**spoiler alert** Predictable & slow rehashing of Meyer's archetypes
I picked up The Host as a summer read. Unfortunately, the book felt like a reh...more**spoiler alert** Predictable & slow rehashing of Meyer's archetypes
I picked up The Host as a summer read. Unfortunately, the book felt like a rehashing of Meyer's Twilight series with a different setting and slightly older main characters. As her first published attempt at an adult novel, I had hoped for more mature writing, deeper character development, and more conflict, instead of problems being simply fixed in the end. Unfortunately, I didn't get that with this book.
Much like the books in the Twilight series, The Host uses dialogue and internal conflict to move its plot. However, this quickly became repetitive and therefore boring. The book was slow in the first 30 or so pages, but I'm a patient reader, so I kept on. Things picked up, only to slow miserably around page 200. While the writing style is a little more complex and varied than the Twilight series, there were many déjà vu moments. Meyer continues to overuse the words and descriptions of chagrin, hiss, snarl, demanding, reacting in horror, crowing, etc.
The characters are also too similar to her previous works. Most of the characters in this book, outside of Melanie and Jed, are provided little to no backstory and little to no development. The males in the book could easily be compared as Jared = Edward (the dangerous, controlling, but somehow alluring male), Ian = Jacob (the sweet, considerate male who's willing to give his love anything she wants, but who still does creepy things like kiss her when she doesn't want it), Doc = Carlisle (the compassionate, good doctor who couldn't hurt anyone and who's despondent when he does), and so on. The female character of Melanie/Wanda also plays on the same characteristics that Meyer created for Bella in that she's utterly consumed with the man in her life/lives, even when he physically or emotionally hurts her; she's willing to sacrifice herself and die for others and even jabs a knife into her arm willingly to help save someone else (fight scene in Eclipse when Bella slashes herself with the rock shard, anyone?). The main female character is also helplessly carried around by the men repeatedly in this book, much like the Twilight series. It seems as though Meyer's personal ideas about what she considers as a desirable male repeat themselves. There were times I actually put down the book and talked to it, saying, "C'mon, Meyer, are you capable of writing a different story?"
I think that this book could be a decent, mindless read if you have not read the Twilight series previously. It was just too difficult for me to ignore the similarities. I did like that The Host addressed larger themes of love, different types of love, sacrifice, survival, and the balance of the need for peace versus the need for resistant violence. I only wish these concepts could have been explored more deeply. And, just like my experience with the Twilight series (though I am loathe to admit it), I did want to keep reading to know what happened next. In sum, if you liked Meyer's story line and writing style before, you'll probably like this. Just don't expect anything earth-shatteringly different. As is no surprise, everything works out in the end and everyone's happy. Not that you couldn't figure out *exactly* how they would do that about 200 pages before it happens.... (less)
In this sixth installment of the House of Night series, Zoey and her friends find themselves in the aftermath of their great sho...moreTempting? Not so much.
In this sixth installment of the House of Night series, Zoey and her friends find themselves in the aftermath of their great showdown with Neferet and Kalona. Zoey continues to juggle three love interests and now possibly a fourth as Kalona tries to lure her through their ancient connection. Stevie Rae is starting to come clean on some of her secrets about what lurks in the tunnels under Tulsa, and Neferet and Kalona are pursuing their quest for ultimate power halfway around the world.
Sounds like a nice set up for character development, some resolution of relationships, and some continuance in Zoey's battle against evil, doesn't it? Sadly, this doesn't happen. I have read all of the HoN series as a form of brain candy, knowing that the writing wasn't good, the characters not well-drawn, and some of the content unbelievable or offensive. However, despite these flaws, I was always interested to see what happened next. Such is not the case with this book.
Pros: I actually thought the writing was cleaner and more mature in this book. Not good, but less dependent on repeating itself and using pop-culture references that will date themselves very quickly. The storyline involving Stevie Rae, her conflicts with the red fledglings, and her new "friend" are all interesting. By the end, the reader discovers that some of the boyfriend issues are resolved and whether Kalona is possibly redeemable or not.
Cons: The book itself is longer than prior ones due to its smaller font size, but the length drags instead of adding to the story. Instead of having one voice as narrator, this book switches between Zoey's first-person account and third-person accounts through other characters. Third-person is necessary to describe things going on outside of Zoey's awareness, but it feels choppy to change from first to third so frequently. Four or more other characters have chapters written from their point-of-view.
