I feel like 2016 is The Year That Sophomore Novels Disappointed Me. The Girl with All the Gifts was a book I could rave about all day long. Fellside iI feel like 2016 is The Year That Sophomore Novels Disappointed Me. The Girl with All the Gifts was a book I could rave about all day long. Fellside is...a book.
I am half-wondering if Carey is working himself through interpretations of today's watercooler TV. If The Girl With All the Gifts was his take on The Walking Dead, then Fellside is his take on Orange is the New Black. I'm wondering what's next. Mr. Robot? House of Cards? Homeland?
Although the publisher REALLY wants you to know that M.R. Carey is the same guy who wrote The Girl With All the Gifts (it says so on the cover!!), very little of what made Girl so good is present. Maybe that's the reason for the reminder. Otherwise you may not realize the two books shared any connection. Also, there was no horror element involved in this book. A touch of the supernatural, but no horror.
Jess is put in prison for allegedly killing a child by setting a fire in her apartment complex. She has amnesia, so she has no memory of setting a fire. But she convinces herself she must have done it (the prosecutor's theory is she meant to kill her abusive boyfriend in the fire). Jess can see ghosts, and after trying to starve herself to death in prison, the ghost of the child she supposedly killed eventually convinces her to live and hunt for his killer.
In the meantime, there are a thousand other characters that we have to follow for no known reason. There’s the idealistic but morally compromised prison doctor, Salazar (“Sally”); the ruthless prison boss, Grace; the corrupt prison guard, Devlin (“Devil”), the dim-witted thug, the overly eager young druggie, the self-righteous nurse, etc. ARE ANY OF THESE PEOPLE ZOMBIES OR GHOSTS OR DEMONS OR VAMPIRES??? NO? THEN I DON’T CARE.
It felt like pulp literary fiction. Carey's writing style pulls the reader along and keeps the pace moving (even if it feels like it's going nowhere). But the focus on multiple characters, and their life stories, read more like literary fiction. The supernatural element was limited, and seemed more like a plot device than a main focus of the story. ...more
I didn’t love this book quite as much as I loved the first two. But then again, it would be hard to live up to the greatness and the freshness of theI didn’t love this book quite as much as I loved the first two. But then again, it would be hard to live up to the greatness and the freshness of the earlier volumes.
This was still an utterly satisfying ending. Will and Alona have grown up so much from the first book. They have matured into better versions of themselves – finally living up to the potential they always had. Will has learned how to stand up for himself and Alona has learned how to be a little less critical and care for other people. And they continue to be so good for each other.
I am so happy I read this series. It made me SO HAPPY....more
I made the mistake of thinking this was a trilogy. It is not. This is a tetralogy. Knowing that going in will help a lot. Because otherwise you will sI made the mistake of thinking this was a trilogy. It is not. This is a tetralogy. Knowing that going in will help a lot. Because otherwise you will spend too much of this book thinking, How could Johnson possibly wrap everything up in this book??
The Madness Underneath ended with Stephen dead and his ghost missing. Rory is struggling with her love interest's loss right after they shared their first kiss. At the same time, she and the team are trying to find the manipulative, ruthless Jane and stop her from bringing back this series' best villains, Sid and Sadie. Sid and Sadie are pale, creepy, charming, murderous twins. They have the charisma of cult leaders and the predatory instincts of Ted Bundy. As part of Jane's plot to revive Sid & Sadie, Jane steals Oswulf's Stone, one of several stones in London that maintain the veil between the living and the dead. The removal of any of the stones causes massive danger (in the case of Oswulf's Stone, an eerie fog slithers through London).
Shades of London is Johnson's best series yet, and has much more narrative weight than the fun, fluffy series she wrote before. The Shadow Cabinet is spooky, exciting, romantic, and fun, and the stakes continue to rise. I'm excited to see how Johnson wraps things up in the next book (if, in fact, it doesn't turn into a five-series book...). ...more
This is a companion novel to Blood Magic. It has new protagonists but the characters of Blood Magic show up, and the fate of Reese especially plays aThis is a companion novel to Blood Magic. It has new protagonists but the characters of Blood Magic show up, and the fate of Reese especially plays a big role. I guess you could read this as a stand-alone, but it's confusing enough even with the background knowledge of book one.
