Awaken, the blessedly final book in Meg Cabot's Underworld trilogy, was a mindnumbingly awful experience. I should've stopped readin...moreWow, what a mess.
Awaken, the blessedly final book in Meg Cabot's Underworld trilogy, was a mindnumbingly awful experience. I should've stopped reading this series after the second book nearly put me into a rage coma, but curiosity kills the book reviewer and all that. This third book was less ragey, but full of more eye rolls, exasperated sighs, and sad musings on why someone had apparently let Awaken get published on its first revision.
For those of you who haven't put yourself through the misery of this series yet, here's a brief plot rundown: main character Pierce Oliviera had a Near Death Experience and while in the Underworld, met it's ruler John Hayden, and impressed him enough that he continued stalking her after she escaped back to the living world. Pierce moves to Florida where the Underworld is, is stalked some more by John before he "saves" her from a Fury possessing her grandmother and takes her back to the Underworld. John and Pierce somehow fall in love in spite of John lying to Pierce multiple times and having quite some severe anger issues, and the two bum around the Underworld until she has to go back to save her cousin from dying. Or something. Whatever. The overall plot of the series is random, rambling, and basically non-existent in some places, so you'll have to forgive me for not remembering it all.
There was so much talking in this book. Cabot’s books are generally dialogue heavy anyway because it's her distinctive style, but god, Awaken was just pages and pages of talking when there should be action. The worst part was right at the beginning, when Pierce and John realized their Underworld boats would crash into the docks of spirits if they didn't do something, and then they spend like 10 pages talking about their TruLuv5Ever and why John was taking off his clothes and their plan of action and his childhood and blahblabhblah. How on earth did the boats not crash at some point in all of this? Many of the action scenes, or other exposition scenes, were in this rambly fashion and it drove me bananas.
As far as characters go, Pierce Oliviera is Meg Cabot’s Bella Swan. She’s a completely bland character with no ambitions who only gets more insufferable when John’s around, yet the other characters flock to her like she’s a super special goddess and I don’t understand her in-universe appeal. Her and John’s relationship is incredibly unhealthy, what with John’s jealous rages and general stalking behavior, and the whole “wild thing who needs to be tamed!” crap on Pierce’s end. It is so very telling that Mr. Smith notices the both of them are only somewhat decent people when they’re together - they complete each other's asshole tendencies. I wanted to hurl when they started talking about having babies at the end - puhlease, you are seventeen, Pierce, and you have known this douche for like two weeks. Calm down, and go to college. Oh wait, you don't want to do that either. Just... go away, Pierce.
And then, there were the multiple other issues, such as the rambling plot, the deus ex machina Fates showing up left and right, and the multiple, impotent villains. Did Cabot just pick a bunch of plot points out of a hat and decide to go with it at the end? Sure, throw in a badly explained excuse to use Thanatos, a drug ring, and a stereotypical Native American burial ground, who cares! I certainly didn't. I couldn't wait for the end of the book.
I've mused before that maybe I'm growing out of Meg Cabot's YA style, which might be true as she can't hold a candle to some of the newer authors in the genre, but the Abandon trilogy was just a terrible all-around experience. I know Cabot can write better paranormal romance than this, and I hope we see some of it again soon. (less)
**spoiler alert** Starcrossed is the latest book that's blowing up the YA blogosphere, but unfortunately, I have no idea where all that hype is coming...more**spoiler alert** Starcrossed is the latest book that's blowing up the YA blogosphere, but unfortunately, I have no idea where all that hype is coming from.
Pitched as "Percy Jackson for girls" (ugh), Starcrossed is set in Nantucket and follows 16-year-old Helen Hamiliton as she discovers she's a descendent from the Greek gods. Strange things have always happened around Helen, and things get worse when a the Delos family moves to town. Helen is haunted by three women who cry tears of blood every time she sees the handsome Lucas Delos and the two are overcome with the urge to kill each other upon first sight. Eventually, Helen and Lucas overcome this particular obstacle, but the Fates are working to tear them two apart for good.
