Okay. Let's begin with the fact that I got a digital copy of this early, which -- no, no, no, let's go back farther. Let's begin with the fact that I...moreOkay. Let's begin with the fact that I got a digital copy of this early, which -- no, no, no, let's go back farther. Let's begin with the fact that I met MVS back in November (and I never posted pictures or notes of the rollicking good time that was had by all), and at dinner, she told us about the book she was working on that was due to come out in, oh, 1/2 a year (the tease). It was a YA dystopian novel she says, and then I drifted out a bit, because could she have said anything more up my alley? Maria V. Snyder, she of the series' and the characters that make my book club get really loud and inappropriate and, dare I say, fangirlish, was writing a YA. DYSTOPIAN. NOVEL. She somehow read my dreams.
But I didn't want to get my hopes up. Too 'up', anyway, because that's not fair, and there were all kinds of what ifs. YA dystopia is not her norm -- what if she can't write YA? What if she can't write dystopia? What if I *gulp* hate it.
What if I drive myself crazy with worry slash ineeditnow, when I know damn well that it's going to have her talent and character-driven goodness behind it. Back to the "getting the digital copy" bit, I found it on NetGalley and snagged it for review, and what was I worried about?
All of the things I loved about Snyder's adult books are her in Inside Out. I care about the characters, I see a budding romance, but on a YA level, the writing is super fast paced and catching, and it flows wonderfully. Trella is definitely rootforable, and ya love her even when you want to shake her. There was great tension and edge-of-your-seatness, and the world is fully realized and intriguing, just as her worlds always are. All of this I've come to expect from Snyder. AND there are 2 more good things, which I wasn't expecting. 1 - the beginning had me right from the start. Now, this isn't to say that her beginnings don't generally grab me, because that would be a lie, but they sometimes feel like beginnings to me -- they feel clunkyish or awkward. This was a "plunge right in, sink or swim" beginning, and it worked beautifully. #2 - she shocked me. ME. I'm never surprised by anything that happens in a book. I always see it coming, at least in part, and it's generally a question of how well it's done. But even though I perhaps should have known -- clues were dropped, I'm not an idiot -- she shocked me. I didn't think it could be done. Hats off, Maria.
So I think that's all I can say. I don't want to give anything away, I just want you teased enough that you'll go out and grab this, because trust me, it is well worth it. And then you can sit and wait anxiously with me for the sequel, Outside In. [laughs diabolically:](less)
Months ago, someone on Goodreads posted this as to read and I went a little wild over this cover. I mean, come on. I was determined I was going to get...moreMonths ago, someone on Goodreads posted this as to read and I went a little wild over this cover. I mean, come on. I was determined I was going to get my hands on it, but it's not all that often that I'll actively pursue a review copy of something. I figured I'd just have to wait until it's release to read it. So imagine my excitement when I got a copy of it at ALA. (*ooh, little frisson of excitement still*) So that was a little too easy. And we all know what generally happens to me when I go gaga over a cover (*cough*Hush, Hush*cough*). Also, even though I like them lots, faerie stories tend to disappoint, too. So this was bound to let me down, right?
Didn't matter, I still wanted to read it. But I decided I was going to save it for Helluva Halloween, and that made me happy and gave me something to look forward to. I can't even count all the times I started to pick it up early, but I was trying to be good. (And I was successful. Point for me!)
Now it's Helluva Halloween, and I finally go to read it. And what can I say? Maybe, just maybe, the cover/faerie curse is broken. This has been one of my favorite reads this year, and I have no hesitation in saying that. When I went on vacation earlier in the month, when everyone else was gathered around a bonfire drinking and getting rowdy, I went upstairs to read this. Yeah. I've been hesitant to write this review because, as I've said before, it's sometimes just as hard to write about something you loved as it is something you hated. I don't even know where to start.
Mackie is a replacement, what would often be called a changeling, and he spends his life struggling to fit in and keep this very dangerous secret. But as hard as he's always tried to pretend -- and to be -- normal, Mackie can't hide who he is forever. The iron that fills the modern world is toxic to him, and he's slowly dying of it. This struggle was sort of enthralling to read. I felt bad for Mackie, partly because he's so very much an outsider (of the community's doing, yes, but more so of his own. Not w/o reason, but still...), and partly because he just doesn't realize how miserably he's failing. He's hurting, and he's scared and lonely, and he's so grateful for the people that love him -- it's like reading about yourself at your most raw and insecure. I don't think it's possible to not relate to Mackie or feel for him.
