Homegrown Terror (Project Forge #1)
I received this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Have you ever read a book that’s not bad, but it’s not good either so you’re just indifferent to it? Homegrown Terror was that book for me. Nothing about the book made it overwhelmingly dislikeable, but nothing made it recommendable either.
Kendra: White tries to make Kendra a strong, bad-ass female character, but falls short. Yeah she was raised to be a NSA agent, but that doesn’t automatically make her strong or cool or admirable. Kendra isn’t being pushed to the limits like in a dystopian novel or overcoming obstacles like in a contemporary novel so what makes her strong? Sure she can fight and beat a man larger than her so I give her credit for physical strength, but I’m looking for emotional strength and I just don’t get that from Kendra.
Secondly, White describes Kendra as soft-spoken and shy, but really she’s just reserved. Kendra’s NSA upbringing prevents her from developing close relationships with others so she lies to the few friends she has and keeps information about herself secret.
The only trait that makes Kendra seem human and like a teenager is her impulsiveness. During a fight scene, when her options are catching the bad guy or letting him go, Kendra chases after him without thinking about the fact that she’s putting herself in harms. Kendra could have easily been killed and the story ended there, but White doesn’t allow that to happen. Kendra just simply wasn’t as interesting of a character as I thought she would be.
Character depth: Similar to Kendra, every other character in Homegrown Terror was flat; they were all two-dimensional. I learned nothing of their histories or personalities and I could barely distinguish their voices other than White stating who said what or knowing that Kendra was having a one-on-one conversation.
I was also upset by the fact that it seemed like White couldn’t decide whether he wanted Kendra to have handlers or parents. One moment Kendra would talk about how much she loved Sarah and Peter as parents and the next she would dismiss them because they were only her NSA-assigned handlers. I understand making the distinct in the beginning, but I would have preferred if White had decided whether Sarah and Peter were going to be handlers or parents and stuck with it.
World building/ describing settings: There is little to none world building. There are a few sentences here and there that describe the setting, but not enough for me to clearly imagine where Kendra was. Most of the story was Kendra saying what she was doing or how she felt and my imagination filling in the rest. I mean the story isn’t description-less, but I would have preferred a few more details.
Pacing: Homegrown Terror is very quick; it’s only the length of a novella so as soon as it begins it’s over. This isn’t bad per se. This just means that while the story reads like events are happening back to back to back there’s actually short lulls between events that I didn’t recognize until the characters said something about it. The pacing (and actions) of Homegrown Terror makes the story more suitable for a middle-school who is trying to get into reading than for an avid or continuous reader who is used to lengthier, more developed stories.
Side note: When I read the title Homegrown Terror, I was expecting a villain who had been nurtured since birth to despise a certain country and was taught the beginning steps of how to take over the world. White’s explanation of a betrayed veteran trying to seek revenge is more logical, but I like my idea too.