I was nervous to pick up Valkyrie Rising. I had a feeling after reading the synopsis that the potential awesomeness of the story could be easily eclipsed by a shoddy romance, but I liked the idea of Norse mythology finally entering the mix of mythological stories in young adult literature. I thought Valkyrie Rising would be a story of courage, sacrifice, love and adventure, but I was wrong. Tera Lynn Childs blurbed Valkyrie Rising, saying that it was a "perfect girl-power romance." I highly disagree. I hope this won't be held as the standard of perfection for a girl-power adventure story. Weighed down by amateur-style writing and a weak, uninspiring main character, I couldn't bring myself to even finish the book.
The writing style was my main issue. Everything was told to me -- I couldn't sit back and experience it myself. When the main character, Ellie, experienced a strong emotion, like fury, it was merely stated as this:
I was too fast and way beyond being reasoned with. I would crush Astrid or die trying. Anger howled through me, fueled by the certainty that I could win this fight if I was clever and bold enough. (p. 203)
There were gems hidden among the rough, but they were few and far between and buried under unpolished prose. For example, "anger howled through me" is a great phrase, but Paulson follows it up with telling the reader that Ellie was "certain" about the impending fight. It wasn't infused with Ellie's anger, leaving me totally unaffected. This style permeated through the entire book, and I had a hard time wading through it.
My other main issue was Ellie herself. She was so melodramatic. She made huge assumptions based on little to no evidence. This was a side effect of Paulson not building the stakes properly. If I, the reader, can't understand the significance of something, then Ellie's reactions just make her come off as a spazz. Also, the writing made Ellie come off as a fraud. It squashed her character development by cramming an entire character arc into a single paragraph. I couldn't understand her at all.
I was very disappointed with how poorly the atmosphere was delivered. Norway, being such an unexplored setting in young adult books, should've been rife with details. Only, it wasn't. I couldn't get a sense of the world at all. Ingrid Paulson left too much to the imagination. I had to pause in order to construct the details myself and as a reader, I shouldn't have to put in that kind of work. I wish Paulson had taken some time to weave the world into the prose, but she merely set up the setting in a single introductory paragraph whenever the setting changed.
The romance left a lot to be desired. I noticed that a lot of the story was spent talking to boys, or Ellie interacting with boys, or Ellie thinking about boys. I understood that Tuck was an angel incarnate, but let's try to keep our panties on. Ellie's relationship with Tuck was fraught with holes. Ellie would go in one direction of thought only to backtrack and go another way. Being on such unstable footing was a big turnoff when it came to how Ellie and Tuck's relationship progressed.
Finally, there was no passion. This was an adventure book, where was the blood-pumping action? This was a romance book, where was the heart-wrenching dedication? This was about bravery, so where was the courage? I just couldn't sense any passion behind Ingrid Paulson's words. I was left thinking, "Why should I care?"
Valkyrie Rising may have worked for me if I felt Paulson had thrown herself into the story and owned it, but with the second-rate writing style, irritating main character and flimsy plot, I just couldn't find a reason to invest in it.(less)
Unremember made a huge splash when it first entered the blogosphere. The interesting cover drew my eye, but I wasn't overly enthusiastic about the kind of story that the summary promised. A plane crash? Amnesia? A boy? (Of course.) But I was still set on reading it at some point. When I did, I was disappointed.
Right away, something was lacking. The writing felt very amateurish, like I was reading a promising first draft. The writing style didn't seem to fit the story, either. I was expecting something else, something more ethereal with an edge. The bland style just left my mind drifting, instead of keeping me engaged.
It's important that I get a sense of the narrator right away, but Unremembered felt like reading a biography and not a first-person account. Perhaps it's her amnesia? She certainly came off like a blank slate. I couldn't get a grip on her, or really start to care about the fact that her entire life was gone from her. I kept getting the impression that this would have been better as a movie, just from the bit I've read. Words on paper doesn't seem to be doing it any sort of justice.
I didn't get very far into it. The writing style and the character could not capture my interest. Perhaps it would have turned out to be good had I continued reading, but I didn't want to take the time and effort that would be required.(less)
My first experience with Melissa Marr came in the form of her novel, Wicked Lovely. I was left unimpressed with it and uninspired to pick up anymore of her books, but I've learned from experience that an author can start out a bit rusty and develop into this whirlwind of awesomeness. Unfortunately, the whirlwind hasn't come for Melissa Marr yet. Five years between publications and I'm having the same problems with Carnival of Souls that I had with Wicked Lovely. Interestingly enough, they're the exact. same. problems: Shallow characters and boring plot wrapped together in totally amateurish writing.
It took a bit of dedication on my part to get into the throes of the story. From the scarcity of descriptions, I was left fumbling to anchor myself in any kind of atmosphere, making me hesitate to invest in the story. The way the story was presented left me confused about the stakes -- when a character acted, I didn't get the supposed "risk" behind it. Only by the time I was some two hundred pages in did I understood the switches and plot twists, but I couldn't feel them resonating through the characters as I should have.
I didn't sense any kind of depth from the characters and I think it was mostly due to the writing and not as much off the fact they were just shallow characters. Marr's writing style lacks any sort of passion. It was made up of all telling, losing much of the emotion, depth and shock value in the deadpan prose. And while the story had an edge, the prose ill-fitted the story. Everything was described to me, not shown, so I wasn't fully aware of how dark the The City was supposed to be, or how dangerous the witches were, or how Mallory felt as she lived a life in constant danger. Everything fell flat.
Occasionally, romances can swoop in to save the day if the hero or heroine happens to be appealing. This is not the case here. Not only were Kaleb and Mallory as flat as the rest of them, but the romance was of the insta-love variety and a major turn off. I grew immensely agitated at the "I love you's" carelessly thrown around and the proclamations of undying love and protection. It just came to: Ugh.
