Farley Hope is still dealing with the fallout of her mother's disappearance when Daniel, a mysteriously sexy guy, and the Reavers turn her world upside down. There is an entirely different world of super humans living beneath the city? Farley is a part of some ancient prophecy? What's a girl to do when all she wants is to find out what happened to her mother and get back to her normal life?
Sovereign Hope is definitely one of the best indies I've read this year and truthfully one of the best in the genre I've read in awhile. Mainstream YA has really let me down the past few years and it is a relief to read something where the characters and their reactions feel realistic and where the heroine doesn't play the damsel in distress. Farley may not be a sneaky ninja, an irresistible vamp, or an all-powerful slayer, but she still manages to contribute to the group. She doesn't just suddenly find out she has supernatural roots and become insta-cool. Her character arc shows that she has worked at and earned her badassery. And the best part is she remains relatable.
I'm not gonna lie, Daniel was what got me to start reading this and although I enjoyed the book for its many other assets, he really made the book for me. He's snarky, and sexy, and tries to keep his distance from Farley and not because, "he is no good for her," but because he can't let himself get to close without risking blowing things for himself. I guess what I'm trying to say here is it's not all about Farley. Too often the heroine dominates the book as far as importance. No other character could possibly be as important as her, she's a super special snowflake, blah blah blah. In Sovereign Hope Farley knows her worth and the worth of her comrades and doesn't take that for granted.
This was a nice start to a new series that has a lot of potential. I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the series, Eternal Hope to see what happens to Farley, Daniel, and their companions!
I was provided a review copy by the author in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated for the views stated above. All opinions are my own. (less)
Calder is enjoying himself in the Caribbean when he is abruptly called back to the shores of chilly Lake Superior by his sisters. Their blood calls them to avenge their mother, and it just so happens they finally found the man who can satisfy their blood lust. Calder is recruited to seduce Jason Hancock's daughter Lily in an attempt to gain his trust and get him alone on the water so his sisters can strike. Everything is going fine until Calder develops feelings for Lily and must fight between his emotions and his animal instincts, or risk losing the only warmth he has ever felt.
Murderous mermaids indeed! This dark take on possibly one of the most fanciful mythical creatures is breathtaking in its morbidity. Lies Beneath was a first for me in a couple of ways. First, it was my very first paranormal romance about mermaids. I hadn't yet taken the plunge into mermaid fiction as it seems to have been met with mixed reactions, but when I saw the cover for this one and read the blurb, I had to give it a go. As a friend recently pointed out to me, I tend to lean towards darker fantasy as opposed to fluffy fairy stories. With that in mind, this really was the perfect introduction to mermaids in popular fiction for me.
The other first that Lies Beneath presented me with was a first-person perspective, starring the male lead. I have read fathoms of paranormal romance from the perspective of the naive, human girl, but never have I come across a YA story told by the seductive otherworldly guy. A tale told by the predator has an entirely different tone. Had the narrative been more traditional, Calder's initial murderous intentions would have been unrelatable and could have very well made this more disturbing than darkly delightful. Thanks to Brown's foresight on this, you get to see their violently beautiful existence through his eyes, rather than discovering a completely alien way of life as experienced by another clueless teen.
One of the things I enjoyed the most about Lies Beneath was that the author stayed away from the Disney incarnation of mermaids and even poked a bit of fun at Ariel. Brown seems to have molded her merpeople around the dangerous sirens found in Homer's The Odyssey; those tantalizing, yet vicious creatures who lured sailors to their deaths in the murky depths. Calder and his sisters thrive off of absorbed energy from humans they drag beneath the waves. Creepy? Oh yes, but the author's well developed mythology and vivid writing style make this a tale about how truly transformative love can be for the soul.