Mab is a powerful bloodwitch, the daughter of the Big Bad (Josephine Darly) from Blood Magic. She recently became the Deacon (leader) of a tiny bloodwitch coven that has the feel of a hippie commune. Mab spends about zero time angsting about having a villainous mother. She feels bad about what happened to Silla and Nick in the first book, but she's not expressing any fear that she, too, is evil. Mab is too busy being super into magic. She loves it! She loves magic! And she's also a bit crazy and unconventional. This is a girl who does not always understand normal societal conventions (basically what you'd think would happen to a child that is home schooled on a commune and has minimal contact with the rest of the world).
Will is from a conventional family that is still trying to recover from the death of his older brother (Aaron). Will comes from a long line of military men, but since Aaron died he's starting to rethink the path that has been chosen for him. Will's oldest brother, Ben, is home on leave, and keeps badgering Will about joining the military.
Mab and Will meet when Will is attacked by the homunculus Mab created to try to get rid of a curse on the roses in her commune (yeah, it's not explained for a long time what that really means).
Gratton has major pacing issues. This story drags, drags, drags. Halfway through the book and it still felt like it was setting the foundation for some actual action. The Big Bad doesn't appear until the last third, and he appears suddenly and then the entire focus is on getting rid of him.
Most of the book is (not necessarily in order): magic spell, Will is mysteriously sick (homunculus curse passed to him during the attack, of course), magic spell, Will hangs out with some boring friends, magic spell, small boy named Lucas (whose evil father has used him as a familiar) joins the commune, magic spell, Ben harasses Will about the military, magic spell, Will is sick, magic spell, Ben harasses Will, magic spell, etc. And by magic spell, I mean that Mab putters around and fiddles with curses and spells dealing with the land. About the halfway point, Will FINALLY comes to Mab about the fact that his sickness might have something to do with her. And then the action stalls again as it turns into Mab-and-Will-hang-out-time.
I thought at least there'd be some tension with this crazy hippie witch girl having to interact with normal high schoolers - especially since maybe one of the high school girls has a crush on Will after he rescued her from drowning? And rescued girl's friend is maybe a mean girl and maybe is going to harass Mab? But when Will's friends briefly appear it's only to be all "hey, man, who's your new girl? we should all hang out!" and Will is all "nah, not right now, bro. How about later?" and the friends respond "cool, man. later!" That is pretty much the extent of Mab & Will dealing with other young people. It gives depth to absolutely no characters and drives the plot not at all.
Besides the pacing, there is also the issue of the poorly differentiated voices of Mab and Will. They both narrate parts of this story, and it doesn't work. Mab is a hippy witch and Will is a military brat. They should NOT sound like essentially the same person. Switching constantly back and forth between POVs also kept disrupting any momentum that had been building up.
There is also ANOTHER POV sprinkled throughout - first person present (ugh, annoying) musings by the old Deacon's (Arthur's) lover, Evie. Her story is EQUALLY BORING AND POINTLESS. She loves Arthur. Arthur has a bromance with Gabriel, and Gabriel is jealous. Josephine shows up and even the shit that she stirs up isn't interesting. It is 99% Evie pining after Arthur then them getting together. THESE ENTRIES ARE COMPLETELY UNNECESSARY TO THE PLOT. The entries do tie into the curse on the rose bushes and the Big Bad of this story. This is ostensibly useful backstory, but really since the Big Bad appeared and then told Mab who he was and what had happened ANYWAY, it was pointless. (and, yes, he told his own version of the truth, but considering he was obviously evulz, what had actually happened would be pretty damn clear anyway). If more of the Big Bad/Evie backstory was necessary, then the other characters who knew Arthur and Evie and some of that past could've talked about it and it could've come in more naturally. Instead I had to suffer endless chapters of the surprisingly boring Arthur/Evie/Gabriel love triangle.
Oh, and the Will/Mab love story is limpid at best. There's no spark. They know each other for a few days, have no heat in the relationship, and yet it is all "I will die for you!" Gosh, teenage hormones are a powerful thing.
All these complaints were the same ones I had for Blood Magic (confusing and pointless POV switches, instalove with no real heat, pacing issues) but the first book had a really creepy first half and at one point a gripping paranoia of who the Big Bad would possess next. This book I liked less because it didn't have those same redeeming features.