There was also little plot to speak of. While events progressed in a linear fashion, the "mystery" was hardly a head-scratcher. And not only that, but there was no climax. Despite the fact that the rest of the story hadn't held the telltale signs of a story building to a tipping point, I paused a few pages away from the end and realized that I'd just read the climax. It had passed me by without ceremony. The mystery that had been apparent a hundred pages ago was revealed to little fanfare and the characters were now in a classic "this is just the beginning" kind of ending. It's never a good sign when a reader breathes a sigh of relief as the book closes.
I was hoping that I would be blown away by Carnival of Souls, but it failed to deliver. As a slew of books separate Carnival of Souls and Wicked Lovely and yet the latter shows no sign of improvement, I'm most likely not going to pick up another one of Melissa Marr's books.(less)
This book was so ridiculous -- so dramatic, so poorly executed, so pitiful -- that there was no way I could take it seriously. It was shallow beyond compare; it even beat out ABC Family dramas in my eyes. But. It was a very entertaining read. A simple guilty pleasure for nothing but dramadramadrama. If you, dear reader, are expecting a Sarah Dessen/Kody Keplinger style serious story, this is not the book you're looking for. If you wanna kick back, go through the simple act of reading without getting emotionally involved, this is totally it.
My words might seem harsh, but I enjoyed the book. I finished it in two days. I liked reading it. I just couldn't take it seriously. It went from shallow but cute to absolutely, downright ridiculous.
Abby and Travis's relationship was formed and shaped by extremes -- extremes that could've been prevented by good ole common sense. But then it wouldn't be fun, right? Abby was a nightmare. I never bothered trying to like her character -- there was too much that I couldn't agree with from the get go. Didn't help that she was just plain dumb. And she strung Travis around like a broken kite. Their relationship was so messed up, I couldn't even...Good grief. None of it made sense.
If that's supposed to be the point, then kudos. This obviously wasn't the book that would win the gold in my eyes. By the time I'd surpassed the first third of the book, I knew the rest of it would be impossible to take seriously. The plot was predictable, shallow and sloppy. Constant ups and downs -- breakups and takebacks. The whole time, I'm going WTF? They'd break up, sleep together, break up again...and all the while, they're kissing and acting like they were dating regardless of whether they were or not. Two people who couldn't get their senses together enough to pick a decision and believe in it enough to stick to it? They deserve what they get.
The best part, though, was the dialogue. Jamie McGuire did a lot with dialogue -- very little with prose in general. A lot of the characters' personalities came out through what they said, which gave the book its own unique air. It was also hilarious. I loved the humor. I was constantly laughing from what the characters would say, though the rest of the time I was laughing about their stupidity.
This story easily fits any of the top pop love songs. Since it's so cookie-cutter, it fits to: "Payphone" by Maroon 5, "Wild Ones" by Flo Rida, "Glad You Came" by The Wanteds, "It Will Rain" by Bruno Mars and even "Just a Kiss" by Lady Antebellum. Travis totally had that "That's What Makes You Beautiful" thing going on about Abby and Abby...she doesn't get a song because she was so unstable.
It was a crazy story, and I would recommend it to any of you, dear readers, as long as you try not to take it too seriously. Because it's ridiculous. And even though I knew full well it was ridiculous, I read it. It was like taking a break from reality in the best possible way. People doing stupid things, making stupid decisions, feeling stupid emotions. It worked out in the end.(less)
Insurgent picks up right where Divergent left off. It continues much in the way that Divergent did, following Tris as she battles with her disintegrating world. Just like with Divergent, I enjoyed the world and the symbolism surrounding human nature being forced into five different factions and how the city reacts to those refusing to be molded. However, the polish wore off in the sequel. Tris's character was almost unbearable to me--I could barely keep myself from throwing the book across the room at her constant stupidity. The plot was chaotic. The romance was irritating. The goal was lost on me. Overall, not a promising second installment.
Tris was a total spazz. She would make a decision one chapter then change her mind in the next. She would leap to new stages of development within the space of a paragraph instead of a convincing build up. That was the core problem with her character: lack of conviction. If her motivations had actually been explained, her Messiah complex might have been believable, but she was useless expect for making trouble. Always doing something inevitably stupid before thinking it through...and everyone got it -- even random Erudite kids -- except her.
The plot was all over the place. I couldn't keep track of who was doing what and where the stakes were. The reasons for one faction to do something were almost never explained very well. I felt like the whole thing was just a collection of events strung together in some semblance of order. The ending was a nice save for me since I was barely holding on. Now, because of the way it ended, I'm compelled enough to figure out what happens in the third book, but if there isn't some kind of character improvement, I won't bother anymore.
What I took for simplistic writing in the first book turned out to be too simple the second time around. There was way too much telling and not enough description. I couldn't sympathize with Tris's pain because it was simply put: "It hurt."
The only part I truly enjoyed was the symbolism behind the five factions and how their world is being torn apart by each other, and Tobias. Though he was a complete spazz right alongside Tris for large sections, he had enough wits about him to be able to put his foot down about their relationship. Thank God. I had cheered for their relationship in the first book, but was not a fan by the end of this one.
I was not impressed, overall. The writing had lost its luster and Tris was just too irritating for the story to be enjoyable.(less)
When first discovering A Temptation of Angels, I was engrossed by the storyline (if a bit put off by the prospect of a love triangle) because it appeared to be an action-packed story set in a Victorian-style London full of political intrigue and stunning romance. Well, there was action and there were some nice romantic scenes, but overall, I was disappointed. What the summary promised, the story did not deliver. As this is my first of Michelle Zink's work, I'm not encouraged to pick up another of her stories.
The main character, Helen, was promising...at first. I liked her quick and inquisitive mind in the opening chapters, but as the story began to set in, I was unimpressed. I couldn't exactly place why other than a few cases of horribly chosen arguments. Her tenacity was endearing until it became irritating. I believe having her particular character in the third person wasn't the best for the story. I felt distanced from her; this complete inability to connect to her.