The only issue I had with this fantastic first title in the new YA series was that there were some continuity problems. Especially near the end of the novel when the hectic climax was in full-tilt, I found that certain events weren't explained enough or were just dropped entirely. I don't know whether this was because they will be expanded on in the coming sequel, or if the author lost sight of them during the frenzy and hoped readers wouldn't notice. Regardless Brown's writing style, while wonderfully depictive, reveals that it is still in need of development.
The Final Verdict An impressive debut that fans of dark fantasy will delight in.
FTC Disclosure I received an advanced reading copy of this book from Netgalley and Random House Publishing in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated for the views expressed above. All opinions are my own. (less)
Four years after the zombie apocalypse, Paige is released from her family's locked down bomb shelter into the dessicated remains of her hometown. Her mission: meet up with her father and his fellow scientists at Disney World to help rebuild society. Outfitted with razors that extend from her fingertips and some ocular implants that do so much more than night vision, Paige should have no problem getting passed the undead. That is, until she has a chance meeting with her first love, Chris Parker, now known as Chase. Chase still hasn't quite gotten over her ditching him during the outbreak. Paige hasn't gotten over putting duty before love. Will they find love again post-apocalypse?
First, I'm going to touch on the split chapter element as it seems to be dividing reviewers. The book is set up with chapters alternating between past and present; before the apocalypse and after. Some have found this bothersome, awkward, and confusing, but I thought this was a brilliant way to tell the story and loved how the juxtaposition of the two timelines allowed Chase and Paige's back story to unfold within the action. This kept the book fast paced and made for a truly enjoyable read.
I loved the combination of strong love story and zombie action. Mancusi doesn't shy away from the darker elements of this genre, but still manages to keep the tone intrinsically young adult. These two are still teenagers trying to figure out who they are while they fight to survive. You even get the fairly annoying relationship tug-of-war aspect so common in YA fiction. A bit of this is necessary to keep the story moving, but it got to be too drawn out for my taste. The character development was so-so for Paige, but quite a bit better for Chase.
In the chapters concerning past events, Chase is the scraggly, soft hearted nerd who just wants a shot at the pretty popular girl. In the chapters concerning present events, he has been shaped by the apocalypse into a harder, more world weary version of himself. Obviously this works for a number of reasons, not only has he grown out of his scrawny body, but also his naive view of the world. I even enjoyed the fact that Marcusi was brave enough to tackle teenage drug addiction. She blended it well into the plot and made it one of Chase's eventually redeemable flaws. Overall, the development of his character was very satisfying. However the one thing that really bugged me was I felt like some of his sentimentality wasn't realistic for a nineteen year old boy. All three of my brothers are around this age and let me tell you, when daydreaming they would not be imagining their girlfriend/love interest as a Disney Princess. The imagery I got out of the last third of the book from Chase concerning Paige felt very out of character for a guy his age and broke me out of the rhythm the book had going. It felt much too feminine and not in sync with the more realistic tone of his thoughts from earlier on in the story. To me, this just felt like a rushed effort to tie together the whole Disney themed undertone of the novel, which while kinda fun at first felt a bit out of place in a story that had started out so gritty.
What I loved about this book was the technology aspect. Paige's razors and ocular implants made her a unique and kick-ass heroine. The zombie origin wasn't exactly unique. The zombie virus is spread by a vaccine that should have been a cure for a disease that has been plaguing mankind, in this case HIV/AIDS, but instead backfires turning everyone to mindless, flesh eating monsters. Cure gone wrong has been done quite a bit, but the implementation of it all was done very well.
The Final Verdict:
A very sweet post-apocalyptic love story, awesome tech, and fast-paced story make this a quick and enjoyable read, but the occasional lightness in tone was more awkward than complimentary. Tomorrow Land will please fans of fluffy YA fiction, but may not appeal to more hard-core fans of the post-apocalyptic/dystopian genres.(less)
I gave this one a good try and because I didn't finish this, I won't bore you with a long review.