I think maybe Gratton is just a short story writer at heart. She writes FANTASTIC short stories. She has a beautiful style and very imaginative worlds. Short stories take advantage of her style and eliminates the flaws. ...more
Not as horror-based as a typical Yovanoff book, surprisingly enough. Although there are ghosts. I kept thinking that all the suddenly dying ravens wouNot as horror-based as a typical Yovanoff book, surprisingly enough. Although there are ghosts. I kept thinking that all the suddenly dying ravens would have some (horror-level) meaning, but apparently they were just a red herring. After the first few chapters they weren’t mentioned at all.
This ended up being a pretty straight ghost/mystery story. Actually, it's mainly a hard issues contemporary YA with a side of ghost and a mystery that doesn't really get going until the third act. The main focus is Hannah dealing with her best friend Lillian's death from anorexia.
Hannah’s inexplicable crush on Finny, the large, misunderstood juvenile delinquent (he shoplifts! And gets thrown into detention!) is completely unnecessary and feels like it belongs in a whole other book. She falls for him after he stands up for her one time in detention. He falls for her because…? She gave him a birthday card in elementary school, I guess? It really felt like the romance plot was ordered by the publishers, because YA demands romance! Even when it really doesn't need it.
I do wish there was more of the traditional Yovanoff horror, only because she does that so well....more
So I looked back at my review of Anna Dressed in Blood (the first book), and as I suspected I felt the romance was the weakest part of that book. I stSo I looked back at my review of Anna Dressed in Blood (the first book), and as I suspected I felt the romance was the weakest part of that book. I still feel the same way.
Cas actually cannot articulate to others what makes Anna so damned special that he's willing to risk his life (and the lives of others!) and go against the ENTIRE ghost-hunting community to save her. When he’s flat-out asked his response is “I don’t know.” Well if you don’t Cas, who does? He does sometimes mention (in his head or when defending his decisions) that Anna saved him. Well. Okay. But maybe it’s not all about you Cas. Maybe she took the Big Bad Ghost with her in Book 1 because she wanted to redeem herself – because she felt guilty about all those people she killed. She also saved the lives of Thomas and Carmel and they feel no compunction to go on a suicide mission for her. Cas also mentions that she’s fierce and brave and he's attracted to that but I always felt that was more "tell" than "show" when it came to Anna's character (I felt she was a normal but not exceptional Action Girl - plus, a lot of the time we saw her she was basically an evil demon-spirit, so that doesn't really count as who "Anna" is).
Cas gets really offended when everyone thinks he’s only so focused on Anna because she's pretty. But…I’m pretty sure he’s doing this just because she’s pretty and he’s got a thing for broken girls he wants to “save” and can project all his fantasies onto because as far as I remember they never really talked and got to know one another. And maybe he’s got a blood fetish.
Also, this book does nothing to flesh out Anna and give Cas any real fuel for his Anna-love. Anna herself never really appears in this book, besides flashes of her Cas sees. They still never really talk aside from at the very end (and “help me, I’m being tortured by the Big Bad,” which is the only other conversations they had in this book, is not really talking – more a desperate plea for help).
My complete lack of interest in Cas/Anna and my skepticism about Cas’ reason for his intense compulsion to save her made this book a lot less interesting than it could have been. I just feel like Blake had to do a better job explaining Cas’ devotion to the rescue than “I love her because I say I do.” I would have accepted a savior complex. I would have accepted Cas feeling guilty that he’s the reason that she’s stuck in hell (which is a peripheral reason, but his “love” of her is his main justification). I would have also accepted it if it was his Dad’s soul he was trying to rescue. But his whole obsession with Anna came off as more sad and creepy than this all-consuming love that he would die for.
I kept finding myself putting down the book and being reluctant to pick it back up, because I could just not maintain an interest in Cas’ quest. Which is too bad. Blake’s writing is pretty and she has a talent for writing creepy scenes (the whole Suicide Forest journey was really, really terrifying and tense). ...more
With a pink, cutesy cover, I thought this was going to be a humorous and fun paranormal series like Hex Hall or The Ghost and the Goth. It's not. ThisWith a pink, cutesy cover, I thought this was going to be a humorous and fun paranormal series like Hex Hall or The Ghost and the Goth. It's not. This is the same angsty melodrama of Fallen and Twilight. If you like those books (and they are both very popular books), then you should definitely read this. It has the same outwardly-normal-and-outcast-but-really-super-special heroine and the two mysterious & sexy love interests whose main positive attributes are that (1) they're hot & (2) they're willing to get in fist fights over the heroine's honor. They are also both incredibly possessive and their interest is sudden & intense.