But I don't want to give them impression that this is some pathetic sob-story, because it's not. There's just this level of thought and insight, this depth that I wasn't expecting, but that heightened the whole experience for me. Mackie's story, and the town of Gentry, is really dark and unflinching. I've read a lot of reviews that call the book scary, and I don't think that it's ever really that. It's more that it can be so unsettlingly real and human in the best and worst ways that it gets under your skin. And that can be scary.
I don't want to go too into detail because I don't want to start giving things away, but I do want to talk a little bit about the Yavonoff's writing and the choices she made. On the former, the writing is lovely. It flows beautifully, and I always had a clear image of the characters, the town and the emotions behind it all. Which leads me to the latter -- Yavonoff did some really wonderful things with a straightforward story. It's a typical outsider tale, very appropriate for YA with its discovery and near-coming of age quality. But it's enriched with so much emotion and understanding that it's sort of transformative. Yavonoff does something really lovely with human connections in this book, with both romantic love and familial love, and (to be really repetitive) I loved that. Her depiction of love isn't sugary and sappy and over the top as it is in many YAs, and it's balanced with the dark and creepy that exists side-by-side in the book. All together it gives this great dimension*, these highs and lows that make it dynamic and unputdownable and delicious.
So read it. Preferably now, as the days are getting short and dark.
I first heard about this book on Presenting Lenore where it caught my attention for two reasons: 1) it's a ya dystopia about consumerism (win!) and 2)...moreI first heard about this book on Presenting Lenore where it caught my attention for two reasons: 1) it's a ya dystopia about consumerism (win!) and 2) the cover (for the ARC, at least) reminded me of Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go, which meant they needed to be in a Face Off. (The cover has since changed to the one you see up there ^, but the ARC cover -- which is what I have -- can be found below.) I had a feeling this was something I needed to read, so I requested a copy from Balzer and Bray (an imprint of Harper Collins). I never heard anything back (which is not unusual, whether a review copy is coming or not), and so I figured I'd just have to wait the long, tortuous months until it came out -- except that when I got back from ALA, there it was, waiting impatiently for me to read it. And man, am I glad I did.
As I said, The Unidentified is about consumerism gone mad, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that the bigger picture here is really personal freedoms. Kid lives in a very programmed world that is maybe a hairsbreadth away from our own. This is no far-distant dystopia that gives you shivers but makes you secretly glad our world isn't like this. Kid's world is very current, very of the moment, and incredibly relevant to the lives we live now. It reminded me of a mix of MT Anderson's Feed and Cory Doctorow's Little Brother, though it's not as hard-hitting as either of those. And I don't mean that in a bad way. The Unidentified is, I think, more easily accessible to general audiences, and girls in particular, as the book centers around a very relatable girl. I loved reading through Kid's journey as she became stronger and more analytical.
There's a good balance of typical YA fare (friend drama, boy drama, who-am-I drama) blended seamlessly with the tech and dystopian elements, and it all works together to make this a light-but-compelling read for die-hard dystopianites, as well as a good introduction to the genre for those who don't normally read such things. Mariz is great at that gray area that exists in dystopias -- those questions and impressions you get that make 1/2 of you say "Well, this totally makes sense. Kinda cool, actually" and the other 1/2 say "This is wrong; this is bad." I think it's great for discussion, about and beyond the book, but even if you're not going to run out and discuss this with someone, it's still completely unputdownable. So pick it up. ;p <--- ARC cover
[Please note: I received an ARC of this book from Harper Collins (thanks!), so changes were likely made in the final edition that may or may not have an effect on this review, were I to have read the final version. Just sayin'. ;p] (less)
Nimira is a "trouser girl" singing and dancing for her living in Lorimar when she is approached by powerful sorceror Hollin Parry. Hollin wants to hir...more Nimira is a "trouser girl" singing and dancing for her living in Lorimar when she is approached by powerful sorceror Hollin Parry. Hollin wants to hire her to sing with the accompaniment of a life-sized, piano playing automaton he owns. His offer promises to change Nimira's life drastically for the better -- but there is a catch. Every other woman he has hired has run away, terrified of the automaton, which they insist is alive. Nimira takes the job, refusing to be afraid of an automaton, but when it comes alive for her, she finds herself in the center of a story of a fairy prince trapped in a wooden body, and a dangerous man who wants the prince dead -- and she must find a way to put things to rights.