All I can say is, there was nothing new here that I haven't seen in other books of the genre to keep me interested. The writing was decent, but offered nothing unique or substantive. I just didn't see the point of wading my way through another mediocre paranormal YA that wasn't delivering when my review queue is filled with books written by authors who are taking risks and delving into unexplored territory.
'Burn a Pure and breathe the ash. Take his guts and make a sash. Twist his hair and make a rope. Use his bones to make Pure soap.'
When I first picked up Pure I was relieved. My review queue was a mile high and I was looking forward to a fast-paced YA read. With all the great press this book has gotten, I figured it was going to be highly addicting and a nice diversion from all the so-so books I had been slogging through recently. Quick and dirty. Easy Breezy. In retrospect, I don't know if anything could have prepared me for Pure.
My initial reaction to Pure was frustration, confusion, and morbid fascination. I hated the narrative perspective. The third-person present tense completely threw me off and made the experience that much more grating. ie. "Pressia is waiting..." I kept thinking, "Who writes like that?" and "Why write like that?" I even considered updating my Goodreads status to make a point as, "Jess is thinking she does not like this book..." I wondered if this was some strange attempt at making "stream of consciousness" the new literary fad, but no, Pure was still understandable, just frustrating. The strange world I had been tossed into without warning had me struggling to acclimate and I spent the first quarter of the book in aggravated confusion.
Then something strange happened. I couldn't even tell you exactly when, but I began to become attached to the characters and the story was slowly drawing me in by taunting me with little peeks at the big picture. Once the main male character Partridge leaves the Dome and begins to experience the outside world, I had a truly awesome lightbulb moment. What I realized was, Baggott meant for her readers to be confused at first. The strange and disturbing elements of the alien world created by the detonations is shocking and the true gravity of the consequences of nuclear warfare could not be better related to readers than to force them to feel it for themselves.
While this book is classified as young adult fiction because it follows teenaged characters, it carries a much more graphic and intense nature than most book in the genre. I have seen reviewers classify this book as "icky" or "just gross", but let's be honest here. What did you expect? This book chronicles the struggles and survival of individuals who have been deeply scarred, mutated, and even fused to the world around them. The weight of the message this story carries was meant to challenge your way of thinking and immerse you in a world where teenagers must be brave, strong, and decisive as opposed to the often more fickle nature of YA characters. Do I recommend this book for everyone. Absolutely not. There are scenes that made me cringe from their graphicness and scenes that I never saw coming from a young adult title. I'm not talking about sexual content. The novel is very mild in that aspect with mostly a chaste kiss that is few and far between. I'm talking about gore and death. There is a particular twist at the end (I won't spoil it for you) that completely shocked me with it's disturbing abruptness. That being said, it felt completely right within the context of the story. As an adult, I was elated that Baggott was not afraid to truly express the gritty, dark nature of her world.
The Final Verdict
Pure is a hauntingly brilliant story that combines the impact of more literary dystopia with the sneaky addictiveness of modern day young adult fiction. This is a story I will not soon forget and I look forward to future volumes in this series with hungry anticipation. I would recommend this book to adult fans of YA and dystopia and more mature teens.(less)
Jax is a young witch on the run. She does not want to live her coven's black magic lifestyle and dreams of a normal teenage experience. Then she finds Baker's Gap, a tiny little town where everyone knows everyone else, and Jax settles in. Can she keep her powers under the radar and avoid being tracked down by her coven? When things get crazy, will she stay and protect her new found friends, even if the price is death?
When we first join Jax as the story opens, she has already flown the coop, bought a used slug bug and a small RV, and has procured herself a campsite to live in. She already has a plan for getting herself enrolled into the local high school in Baker's Gap, after failing numerous times in other towns. This is also where she gets her first sight of the local supernatural hunter who ends up being the school hottie. Don't worry, that wasn't really a spoiler as you find this out almost immediately. That was one of my problems with this book, there was very little mystery. Most of the plot is straight up with only a few minor plot twists. It was very easy to feel like absolutely nothing was going on.I would have liked to have experienced the escape with Jax and gotten a better feel for the hostility of the life she was leading rather than just being told, "this is this, and that is that."