I am not a fan of Twilight and its ilk, so was similarly not a fan of this novel. However, it gets an extra star for being self-published. Good for Wray for getting herself out there (and getting a lovely cover, although, again, it is tonally not in line with the text). This book was, frankly, better than Fallen to me and THAT got published. Since publishers have published so many books like this, I don't see why Wray didn't get a book deal for Hex. There are far worse published books in the YA paranormal genre. ...more
Schwab is a talented writer and I have high hopes that her next books will only improve. Schwab did an excellent job of creating a creepy atmosphere iSchwab is a talented writer and I have high hopes that her next books will only improve. Schwab did an excellent job of creating a creepy atmosphere in the village of Near, an isolated collection of houses on the edge of the moor, where the wind gets lonely. The story of children mysteriously vanishing at night - lured out of their bedrooms by the wind (really, the Near Witch) and a creepy children’s rhyme on the edge of hearing - was nicely done and plotted. And I really liked the witch sisters, who are old as old and have more common sense than the entire village put together.
So that was all very well done, but there were deep flaws in this book, mostly centering around the romance. Also the cover. That cover is truly awful. I thought for the longest time that this was a self-published novel, because the cover looks like something someone did in photoshop overnight. It’s ugly, and has nothing to do with the story (as far as I can tell).
But back to the romance. Lexi is the daughter of a hunter, and wants to follow in her father’s footsteps despite her uncle’s insistence she act like a normal girl. Lexi is still distraught over her father’s recent death and is upset by her mother’s depression. One night she spots a strange boy from her window, which intrigues her because there are No Strangers in Near. I don’t know how that makes sense. Like there are no strangers ever? Then how do these villagers get their guns? They had to trade/buy them at some point. And why is it so isolated? Is it purposeful? I honestly thought that the children’s disappearance and/or the Near Witch would explain why the village was so isolated. Like maybe this was a Brigadoon kind of situation. But it is never explained. It just is.
Anyway, the boy appears and instantly Lexi is obsessed with him to the exclusion of everything else. She supposedly loves her little sister Wren, but spends almost no time with her, because she is too busy with the boy (Cole). In fact, Lexi also ignores her supposed best friend Helen, even when Helen’s little brother is the first child that disappears. Lexi can’t even spare a thought for Helen and in fact doesn’t think about her at all until she needs information from Helen’s grandpa and runs into Helen looking sad. What a wonderful friend. Lexi also constantly forgets that she is looking for missing children and not just protecting Cole. Because all she cares about is Cole, Cole, Cole and that he is in danger, because the villagers are blaming him for their missing children. She is fiercely protective of him before she even knows him. And it is debatable she knows him at all even at the end. They have like five conversations. I get the impression that Lexi is so into him because he is not a face she’s seen since she was born. He’s so appealing because he’s new. But it’s written as if he is her One True Love.
Lexi is an idiot because it takes her five children disappearing (including her own sister!) before she FINALLY confronts the Near Witch in any useful way. The first time, she runs blindly to the Near Witch’s burial ground at night, even though she had been told that the Witch was more powerful at night. There was no reason to go there then – she could have easily waited for the day. She also fell for (view spoiler)[going after Fake Coal (hide spoiler)], who appeared outside her window at night when obviously that was a trick by the Near Witch.
Even the witch sisters caught some of the dumb in this book, because it took them three days to help Lexi find out where the Near Witch was buried. Why did they wait so long!?!? They KNEW it was the Near Witch taking the children and it was pretty damn obvious that Lexi would’ve believed anything that could help save Cole. Why didn’t they give her the necessary information sooner?!? All this crap could’ve been handled in like a day if anyone was intelligent.
Schwab's writing is solid, and she can build a creepy atmosphere with the best of them. Frankly, the insta-love is the pretty standard YA love plot, but Schwab has shown she can be a much better writer than that. As a debut it's strong, and shows that Schwab has a great deal of promise as an author. ...more
This is just TOO MUCH. I cannot even handle it. I cannot HANDLE the cuteness and how much I ridiculously love this ridiculous book.
It's so nice to juThis is just TOO MUCH. I cannot even handle it. I cannot HANDLE the cuteness and how much I ridiculously love this ridiculous book.
