Review: Countdown by Michelle Rowen

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.


I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Publication date: September 24, 2013.

This book was originally published as Countdown by Michelle Maddox in 2008. It has been revised to be published as a YA book. It’s important to remember that it was first published five years ago because it has a few similarities to The Hunger Games, which was published two months after this one, although I don’t know what changes were made when it was revised.

Kira and Rogan, strangers, wake up in a dark room to find themselves competing in a sick reality show only available to those twisted enough and rich enough to subscribe to it. I really liked this concept, and the execution of the game.

“Countdown,” Rogan began as we trudge along, “is just what it sounds like. A series of challenges with a set time fram and a win-or-lose outcome. It’s a game.”

I glanced at him and kept walking. My heart pounded in my ears. “I didn’t agree to play any game.”

“You didn’t have to. Countdown plays to the fringes of society over a top-secret televised network. That’s what makes it so appealing to the Subscribers.”

There are six levels that they have to pass — or die. The game is very difficult and only one pair has ever completed it. Kira and Rogan have to learn to trust each other and work together very quickly if they’re going to live through the game.

I feel like Kira trusts Rogan on another level — aside from needing his help to survive, which is his goal as well — a little too easily. She’s been on her own for two years and should know better than to just accept everything the first person who comes along says, but she doesn’t resist much and readily believes him.

Elements of both Kira’s and Rogan’s past are introduced in relation to the game. While I like both characters and was rooting for them to succeed, I don’t feel too attached to either one of them or have much interest in their growing feelings for each other. Not every book has to include a romance. Sometimes it’s better to leave it out if it doesn’t fit. There’s so much fast-paced action that when they take the time to get romantic, it slows the book down considerably.

The first two-thirds of this book deserve four stars. The last one-third only gets two stars. Final result: three stars. I could maybe go up to three and a half but I won’t because it was the beginning of the book that better. I think a book should get better as it goes along. The last part of the book, post-game, feels rushed to me. I believe the book is a standalone, which is a nice change from the trend of publishing so many dystopian trilogies.



  1. I had trouble with how much she trusted people as well, but I found this to be a fun read. I gave it 4 stars, but definitely see where you are coming from with why you rated it that way. Awesome review!

    Janina @ Synchronized Reading
    Janina @ Synchronized Reading recently posted…The Dream Thieves by Maggie StiefvaterMy Profile

  2. I got this from Netgalley as well! I def have to read this soon but ahhh I’m drowning in my TBR. 🙁 Anyway, I didn’t know this was republished! Hmmm, fast-paced action is definitely hard to match with slow-burning romance and I can definitely see your point there. Especially since Rowen probably tried to fit it all in one book. Great review, Jenna! 🙂
    Hazel recently posted…{Blog Tour} Review: Not Pretty Enough + GiveawayMy Profile

    • I didn’t know it was published previously either until I was poking around on Goodreads and a review mentioned it. I followed some links and found the original. I think the characters were slightly older in that one, but I don’t know if there were any other changes.
      Jenna recently posted…Review: Countdown by Michelle RowenMy Profile


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