The awkward toss of the reader into the already executed escape was a rough start, but really the whole book feels rough and underdeveloped. There is just not enough world building for the reader to feel either comfortable in the story, or confident that it is going somewhere. This is not helped by the fact that the meat of the book is made up of silly teenage stuff. Jax gets a crush on her super hot hunter, Jax gets a BFF, Jax goes to local dinner and gets milkshaked by local bitch, Jax pines over hottie hunter, Jax goes to homecoming! It just goes on and on and it was disappointing for me because I was looking forward to a fun YA paranormal experience not teen time with residual magical effects. This felt like a story about a contemporary runaway landing in a new town and doing silly teenage stuff. The witch aspect plays a very small role until the very end of the book.
My other main problem with White Witch was that I never really connected with any of the characters. There were plenty of fun, likeable characters, but this book was so short, and there was so little development, that these characters just felt like faces put there for the direct purpose of furthering Jax's journey. Although this is exactly what characters are in relation to a hero/heroine, the reader should never recognize them as such. A reader should be so lost in the story that they see supporting characters as people, not tools to move the story along.
That being said, there were things I enjoyed very much. I loved Jax's new bestie Toni. She's a tough young lady who isn't afraid to be who she is. As a fellow Buffy nerd, I had a lot of fun with all the references to the show and definitely though Hostile 17 would have been an excellent name for Toni's band. Although I still couldn't quite connect to these nearly transparent characters, Toni was my favorite. I think this really sums up how I felt about the entire experience; fun, cute, but just not quite completely there.
The bottom line is, this was a cute but lacked direction. The story and characters were rough, underdeveloped, and felt more like a sketch of what this could have been rather than a final product. White Witch could use some more action and a final polish, but definitely has potential behind it. There is a stronger version of this story somewhere and I would be glad to read it once it is found.(less)
Allison Sekemoto has spent her life surviving day to day in the Fringe of New Covington, a sprawling vampire city. When she is ravaged by rabids, Kagawa's version of zombies, she is given a choice between death and becoming what she hates most.
This first book in the Blood of Eden series was a likeable read that fell a bit short of my expectations. The idea of mixing dsytopia with vampires caught my interest right away, but while The Immortal Rules is set in the future, it's dystopian aspects mirror another popular series a bit too closely. The beginning of this book is very similar to The Morgainville Vampires series by Rachel Caine. Vampires have contracted with humans to provide them with protection, food, and work in their cities in exchange for keeping the vamps supplied with blood. The exact same statement can be made for Caine's YA vampire series, except the vampires' power extends to the boundaries of the city of Morganville. There is also another key element to Kagawa's vampire lore that is also exactly the same in Caine's series, but it is a spoiler for both so I won't discuss it here. The likenesses between The Immortal Rules and The Morganville Vampires series will be painfully obvious to fans of the latter. This could have ruined the book for me, but thankfully the core structure of the dystopian element isn't the focus of the novel. The story Kagawa tells once Allison leaves the city is one worth reading.
Once Allison gets past New Covington, the story becomes more unique and enjoyable. She spends some time surviving in the outside world alone for a time, but it isn't long before Allison meets up with a wayward group looking for the legendary Eden, a sanctuary for humans devoid of vampires and the threats they bring. This was by far my favorite part of the book. Allison is constantly covering up her vampire nature as she tries to maintain her tenuous alliance with the people and their formidable "man of God" leader. I definitely bonded with these characters and experienced some heart-wrenching moments throughout their journey.
Allison is a breath of fresh air in the YA heroine category. She isn't your average sweet, but misunderstood, pretty princess. Allison begins her journey by becoming what she most hates and proceeds on a progressive and satisfying character arc. This girl is tough and often times stoic in her need to disguise her nature. The best part about her is there is not once an instance of whiny, pathetic damsel in distress syndrome! She is hardly perfect, but she soldiers on and doesn't rely on others to save the day. I'm looking forward to future books staring this badass, lone wolf heroine.