It's so nice to just read something fun. NO MORE SAD YA. Nothing about grief and loss. I don’t care how well they’re written (The Universe Versus Alex Woods, When You Were Here, If I Stay). NO. I want my questions of death and dying and moving on to involve ADORABLE GHOST/GHOST WHISPERER LOVE STORIES.
This second book in the series branches the story out a bit by introducing a ghost hunter secret society (that Will’s dad was a part of, before he left, probably because he realized that the secret society was WAY too black & white morality to actually be doing good). The story also branches out with a subplot involving Alona accidentally possessing Lily's body (Will’s friend who was in a coma and whose spirit was gone).
Alona and Will are just the best. THE BEST. I love that Alona is a Mean Girl who is getting less selfish and more caring – without losing her biting wit or her high standards. She’s basically Cordelia from Buffy. And I love that Will is a good but confused guy with a strong moral center. There’s just nothing I can say about this series that can adequately express my feelings of LOVE. ...more
The title and the cover make it look like some cheesy ‘90s, almost Gossip Girl-esque book. I don’t know how or why it got onto my TBR list and I knowThe title and the cover make it look like some cheesy ‘90s, almost Gossip Girl-esque book. I don’t know how or why it got onto my TBR list and I know I kept contemplating kicking it off. SO GLAD I DIDN’T. This is how books stick to my TBR list like barnacles. Because there are hidden gems there.
This was cute, funny, and oddly poignant. It was everything I wanted in a YA book and I loved it to bits and pieces.
Alona Dare is a mean girl, but she’s not one-note. She has high standards and expects everyone to live up to them – even if it hurts. She works to win and refuses to give up – she always gets what she wants in the end. And she is constantly strategizing and manipulating people – the strong survive, the weak deserve what they get. She’s not nice – she’s self-centered and cares more about popularity (which is “winning” high school) than people. But she has a lot of room to grow and is getting more thoughtful and kinder by the day (being dead has never done anyone such good).
Will Killian is a ghost whisperer who everyone thinks is weird, if not schizophrenic – he’s talking to people no one else can see. He’s unpopular at school – while alive, Alona thought he was a “goth” (even though he isn’t – he’s just pale and wears a lot of dark colors). And he’s about one bad day away from being committed to an insane asylum. Then Alona dies, needs Will’s help to go into the white light, and accidentally becomes his spirit guide and helps keep the ghosts that harass him away (by doing what she does best – taking control and organizing).
Their growing romance is just TOO CUTE. I love the whole reforming Mean Girl heroine. And Will is amazing. FIVE BILLION STARS. ...more
My GR friends reviewed this as a mixed bag, so I had low expectations coming in. Maybe that's why I liked it so much. Also, it is refreshing to have aMy GR friends reviewed this as a mixed bag, so I had low expectations coming in. Maybe that's why I liked it so much. Also, it is refreshing to have a paranormal YA that doesn't center on A Great Love That Obliterates All Obstacles and Brain Cells. There is a romantic interest here (regular British school boy, Jerome), but it is a regular high school crush, not something that is trying for epicness.
So normal American girl Rory arrives at her new British boarding school at the same time that a Jack the Ripper copycat starts cutting a bloody swath through London. Since Rory is the protagonist in a YA paranormal, that means she has to either stay normal and meet a supernatural boy to rescue her, or develop powers of her own. She takes the powers route and starts seeing ghosts. This draws the attention of not only the murderous ghost doing the Jack the Ripper killings, but also a super secret government organization known as the Shades - a police force that tackles the ghosts of London.
This book was appropriately creepy and exciting. I actually kept expecting more of the characters to fall victim to the Ghostly Ripper. YAs rarely give me the fear that character lives are actually on the line, but in the middle of the book I actually was anxious (by the end it was clear that Johnson didn't have the stomach to slaughter the cast, so I stopped worrying). It was also often funny and enjoyable. Don't think it's just one long dark slog! It has all the fun of a high school/boarding school YA, plus a serial killer and ghosts!
As I said, the romance here was lightly done. Jerome is a fine love interest, but it’s not all Oh my God we are soulmates! I will not think about the danger I am in or anything because I am so busy being in looooooooveeeeee. On the other hand, that also means that Jerome is kind of small fry here. He doesn’t do anything besides be a hot guy that Rory is making out with. I don’t think they even actually go out on any dates in the story. He also does not get any swoon-worthy moments. Neither does he rescue her at any point. It’s okay, Jerome. At least you’re cute!