When I won this book from WillowRaven of Red House Books, I was excited because I had seen it around and thought it sounded cute, but I figured it'd be a throw-away read. A cute little story about a fairy prince and the human girl who can save him, aww isn't that nice, the end. I didn't think I would find myself very invested in the story or the characters, and I didn't think I would be late coming back from my lunch break at work because I wanted to finish the chapter...
So Magic Under Glass surprised me. I actually genuinely liked it. Not unreservedly, but more than I expected to for sure. Nimira is an engaging heroine, and I absolutely loved how she communicated with the fairy prince/automaton. I also liked that things weren't completely easy for her in her feelings or her decision making, and that her foreign background wasn't dismissed, but there was some social/racial tension and some wistfulness for home. It added a layer of authenticity and depth to the story, so that even though it wasn't a main issue by any means, it helped paint the scene.
It's a very fast-paced book with a nice blend of feistiness, romance, magic and culture. The drawbacks for me were few, but they are big enough that they deserve a mention: 1. There is a blurb on the cover saying "For fans of Libba Bray and Charlotte Bronte" which amused me to no end at first. I assumed it was just because of the time-period of the book, and I was like, "Charlotte Bronte? Really? They're just going to throw that out there?" But when I got further into the book, I realized why that comparison was made. There is a strong resemblance to Jane Eyre in certain aspects of the book, which I can't go into without being completely spoilery. It didn't bother me much, and if you haven't read Jane Eyre, it won't bother you at all, but I am sure there are those of you who are going to read this and be a little pissed that it has a rip-off feel at times. 2. I felt the first 1/2 was better than the 2nd. Now, to be fair, I read a proof copy, so I don't know how mine differed from the finished version. But for me, with the ARC, the first 1/2 was gripping and fast in an enjoyable way, and really captivating. I liked the set-up of the world and getting to know Nimira, and everything flowed really well. In the second 1/2, I felt like the snowball was rolling a little too fast. I wanted better pacing, more of a chance to absorb what was going on and let everything develop. The second 1/2 wasn't bad by any means, but compared to the first, it felt like a little bit of a rush job.
Those 2 caveats aside, I really enjoyed this book. It was the light, fun read I expected, but with a little more oomph than I'd hoped for, and that's a good thing. If there is more coming (if this turns out to be a series, which it will, if the rumor mill is right) I will certainly pick up book 2, and I look forward to reading more from Dolamore in the future.(less)
You may recall from my review of The Iron King that I felt a little let down. It's not that I disliked it, really, but everyone had absolutely raved about it that I had high hopes -- and they weren't quite met. This time around, I still don't feel like my original expectations have been matched, but Kagawa has come a damn sight nearer. I still had a few of the same issues, but to a lesser extent, and on the whole I found this one better developed and more enjoyable all around.
Basically, I still sometimes questioned Meghan's choices and her learning curve; she does make fewer ridiculous deals with faeries, but I wonder at her making any. She should know better by now. I also buy her relationship with Ash a little more, and her general humanness when feelings for Puck also come into play. It's something that would normally annoy me because it seems like too much of a gimmick, but in this case (for the most part, for the time being), Kagawa actually seemed to make it work in a way that felt authentic. Meghan doesn't feel like both men are her soulmates and how will she ever choose, she feels like she likes Puck and really likes Ash, but lust and pure I-shouldn't-be-doing-this are factors, and it all comes off as more authentic and teen and true than I was expecting. (Please note I am still opposed to all of the "team" BS.)
