Synopsis from Amazon:
Arriette Monroe never expected to be thrust into the heart of supernatural chaos, nor did she deem herself worthy of four incredible gifts.
But when she hears the legendary Pandora's box has been reopened, putting the human race at risk of extinction, Arriette and her friends begin a quest to find and protect it from Haeylo's most powerful Everlast, Falkon Lou.
Although Arriette thinks she's walking pandemonium, the Recruit think she's their saviour...
And they're willing to prove it.
Well! People say history tends to repeat itself... but ancient history? Proof that people don't exactly change, modern-day Pandora finds and opens her fated Box once more, thrusting humanity as we know it into near-extinction while some of them receive special Gifts of supernatural abilities like telekinesis, memory and perception control (called Retainers), Dream-walking, and even Angels with wings for flight. Nearly all of the population are immortal Everlasts. Others aren't born with these special powers but may receive them from others via a blood transfusion. Ariette is one of those, an "average" human with an insatiable curiosity who read all she could about every different Super ability.
That much I got. The rest was a little confusing, when it pulled away from the core group of characters. This adventure, while entertaining enough in its premise and very unique in its plot, just felt far too large for the size of the novel. There were a lot of details in the onset, spanning whole centuries of development that the reader could not experience, and that made it difficult to get going, hard to keep track of everything--but about halfway through, when those pieces came into play, the story flowed a lot smoother and it was easier to understand when I was experiencing and observing those same details, but through the eyes of one character or another.
Those characters, though! I loved how diverse and vivid they all were. From elderly Everlast Casper, to snarky, big-hearted Baby A, soft-spoken Dion... and the villainous Retainer Dean, who never failed to make my skin crawl whenever I saw his name on the page. In that respect, Hardcastle excels, as these characters band together to find Pandora and her Box and get the world put back to rights, before anyone else gets to it first and tries to use all that power for their own purposes.
This was a very unique and eclectic book. More like a web than a neatly-woven ball of yarn, it pulls from many far-flung story aspects, all connecting and combining and converging in the middle for a sweeping debut and the start of a promising new series! I loved the characters, I loved the concept of the Gifts, with all their features and limitations... It might take another read or so to understand the context in which this is placed (Haelyo doesn't strike me as the same dimension as Earth, but then again... a century into the future, it might be...) but I would definitely say it is worth that effort!
FINIDING PANDORA: WORLD certainly qualifies for a modest ****4 STAR**** rating on this solid first installment, and I'm also going to add an Upstream Writer Certified Recommended endorsement for Hardcastle--she's definitely an author worth following!
Further Reading: (Future Dystopia/ Powerful Heroines/Supernatural/Paranormal)
The Books of Winter--R. R. Virdi
The Shaudrey Universe Series--J. E. Mueller
The Runespells Series--Sarah Buhrman
Tales of the Fallen--Katika Schneider
Judah Black Series--E. A. Copen
-Guilty By Association
-Guilty By Association