While I usually do not advocate love triangles, I kind of want to see if Rory and Stephen have any potential. Stephen is the proper clever, proper posh young leader of the Shades. The way it's played in this book it could either evolve into something romantic or continue platonic. Rory doesn't see Stephen in a romantic light at all, but that's okay. I have much experience in reading subtext that may not actually exist.
The only hitch in this book came at the end, when everyone got stupid. (view spoiler)[The Shades can kill spirits (or send them on into the Great Whatever) with something called a terminus. This is the ONLY weapon they have. The ONLY way they can do their damn jobs of resolving ghost problems. So why were there only 3 terminus (terminii?)? Seriously. This was never explained. And why can’t they ever get anymore now? Was there some formula that was lost? Were the stones that powered the terminus extra special? WHY WERE THERE ONLY THREE TERMINUS AND WHY DID JOHNSON NEVER EXPLAIN THIS. This is pretty much incredibly crucial to the ending – Ripper wannabe’s entire plan was apparently to draw the Shades into the open so he can destroy all three terminii and thus be safe forever – and yet there was no foreshadowing that there were ever and always only 3. Oh, and the whole “Boo doesn’t like to use the terminus” – what the hell else does she do? Ghost police have to be able to catch/kill ghosts. Just knowing they are there is not useful. So the Shades really can’t function without their special weapons.
And why the heck don’t they have more ghost recruits? Sometimes only a ghost can fight a ghost. And why did no one think of having Jo come along to take on the Ripper? She is perfect! He can’t hurt/kill her. She could fight/distract him! Of course she was the one who killed him in the end because that was the only logical way the good guys could win!! It’s absolutely silly no one even suggested this earlier. And Rory’s choice to sacrifice, while very heroic and noble, seemed stupid because there had to have been a better plan out there, and the only reason she survived and Ripper didn’t run around London killing more people (because of COURSE he was going to kill more! What the fuck other reason did he have to de-arm the Shades except that he expected to cause trouble that would put him on their radar?) was the deus ex machina of Jo. All that pain could’ve been avoided if they had thought about it for two seconds. What kind of plan was “we are going to try to sneak up on a ghost with our magic phones while he can stab us at any point”? A shitty plan, that’s what. The Shades need to step it up. (hide spoiler)]
But other than the character's inability to make good plans at the end, I did really enjoy the book. It was boarding school [with actual school! If only a little] + paranormal – insanely contrived romance....more
Nice job on having a creepy YA novel that's not about an apocalypse or dystopia and/or zombies, Blake! Much appreciated.
First off: awesome cover. AbsNice job on having a creepy YA novel that's not about an apocalypse or dystopia and/or zombies, Blake! Much appreciated.
First off: awesome cover. Absolutely lovely, and fits the tone of the book perfectly.
Secondly: Kendare Blake is a girl. Given that the protagonist is a teenage boy and "Kendare" is not a common enough name to know it's usual gender, it's not surprising I thought the author was a guy when I picked it up. It doesn't make a difference to the actual story, but it's always surprising to me when I get an author's gender wrong. So just throwing that out there.
Thirdly: Blake is good with the creepy. A petite girl in a white dress covered in blood is just kind of inherently spooky (see also: little twin girls) so Anna Dressed in Blood had it kind of built-in. But all the scenes with the ghosts were eerie, and I really liked the opening scene where Cas has to deal with the all-too-common urban legend of a ghostly hitchhiker. There is also a surprisingly high body count and lots of GORE. Which is kind of what you need in a supernatural horror book.
Fourthly: The ghost mythology was good, with enough explanations that I could accept the world and enough questions that it's able to be filled in later. It's not like the supernatural world comes with a manual (THOUGH IT SHOULD), so it's not surprising that Cas only knows what experience and others can tell him.
Fifthly: I liked Cas. He's a highly trained loner who doesn't get any real friends until this book. I kind of love teenage professionals. I also liked his ability to go toe-to-toe with ghosts is partly through his magical knife, which is what makes him faster/stronger/better. The kid is obviously talented in and of himself, but it's more realistic in a sense that it's not just that he somehow has mad martial arts skills, but that there is actual magic that heightens his senses/reactions and make him a better ghost hunter.