When the romance started, I was torn between being enraptured and frustrated. It, like the beginning of the story, started too quickly and proceeded with frightening predictability. Of course she's going to develop immediate feelings for a man she's living with, who teaches her to use her angelic powers and swears to protect her. And of course she's going to be "torn" between him -- the dedicated protector -- and a man she played with...when she was five. Love triangles are a horrifying creation of torture in young adult literature, truly.
The plot itself was rather weak. It wasn't very tightly wrapped. It seemed to be a story about Helen's emotional journey -- mourning her parents, growing into her role in her new world and trying not to get herself killed -- but with sudden, harsh missteps into this "bigger picture". I got bored with it after a while. I saw there was direction, but I didn't feel the pull to see the characters through. It just got...boring.
Michelle Zink's writing, besides the third person point of view, was good. What drew me to her in the first place was what I read briefly from The Prophecy of the Sisters and how I was impressed with her style. I say "good" because it didn't keep me glued to the pages, but I wasn't repulsed by it either. I did see a lot of telling and not showing, but there were also a lot of great lines.
Overall, not a fan. It just wasn't a book that appealed to me.(less)
I loved the idea, but I had a hard time getting into the story. I didn't have a lot of sympathy or compassion for the characters. They all seemed a bit shallow to me. The story was interesting, if a bit unorganized, and the writing was not what I was expecting at all.
I didn't feel at all compelled to continue reading Kali's story. I liked Kali's character enough, especially this interesting situation she finds herself in: her powers switching on and off every other day. And the problems she faces with her dad. Kali herself had an interesting dynamic--she has little sense of normality, but I felt as if that wasn't portrayed very well.
The sub-characters Skylar and Bethany were interesting, but their group dynamic was typical: girl that babbles, girl that's popular but not actually the b*tch she appears to be, and the screw up in the middle. Bethany can't stand Skylar, Skylar can't stand Bethany, Kali trying to keep the peace because she needs the friendship. I liked Skylar and Bethany, but not enough to really care about them.
Kali's story was...almost typical and expected. Not as complex as I was hoping for. I had no problem figuring out the mystery. I did like Kali's powers, though. That was cool and different, though maybe not described very well.
The real let down for me, though, was the writing. Very simple, and not elegant. There were spots of humor and brilliance, but they were few and far between. I was expecting more from Jennifer Lynn Barnes because I loved Raised By Wolves.
I read somewhere that Catherine Banner was slated to be the next J.K. Rowling. I’m sure whoever said it had good intentions but I’m left going, Um no. The book was exciting at first because it was different, but soon, the flaws began to stand out. The writing began to show a amateur-istic choppiness. Then, the plot just didn’t make sense and by the end of it, I was left skimming the pages. I wish I had gotten more out of this because I think the idea was clever, but being dragged out over four hundred pages and squandered with raw writing? The idea starts to lose its luster.
The first thing is the writing. It was choppy. But that was all, because even choppiness can be brilliant (look at Maria V. Snyder). It lacked that critical personal element that makes the readers care about the characters. When tragedy hits halfway through the story, I’m left feeling sympathetic because it’s sad by nature, but I had no emotional take in it. And Leo’s reaction…It was stretched over the rest of the book—more than two hundred pages of the exact same thing over and over and over and over again. The repetition was just annoying after a while. Then, when the romance came in, I was just like…”Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me.” There was simply no emotional depth. I just didn’t get it.
The characters didn’t make sense, either. I didn’t like any of them. Not Leo, the main character. Not Grandmother. Not Maria. Maria! That girl had no place in this story.
That was my main issue, right there. Nothing really had a set place. I’m expecting everything to be so Its Own that it can’t be left out without the story falling apart. If it isn’t needed, then I don’t want to read about it. Maria didn’t hold a critical part, neither did her story, which took forever to get out and wasn’t that surprising.
When I pick up a book—especially a fantasy—I’m expecting some type of “tightness” about the plot. Consider Cinda Williams Chima. Her fantasy books—The Demon King and The Exiled Queen—are thick. Over five hundred pages each. Over that considerable amount of length, she doesn’t let anything go to waste. She uses everything. Meaning, something she mentions in the beginning of the story becomes significant later on. All her character’s subplots are critical to the main plot. With Eyes of a King, there was no tightness. With the parallel world aspect, the two plots should have been so tightly bound that you shouldn’t have been able to tell them apart. I feel that the separate stories barely affected each other.
Not only was the plot not tight, but it was cliché. The romance with Ryan, the story with Aldebaran…And the dialogue was poor. The lines of one character could come from any other character. There was no differentiating feature between them.
The writing could have stood for some serious polishing. There’s a difference between describing the rain outside to just describe it versus using the rain as a backdrop and tool to get to the bigger picture. And I think putting it in first person was a mistake. The emotional distance between the reader and the characters was simply accentuated by the use of “I”.
However, there were a few diamonds amongst all the roughness. For example:
There was an atmosphere of disquiet in that strange town. Horses shifted and puffed steam in the damp evening air, and the men who walk around did not talk or smile. There were Malonian flags everywhere, grubby and damp, and they flapped like sickening birds against the buildings.
Excerpted from the hardcover, US edition, page 251.
Overall however, I was just not impressed. I was so excited to read this book because I’d had the name “Catherine Banner” down on my authors-to-investigate list for months and I finally found her book in the library. She apparently started this book when she was fourteen and she was showcased in a prestigious British gallery for inspiring young Britons. But I don’t see the hype. I might pick up the next book because I know how an author’s writing can change as they mature as a writer. (Again, see Cinda Williams Chima.)(less)
Not exactly my cup of tea. Maybe it was the idea or the execution of said idea or the characters, but more than likely it was a combination of all three. There was something lacking in the structure and presentation that made the characters, and story inaccessible.