If you're thinkin' Starcrossed sounds quite a bit like Twilight, you're not at all wrong. Out of all the books I've accused of suffering from Twilightitis, this one has been the worst offenders. The Delos family is described as "unbelievably smart and beautiful and wealthy" in the first chapter -- sound familiar, anyone? Some of the Delos family members also bear a striking resemblance to members of a certain vampire clan -- Hector, the super strong muscle man; Noel, the sweet, kind, and fretting mother; Cassandra, the (you guessed it) Oracle of the family.
Helen is painfully shy and socially awkward, and lives with a single dad who she calls by his first name and doesn't really have much to do with the plot once the Delos family shows up. Basically, Starcrossed is AU Twilight fan fiction with the names and location changed.
The one big difference between Starcrossed and Twilight though is that Helen actually has personality and is likable, unlike a certain Miss Swan, and a lot of the minor characters are fairly well developed. I do applaud Angelini for making Helen pretty darn kickass. It would've been so easy for to Helen to fall into the Helpless Female in a Paranormal Romance trope, but she was able to defend herself and took an equal part in keeping herself safe.
But here's where some of the problematic issues begin to seep in. Lucas was an awesome love interest until the back half of the book, when Angelini must've realized she needed to throw in some asshole qualities to make him more Edward-esque. Like Edward, Lucas refuses to have sex with Helen -- not because neither of them don't want to do it, but because if they do have sex, civilization as we know it will BE DESTROYED.
I'm sorry, but I'm just so sick of the SEX = DEATH AND DESTRUCTION and CONTROL YOURSELF, SILLY WIMMINS tropes that are running wild in paranormal YA right now. It's kinda of insulting, especially when it leads to lines like this: ""He kept her pinned under the blankets, mummified in miserable chastity." Uhhhhh, what?
Lucas also watches Helen overnight without her consent or prior knowledge for her "safety," and gets incredibly jealous when it appears someone else might be interested in Helen. He pulls the "you don't know how attractive you are~" and "I only have so much self-control~" card pretty often. There's also some other pretty troublesome aspects in the book in general. One that particularly stands out in my mind is that Helen is told demigods aren't usually named Helen because it's a "cursed" name because of that evil temptress 'ho, Helen of Troy. Meanwhile, the demigods apparently have no problem naming their kids Paris ... who was the one who started the damn Trojan War in the first place!
One of the other things that annoyed me while I was reading this book was all of Helen's demigod super powers. I usually don't like to throw the Mary Sue card flag, but damn, Helen (and all the other demigods) were really pushing it. I swear, she developed a new SUPER AWESOME power every 50 pages and was always OMG SO GOOD at whatever it was too. The thing I liked about Rick Riordan's portrayal of demigods in Percy Jackson was that his characters grew into their powers and still retained their flaws; there was none of that for any of the demigods in Starcrossed.
For a book trilogy that got a seven figure deal, the writing in Starcrossed is painfully amatuerish. Angelini has yet to master the "show, don't tell" part of writing because Helen always had to re-explain events that had happened five or six pages ago to other characters. We just read that, we don't need it summarized, okay! The all important first chapter was extremely clunky, and the initial dialogue between Helen and her friend Claire was super awkward. Not to mention everything was just so very convenient for the characters, and the ~surprise twist~ of why Helen and Lucas can't get together was completely unncessary and ridiculous.
However, in spite of all my Negative Nancying about this book, there were parts of Starcrossed I found myself enjoying very much. I really didn't have a lot to complain about when Helen was learning about her powers and her growing romance with Lucas. In fact, I found myself eating their romance up ... right up until the Lucas-needs-to-be-an-ass kicked in. The last couple of chapters really engaged me, and I could barely put my Nook down.
