Level 2 is a debut novel by Lenore Appelhans. Ostensibly, I picked it up because it seemed to be a unique Science Fiction Dystopia about people having...more
Level 2 is a debut novel by Lenore Appelhans. Ostensibly, I picked it up because it seemed to be a unique Science Fiction Dystopia about people having access to their own memories. What I encountered was a trumped up vision of an afterlife where people wait in limbo before entering Level 3 (or Heaven) as angels.
I have had a moratorium on angel books for the last year. For that matter any book that uses the phrase "war in heaven". I've read to many of them and they are all the same, and I just cannot do them anymore. Level 3, with all of its surprise and nifty premise, did not survive the moratorium. This book was a do-not-finish.
Felicia is dead and marooned in Level 2, the waiting space between here and there. To pass the time she accesses her own memories, renting others and loaning hers out to her co-inhabitants. This is what the people of Level 2 do, relive their lives that they no longer have. Then one day a man breaks into the space, a dangerous man that Felicia once knew. He wants to take her out of Level 2 for one purpose, a purpose that she is destined for.
But, like I said, this was a do-not-finish.
There were a few things that hampered my enjoyment. Felicia was too passive and inactive in her own (after) life. Julian, the man who breaks Felicia out of Level 2, was uninteresting and one sided. I felt like Appelhans was rewriting every sexually tense bad-would-be-good guy that has come before in the Young Adult market. Then there's Neil, the other love interest who's so bland that he blends into the background. Between the two and the plot line that I hate we have a recipe for disaster - angels and bad love triangles... A perfect match for a do-not-finish. If I wanted to read that I would just pick up the last Cynthia Hand book, which I haven't quite brought myself to read yet. Because of the moratorium. Even though I kind of want to (but I don't).
On some level it's my own damn fault. I avoid reading synopsis of books like the plague. Had I read the back of this book I would have just put it aside. I hate reading the spoilers that can be found on the back of books. As such I only know the barest amount of information of a book before I go in. It's Sci-fi, or it's Paranormal, or it's Contemporary. That's generally all I know going in. I search for a mood of a book and I choose. Always. And sometimes it bites me in the bum.
Now, the first part of this book was really good, and I was enjoying it. But as soon as the reveal came, and Appelhans introduced the direction this book was going in, well... I jumped ship. And I don't feel bad about it. Looking at other reviews this book seems to be really split - People love it, or hate it, and what I was hating about it only seems to get worse. I wanted to love it, but the unoriginality of the plot combined with the originality of the world building facade just killed me. I Wanted it to stand up to that beginning, but the plot was weak and expected. And, like I said, I don't do wars in heaven.
Dance of Shadows is a relatively new Young Adult book by Yelena Black. It's been up and down in reviews since ARCs began circulating last year. I fina...more Dance of Shadows is a relatively new Young Adult book by Yelena Black. It's been up and down in reviews since ARCs began circulating last year. I finally got around to cracking mine today and it's officially a did-not-finish for me. This book did nothing for me. It's awful.
Vanessa is 15 and a new student at a prestigious ballet school in New York. She is there with a motive, to discover what happened to her sister, Margaret, who disappeared the year before. Vanessa quickly falls into a friendship with a few of the dancers but there is something dark happening at the school, and Vanessa suspects that her sister was a part of it.
There are a couple of things that are really apparent from this book from the beginning. The first is that it's not a well written book. Black's transitions from the end of a chapter to the beginning of the next are clunky and jerky. Her prose doesn't flow very well in general. She says several really awkward things throughout the book. The second is that I had a sense that I've seen this story before. Comparisons to Black Swan are going to be inevitable for this book, especially considering the ballet content, but it's more than that. Dance of Shadows exhibits every cliched trope that can be found in the Young Adult Paranormal genre to date - young impressionable girl out of her element, insta-friendship with a cast of misfits, insta-attraction/love with not one but two possible suitors, domineering adult figure, a mysterious set of circumstances, a hint of something supernatural... the list goes on and on. I found myself rolling my eyes so many times in the first hundred pages I'm surprised I didn't give myself a headache. Cliches can be done very well, but not with the coupling of bad writing. It stacks one travesty upon another.
Another weird thing is this blurb that once existed on Goodreads for this book and no longer does:
"Curtains up on a deliciously dark new YA trilogy from the creators of Lauren Kate’s Fallen."
Just a thought - What does "from the creators of Lauren Kate's Fallen" even mean? Does that mean that THIS is written by Lauren Kate under a pseudonym OR that the Fallen series was a conglomerate corporate book series written by a bunch of writers like the newer LJ Smith Vampire Diaries? If that is the case maybe that explains why the Fallen books were never something I got into, and perhaps explains the poor writing in this book. I suspect that this book was dreamed up by a marketing team who hired Yelena Black to write this book. I know that this happens more than we suspect, particularly with the explosion of books in the Young Adult market in the last five years. However, that doesn't make it right, particularly when the output is so terrible. It could very well explain the numerous cliches in the book. If you have a brainstorming meeting between a number of minds it could end in, well... this. And no amount of good writing can save a dodgy idea.
To put it mildly this is not a good enough book to keep my attention, and because of that I had to give it a rest. I can't afford the time it would take to trudge through something this bad. There are many good books out there and this, frankly, is not one of them.
Splintered is A.G. Howard's debut novel. It's a spin off to Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll for the young adult market. I was very excited for it...more Splintered is A.G. Howard's debut novel. It's a spin off to Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll for the young adult market. I was very excited for it when I saw the cover art and premise a while back. Alice in Wonderland is one of my all time favourite books.
Splintered, however, is a messy read. I have very mixed feelings about it. Ultimately, it was a book I did not finish because I lost interest.
In Splintered Alyssa, the great great great granddaughter of Alice Liddell, the inspiration for the infamous novel. Howard creates a curse that spans from generation to generation, affecting the woman in the family to suffer madness under the Wonderland delusion. Alyssa's mother has been in a mental institution since she attacked Alyssa as a child with a pair of pruning shears. Alyssa visits her into her teens until she learns that her mother's madness is based in a terrifying reality. Alyssa must travel into Wonderland to end her family's curse. When her longtime friend, Jeb, falls down the rabbit hole with her it enacts a series of tests that they have to overcome.
There was something peculiar about this read other than the concept. Howard spends a lot of time info-dumping in the first 100 pages before Alyssa even gets near Wonderland. I think she was trying to establish the characters and Alyssa's own world but it didn't work. The characters ended up being wooden and flat. I never connected with Alyssa or Jeb as a result. The first 100 pages does a real disservice to the pacing of the novel. I was impatient to get to Wonderland. I found my attention waning - why set up all of this fore story that the reader will not be interested in? By the time I got into Wonderland itself Howard had an uphill battle to regain my attention, and she never really did. The only thing that kept me reading after page 150 was Morpheus. Morpheus, in this retelling, is the caterpillar and a secondary love interest for Alyssa. I wanted to love him but my hopes were soon dashed when he turned out to be two dimensional as well.
My theory halfway through the book was that this book was inspired by Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland film that was done a few years back. The nebulous beginning details were established to differentiate it from that movie. If you head over to A.G. Howard's website she clearly states that Burton's film was a major influence for this book. And that's fine, but there's nothing that really sets the two apart enough other than the muddy beginning and the weak characters. It feels like a parody of his film (that wasn't that great to begin with). It's just not very good.
I wanted to love it, but I don't. The visual imagery in this book is striking, that is true. However, it reminds me of big budget Hollywood films - all look and no soul. I was really disappointed.