She never once questions Gavin's guilt, yet questions everything else King (her step father) has done. She's easily jealous and suspicious. The love interest, McCoy seems nice, however the author chose to use the 'he's an ass I don't like him he's out to get me' cliché that in most places, didn't make sense after she already kissed him. However, overlooking the issues I did enjoy this book and if/when a sequel is written, I will definitely be reading it to find out what happens next.

3/5

2 comments:

  1. Oh, this looks fun! I do like that cover...it really makes me think "omg i need this". Still. I think I'll add it on Goodreads. The cliches around McAvoy are a bit odd though. Eh. I get a bit tired of that "I love you but stay away from me" stuff.

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  2. I do agree with what you said but I still loved seeing their friendship develop. Im tired of insta love so it was nice for a change ;) Great review :)

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