When I first saw the cover of Dollhouse on Netgalley I was instantly attracted to it - it was so different to many YA covers out there. I then realised that the book was by an Australian author and my mind was made up I wanted to read this book! I started reading this book with no expectations, I knew nothing about the story though I had gathered it was going to have a gothic horror vibe to it. I wasn't disappointed, while the book had some issues it definitely carried off the mysterious spooky vibe brilliantly.
The story centres around main character Cassie who along some of her classmates get caught up in the mystery of the Australian bush where many girls have disappeared over time. Cassie's best friend Aisha goes missing right under their noses while hiking and taking photo's for a school project. Aisha's boyfriend (and Cassie's crush), Ethan gets blamed for her disappearance, so Cassie, Ethan along with Lacey decide to investigate a creepy mansion they discovered near where she disappeared. Things start to go downhill for them when they discover a hidden entrance filled with carousels and end up caught in a mysterious web of disturbing secrets when they find what lies beneath the mansion.
It's really hard to write this review without giving away too much of the story. As I mentioned before the author pulls off the gothic horror theme beautifully, unfortunately though the actual plot was at times overly complicated and pacing a bit all over the place. This coupled with some poor character development is why I've chosen to only give the book 2.5 star rating.
The pacing of the book was what I had the biggest issue with. It started out well and I couldn't put it down, then there was a large part in the middle of the book that just really dragged and I found a lot of the story to be a bit repetitive and mundane. I also felt that there were some very large climatic things that were just brushed over towards the end in a rush while other parts that weren't particularly interesting or important seemed to get a lot more attention.
The characters weren't particularly likeable and also quite two dimensional - they all annoyed me at times though Cassie particularly did things often that just irritated me beyond belief. There is no real romance in this book, while Cassie and Ethan clearly like each other she falls for him before the story starts and the chemistry isn't particularly great though it probably doesn't help that Ethan is dating someone else for the majority of the book.
A lot of very interesting lore is dished out towards the end of the story and I really enjoyed this and want to find out more, the author also ended the book on a major cliffhanger so I think I will be picking up the remainder of the series just to get answers for all the questions marks I now have. I have high hopes that this book was setting the stage for some great things. (less)
I am so glad I picked up Chasing Stars I really enjoyed this one! The first book was a bit average, there was instalove and it was very much a younger teen novel, I also felt that the ending was rushed and it was a bit unsatisfactory. While book 2 suffered from some of the same issues, I really loved the ending of this sequel - I was completely surprised by it and call me sappy but I truly felt it came together beautifully, so it got a big thumbs up from me.
The story continues where After Eden finished and there is a little bit of overlap where it repeats the ending from a different characters point of view so there is no need to go back and refresh your memory of what happened at the end of book 1. Ryan makes an unauthorised jump back in time to stop Eden being killed for knowing too much about the future and being “cleaned up”. The two of them make plans to disappear completely so they can live out the remainder of their lives in peace. Unfortunately things come apart when another traveller from the future comes hunting for Ryan and upon catching them takes both Ryan and Eden back to the future so Ryan can be trialled for illegally traveling back in time and risking the timeline.
The majority of this book is from Eden’s perspective as Ryan is in a holding cell awaiting trial. Eden on the other hand has to come to terms with how different things are in the future and with the help of Ryan’s best friend Pegasus, she makes some friends and comes up with a plan to ensure her and Ryan will get to at least spend the future together.
I think Pegasus is meant to be a bit of a love interest perhaps for Eden in this story, but it is all a little bit awkward because Ryan is still not only in the picture but Eden is constantly thinking about him. I also wasn’t really sure if Pegasus was into her or not. I think it was most likely written in just to provide a bit of tension between the characters and it unfortunately didn’t flow very smoothly.
I had a few issues with the future the main one being that the men in charge of time travel, while not in charge of the government and seemingly separate from the government actually have full judicial control and yet also run penal colonies… does this not seem like a glaring conflict of interest?! I also cannot believe that their is no repeal system and that only 1 person gets to decide both a persons guilt/innocence and also their sentence, I can’t understand why a panel of them wouldn’t be selected for these matters. In any case aside from the judicial system bothering me and the craziness of the media I really enjoyed a glimpse into the future.
Other things I had issue with was that Eden never checked to see what had happened to Connor in this timeline and while she looked up Miranda she never bothered seeking out her relatives. I think this was a little sad and I would have loved a bit more closure on this front.
Aside with the few things I took issue with I found this book a really fun fast read. I was also super impressed with the ending and felt that this book wrapped up the duology beautifully leaving me smiling and feeling complete. (less)