This was another case of the blurb being better than the book. What sounds like a cool science fiction or fantasy story was really another book chalk...moreThis was another case of the blurb being better than the book. What sounds like a cool science fiction or fantasy story was really another book chalk full of instalove and very little substance. Linko seemed to have trouble keeping the rules of her own world straight. Needless to say, I found this to be an incredibly frustrating read that just got worse as I read on.
All her life, Emery has been having extremely vivid dreams, caused by seizures, except she doesn't think they're dreams. In them, she travels to other places where there is a boy she always sees. In her dreams she's able to see and speak to her mother, who is gone, and her father in a much advanced age. Because of this, Emery believes she's traveling through time, although only mentally.
For some reason, her father has a strictly scientific interest in Emery. Her seizures and dreams are getting worse and there's evidence of extreme brain damage that grows more and more. Emery doesn't think she has much time left, so she leaves the hospital in order to try to find the place where she meets with the little boy in her dream.
Funny enough, though, Emery hardly acts like somebody who is dying. Characters constantly refer to her impending mortality, but the story doesn't support that at all. Instead, it devolves into yet another romance where two characters are destined to be together and just can't live without each other. There's some push and pull, but you never doubt that Emery and local hot guy Asher will be together. Oh yeah, and there's also the part where Emery's father has the FBI after her. Why? I don't really know. But it's all so *dramatic*.
When I reached the end, I groaned. Because seriously!? No spoilers here, but what a letdown. Everything feels very anticlimactic.
No doubt this book will find its fans, but I'm not one of them. I found it tedious and nonsensical, and I'm questioning now why I even kept reading. I'm just happy it wasn't a part of a series.(less)
I can't help but compare Monument 14 with Courtney Summers' This is Not a Test. Both books came out within weeks of each other, and I read them nearly...moreI can't help but compare Monument 14 with Courtney Summers' This is Not a Test. Both books came out within weeks of each other, and I read them nearly back to back. Both show a group of high school students in apocalyptic scenarios as they batten down the hatches in the one safe place they can find. Both then show the way that stress can have an effect and the resulting group dynamics. Still, they are very different books.
Monument 14 is narrated by a boy named Dean. Although he's very much a real high school kid, Dean was a little too naive and immature of a narrator for my personal tastes. He's always around the action, but he is not the action itself. Dean's not a leader, and so the plot had a sense of being carried along rather than having real driving agency. I think my biggest hang-up in not fully embracing this book was Dean himself. I just couldn't connect to his character.
I love disaster scenarios, and Monument 14 has more than its share of going from bad to worse. Think massive killer hail is bad? Try poison gas that makes you go insane! When the very air you breathe is capable of killing, you know you're in for a bad time. Fortunately, the fourteen students of this book are tucked away safely in a massive department store. Imagine your personal plan for when the zombies happen. I'm betting at least half of the people reading this are planning on going somewhere like Walmart or Home Depot and waiting it out. That's what this book presents, from going hog wild in the snacks aisle to fending off the people who want to come in and take over your loot.
Along the way, though, every person breaks under the stress in some way. The older cool kids who seemed to have had it together start hitting up the pharmacy a bit too often. Others ransack the clothing, or just plain hide within the store, no longer wanting to see the other kids. I would get frustrated with the kids' reactions and behavior, but when I thought about it, the characters' reactions rang true to what kids and teens would really do.
Monument 14 doesn't entirely resolve at the end, and clearly sets itself up for a sequel. I think I'm going to steer clear of the next one, not because this book was bad, but because it was just okay and I can't seem myself investing more time in characters I don't care that much about.(less)
After teenager Rowan's mother is killed in a house fire, and Rowan attempts suicide, her father can barely stand to look at her. Therefore, Rowan is s...moreAfter teenager Rowan's mother is killed in a house fire, and Rowan attempts suicide, her father can barely stand to look at her. Therefore, Rowan is shipped off to live with her grandparents in Ipswich, Massachusetts. Rowan's always been different, able to feel what those around her are feeling. When a mysterious boy shows up in town, she is inexplicably drawn to him. However, he is a witch, and carries with him hints about Rowan herself and the death of her mother.
Perigee Moon was a tough read for me. From the publisher's blurb, we are promised witchcraft and magic, secrets unveiled, and time-travel to boot. Throw in Ipswich, MA, a town that I find fascinating but have yet to visit, and I was sold. Unfortunately, the book did not live up to hype. Instead, it was an insta-romance, where girl meets sees guy, falls head over heels, guy rejects girl, then confesses undying love, and they cannot live without each other. I'm so over this plot. It's pure fantasy, and the proliferation of permutations on this theme in young adult literature has caused me to abandon books once I see that this is where they are headed. Since I had this for a blog tour, I soldiered on, doing my duty to read the entire book to give an honest review, but I'd have rather stopped reading the moment Rowan meets Alex.
The book progresses with witch-hunt era diary entries by Alex about Rowan (he's a time-traveling witch from the time of the hysteria in Colonial America), and Rowan's desire for, and confusion about, the local bad boy. It was way over the top with gushing language, and I couldn't understand the attraction. They really seemed to have nothing in common, other than Alex dreaming about her. Throw in a one-dimensional villain, and an all-too-brief discovery of magical powers, and you have the plot in a nutshell.
There are quite a few very enthusiastic five-star reviews for this on Goodreads, which I don't really get, but maybe I'm just the wrong audience for this book. What I can say is that I've read at least a dozen books with very similar plots in the same genre, and this one just doesn't stand out as a particularly well-written or compelling example.