Now, why the book is four stars instead of five: the romance. Or, really, lack thereof. Cas is pretty much hopelessly in love with Anna. And when she's not ripping people apart (literally), I can understand why: she's pretty and tragic and vulnerable yet powerful. And Anna is in love with Cas because, yeah, he is cute and he saved her (after)life. But it's a lot of tell-don't-show going on; it's pretty much love at first sight and that will never, ever feel epic or romantic to me. It makes the relationship feel hollow and shallow and when Cas spends so much time mooning over Anna I want more there. I pretty much liked everything BUT the romance. Since the next book is centered on saving Anna (again, some more), I hope more is done to give depth to the love between Anna and Cas. I want to root for these two crazy kids, I just need more to go on.
This is one of those books that I hope starts a trend. Down with apocalypse/dystopia! Down with zombies! Up with horror! Up with ghosts! ...more
This is the story of Silla, a blood witch recently orphaned in the apparent murder-suicide of her parents. She's determined to prove despite all rational evidence that her father didn't kill her mother then himself. Her only family left is her older brother, Reese, who's also struggling in the wake of the murders. There's a mysterious magic book, a very old and very powerful villain, lots of blood, family secrets, and insta-love with the new boy-next-door Nick.
I didn’t like the Silla/Nick instalove. I didn't like that the side characters seemed at the edges of being developed but always felt slightly hollow. I didn't like how often the POVs switched back and forth between Silla and Nick. It was distracting. There was even a third perspective (old-timey diary entries). I didn't like that the moral questions felt to me a bit underdeveloped. Like Silla freaks out and kills a rabbit – for no purpose. Seriously, she’s like “I need blood! I know! Bunny!” and she kills it and then doesn’t do anything with the blood. Killing animals for magic seems wrong – although it really is no worse than killing them for food, as long as it’s quick – but doing it without purpose or a plan or brains? It just seems childish and frankly a little scary that her first response is to kill something when she didn’t have to. And she never killed an animal again! Even in the climactic showdown with the Big Bad! So what was the point?
BUT I think Gratton has potential in the horror-fantasy realm of things. The Big Bad can possess people, and the paranoia of not knowing who could be possessed was well-played and nail-biting. The Big Bad could take over anyone, and you wouldn’t know it until it was (almost) too late. The blood magic system was also really pretty cool. Good worldbuilding by Gratton here. And even if she didn't explore the moral questions as deeply as I'd like, I appreciated how much moral ambiguity there was in this novel.
Two more plot-heavy points that bothered me, under the spoiler tag:
(view spoiler)[ (1) I was not a fan of Philip (Silla's dad), this supposedly great guy who kills kittens and teenage boys. He's an old magic user who mentored a young girl who became obsessive and evil (Josephine, the Big Bad). She becomes more powerful than him and instead of fighting her or trying to stop her, he runs like the coward he is. He eventually takes over a young man's body (Robbie, the love interest of Nick's mother back when they were both teens) and like every decision he has ever made, it is terrible and selfish and has incredible fallout.
The fact that Philip killed the original Robbie is all kinds of awful and I have all my sympathy for Nick’s mom, whose entire life came to be about getting her great love (the original Robbie) back, even to the point of using her own child for blood magic. I think the only reason she didn’t kill possessed Robbie outright is because she thought (sadly wrongly) that she could get the old Robbie back. Philip killed this kid and – for what? Like Silla, it was to no real purpose. Why did he need a body? Why did he need that body? Does it somehow make him harder to track if he is in a new body? Was Josephine tracking his blood? Couldn’t he just solve his problem by killing or incapacitating Josephine instead of, you know, taking people’s bodies? Does he even realize the lives he destroyed because of his own selfishness? I know he’s Silla’s father, so she will not fully feel the weight of his horrors, but I think he is the true villain in this story. His weak selfishness disguised as goodness do all the harm in this book. He was not a very good or very strong man.
(2) What the hell is up with The Deacon? He sends this magic book to Silla and is all “your father was a great man, here’s a book! Hope an obsessive bitch is not gunning for you! Laters!” I assume the Deacon knows Josephine is behind Silla’s parents’ murder. Right? Is this the Deacon’s payback for Philip killing his great-whatever-grandchild? The Deacon offers no help and not even a return address for contact to these poor kids who have no experience against a witch so powerful she took out a wizard older (and more experienced?) than her. (hide spoiler)]...more
What drivel. This is basically a rehash of every paranormal YA book that’s come out in the past few years.
