It's a tricky situation when you're really looking forward to reading a book and it ends up being a disappointment. I normally post my reviews fairly...moreIt's a tricky situation when you're really looking forward to reading a book and it ends up being a disappointment. I normally post my reviews fairly quickly after reading, but I put off writing this one for some time because I was so conflicted over my feelings.
The thing is, I really enjoyed Stork, the first book in this series, for several reasons: the strikingly original paranormal concept of a girl who is destined to be part of a mystical order of women, the fresh and funny voice, the cute relationship between Katla and Jack, and the bits of Icelandic lore. I thought that the paranormal stuff could have been more fleshed out, however, and I was hoping that this second installment would more fully explain what Katla's duties and powers actually are and we'd get a little more immersed in the mysterious Stork society.
But that's not the case. The story goes off onto a different adventure, most of which involves how Katla deals with Jack and his new obsession with learning about his power, which made a bizarre appearance towards the end of the previous novel. So all the things I enjoyed about the first book go out the window pretty fast, particularly the Stork ladies (this storyline is half-heartedly revisited, but quickly abandoned) and the relationship between Jack and Kat. There's now a giant wedge between them in the shape of a Professor Brigid Fonnkona, an icy environmental researcher who is determined to take him to Greenland. Frost is loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen, so those familiar with the tale will have an inkling of how those elements take shape in the modern version.
What would have been impossible to predict, however, are all the subplots that kept piling on in this book. Something weird is going on with Katla's afi. The kids are doing a musical version of The Snow Queen at school. Kat's mom is pregnant. Her dad is around, but...extraneous. Her friends are fighting. Hulda is sick. Kat may or may not be seeing ghosts. Dorit has been kicked out of the society and has disappeared. There are so many new people and new plots to assimilate, and none of the old ones were at all adequately explained. It seems as though most of these problems could have been fixed during the outlining process, so I am very surprised that they were not.
After awhile, I realized that I was never going to get the answers to my questions from the first book and I probably would never get answers to the new ones popping up. Because frankly, I'm not sure that there is an overall plan figured out for these characters, either. While there were occasional moments towards the beginning that recalled what I enjoyed about the first book (Yule Cat, Santa, Pig-Pen), overall reading this book and watching the story line derail was an extremely frustrating process.
I wouldn't rule out checking out another one of this author's books sometime down the road because I do like her voice, but it will be with an extremely guarded and wary eye. I was really sad when I closed this book 10 days ago, and I'm still sad that the promise of the series' premise will apparently never be fulfilled.
1.5 stars The first book in this series was really entertaining. I liked the concept of a world in which kids born after a certain time period could a...more1.5 stars The first book in this series was really entertaining. I liked the concept of a world in which kids born after a certain time period could all see ghosts, as well as the idea of exploring how difficult that reality might be for both the ghosts and the ones they leave behind. Aura's boyfriend Logan made a stupid mistake and paid for it with his life, leaving her full of guilt and unresolved feelings. In both the previous book and in this one, she has to find a way to help him come to terms with his future as well as coming to terms with her own. Complicating matters is the handsome Zachary and the Department of Metaphysical Purity, both of whom want Logan gone for good.
With such an interesting set-up, expanding on the story that began in Shade should not have been particularly difficult. But when 75% of this sequel is spent on the ridiculous back and forth relationship of Aura-and-Logan and Aura-and-Zachary and then Aura-and-(view spoiler)[Dylan (hide spoiler)], the direction has officially turned from intriguing paranormal series to annoying romance series. I'm one who actually doesn't mind the dreaded love triangle as long as it's handled well and it's not too drawn out, but the events that happen in this book are absolutely ridiculous. And gross. There are more details in my status updates if you care to see them, but suffice to say that in the space of a few weeks, Aura (view spoiler)[ nearly sleeps with three different guys (hide spoiler)] and there are two hugely, hugely icky moments (between her and one of her partners and between (view spoiler)[one of her crushes and another person (hide spoiler)]) that will turn off a lot of women who read this. Or they should, anyway.
I am so disappointed that the author not only chose to spend so much time on the romantic complications in this book, but that she also chose to put in such unforgivable scenarios, all of which could have easily been avoided. I am especially frustrated because there are some nice moments in it involving a brief, bittersweet journal entry that Aura finds as well as some gallant behavior from (view spoiler)[Dylan (hide spoiler)]. I also think it's pretty ballsy that the author pushes the boundaries a little as far as the sexual intimacy between teens goes, without going overboard. It's just too bad that it's spread around with so many partners in this book, and in such an off-putting way. I really don't know if I'll be checking out the next book in the series, but I probably will just to see if it continues on this hideous path. I'm a glutton for punishment that way.
Oh, and by the way? Reading through 36 pages of an unhappy prom (and more pages wasted on talking about it and shopping for it) does not make for good entertainment.