So what's my final verdict? With some polishing and a lot more guidance from her editor, Angelini could've had a really great book. As it is, Starcrossed isn't terrible and it's a fun read in parts, but it definitely isn't worth the hype that a lot of people have been giving it. (less)
I was surprised by how much I liked this book. Even though Phoebe was a little whiny, she had a reason to be, and I like her growth over the course of...moreI was surprised by how much I liked this book. Even though Phoebe was a little whiny, she had a reason to be, and I like her growth over the course of the book. My few problems were the author's willful bending of Greek mythology (for insistence, Hesita's a virgin goddess - she shouldn't have any descendants) and the usual high school stereotyping that went along with it. Otherwise, I thought it was fun and I might pick up the sequel sooner or later.(less)
Meg, Meg, Meg. Why did you have to jump on the bad boy paranormal romance bandwagon? Why?
You did so well when you tore apart the new vampire...moreOh, Meg.
Meg, Meg, Meg. Why did you have to jump on the bad boy paranormal romance bandwagon? Why?
You did so well when you tore apart the new vampire genre in Insatiable, and then you produce this? My heart, Meg. It hurts.
Abandon, a "darkly re-imagined," modern re-telling of the Persephone and Hades myth, marks Meg Cabot's return to the YA paranormal realm. In Abandon, 17 year old Pierce is a NDE - a survivor of a near death experience from an accident when she was 15. Since then, she has been followed by a mysterious stranger named John, who has caused serious trouble for her in the living world. Pierce moves with her mother to Florida, but find she's closer to John than ever before and if she's not careful, she'll end up in the Underworld permanently.
I really wanted to like Abandon. I'm a huge Meg Cabot fan. If I was a teenager in high school, I probably would've eaten this book up and demanded more immediately. However, now that I've become especially jaded and immediately suspicious of most paranormal romances in the YA section, I was not impressed.
While Pierce was a break from the standard Cabot heroine, there were very few moments when I genuinely liked her because she was so bland. Part of the problem was her narration. Cabot told the backstory of Pierce's death and first trip to Underworld retrospectively and stayed there for a good portion of the book. This led to a lot of repetition, melodramatic foreshadowing, and plot twists that didn't make sense. There is very little action in this book because it's the step-up for the triology, and there were probably only 40 pages I truly enjoyed out of the entire thing and they were in the last third of the book.
The biggest disappointment for me, however, was the love interest John. Once again, we have a heroine falling in love with an asshole she knows for an hour (no, I don't count the two years he STALKED her for "her protection" as relationship development) and staying with him even though she knows he'd rather her be dead and in the Underworld with him. There were few scenes between the two of them that didn't make me uncomfortable, and I kept waiting for Pierce to wake up from her fantasy and stop romanticizing John as a misunderstood, lonely bad boy. And that never happened. Maybe it will in future books, but I definitely won't be picking those up for a long time. (less)
Although the first book in the Cronus Chronicles series was fairly lackluster, I'm glad I decided to pick up "The Siren Song" as well because everythi...moreAlthough the first book in the Cronus Chronicles series was fairly lackluster, I'm glad I decided to pick up "The Siren Song" as well because everything picks up in this book. Charlotte and Zee are engaging characters, especially the former, and they experience some interesting and delightful character growth in "Siren Song." The snarky, matter-of-fact narration style is what exactly what I enjoy about children's books, and I found myself laughing out loud at several points during the book. Unlike the first book, I enjoyed Anne Ursu's take on Greek mythology in the second book, especially her version of the sea god, Poseidon. Most of my entertainment came from her description's of Poseidon's ridiculous antics, but Ursu also delivered by making him a terrible force to be reckoned with. Definitely will be picking up the third book in the series soon. (less)
"Oracles of Delphi Keep" was a particularly frustrating read because, while an interesting concept, most of the first 200 pages were pure infodumping...more"Oracles of Delphi Keep" was a particularly frustrating read because, while an interesting concept, most of the first 200 pages were pure infodumping on the author's part and the characters weren't engaging enough to keep my attention from wandering during the first half of the book. I'm usually a fairly fast reader, but "Oracles" took me ages to finish because I had to keep putting it down because it was terribly boring. The book does pick up quite a bit in the back half and I really got into the storyline within the last 100 pages. It ends on an fairly intriguing cliffhanger, so hopefully the author will be able to keep the momentum going with the sequel. (less)