I still had a bit of an issue with the fumbling-then-suddenly-allpowerful thing that I mentioned in TIK. It's a crutch, and it can be wishy-washy. I'm not going to believe your person who was so damsel-like then suddenly discovers she's got kick ass powers, then...forgets?...and is a damsel, then discovers, then has them blocked, then discovers, latherrinserepeat. Yes, self-discovery is cool and teen-appropriate. But I want to buy in, and I don't want to think that everything impossible is going to be cleared away at the end with a sweep of a hand that, oh look!, has magic in it after all. Especially when I can see it coming a miiiiile away.
But beyond that, I found this one pretty enjoyable. It was still visual and current like the first one, but with a good deal of growth, and some interesting developments where the characters are concerned that impressed me. Kagawa wasn't afraid to embrace the gray area in this, and showing that things aren't black and white, and that there is good and bad, darkness and light, in everyone did a good deal to make this more mature.* I don't know that I am going to put #3, The Iron Queen (who didn't see that coming?) at the top of my To Read pile, but I certainly will read it, and if the growth from Kagawa continues, I may even be impressed.
*Of course, there are still stock characters present to undermine this. Her villains don't seem to get the same treatment to layer them and add depth, they are simply Bad, capital B.(less)
I generally don't read a lot of contemporary, for whatever reason. I think I'm always afraid that it's going to be very soapy and melodramatic and whi...moreI generally don't read a lot of contemporary, for whatever reason. I think I'm always afraid that it's going to be very soapy and melodramatic and whiny -- something, I don't know, just a little too much and not really my thing. But like every genre, there's the good and the bad, and I need to realize that I can't be afraid of sampling it from time to time in order to find the good. Because when it's good, it's good. This is good. In A Little Wanting Song, Cath Crowley was able to really capture not just being a teen, but being a human. Charlie was one of the most real characters I have had the pleasure of reading in some time. She's shy and sort of timid, a bit of a wallflower type, but because this is told in alternating first-person accounts, the reader gets to enjoy the really rich internal voice that Charlie has. She's smart and funny and artistic, and she's also nervous and lonely and a million other things that work together to make her a fully-realized character. She almost ceases to be a "character" at all, and becomes someone you can really connect to. And Rose isn't far behind on the Full Character Scale.
Just as much as the characters, I enjoyed Crowley's writing. Her prose was simply beautiful: it was smooth and flowed well in that way that makes it hard to put a book down -- you know you should because it's 2:00am and you have to work in the morning, and as soon as you find a good stopping point, you will put it down, but first, how about one more chapter to see how Charlie reacts to what Rose just did; oh, that's how? Well, we better see how Rose reacts now...Hmm...maybe one more... It's that kind of writing. It just seems effortless, which means there was probably a good deal of effort behind it. There's a lot of relatable humor in both Charlie's and Rose's narration. And even if the voices overlap sometimes, they still remain their own distinct characters; it's almost in the way that good friends sound a little alike, but you can tell them apart -- it's probably part of the reason they are good friends.
This is a coming of age story, and a friendship story at its finest. Even when it's completely predictable -- and it can be -- it still works. It's thoroughly enjoyable and engrossing, and it's got me rethinking my stance on contemporary fiction. Or at least considering widening my stance on CF. The only real downsides for me -- and really, I was able to set them aside -- were: the bit of predictableness I mentioned ^^. There is a formula to coming of age stories, and this one does use it a bit; also, there is a spot in the middle of the book that, though I don't dislike it, I wonder if all of what happened needed to happen. It seemed not quite forced, but almost. Like action and craziness was needed as a catalyst. As I said, I liked it, but it was a tiny bit jarring to have a ton of stuff suddenly happening in a rush. But these were minor and the rest of the book more than made up for it.
One last thing I want to mention: Charlie writes songs, and some of them are included in the book as a sort of poetry, and at first I was very dubious. I don't always trust great prose writers to write great poetry -- because often, they don't. So I have to give Cath Crowley a bit of a pat on the back, because some of her poetic interludes were really very nice. They stayed in Charlie's tone, they were expressive and lyrical without being too much, and some of them were really affecting.
I would recommend you pick this up, it would make a great beach read. Or a great winter, cuddled up with cocoa read. :)
[disclosure: This book was sent to me by Knopf books for review at my request, yo!]
Here's my Teaser Tuesday from A Little Wanting Song; it's from the beginning of the book, and it sets the tone and draws the reader in beautifully. Very funny.