The major problem I had with this book was the main character, Allie. Starting with the character itself and not her circumstances, I was disappointed with how shallow she seemed. Even the description of her family background didn’t give me any interest. I didn’t feel any inclination to cheer for her victories or mourn her losses.
Allie’s circumstances once she reached Galveston were so convenient that it was unbelievable. Her instant connection with her gorgeous tenant and this fabulous house that she wasn’t “accustomed” to, etc. Then, the whole situation surrounding Brody just annoyed me further. This instant physical connection, unexplainable background, mysterious attitude been done dozens—thousands!—of times and it’s almost become a default with paranormal books nowadays. I would like to believe it possible that there are supernatural heroes that aren’t drop dead gorgeous and are capable of being a dork.
There’s an article in the July/August issue of Writer’s Digest that speaks very well on the subject of giving flat characters dimension. The author of this article, Steven James (The Bishop), elaborates on four points that give a character complex dimension and one of the points is status. It’s the difference between being dominant and being submissive and how to vary your character’s status to make them believable(1). Likeable heroes are rarely submissive, and thus lies my problem with Allie. She didn’t have drive. I wanted to read about a character that had her own personal conflict besides the main external struggle and how she was going to deal with this personal conflict.
Of course, all those elements—the spectacular living arrangements, the hot romantic interest—can be pulled off effectively, and even feature characters that don’t have a lot of sass but the writing made reading almost unbearable. It was written so distantly that it had the same effect of a third person omniscient narrator. The dialogue was awkward and sounded like it was excerpted from a manual.
Overall, I couldn’t stand Allie’s seemingly naïve attitude and Brody’s brooding hotness. Nothing was clicking for me.
1 = James, Steven “Raise Your Characters Above The Status Quo.” Writer’s Digest (2011): 25-28. Print.(less)
I wanted to like this book. It offered a unique story set in an exotic place with a forbidden romance and a compelling mystery. While the book delivered a foreign place, a romance and a mystery, I did not feel compelled to enjoy any of them. The main character was flighty and indecisive; the romance was melodramatic; the plot fell flat, and the locale was not exactly the definition of intoxicating.
Cassandra Caravello and I would not be best buds. I felt no compassion for her, or for whatever situation she'd stumbled into. At every turn she was getting in trouble. And not just finding it, but throwing herself into it! The girl's brain had the consistency of wallpaper paste. She threw herself into danger unnecessarily, and usually had nothing to show for it except that she has a penchant for being saved like a damsel in distress. And if she wasn't following scary lights into the darkness, or rowing across Venice by herself with a killer on the loose while pursuing a thin thread of logic, then she was passing out or throwing a temper tantrum. The girl was moody and a downright irritant.
I didn't find much value in the love triangle, either. (For of course there must be a love triangle!) I normally despise love triangles because they almost always reflect poorly on the main character, and what should be a conflict, or obstacle, really just comes off as melodramatic tension. In this case, I felt no sense of tragedy at Cassandra's loss of her "true love." Partly because I did not care for Cassandra or her troubles, and partly because I felt no compassion for any of the other characters.
Also, I felt no stirring towards the world. I wanted to come out of the book feeling like I had just come back from an adventure. Venice is a place with enormous potential for a magical adventure story, and yet I just felt...very meh. Yes, I was shown gondolas and canals and palazzos, but while they were mentioned, I couldn't really see what was so magical about them. I couldn't sense the magic of the world at all because it lacked a lot of small, important details that would've brought it to life. The lasting effect was...less than intoxicating.
The plot was not compelling. The supposed "danger" to the character was overrated because nothing about the murders in Venice truly disrupted Cassandra's life. I slogged through it, waiting for the stakes to rise, waiting for something unexpected to happen. The plot twists bored me because I had figured them out several pages beforehand. By the end of it, the only thing I wanted to know was a) whodunnit and b) why. Both revelations were tiresome.
Overall, not impressed in the slightest. I don't think I'll be continuing with this series.(less)
Oh, the bitter sting of a disappointing book. I had received many reassurances that Something Strange and Deadly would be well worth it. However, I was put off by the melodramatic and spastic main character, the lack of detail, and the cookie cutter plot. The idea has enormous potential, but the story fell flat for me.
Eleanor grated on my nerves. She was always fluttering, sputtering, stuttering, tripping or otherwise on the verge of passing out. She had no substance to her. She certainly wasn't strong, and the opposite of queenly. Though she could throw a royal temper tantrum. I think Daniel put it perfectly when he said:
"You have the curiosity of a cat and the common sense of a goldfish."
When she grew passionate about something, I was left rolling my eyes because for the most part, everything seemed to leave her unable to say anything! For all her tragic circumstances, I just couldn't take her reactions seriously.
I had a hard time taking the plot seriously, too. Predictable and cookie cutter, I didn't see how events connected together -- either they seemed strung together randomly, or the turn of events were far too convenient. I didn't feel the stakes were high enough. The only thing Eleanor seemed to be at risk of losing was her brother, and since I didn't feel any compassion for her, I couldn't really bring myself to care about her circumstances. So as the action progressed, I was left wondering why I was supposed to care.
I think it was mostly because the characters lacked passion. What drove each of them forward? What about their contradictions, paradoxes, and idiosyncrasies? These unanswered questions left me feeling like the entire cast were merely paper puppets just hobbling along.
This lack of attention to detail resonated throughout the entire story. Nothing was very well described. I was forced to create most of the scenery in my head, taking my attention away from the plot. Also, in the action scenes, I completely lost track of what was happening. I had to backtrack several times, but there simply were not enough descriptors for me to keep everything straight in my mind. The choppy storytelling seriously diminished the shock value of the plot twists. So what could've been a fantastic adventure story fell flat for me.
