Thank you to the publisher Head of Zeus for providing me with an arc copy of this book via NetGalley.
I wasn’t sure what to expect heading into The Key to Fear, as my only idea about the plot was that it was set after a pandemic in a dystopian setting. And this description pretty much sums up the majority of the book.
Title: The Key to Fear
Author: Kristin Cast
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Audience: Young Adult
Release Date: 5th November 2020
To the Future.
We are The Key.
‘No touching today for a healthy tomorrow.’
Elodie obeys The Key. Elodie obeys the rules. Elodie trusts in the system. At least, Elodie used to…
Aidan is a rebel. Aidan doesn’t do what he’s told. Aidan just wants to be free. Aidan is on his last chance…
After a pandemic wiped out most of the human race, The Key took power. The Key dictates the rules. They govern in order to keep people safe. But as Elodie and Aidan begin to discover there is another side to The Key, they realise not everything is as it seems.
Rather than playing protector, The Key are playing God.
The Key to Fear is the first Kristin Cast book that I have read, and my first dystopian novel in a long time. I am not sure what I was expecting heading into this, but the plot didn’t surprise me that much, as it seemed the same as every other dystopian that I have read. One thing that I did find unique about the plot and setting was that it was set post-pandemic rather than post-war/post-natural disaster. And a post-pandemic book seems very apt at this moment.
The Key to Fear switches between three different PoV’s which made it initially hard to get attached to any of the characters, but as the plot was developing, it was easier to connect to them. While I could see the point of both Elodie’s and Aiden’s PoV, Blair’s felt a little unnecessary for this book, but I have a feeling she will become much more key later in the series, so it was good to understand her motivations before that plotline develops. In The Key to Fear there is a developing romantic relationship between Aiden and Elodie, but to me it felt like insta-love, which is not something that I like from my romances. Because as soon as they meet Elodie is in love with Aiden and he is all she can think about. But I can see the possible development of a more realistic romantic relationship in future books.
I did find part of the book hard to read, as Elodie’s relationship with both her mother and her matched fiance are very toxic. Within the first chapter of the book, her mother is fat-shaming her, so please do be aware if that is a trigger for you. Later in the book, her mother is also verbally abusive towards her, just because she is not the perfect clone of herself like she wanted. Rhett, her fiance, is very misogynistic, blaming her emotions and not wanting to shoot a gun on her being a woman. I found this hard to read and a little bit unnecessary for the plot as it didn’t add anything to it, so it didn’t need to be there.
One issue that I did have with The Key to Fear was that there was a lot of missing information and context. As events would be mentioned in early chapters, and I thought everything was going to circle back round to them, yet they were never mentioned again. This left me with questions, which I probably will have forgotten by the time the second book in the series is released. I would have also loved to have got an explanation as to how the Key came about, and what actually happened during the pandemic as it is never addressed. This made it feel like necessary context was missing, making the book very confusing at certain points.
Overall, The Key to Fear was a solid start to a new dystopian series. I definitely feel that there is room for improvement within the plot and the relationships, but I have high hopes for the series. I will probably pick up the sequel when it is released.
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