My only complaint about Allison? There is a scene at the beginning of the book that was so cliche I cringed. Allison's vampire sire asks her to pick a weapon from an abandoned museum and what does she pick without fail? Of course! the Asian girl picks a katana as her weapon of choice even though she has no identification with or knowledge of her Japanese heritage. Given, a katana is a generally perfect weapon of choice for any situation, I thought this was just way too obvious and was left shaking my head.
Finally, the book's version of zombies suffer from an unfortunate title. Rabids and rabidism remind me too much of Raving Rabbids.
I couldn't help but imagine a bunch of these crazy cute little guys every time the "rabids" appeared in the book, regardless of their vicious and frightening natures. This is obviously hardly the author's fault, it was just something that messed with my overall enjoyment.
The Final Verdict
The Immortal Rules is a decent start to a new and exciting dystopian series. While the painful similarities to The Morgainville Vampires series are unfortunate and a bit off-putting, the characters, running plot, and lethal heroine will keep readers coming back for more. This could be the start of something beautiful if Kagawa keeps up the excellent character writing and puts a more unique spin on her dystopian world.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated for stating any of the above views. All opinions are my own. (less)
Chloe Duncan is your average teenage girl who has found herself living a life she has always dreamed of. Everything seems perfect with her dreamy boyfriend Evan and close friends as the new school year opens, however the addition of a new student to the mix, Logan, sends Chloe reeling. Whenever Logan is around, she sees visions of another life, and when these visions start seeping into her dreams, Chloe starts to seek answers.
Dreaming of Beauty is the shockingly good indie retelling of the tale of Sleeping Beauty accompanied by a cast of wonderfully colorful characters. This was by far the best young adult book I read last year. The majority of the mainstream titles were extremely disappointing, lacking in quality and substance. Dreaming of Beauty is smart, funny, and offers a realistic portrayal of teens and their families. You know how in many YA books the parents seem to never be around, allowing their teens to have adventures with vampires, faeries, angels, and the like? Well the parents here are actually very involved and extremely likable.
The pacing feels a bit strange as it is split up into three sections, and each section feels like a new story. However, I was so taken in by the story and interested in finding out what was really going on, it didn't slow me down significantly. By the time I was half-way through section two, I was so enthralled in Camille's side of the story that I stayed up until 1:00 am to finish the book.
I very much enjoyed the juxtaposition between what was happening in Chloe's present day lifetime, and the events that happened to her as Camille. The backdrop of France was described in lovely detail and the bittersweet tale that unfolds there will capture your heart.
Overall, a fun read to cure your YA blues. I'm very much looking forward to a sequel which appears to be featuring a different fairytale princess.
Recommendation: A must read for YA fans and lovers of fairy tales and happy endings. (less)
I'm terribly conflicted in my feelings for this book. You see, I was so excited to begin reading. I received this book in a Secret Santa exchange and immediately fell in love with its gorgeous appearance.The hardback version of Miss Peregrine's is stunningly beautiful with its superb dust jacket artwork, inclusion of vintage photographs and letters in each chapter, and smooth, luxurious pages. The publisher succeeded in making the packaging alone worthy of today's high prices. However in the growing cover lust market it seems more focus is being put on making an outwardly beautiful book with less emphasis on the quality of its content. The old adage, "Don't judge a book by its cover," could not be truer here and ultimately leads to an experience that is downright disappointing.
Theintriguing premise along with the deliciously macabre vintage photos makes for perpetually limitless peculiar plot possibilities. Yes, I'm a fan of alliteration. With this seemingly bottomless well of literary wealth, how the hell did Riggs completely miss the mark? Let me explain.