The idea was simply underdeveloped. However, there was a lot of potential for an intoxicating setting and a story interwoven with suspense, romance and action. Instead, I was just left frustrated and disappointed. Regardless, I do feel a compulsion to continue, and Susan Dennard is one of those authors that I will return to after their talents have matured a bit.(less)
What drew me to The Goddess Test was the cool idea and incessant coverage in the blogosphere. I love Greek myths, especially when they're retold in a fresh, new fashion. But I didn't think anything about The Goddess Test was fresh, or new. Every aspect, from the main character to the cheesy high school experience, left me unimpressed. It was a promising seed of an idea, but it I felt it could have been presented a lot better.
The summary itself doesn't seem to promise much. It's chockfull of unsurprising elements. Of course the Lord of the Underworld is "dark" and "tortured." When I think of a fresh, new take on Greek mythology, I have more in mind of a Hades (if he's a teenager in the modern world) that likes to go around wearing a Black Sabbath tee and ratty biker boots. Not a long, black trench coat. And, of course, Henry is unbelievably, undeniably gorgeous. Not the kind of depth and originality I was hoping for.
Modernizing the myth of Persephone is a rich concept, whereas Carter's story seemed to barely scratch the surface. It was clouded with things that had already been done before, from the bitterly worn out high school hierarchy (where the head cheerleader is blond and of course dates the quarterback and/or captain of the football team) to the prose itself. The prose was entirely telling, no showing, making it lackluster for me. From page to page, I was left unsurprised. It was so easy to see how the plot was going to progress from page one, so by the time I got to page sixty, I was ready to cry with frustration and boredom.
The frustration came mostly from the main character, Kate. I can empathize with her plight (though I'm not watching my mother slowly die, it's a member of my family) but I cannot sympathize with her. I expected more anger out of her; some other emotion than just perpetual flakiness around anyone other than her mother. She just came off childish after a while, and I quickly tired of her.
I thought The Goddess Test was going to be amazing, but it was simply one of those books that did not live up to my expectations. I was hoping for a story with an edgy charm, but it was blunted by superficial characters and melodramatic action.(less)
Possession felt wrong to me from the start. Immediately, I sensed there was going to be a problem: I felt no conviction about the main character, Vi's, rebellious spirit. I didn't feel much towards the world, or the writing style. I only managed roughly a hundred pages, and I didn't see any reason to continue reading.
The main character, Vi, thought a lot of herself, acting "so rebellious" in the face of the Thinkers. She acted like a child, and worse: a rebel without a cause. I had no idea what was so bad about her environment in the first place, so I was lost when she was being arrested. Her thoughts and motivations were all over the place, if explained at all. I didn't care that she was being arrested, or that she was "losing" time with a boy. Her "fire" seemed forced just within the first twenty pages.
The writing was rather weak. Not enough time spent setting things up, so not enough suspense created to make me want to find out how things worked. There was a lot of telling -- a lot of telling.
I can't say much in terms of plot since I didn't very far into it, but even so, a hundred pages in should tell me something. It wasn't that nothing happened, just that nothing that drove me to continue for the plot's sake. I felt that her relationship with Jag was very predictable from what I caught of it.
I was really disappointed by this: I was looking for to it.(less)
This idea of angels being the bad guys and the assassins the heroes was fascinating and one that L.A. Weatherly put together nicely. The story was told in a simplistic yet effective writing style, yet there was major flaw that kept me from fully enjoying this story. The characters. Even amidst a story full of a great mix of action and romance, the characters began to wear at me as the plot progressed and it strongly affected my rating for this book.
The beginning was great. I was immediately captured by the story and the characters and before I knew it, I'd burned through the first hundred pages. I felt this was going to be a great story because Willow had a great introductory scene, full of humor and a sharp awareness. And she's a mechanic. Brownie points right there. Alex had a deep complexity about him and I immediately got a sense for his character, thank goodness.
Then the romance hit. And everything went downhill.
In a nutshell, this book could have been remarkably more enjoyable if the characters hadn't played towards every cliché line ever invented. Given spicier lines that were more character-specific, I would have been more invested in the story, after I got about three hundred pages in, I started rolling my eyes and fifty pages after that, I had to work towards making it through the entire book. Cliché to the last word.
This idea was so clever and everything seemed to be primed for a read full of humor, breathless adventure and steaming romance. Yet it just didn't deliver.
(I did like how the tense switches persons when there was a change between Willow and Alex. Willow's narration was in first person; Alex's in third. I thought that was an interesting touch.)(less)
I could barely get into this book. I barely got through the first two chapters. The main character, Charlotte, drove me completely bonkers. Her constant whining made me want to throw the book across the room. Her low self esteem, cookie-cutter responses and her GORGOUES SISTER (aren't they always?) just annoyed me.
The story didn't hold much appeal either. The beginning was confusing—are ghosts real or not? Are they "energy" or are they real spirits? Confusion doesn't bode well for any story.
The writing wasn't much better. Nothing particularly appealing about it; didn't draw me into the story.
The writing coupled with the type of story made it come off as little kiddish. Charlotte's "holier-than-thou, I'm-so-misunderstood" attitude is something I expect in a middle grade novel, not YA.
Now, there might've been something more interesting farther in, but the first couple of chapters turned me off so much that I just wasn't willing to wait it out.(less)
I’ve been excited to read this book for forever and that’s why it was even more disappointing when I couldn’t get into it—and was sorely tempted to th...moreI’ve been excited to read this book for forever and that’s why it was even more disappointing when I couldn’t get into it—and was sorely tempted to throw it across the room as I got farther and farther into it. I know a lot of people have really enjoyed this book, but I am not one of them. I got nearly 200 pages in, cut somewhere in the back and basically got the whole story.
There were two things that really ate at me. The writing and the characters.
One of the first things that struck out at me were the poor scene changes. There would be a break in the story when there was no need for it. It was if it were meant to show transition when really, no time had passed. It was distracting and reflected poorly on the story.