One last note: as stated earlier, I received this through the Debut Author Challenge ARC Tours, but it was well after the publish date. The book didn't say anything on it about being an advanced copy, so I'm assuming it was in its final form. There were quite a few typos throughout the text. For example, there was an instance when "than" was used in place of "then," and once "honeysuckle" was one word in one paragraph, and two words in the next. If I was reading the final copy of the book, Crescent Moon Press really needs to hire a better copy editor, because there were very obvious mistakes that should never have been published.(less)
Jocelyn hasn’t been the same since her twin brother Jack was killed months before. They’d been through many foster homes together, and lived through a...moreJocelyn hasn’t been the same since her twin brother Jack was killed months before. They’d been through many foster homes together, and lived through a horrific experience at Seale House, a foster home for screwed up kids. However, then Jocelyn receives a note from Jack, causing her to believe that he may still be alive. To find him, she needs to solve a series of clues he’s left for her. She also needs the help of fellow Seale-Houser Noah. Together, they face unknown dangers in their search for the truth about Jack.
I had mixed feelings about The Vanishing Game. I was intrigued enough to keep reading, but I never feel sufficiently connected to the characters to be really compelled to keep going. Mostly, I just wanted to figure out if my guess about the ending was right (it was). It was a bit of a downer as far as endings go, but I couldn’t figure out how it could be anything else, especially with the heavy-handed clues.
The bulk of the book is a bit of a wild goose chase, with the two main characters solving puzzles to find where they need to look next. That’s a lot of people’s thing, but not mine. I’m not a big puzzle person, and get tired just thinking about people rushing from place to place. There was an added creep factor with a potentially haunted house and twisted, broken foster kids with homicidal tendencies, but the more I think about it now, the less I think the story needed it. In fact, it’s a bit of a distraction from what’s really going on here.
I did like seeing the mystery of Jocelyn unfold throughout the book, and catching glimpses of her life with her brother and terrible mother, as well as the episodes of flashbacks to Seale House. I think the Seale House bit could have been subtracted in order to create another novel, though.
Overall, The Vanishing Game,/i> was a mystery that had enough creepiness to keep me reading, but was a bit disappointing in retrospect.(less)
Willo has grown up wild with his father, family, and other close friends in the mountains, away from the city and the law. Ever since the world turned...moreWillo has grown up wild with his father, family, and other close friends in the mountains, away from the city and the law. Ever since the world turned cold, people have been starving and life is very difficult, yet Willo's father claims that the endless winter will one day warm again. Willo is out hunting when his family is taken away by the government. As he journeys to search for them, he comes across Mary, starving with her small brother. Willo has to weigh whether it is better to leave Mary and have a better chance at finding his father, or taking care of her because it is the right thing to do.
After the Snow is another post-apocalyptic dystopian told in first-person perspective in the main character's broken dialect. This can be a great world-building technique, but here it is mainly used to express Willo's character. Unfortunately, I found the narrative to be a stumbling block in my ability to enjoy the story. Willo's voice is meant to sound feral, but for much of the story he sounds infantile, like he's been mentally stunted. I got used to it, overall, but the first chapter was very confusing for me.
The world is presented as being very cold, and very bleak--a second ice-age that seems to have been brought on by fossil fuel usage and pollution. There are wild packs of dogs, starving people, street gangs of children, and even cannibals. A funny thing about post-apocalyptic worlds: I never want to live there. The writer needs to give me a good reason to want to keep reading the story, because otherwise that environment makes me want to get the heck out. I stuck with it because I wanted to find out what happened to Willo's family, but it was taxing to spend so much time in such a terrible world.
I also didn't really understand why the government was such a terrifying force in the book. There's something going on having to do with the West dealing with the superpower of China, and government not wanting people to live outside of the cities, but with Willo's limited narration, I never got a clear view of the reasons behind everything.
I did like some parts of the story, though. There's Willo's coming-of-age, for one, and the thrill of defeating wild dogs and cannibals. I also liked the mystery behind Willo's father: who he was and why he was taken away. Overall, After the Snow was an okay book to keep me entertained for a while, but it doesn't stand out as far as its genre. It's really just one more voice among many telling the same general story.(less)
After her down-on-her-luck single mother dies, Arabella moves to London to live with her upper class grandmother. Arabella doesn’t quite fit into soci...moreAfter her down-on-her-luck single mother dies, Arabella moves to London to live with her upper class grandmother. Arabella doesn’t quite fit into society, so it is a relief to her when she is allowed to assist doctors at a local women’s hospital in Whitechapel. Then the Ripper murders begin. Arabella get visions of the murders, and all of the women killed were connected with her hospital. Arabella feels a connection and wants to save them, but may be in danger herself.
I love reading about Jack the Ripper, and I love reading about the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. This book included both, but somehow was only just okay. I think that’s because the Amy Carol Reeves clearly loves both of those historical figures as well, and that comes across too strongly in this book. Okay, that sounds strange, but at times I found myself looking skeptically at the page. So, Arabella has the possibility of solving Jack the Ripper, has a connection to the Rossettis, and she’s clearly a feminist, able to become practically a doctor with no medical training? It was too far-fetched for me to buy into, and at times the fortunate connections came across as pandering to history.
And while I love reading about Jack the Ripper, telling the tale has been done before, many times. Some of those retellings are great, like Alan Moore’s From Hell, or more recently, The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson. So, if you tackle the Ripper you need to stand out. Unfortunately, Ripper just didn’t do enough to stand out for me.
However, if you can’t read enough about Jack the Ripper and love YA fiction, I think you’ll want to read this book. At the very least, you can compare it to other Ripper fiction, and you may just find yourself loving it along the way.(less)