"Who's this?" Dad asks when a catchy tune comes on my CD. We pass the skeleton tree that never has leaves, no matter what time of year. Bare gray branches wave us on. "No one you know, Dad," I say. It's me.
~ ~ ~
The [Christmas:] tree flicks me the finger on my way throught the living room. I flick one back. Solidarity. Christmas isn't always what you'd hoped for.
~ ~ ~
I thank [Dave:] for my hat and close the door. Sure, I want to open it straight back up and yell his name but I don't. I draw a line between me and uncool and I don't cross it. Instead I put on a Fiona Apple CD and turn her up loud. [...:] I dance loud to my music. Oh yeah, I'm sassy. I'm hard to get, that's what I am. Hard. To. Get. Cool. I slide to the fridge and grab a Coke. I slide back. "What are you up to?" Grandpa asks, walking into the kitchen. "I'm being sassy. Playing hard to get. Cool. Not desperate." "Dave Robbie's riding his bike around our front yard. Any idea why?" In case of fire, it's good to know we can all get out of the house in less than five seconds. I take a breath and open the door. "Hi. Did you forget something?" He shakes his head. "I just didn't want to go home." Fuck cool. Cool is overrated.
"Do whatever you like, Luke." "I will," he said. "Dickhead, I shot back." Things are bad with your boyfriend when every conversation ends with "Do whatever you like. I will. Dickhead."
~ ~ ~
Sure, friendship is all about believing in someone so hard they believe it, too. Sure, it's about trust. But if anyone hurts her tonight, it's about ripping them apart with my bare hands and really enjoying it.
Note: A Little Wanting Song, originally published in Australia, where it was shortlisted for the CBCA Book of the Year, was originally titled Chasing Charlie Duskin. I don't know if anything of import was changed along with the title. (less)
A lot of what I said n my review of Impossible applies to Extraordinary, too, but my reaction was unfortunately less pleased overall. The odd juve...more2.5
A lot of what I said n my review of Impossible applies to Extraordinary, too, but my reaction was unfortunately less pleased overall. The odd juvenile streak I saw in Impossible became an actual tendency in Werlin's writing in this. There were times when it felt very young - not in content but in execution - and I hate to say it, but almost amateurish.
Don't get me wrong, there were parts I absolutely loved, and I think there are going to be a lot of people, many of them teen girls, who are going to connect with this book. And there was a very dark streak that I liked and was prepared to explore. But part of me felt like Werlin was holding back a little, and part of me felt like the story wasn't her story, but was a means to make a point. This caused a whole mess of problems for me, in that to get where she wanted to go, things would happen that were silly or happened in a silly way, and a lot of explanation was put into people's mouths. [I hate this] These two traits, this way of telling the story and trying to move it forward, and using and changing Phoebe to do it, felt unnatural and is what ultimately gave me that amateurish feel.
What was weird - and I noticed this in Impossible, too - is that parts would be really strong and unflinching, and then something would come along that didn't gel and halted me in my tracks. It was like something someone would write in your HS English class, when they have a point and they know where they're going, but they don't know how to get there, so they fake it hoping to make it. There was so much potential to finesse a great story out of this, but it just didn't happen for me.
And I think (but I could be wrong) that I've figured out why this is. From the way Nancy goes along with a very dark, adult tale, and then throws in explanations and juvenile-ness, I think maybe she doubts her audience (or her editor does). It feels like someone flicks a switch and says "This is too dark, this is too hard to handle, this is too mature, this is too ______" and so she throws in something to explain or lighten or make convenient for a reader - but all it really accomplishes is undoing the work she's done and taking what could be a great, albeit dark and challenging, story and turn it into something laced with second-guessing.
That being said, I think she is talented and would read her again, and I read an ARC, so the problems I had could have been fixed or lessened in the final version. (less)
Briefly: Around a 3.5, at least for the ARC. I did have some issues (and some of them were big ones), but none of them seemed to keep me from enjoying...moreBriefly: Around a 3.5, at least for the ARC. I did have some issues (and some of them were big ones), but none of them seemed to keep me from enjoying myself while reading this.