Then, as I continued reading, I started getting frustrated by the poor execution of “show, don’t tell”. I could go through and point out several sentences/passages that could have been presented much more effectively by merely changing it so it came straight from the character and not as if it were a retelling. Due to this, there was a complete lack of personality in the style. It was plain and didn’t pull any emotion out of me, except frustration.
Most of my enjoyment comes from characters. If the characters flop, most of the story does as well. Which makes sense, since the characters are the ones who carry out the story. No characters, no story.
There was, once again, the archetype god-like hero and the plain heroine. Please, God, give us something else. I am just downright sick and tired of reading through the same character over and over again. Also, the social rival was far too cliché. There are nasty people out there, but I don’t want the Disney channel mean girls. (They make me laugh…kinda counterproductive, yes?)
Haven might have turned out to be a decent character if she’d just stayed consistent. She had some good lines, but they flopped afterwards because she didn’t have the personality to make her reaction credible. She was also very selfish and her lack of perception just made me want to scream! Half of her actions just defied common sense. She also seemed a bit dim-witted. Most of the time I was going, “No, really?!”
I think Beau was the realest. He showed the most personality and I really took a liking to his character. Though, I wasn’t really taken with Beau and Haven’s friendship. It didn’t seem real, credible, convincing…whichever word you want to use.
Iain was pathetic. Not taken with him in the slightest. He was too cardstock without any flair or personality at all. I went about four chapters with his character and just started rolling my eyes.
As I said before, I got 200 pages in, skipped around in the back and not only felt as if I’d gotten the whole story in a pinch, but I was uninspired to continue. I like it when, in series, you can pick up any book without having to start with book 1 but not in a book itself. I shouldn’t be able to cut in midway and know everything that’s going on.
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer was, in short, a Twilight-remake in almost every sense of the word. The main character, Mara, was pitiful with her one-track mind. The plot was not executed very well, though held promise. In fact, the only part of the story I liked was the humor. The rest fell apart for me -- the characters, the plot, the setting, the magic, everything. I somehow made it through and the ending did throw me for a loop, a clever trick since I do feel like I might want to figure out what happens next.
Mara was awful. Irritating, with her inability to decide whether she's going to stand up to someone or run away like a coward. Her inconsistencies ruined her for me. Couldn't keep her shirt on, or her priorities straight. For some reason, I did like Noah a bit. Not in a, "Ohmygawd so hawwwt!" But because he had more depth to his character than the main character's. He was a bit too typical, though, with the whole misunderstood rich boy/bad boy complex. I kept thinking, "When's he gonna sneak into her room and watch her sleep?"
The plot was just drama. Dramadramadrama. From the moment she met Noah to practically the end of the book, the entire thing was dominated with their relationship. So the plot was a little sketchy when it finally made an appearance. Nothing made sense and not in a "Oh this is so creepy but so cool" kind of way. More like, "Hurry up and make a point already" kind of way.
Nothing emotionally tied me to this book. And besides the humor, the only other thing I really appreciated was the symbolism going on. Mara = death, Noah = life. Ying and yang coming together. It was clever, but not enough. On a single page alone, there were three lines I swear came straight out of Twilight. Bleh.
Maybe I'll continue onto the next book. Michelle Hodkin left a pretty decent cliffhanger. If Mara doesn't get her act together, though, forget it. I'm just grateful there isn't a love triangle. Small mercies.(less)
The writing did nothing for it. I almost never start on an author's writing style but in this case, i...moreIn a nutshell: Fantastic idea, horribly executed.
The writing did nothing for it. I almost never start on an author's writing style but in this case, it was a significant factor in how I viewed the book. The style described too much in the wrong cases, not enough with the right ones. There was also a lot of telling rather than showing. The short, almost inconsiderate descriptions of the character's feelings made it seem false. I couldn't get a grasp on the characters at all.
This was an absolutely brilliant idea. If it had been executed differently, this could have risen to Harry Potter status--or at least, it would have had the potential to. The idea was fresh, new and incredible. It just...never took off the ground for me. I found myself skipping pages and I would still know exactly what was going on.
Writing aside, nothing anchored me to the characters. Even if you hate a character, that means that there was enough given that you're CAPABLE of hating them. It means that they were put through situations and were complete and total idiots and did a million things wrong and you hate their guts for it. But at least you have the proof. When you can't even cast an opinion on a character...oooh, well, that just goes to show that you weren't shown much. But Dodge and Alyss had such incredible potential! I just wish they were shown better. I could have really come to love them as characters. Same goes for the antagonist. Redd was downright creepy at first, but she quickly lost credibility.
The dialog required much-needed help. It was mostly in the dialog that I lost the characters. Even with the sometimes skimpy writing, dialog can pick up the slack. Not in this case, though.
I wrote a review for this now because I'm 95% certain that I won't be picking it up again. If I ever have children, I would try it out on them because it's more of a read out loud kind of book. But for readers who have a preference for more complex, lyrical writing that must be read inwardly, I don't recommend this book to you.
I gave it a B- because I respect the idea so much. It wouldn't feel right to bring it lower than "B" status. Perhaps if Frank Beddor writes another series, I would take a chance on it. Otherwise, I'm not venturing into Wonderland again.(less)
So the introduction (prologue) was pretty good. Daniel’s attitude was kinda eating at me; he seemed pathetic, worrying about Luce so much. Just chill,...moreSo the introduction (prologue) was pretty good. Daniel’s attitude was kinda eating at me; he seemed pathetic, worrying about Luce so much. Just chill, you know? And stop being such a domineering tyrant. So she needs his permission to go somewhere, do something? Oh uh uh. That is not about to fly. I understand that this guy is totally whipped but he needs to get. a. grip.