New Orleans was struck by two hurricanes –What drivel. This is basically a rehash of every paranormal YA book that’s come out in the past few years.
New Orleans was struck by two hurricanes – Katrina?/Unnamed – and instead of trying to clean it up, the federal government happily sells it to a group of nine powerful private families and thus loses sovereignty over the city. Okay. That shit would never happen, but, okay, I’ll go with it. New Orleans becomes New 2 (why?) and is ruled by the Novem (which sounds like some radical November-loving group. Like, a Guy Fawkes Day cohort or something). The Novem (the 9 powerful families of the city) are, of course, 3 vamp, 3 witch and 3 whatever (demon?) families. Of course. And their enemy/the person who destroyed the city is Athena. Why Athena? You’d think Artemis would be a more appropriate villain. Okay, so Wikipedia says that Athena cursed Medusa into a Gorgon just like in Ari’s dream vision. Okay, I get it now.
Anyway, Ari is a typical heroine for bad paranormal YA. She’s kind of a bitch who reacts with anger every time she feels like she’s being “weak,” basically taking out her problems on everyone else. It’s annoying. And I know she’s had some crap (foster child, etc.), but this is no excuse for being annoying. Ari is “tough” – and by that I mean annoying as hell and only useful at all because of her Mary Sueness. (She is one in a long line of (view spoiler)[Gorgons (hide spoiler)], not ONE of which was useful in removing the curse or killing Athena in OVER TWO THOUSAND YEARS. How the fuck is Ari so goddamn special that she’s going to win this one?).
Sebastien is a typical hero for this kind of book: brooding, “mysterious,” super special powerful (he’s half vampire and half warlock! ridiculous), “tortured” (oh noes, I do not want to be like my vampire side of the family!) and has a weakness for bitchy, beautiful girls. He and Ari can’t stand each other up until Ari gets a migraine and faints and then he’s like, “I have seen your vulnerability! I love you! Let’s make out!” so they do. This is also ridiculous.
Ari conveniently runs into/gets kidnapped into all important plot points. Athena is bwahahaha evil. Sebastien has a meddling grandma. Lost fathers turn up. The cute kid sidekick is cute, and of course also put in danger. Side characters appear and are useless and only lazily drawn.
I’m not going to read any of the other ones – I’m sure Sebastian and Ari get together, after much angsting, and Athena is destroyed. And, frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn....more
I think I've got a thing for prickly, angry, sarcastic heroines when done right. They aren't sickly sweet or blandly normal or faux action girls likeI think I've got a thing for prickly, angry, sarcastic heroines when done right. They aren't sickly sweet or blandly normal or faux action girls like a lot of heroines. They will stand up for themselves, call people on their crap, not follow along with the crowd and, in the end, learn that they can't live on bitterness alone and that eventually they have to open up and let others in.
I liked Cass and I liked that the love interest, Tim, wasn't some White Knight come to rescue her and show her the Joys of Being Social. He was equally broken and it was because he was so broken that Cass had to start looking at herself and realize that she was capable of caring about someone who wasn't dead.
I also liked the side characters, especially the ghosts, Norris, Bitzy and Paige (Cass' sister). I would love to have undead spies getting dirt on my classmates for me.
In a nut shell, I loved, loved, LOVED this book. It rang true and pulled me in completely (one sitting, didn't want to put it down, annoyed when a phone call interrupted me). I really, really hope for a sequel because I think there's still enough story to tell (we don't even know how Norris and Bitzy died!) and I would love to have Cass narrate another book. ...more
I will say this straight out: ghost sex is an almost automatic rating deduction. It didn't work in Grey's Anatomy, it didn't work in The Lovely Bones.I will say this straight out: ghost sex is an almost automatic rating deduction. It didn't work in Grey's Anatomy, it didn't work in The Lovely Bones. It comes off as weird and creepy AND a complete WTF. Other than that, the book was...okay. I liked it in the beginning but it kind of swiftly went downhill from there. I HATED the mother. And maybe her reaction was very human but it didn’t make me like her any better. This book felt treacly. Like it was trying too hard to be a Jodi Picoult novel and came off as more melodramatic than tragic. I think the topic is very powerful, but there has to be an author who has done it better. ...more