Full: Like many, many others, I've fallen in love with this cover. A little less so with the story it contains -- I like it, sometimes a lot, but I don't love it. Though I hate to compare things to Twilight (it seems like nearly every YA book these days gets the comparison in some way...), Nightshade has the same addictive readability, so that even when you're rolling your eyes, you keep right on reading.
I really did like the core characters, especially Calla -- I questioned her "alpha-ness" at times, but I was willing to set that aside and go with it, and like her despite some pet peeves (which others have gone into, so I'll just let them take it and run with it, and move on myself). I was (pleasantly) surprised to like Ren, as their was a definite dick aspect to him, as he's uber-alpha male. But Cremer chose not to make it a clear cut thing -- Calla is set to marry Ren, as they are both alphas and expected to form a pack, but she finds herself drawn to new (human) boy, Shay. It would have been very easy to make the reader hate Ren and love Shay, and feel pity for Calla for the situation she's in, but instead, you see that there are good and bad things about all three characters, and it makes it much more appealing and believable with this complexity and gray area.
Another thing I really liked about Nightshade was the mythology Cremer created to back her story. There are legends passed down, and a secret "history" that shadows real human history. It's all layered with real-world philosophy and actual thought, and it just adds so much to the story and the believability of the more fantastic elements.
There were some drawbacks for me, though. There were a few things -- key things -- that happened very, very quickly, and it sort of shocked me out of the whole "willing suspension of disbelief" thing. If something book-changing is going to happen, I can get it being fast-paced. Things happen quickly sometimes, and maybe it's necessary. Without giving away something critical, there was one instance in particular that I have a feeling the rest of the series hinges on, and it just failed for me. It felt rushed and forced, and the entire set up was just...weird and I didn't buy it. As soon as there is that disconnect, you start to doubt everything, and I just wasn't pleased. I felt like a lot of the work Cremer had done to build veracity was just tossed out the window*.
But all in all, even when I doubted or rolled my eyes, I enjoyed myself reading this. I fully intend to read the next book, and even will go so far as to say I have high hopes for it; I see this series having a big following, and though I'm not unreservedly gaga over it, I certainly recommend it.
*Please keep in mind, I read an ARC, so this could have changed for the better... (less)
...hope will break the heart better than any sorrow...
Plain Kate is the type of book I wish I could have read when I was younger. As much as I loved K...more ...hope will break the heart better than any sorrow...
Plain Kate is the type of book I wish I could have read when I was younger. As much as I loved Kate and her world now, I think it would have absolutely worked its way into me when I was a kid. At the same time, though, there's so much to the story that I appreciate as an adult that maybe would have gone unnoticed as a child.
I love a good outsider story, and this one does it really well. Kate, of course, is an outsider, barely eking an existence out of her carvings, waiting for the day the world will turn on her. But she's not the only outsider in the story, by a long shot. Plain Kate is peopled with those who never quite fit in, or cannot fit in, who live on the edges and deal with their pain and Otherness alone. As a kid, I would have just seen that Plain Kate found some other outsiders to share her outsiderness with, but as an adult, I have to praise Bow for subtle injections of reality, even when reality isn't so pretty. I especially appreciated this when it came to Plain Kate's relationship with Linay.
Linay is the villain of the piece, sure. Or, I suppose Linay is a villain of the piece, because really, there are plenty of people not shown at their best, especially in the cities. But Linay is the central Big Bad -- he's got possession of Kate's shadow, and he intends to use it to do some very bad things. But this is where it gets interesting, and where I began to respect Bow as a storyteller. Where most people would leave it at that -- Linay = villain, 'nuff said -- Bow weaves together this relationship between Linay, who is hurting and alone, and Kate, who is hurting and alone. As much as they both know that each wants to undo the plots of the other, they worry about each other and care in this weird, sometimes sweet, almost unhealthy, occasionally heart-breaking, utterly human way*. There's so much gray area in the relationship to connect to and explore on your own, and I absolutely love that. It's one of the most interesting and subtly complex relationships I've read in a book for this age group in awhile.