As for prima donna Lucinda. She needs a good slap in the face. I think this falls under the category of a writing error. How many times can you say how much you love/miss someone? Oh. My. God. Once every few pages (or scenes, better yet) is okay, but not every other paragraph. We get it. Luce is desperately in love with a dude she doesn’t know the first thing about. Duly noted. She misses him like crap. Got that too. Move on!
I felt like the writing was bogged down by the “I knew he was going to say that” aspect. When I read, I unconsciously expect to be given original information that is unique to the story and properly reflects the character’s voices. Well, these voices are not that unique. Daniel’s an okay dude, but for God’s sake, come up with some more original lines. This is not a teenage soap opera. Luce’s lines are very typical too. Can you say dull?
It’s a shame. I love thick books, but the angel books have disappointed me as no topic has before (except for vampires). (The only angel books I like are “Hush, Hush” and “Crescendo” by Becca Fitzpatrick.) The covers for these books are beautiful. I’ve officially given up on this series, though. I’ll be having a giveaway of “Fallen”, “Torment” and “Halo” (by Alexandra Adornetto) sometime next month. So look out for that if you love “Fallen”/”Torment”/”Halo”.
The Iron Thorn was one of those books that I desperately wanted to read when it first came out because the cover was pretty, the dust jacket promised wondrous adventures, and everyone was talking it up on the blogosphere. Yet, it was also one of those books that exuded some strange aura that kept me from buying it. I think now that it was a small instinct telling me that this book would disappoint.
There were two things that kept me from getting into Aoife's story: Aoife herself, and the writing style.
When I pick up a steampunk, I expect a certain combination of elements: an awe-inspiring world, an edgy character set, an intriguing adventure, and I expect the writing style to reflect that. So overall I want the impression of smoke and sharp corners and deep shadows. Not the bland murkiness of The Iron Thorn.
To me, the writing style lent the impression of wasted space. Though the plot moved forward in a logical cause-and-effect way, I was left feeling bored, as if I were reading words churned out just to take up a certain word count. There was plenty of smoke, but no sharp corners.
So perhaps it was the writing style that made me dislike Aoife so much, but perhaps not. I've seen Aoife described as "strong." Hmm. I think not. A character who goes to the forbidden underbelly of the city at night and unarmed on the mere hope of finding someone to help her screams of her utter stupidity. I do not see bravery or strength in Aoife's character. I thought her flighty and childish. I did not care about her, or her personal goals.
While those goals were outlined well -- find brother, avoid madness and incarceration -- and though everything seemed pointed towards those goals, I felt a lack of focus and attention. I think it was mostly because I sincerely doubted she would get to her goals as a result of her creativity and determination and more as a result of convenient inconvenience and other people's help and sacrifice.
The one thing that piqued my interest, though, was the world. It is a brilliant concept. One, I think, that might have flourished more thoroughly were the writing a bit more finely honed.
Overall, The Iron Thorn did not inspire a love of steampunk. (less)
I was expecting more. All the reviews I've read say that Evie is a butt-kicking heroine and she's so tough. But, as I read, I wasn't that impressed. I...moreI was expecting more. All the reviews I've read say that Evie is a butt-kicking heroine and she's so tough. But, as I read, I wasn't that impressed. In my mind, she wasn't living up to that reputation. She was constantly crying and, for a girl who was forever bagging-and-tagging paranormals, she didn't think well on her feet. I was expecting someone with more of a warrior heart, I should say. And personally, I couldn't fathom her love for the color pink. (I really don't like the color pink.)
The world was original. Definitely not a world you see every day. I loved the mix of sci-fi and supernatural as well as the history behind the agency's beginning, etc. The faerie involvement was different too, even though Evie's ignorance hindered ever knowing more about how things worked.
It was predictable. Perhaps this is just me, but I found myself knowing what was going to happen several chapters before it did. I think there were only a few things that surprised me just a bit--but that was due to lack of information given.
The romance was shaky. Looking back on it, I wasn't too impressed with the romance. It was cute, very much so in fact, but it was another relationship that settled on circumstances rather than something stemming from a friendship. I'm not saying it's a bad thing, just that it's become the thing to do now. Lend, as a character, was pretty cool. Very witty and sweet. The shape-shifting thing was pretty cool, too. Loved that part.
As always, go read it for yourself. My opinion is my own, so it's up to you to go form your own thoughts on this book.
The cover: I really love the cover. The model is a good depiction of Evie and I love the simple font used. It makes it easy to read. :)
Favorite Quotes: p. 209 - "Listen, corpse girl, do you know what I did? I broke section one of the Charter. As in, the section. As in, let a paranormal loose without authorization and be locked up for the rest of your mortal life. Even if I wanted to go back, which I don't, and even if there was anything to back to, which there probably isn't, I couldn't. So bite me."
I've seen it before. Maybe not the exact plot or the exact world but it's too close for my comfort. It reminded me too much of all the other fae/faerie books that have been done: Holly Black, Modern Faerie Tales; Lesley Livingston, Wondrous Strange; Melissa Marr, Wicked Lovely; Jenna Black, Faerie Walker. All these fae/faerie books have so much in common. I wanted to see something edgier that hadn't been covered yet.
Oh god. Then there's the main character. Talk about raging insecurities. Sure, she might have a dry, innocent sense of humor but she isn't that charmingly naïve character. I think Meghan is ridiculous. How come none of these stories have main characters who KNOW anything already about fairy stuff? Like, never promise the fae anything. Etc.
The character set overall was too predictable and standard for my taste.
The writing was pretty good, though. That was the one thing I liked, but it wasn't' enough to hold up the whole book.
Overall, I just wasn't compelled to continue reading. I'd previously read about a hundred pages in before leaving it for a few months, and so I picked it up from there. I only got about six pages before I put it back down.