I'm the sort of reader who loves a deeply visceral and emotionally engaging read. The superficial appearance of Miss Peregrine's along with all the sparkling reviews led me to believe my experience would be like this:
When in actuality, It ended up being more like this...
Scary monsters huh? Cool...
So what happened? The storytelling is at first pleasantly creepy and the inclusion of the strange and disturbing photos made it that much better. I anticipated being drawn in deeper and waited patiently for the core plot to be revealed. To my surprise, and dismay, the actual action/conflict doesn't begin until the last 100 pages! This subsequently led to the author shoving me down a hill and leaving me with brief glimpses of depth as I tumbled toward the end. The first half of the book sets you up and slowly reels you in with cleverly deceptive photographs that never quite pay off and are often awkwardly placed. This ends up slowing the story down considerably rather than enhancing it. The farther I got into the story, the more I cringed each time Riggs planted another photo op. If that wasn't frustrating enough, certain plot twists happen way too late in the story cutting off any actual character development.
Speaking of characters, I enjoyed Jacob's snarky wit and general dry attitude up until he turns into one of the freaking Hardy Boys (with much less sleuthing ability) halfway though. Jacob takes the express route from charmingly cynical to dauntingly featherbrained. I won't go into depth on the shallow secondary characters and their even shallower relationships with Jacob, but yeah... Very unconvincing to say the least.
The sporadic and often random spurts of gore miss unsettling and go straight to just plain awkward. I don't mind gruesome details, but if you are going to do graphic then be consistent! The majority of the book is spent picnicking, making out with an eighty year old teen, and arguing the pros and cons of terrorizing a sweet little village in a time loop. So when out of the blue disemboweled sheep (and people) appear, the general impression comes off as an afterthought.
Finally, I have to say...WHERE THE F*** ARE ALL THE CHILDREN? We are tantalized with creepy photographs of the peculiar children from beginning to end and are introduced to barely any of them! This wouldn't have been such a big deal if I had just gotten even a whiff of the disturbing clown faced twins! There are two separate instances where Jacob finds a picture of them and they are just so damn creepy you would think Riggs wouldn't pass up the chance to use them to his advantage. But no! Not even an honorable mention is made throughout the entire book. Some of the more off-the-wall peculiars are a real treat and helped keep me interested, but this fact alone was not enough to save Miss Peregrine's for me.
The Final Verdict: A promising premise is poorly executed. If only an actual writer had written this... (less)
Whitney Forbes is your average 15 year old girl about to turn 16. She goes to high school, has awesome friends, and is being pursued by IT boy Reid Wallace. While she enjoys her adolescence to the fullest, there is one thing that lingers at the edge of her happiness giving it a bittersweet taste. When Whitney turns 21, the CIA will own her and force her to work for them as a remote viewer, a psychic who uncovers the secrets of hostile nations.
There are just so many wonderful things about Sundial I hardly know where to begin. First off, it is very well written making it a smooth enjoyable read. The authors obviously put a lot of thought into how Whitney and the other psychic's abilities would work and how the American government would be able to put them to use. The Clarion program fits seamlessly into what the average American perceives the CIA to be and doesn't feel made up or forced. On top of being totally awesome, the psychics of this book also have food allergies as part of their genetic makeup. In Sundial, people who have a food allergy are more evolved and develop psychic abilities. The science is actually pretty well developed and explained throughout the book. What a neat way to highlight a condition that has become more pronounced throughout the years!
I think my favorite part of the world the authors have placed their heroine in is the unique use of Kung Fu in Whitney and Reid's training. I haven't seen this in any of the YA books I have read recently and felt it was both appropriate and really neat to learn about. It was a treat to see such clashing cultures twine together to make such capable people.