This review is really about the whole Sweep series, but I'm putting it with Book One because that's where people will go to find out whether all of th...moreThis review is really about the whole Sweep series, but I'm putting it with Book One because that's where people will go to find out whether all of them are worth reading. I started out really enjoying the series, then HATED WITH A PASSION what seemed to be going on, and then am left now feeling really sad and cheated. I've never started out liking a series and then turned around and felt so angry and disappointed and sad after it ended.
Firstly, I have to say that I really enjoyed books 1 - 6. Some are stronger than others, but overall they are well-written and packed with action, plus the whole wicca thing is well-researched and really interesting to read about. Morgan is also an interesting character who goes through a lot of personal growth and development, and her attraction to the new boy in town and her feelings about her friend Bree and her parents and her sister (et al) are completely relatable. I also liked books 8, 9, and 12, and would give these nine books 3.5-4 out of 5 stars.
Spoiler-free things I never cared for, right from the very beginning:
* the books are too short. They're literally half the size of a typical YA novel (way to drag out a series) and nearly every one ended on an abrupt cliffhanger. I kept clicking forward on my Kindle, thinking there was something glitchy going on with my e-reader, but it turns out the writing just...stopped. Annoying and unnecessary, since there is a way to both give closure to a volume and whet an appetite for the next novel without making your readers feel as if you've yanked the covers off them.
* the stories that did not relate directly to Morgan's narrative diluted the books. Some detail is enjoyable, but when so few characters really have anything to do at all (back to this later) and there is so much time spent re-hashing everyone's mundane dating details in every single book when it doesn't affect anything else, it gets really boring really fast. As such, I never really cared for the bit at the beginning of each chapter that was an "excerpt" from a journal entry or book on magick. The only time I felt it really added to the book were when you got a glimpse of what Hunter was feeling in towards the earlier part of the series. And yes, this means Alisa too--one of the least interesting secondary characters who shows up late and then suddenly got POV narrative and her own book. The more the series went on, the more time was spent with other characters, and the series was less strong as a result.
I did think narrating a book from Hunter's point of view was interesting, until his story went way far away from Morgan's. This might've been okay if the book had been longer and their relationship more fleshed out after he returns AND....
**SPOILER ALERT for the rest of this review*
* ....if he didn't freaking cheat on her while he's gone. (for just two weeks! in Canada!) This was such a slap in the face after everything that happened with Cal and drawing out their will they-won't they relationship for more than 10 books. I don't understand why this was put in at all, because there is nearly no time devoted to resolving how Morgan would really feel about this happening afterwards. There are literally maybe 5 short paragraphs contained over two books to deal with this, which is completely unrealistic for any girl, no matter what else was going on. And for someone like Morgan, who was already betrayed by his brother? Completely impossible that she would have gotten over it so quickly.
* By the time I finished Book 13, I was so ready for Morgan and Hunter to get things resolved already. Since I was already pretty much skimming through anything that wasn't Morgan or Hunter's narrative, I skipped Book 14 entirely and then I read about the HUGE thing that happens in the beginning of Book 15. After reading the sample chapter (read it, read it, it's linked on Amazon), I couldn't believe an author would invest so much of her readers' time and emotion only to kill off a main character like that for no apparent reason. I felt so angry and so cheated, and I swore I would never read anything by this author again. It was only after I read the spoiler-y reviews on Good Reads that I decided to read the rest of the book--and even after things were resolved, I still have very mixed emotions about the whole thing.
You barely spend any time with Morgan and Hunter in the beginning before things end (literally, maybe 15 pages in) and the whole thing just goes off-kilter from there. Morgan doesn't learn anything from Hunter's death and we have no time at all to mourn him ourselves until all the sudden she's married, had a child, and had her husband die on her. Everyone whose lives you heard so much about in the series is also pretty much dumped here, with just a couple mentions of what happened to Bree and Mary K. This is because they don't matter in the big scheme of things, and apparently they never did.
Like many of the other readers here, I was fine with Moira but I really could have done without her and mostly just skimmed the book impatiently until Hunter shows up again. And while I'm happy they got a happy ending, I still feel drained and sad and upset over the whole thing. Poor Hunter is hugely diminished in this book, and you never really get a sense of how awful his island imprisonment was. You also don't get much emotional satisfaction once he comes back--so little time is spent on his homecoming and recovery, and as another reader pointed out, is he really going to stay in the guest bedroom once he (soul mate and father) comes home? There is no anguish, no comforting, no healing, no real emotional truth or connection. It all just felt completely unrealistic and sad.
I've never been so disappointed in a series that I liked. Because of the way everything was dragged on and on (these would have been better condensed into maybe 5 - 6 books, with a lot of things edited out) and because of the huge emotional battering that did NOT make me feel fulfilled and happy at the end, I would not recommend this series to anyone. I started out giving this series a 3 out of 5 stars, but as I wrote this review I realized a more accurate rating would be a 2. Because no matter how much I enjoyed some of the books, the others were not worth the time and money and emotional investment. (less)