But beyond impressing me in that regard, Plain Kate is a just-plain-fun read. I loved the characters -- Taggle, especially -- and the adventure. It's essentially a race against time, so there's that fantastic edge-of-your-seatness which makes it fun to read. There's also great world set up, and I liked exploring it with/through Kate. Bow took a culture (or, a couple of them, I guess) that are familiar enough to fall into, but distant enough to be intriguing, and she added her own spin. The only thing that knocked this back from near-perfect was the ending. Don't get me wrong, and don't let this hold you back from reading it, but I wasn't as happy with the end as I was with the rest of the book. And it's not necessarily what happens, either (though I was frowny-face at times); it's more that there was a sparkle and power to the rest of the book that I felt was a little lacking at the end. It was still good, but it -- hmm, there was a slight disconnect, if that makes sense.
But all in all, a definite fun, fast read with characters you'll remember. I would especially recommend this to teachers for their classrooms, as I think a lot of school kids could get a lot of enjoyment out of this.
*I'm sorry, that was a really long sentence. But I meant all of it. (less)
"I hate skin; I hate bones and bodies. I want to curl up inside of him and be carried there forever."
Earlier this year, I fell in love with Lau...more2.5 - 3
"I hate skin; I hate bones and bodies. I want to curl up inside of him and be carried there forever."
Earlier this year, I fell in love with Lauren Oliver's debut, Before I Fall. So understandably, I was very excited to hear about her next book, Delirium. A dystopian world where love is a disease, written by the clearly very talented Oliver? Yeah, I can get behind that. Only turns out? Not so much. Reasons why = HERE(less)
There was a point in Manifest that things sort of clicked for me and I saw the potential for something pretty gripping and distrubing (without giv...more2.5
There was a point in Manifest that things sort of clicked for me and I saw the potential for something pretty gripping and distrubing (without giving too much away, there is a serious creep (in the real world sense) preying on the girls of Lincoln, and MC Krystal may be the next on his list. There was a dark, gritty and realistic edge to this side of the story that I didn't see coming, and it added much needed authenticity and danger. But this one almost-stellar aspect aside, Manifest fell flat for me.
One of the biggest problems was the main character, Krystal. Krystal is very, very hard to like for a good chunk of the book. She's angsty in the worst way, pouty and insolent, she's kind of obtuse and frustrating, and it was sort of hard for me to root for her. This did get better as it went along, and I realize that it was an intended progression because of things that had gone on in her life, but it doesn't change the fact that I didn't want to read her; I didn't want to be in her head. Of the other bigger side characters, Ricky was cliched, contradictory and silly, Sasha is a princess who has yet to grow on me (bad sign, as she's the star of book 2), and Jake, who I liked and felt was more developed, was often brushed to the side.
Another problem I had (and this was partly the result of my own expectations) was the cliched aspect of the novel, coupled with attempts to make it a more POC slant. I was looking forward to getting a new perspective, something more like a melding of urban fantasy and paranormal romance. But it never felt authentic to me. Ricky, the ghost gangbanger, wears his pants low and his Timbalands untied, and he speaks in alternating urban teen slang and well-spoken prepster -- sometimes both in one sentence, like this: "I'll admit, if circumstances were different, I might try to holla at you. But your foul attitude would probably turn me off." Really? What teen of any background talks in this weird mish-mash? And what teen says 'foul attitude', other than in a mocking way when they've just been written up for it? Overall, the way it was handled, I just felt like the author had to try to connect with an audience so she sprinkled some stuff in hoping it worked, or even worse, maybe thinking it rang true, and it didn't. For me, this was hard to get past, and I found myself rolling my eyes a lot. The same is true of the "Mystyx" powers (and the name Mystyx) -- it was sort of too grandiose and I rolled my eyes. A lot.
But even though this bothered me, and I've been fairly negative so far, but truth be told, I did see potential. As I said in the beginning, there was a darker, more raw undercurrent that really could have made something of the book, and as is, saved it from completely flopping for me. I feel like Arthur has given herself room to grow over the series, and I'm curious enough, and saw potential enough, to be willing to read book 2 and see what she makes of it. I wouldn't push Manifest on anyone, but I wouldn't completely dissuade them from reading it, either. Caution, maybe, but not dissuade.
In the end, I went into Manifest with hopes of a good POC take on paranormal YA, with maybe some romance. What I got was a letdown: a cliched story of a hard to like main character, with slang and skin color thrown in to mix it up. But I also caught glimpses of something better, and I'm hoping to see it expanded upon. (less)