The characters in Sundial are strongly constructed and very likable. Whitney is really like no other YA heroine you will read about. She knows exactly what she wants from life before the CIA gets their hands on her and she is determined to have no less. She is confident, capable, and far from the often self-destructive example we see in today's YA books. If you are a parent, and want a good read for your teen where the heroine isn't completely self-centered, whiny, and out-of-control, I would highly recommend Sundial. Don't get me wrong, I love YA fiction so much, and enjoy the racier books immensely,, but I am also an adult and understand how to separate fiction from fact. Let's be honest here, a good majority of YA fiction features teen girls ready to give up their lives, futures, and even families to be with some hot, sparkly, Emo vamp. While this is all fine well and good in a fictional world, it sends a bad message to impressionable teens who have yet to figure out what a real, healthy relationship entails. Sure, we all have to make sacrifices for the ones we love at one point or another, and it is pretty romantic to think someone loves you so much they would sacrifice everything for little old you. However, when you love someone, you don't expect them to give up everything they love and value just so they can be yours. This is where Sundial gets it right. Whitney and Reid's relationship revolves around their mutual attraction for each other of course, but also contains a respect and intelligence that teen relationships often lack. The authors offer a healthy and realistic example of what teens should expect out dating.
As for pacing, the book begins out slow and doesn't quite get to the action until the last third,, however once I got to the action, I understood exactly why. The authors are setting up Whitney's world and getting the reader familiar with the characters, how they think, and the way the interact with each other. This is the first book in a series, and like any other first, needs to take the time to set up the world and its characters.My only real complaint about this book was that things seem almost too easy and what I mean by this is that Whitney and Reid seem to always have the answers. Things almost always go without a hitch and that irked me a bit. I understand these people are psychics and can see what is going to happen and all, but everything can't go perfectly all the time. At some point, something has to go wrong. Obviously this wasn't a big enough problem to keep me from enjoying Sundial, but I do look forward to things not always falling perfectly together in book two.
I was approached by the authors to read and review Sundial. I am so grateful that I got the opportunity to be a reviewer for such a neat book. The authors had this to say about their debut novel, "We have tried to show girls in a positive and capable light and to give a boost to kids who feel socially isolated because of a food allergy through an exciting mainstream adventure." Well, with that being said, Fruzzetti and Pearsall succeed in this endeavor brilliantly. I recommend Sundial to all of you YA lovers and to teens looking for something that has both supernatural excitement and substance.(less)
David and Danielle James are your everyday brother and sister; they argue, David bugs the crap out of his big sister, Danielle treats her brother like a nuisance, and underneath it all they really love each other. What these two don't know is that their normal lives are about to be turned upside down as they discover their hidden roots.
Shrouded Secrets reminds me of an old school fantasy book in that McGrath takes his time building up his characters so that you notice the subtle changes they go through that foreshadow the kind of person they will end up being. The world and culture of Eruditus are carefully constructed and introduced to the reader as if they too are a passenger on this fantastical ride. The problem I had was that I felt like this was a draft rather than a final product. Some of the dialogue and description was a bit wordy and could do with an edit. Shrouded Secrets has the potential to stand up there with titles like The Lightning Thief, but lacks a certain sparkly final coat.
This is a book parents will want their pre-teens to read. The situations and characters are very YA, but unlike other YA titles, you can trust that your kids are getting something really good out of their reading experience. The dialogue is relate-able, yet wholesome and the underlying messages of self-awareness and responsibility wrapped in a sci-fi fantasy package will leave them with concepts they can use in everyday life.
Overall, Shrouded Secrets is a heartfelt first installment to a series that has the potential to become a classic. Certain scenes really grabbed me on an emotional level. Without spoiling the main plot points, McGrath creates such a innately evil, totally dislike-able character in Madison that I whooped when she finally got what was coming to her. Also, I cried when I thought my favorite character was going to die. The character really became that real for me that I feared for his/her life. So now Mr. McGrath, you can say you made me cry, which is a difficult thing to do when it comes to books and movies. You see, McGrath's debut novel is no mindless read like most YA books today, which is why I recommend it. However, it may not appeal to more adult minds until it gets that final coat. (less)