Review: RECOIL by Joanne Macgregor (ft. muffins, death & epic blue hair)

If I could sum up this novel in three phrases it’d be: video games, terrorism-snipers-and-war (which we’re going to pretend form a phrase) and muffins.

When a skilled gamer gets recruited as a sniper in the war against a terrorist-produced pandemic, she discovers there’s more than one enemy and more than one war. Recoil joanne macgregor cover

The Game is real.

Three years after a series of terrorist attacks flooded the US with a lethal plague, society has changed radically. Sixteen year-old Jinxy James spends her days trapped at home – immersed in virtual reality, worrying about the plague and longing for freedom. Then she wins a war simulation game and is recruited into a top-secret organisation where talented teenagers are trained to become agents in the war on terror. Eager to escape her mother’s over-protectiveness and to serve her country, Jinxy enlists and becomes an expert sniper of infected mutant rats.

She’s immediately drawn to Quinn O’Riley, a charming and subversive intelligence analyst who knows more about the new order of government and society than he is telling. Then a shocking revelation forces Jinxy to make an impossible decision, and she risks losing everything.

I’m going to cut right to it and talk about all the things (muffins included) that I loved and didn’t.

I loved:

  • Chapter one (a lot) and chapter two (even more).

Seriously. If given the chance I would relive those very first moments of staring Recoil; over and over again. The reason? Macgregor tosses us into this world (and not only does she toss us in but she slaps us too, with the reality of what’s going on): there’s a virus, terrorism, murder and teenagers being trained to kill. Needless to say, with all the death, destruction and terror, I was sucked in instantly and didn’t stop reading until I’d finished the book.

  • Jinx (protagonist).

Because despite the fact that she has the training of a sniper, epic blue hair and the weight of her families sanity on her shoulders she’s a teenage girl who just wants to play video games and eat chocolate chip muffins.

  • Bruce.

He’s a little weird, in the sense that he’s incredibly forward and doesn’t care much about other peoples feelings, but I liked him. I like characters who have a backbone and stand up for what they believe in (even if I did want to take my slipper off and chuck it at his head a few times).

  • The storyline.

It’s the type of concept other authors wish they could have come up with: a video game that trains kids to gather intel, spy and kill terrorists, to aid their country.


Because when they happened I didn’t see them coming and IT WAS SO refreshing! Often, I feel jaded by YA dystopian novels because I’ve read so many that they are (dare I say it) predictable. A few chapters in and I can, usually, tell what’s going to happen and who the ‘bad guy’ is. Recoil had me staring at the page in disbelief at one point which was WONDERFUL and I’m uhh, still unsure who the ‘bad guy’ is.

  • Macgregors writing is strong and fluid.

I love words that can be swallowed without having to be squinted at for 26 years and chewed up into little pieces. I like swallowing words – devouring them – and I can’t do that if they’re crunchy (does anyone understand what I’m trying to say? The words are beautiful people and they’re in beautiful sentences that my brain happily absorbs).

  • The muffins.

Oh, the muffins. I enjoy reading about characters who do mundane things like eating, sleeping and having bad hair days. Recoil was sprinkled with muffins, bad dietary decisions and delicious (yet sometimes strange) food.

I didn’t love:

  • Quinn (he’s the love interest).

I liked him (don’t get me wrong) he’s tall, sweet and has a hint of an Irish accent *swoon* but I wasn’t head over heels in love with him. If you’re asking yourself why I (adorer of almost all fictional love interests ever) didn’t love him — I don’t even have a solid reason, and I suppose that’s the problem in itself. I wanted more from Quinn – and I didn’t like that he was a jerk. (#JerksAren’tCute)

  • The ending.

I don’t mean this in a ‘I wish it never ended’ or ‘I wish it ended differently’ type of way. What I mean is, I wish it had ended slower. I loved the pace of the novel. It was filled with action, dialogue and moments where I could slump onto my seat with the characters and live in the moment but right near the end I felt like EVERYTHING happened ALL AT ONCE. I mean, it was great when it came to giving me heart palpitations (and if that was the point it did a brilliant job) but because so much was going on I had to reread a few pages right near the end.

I think it’s safe to say that the things I didn’t love don’t even come close to out weighing how much of this epic, action packed dystopian I did love.

I read Recoil in one sitting, spent the rest of that evening dreaming about the delicious muffins they ate and have since begun my countdown for the second novel which, thankfully, will put an end to my ‘what happens next’ questions when it releases this year (2016) in June!

4/5 stars and read in 6 hours.

Get your own copy here and tell me, have you read this? Are you going to? What colour socks are you wearing and can we please count down the release of book 2 together?

(this novel was provided to me in exchange for an honest review – in no way does that influence my opinion of this novel. Thank you for the copy, Joanne!)

7 Responses

  1. Hi Kat! Now I need to apologize for late reply. Been a bit busy. I will definitely be looking out for the books. Really great to meet you as well. I’ve been searching for a few other South African bloggers and so happy that I spotted your lovely blog. Will chat soon.

  2. Sorry for my late response (firstly) and secondly, I’m reading book 2 (REFUSE which comes out at the end of July 2016) and it’s great so far so I’m highly recommending the series.

    Also: HELLO! It’s lovely meeting other readers from South Africa and thank you for reading my review.

    Have a great day!

  3. This book is nominated on the South African Book Lovers Group on Goodreads for August (yes, this is all one sentence and I need to take a breath now). After reading your review, I might even vote for it.

  4. Woah I’ve never even HEARD OF THIS ONE yet it sounds brilliant. BECAUSE MUFFINS. I really like books that remember to feed their characters. Yes, yes, they’re all epic and fighting and shooty but where are the snack stops???? THAT MAKES A BOOK RELATABLE. And also I’m a fan of this idea of blue hair. That’s epic. I NEED THIS BOOK, PROBABLY, KAT. YOU’RE VERY CONVINCING.

  5. It is! I really enjoyed reading it and can’t wait for the next two – thankfully they both come out this year so I won’t resort to devouring 50 cupcakes while waiting to find out what happens!
    I’m glad you enjoyed the review and YAY FOR PURPLE AND WHITE STRIPED SOCKS! *throws confetti*

  6. Ooooh this sounds like a really good book; I love action filled novels. I will definitely keep an eye out for it in the libraries and bookstores. (I’m also wearing purple and white stripes socks today, if you really wanted to know. XD) Thanks for letting me know about this great book! 😀

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