I know this is a wildly popular series, but it just wasn't for me.(less)
I don't think I have ever seen such a downfall between books. Where Alera was merely an irritant in the first book, Legacy, she has turned into a thorn in my side. Ultimately, she ruined the whole book for me. I couldn't finish because she was just that irritating. While Ms. Kluver's writing has the kind of archaic grace up there with Christopher Paolini, I wasn't as impressed this time around versus with the first book. Bottom line: I was so uninterested and disgusted with the whole thing that I couldn't trudge through the last bit of the book.
There was no character development whatsoever in terms of the main character, Alera. The girl was dumb. Not only dumb, but selfish, immature, and misguided. I had an issue with the fact that people could walk all over her, but I was downright pissed when she stood up to the wrong people. Also, I can understand her ignorance--she grew up in a society where women were completely subservient--but she never even realized that her ignorance eventually became a hindrance, and then deadly. I was expecting her to finally say, "Teach me how to fight." Did that happen? ---> -_____- No.
The sub characters showed little development and almost seemed 2D. Instead of taking this chance to flesh out her characters, Kluver practically kept them from expanding. I saw many chances to see more of these characters, but that never happened. The only character development I saw was from Steldor. He annoyed me in the first book, but his character really changed this time around. Only problem is, Alera has the stupidest priorities. Pining after a guy who's told her to forget him when Steldor--her husband--is right in front of her?
Alera had this knack of being a complete pain but making other people ignore her shortcomings. And many of the characters like London and Cannon told her that she had "strength". And I'm left going, "You're joking, right?"
I was done when Alera completely ignored the torture of one of her closest friends because she became trapped in Narian's gaze.
I was very disappointed with this book. I loved Legacy mostly because at the time I thought it was well-written and it was written by someone barely a few years older than I was. But with Allegiance, I felt like all the time I spent reading it was completely wasted. So at the end (I got 84% into it) I just didn't care. I didn't even care about the characters that I liked, like London and Galen. The only person I was really curious about was Steldor. I feel really sorry for the guy, having to put up with Alera.
I may pick up the third book out of curiosity to see how things change, but I won't buy it. Alera was just too much.(less)
Bout the only thing I liked about this book was the humor. I found myself laughing--in between the time I was either la...moreGreat idea, not delivered well.
Bout the only thing I liked about this book was the humor. I found myself laughing--in between the time I was either laughing AT the book, or just ready to throw it across the room. I figured, Okay. This Gwen girl looks pretty good. And I've read a lot about her, including a character interview. She looked like a cool enough girl.
Then I read it.
This book would have been a lot longer if actual detail had been added. There's just no depth. I felt no sympathy for Gwen whatsoever. I was completely pissed at her half the time. Consider: your boyfriend dumped you because you've got shapeshifting abilities--which is COOL, for the record. But you do not apologize to HIM! Gwen has no backbone and I kept thinking, "Oh my GOD! This chick needs to toughen the heck up." The scenes with Zach just pissed me off.
I think it was the lack of description that really did this book in. The writing is short and nearly all of it is told and not shown. You don't have to tell us that she's mad if you show her slamming something or is about to punch someone. There's no credit given to the reader when everything is told to you.
I would have really, really, really liked this book if it had been executed differently. I felt no sympathy for the characters--I have no idea how I got through the entire book. I did want to know if I was right about who the killer was--and I was. I figured it out pretty fast but it was kind of interesting how Karen Kincy executed that scene.
The one thing that really got me about the style, was how inconsistent it was. There were beautiful lines amongst hundreds of pointless sentences. It felt like a rough draft to me, instead of a published copy. I'd come across lines like this: My pooka half rises slowly within me, leaning against my bones. It isn't eager to shapeshift and fight. It's...defensive. Feeling my fear. (page 166-167) It's incredible description, and I wish it had continued throughout the entire book.
I'm attracted to humor, which is why I'm keeping this book in the first place. I AM going to look to it for inspiration for a humor fix. Now that I've read it, I can go back and reread all the good parts.
I loved the cover when I first saw it, then I got to look at it up close and I could see the graphic mistakes. So, from a graphic designer's standpoint, I was disappointed. Also, the cover is so freaking glossy! I could send signals to the moon with it. XD
Consider this: the average page length of a book I read is about 300 pages. My rule: if I can't get into a book by the first hu...moreRE-REVIEW COMING 9/3/11
Consider this: the average page length of a book I read is about 300 pages. My rule: if I can't get into a book by the first hundred pages--that's one third of the book--I won't finish it unless I feel compelled otherwise. I won't waste my time.
Unfortunately, the first hundred pages of "Vampire Academy," were not charming. I liked the first seventy pages or so and had high hopes for it, then...in the last thirty pages or so, it started to dwindle very fast. Where was the conflict? Where was the backstory? Where was the character development? All I had were horrible flashbacks of the House of Night series, which I gave up on by book three. (As in, I read book three and didn't bother with book four.)
I wanted this book to be good. I've seen a lot about it and I needed a new series to emerge myself in. I enjoyed the humor and for a while, the writing style. But not enough to make up for everything else. A good idea, poorly executed.
"Vampire Academy" seemed more like a repeat of the House of Night novels. And did you notice how both books were published in the same year? Heh? We have a parallel series going here.
The main character, Rose, is trying to be such a tough punk. But she's not. She's not very bright and she's just as judgmental as the people she looks down on. She's got a huge attitude, but not in an appealing way. She doesn't have much between her ears except some fluff and hot air.
I don't want to go any farther with my criticism because all reviews are relative. A LOT of people love this book series, but it's just not for me. Vampire novels have been notoriously shallow to me and I have yet to find a series that has some real class. "Twilight" appeals to me because of the writing, but not much else.
The cover wasn't really appealing to me either. Why do all vampire novels have to be steeped in sex--one way, or another? Gives a really bad label for vampires.
Sorry, "Vampire Academy" but I'm taking you back to Borders. (In perfectly saleable condition, by the way.) You will find a better, more appreciative owner, I have no doubt.