Very little is moved forward with the story arc, and Zoey does not mature as a leader at all. She continues to act immaturely, despite all of the trials she's experienced in a few short months. Aphrodite's relationship with Darius, while handled lovingly, still doesn't make sense. Unfair characterizations about the way gay people act and African-American people speak continue (despite the fact that it's obvious that the authors want us to accept diversity). Many characters that had at least some value in past books are made to be superfluous at best.
Things didn't pick up until the final 20 pages or so, and it then ended hastily with no resolution. I don't expect full resolution in a book that's part of a series, but it would have been nice to have this book be able to stand on its own a bit. Unfortunately, it feels like a slow, lengthy transition to the next novel. I'll wait that one out until it comes to my local library. (less)
Slow and underdeveloped start to new trilogy, 2.5 stars
In Kelley Armstrong's THE GATHERING, Maya Delaney lives in a small medical research town on Van...moreSlow and underdeveloped start to new trilogy, 2.5 stars
In Kelley Armstrong's THE GATHERING, Maya Delaney lives in a small medical research town on Vancouver Island. A year after her best friend's death, Maya and her friend Daniel still don't have answers about how Serena died. When other people start to show up dead in the woods and Maya begins to have strange moments of connection with animals, she decides to start looking for answers. All the while, things are heating up between Maya and bad boy Rafe who may have secrets of his own. Maya and her friends soon start to discover that things may not be as safe on the island as they once thought.
After really enjoying Kelley Armstrong's first YA trilogy (Darkest Powers), I was excited to delve into this new series. Similar to her prior books, Armstrong's easy writing style and engaging setting kept me reading. Likable characters such as Daniel, Rafe, Annie, and Maya's parents drew me into the story as did the gripping prologue that set up the mystery. Armstrong's descriptions and use of Canadian slang created a firm sense of place, and her respectful representation of Native people and the weaving of myth and culture into the plot also made the setting feel real.
Even with these strong points, this novel fell short for me because of its limited plot development and obvious similarities to her previous trilogy. While parts of the mythology were new, prior readers of her Darkest Powers series will know immediately what's happening to Maya and who the villains will be. Even such, readers learn very little in this book about the possible powers or identities of the different teens except for Maya and Rafe. The plot itself did not move forward much at all, and the book finished with a cliffhanger that didn't even feel like one. Though I can't stand cliffhangers, the one that's provided didn't even make me eager to read the next installment. The book overall feels like an extended prologue leading up to action we haven't seen yet. As the narrator, Maya was likable for her assertive personality and quick wit but it seemed hard to believe that she was so well-liked by most everyone despite being somewhat abrasive. I was also disappointed that the romance looks destined to fall into the requisite pattern of a love triangle.
I'm left feeling cautious about this new series and where it will go. In future books, I hope Armstrong provides a more substantial plot, some unexpected twists about the villains, and a greater sense of self-containment to each novel.(less)
Though I had a rocky experience with Harkness' first novel, A Discovery of Witches, I began reading Shadow of Night with hopes that its setting in the past would add intrigue and excitement to the unfolding story. Unfortunately, it did not, and the story became more plodding and convoluted in this installment.
Shadow of Night suffered most from its almost obsession-like focus on detailing every aspect of the historical period in which it was set. From particulars about the floor coverings to the convenient inclusion of almost every notable figure of the time, I felt bogged down in the details and the name-dropping. Character development also progressed in fits and spurts and ultimately stalled. Though Matthew and Diana have some "breakthrough" moments in their relationship, Diana remains relatively incompetent and reckless and Matthew continues to be controlling and possessive. Slow pacing made the first 80% of the novel drag, and very little time or attention was given to the threats or worries of the present day. When action or plot movement did occur, it provided little tension or excitement. The couple's impetus to be in the past - to hone Diana's magic and to find Ashmole 782 - often got lost among historical notes and unrelated intrigue. The mythology regarding time travel and Diana's magical skills was also unclear and seemed to contradict itself at times.
Even though Shadow of Night didn't work for me, this book might be an enjoyable read for those who love history and detail. The time spent exploring Diana's magic and her special capabilities was interesting, as was the information revealed toward the end of the novel about Ashmole 782 and its related prophecy; I finished the book wanting to know more about each. The story also provided some insight into Matthew's character and how his past and his family had shaped him. Chapters set in the present day that were interspersed between sections also provided glimpses into what was happening in the present-day world and moved things along for the secondary characters. Of all of the different parts in the book, I enjoyed these infrequent additions the most.
While I can appreciate the ambitious nature of Harkness' series, I left this second book of the trilogy feeling unmoved again by the story or its characters. Even such, I will likely read the final installment when it comes out to see what happens to Diana, Matthew, and all those connected by Ashmole 782. As she wraps up her story, I hope that Harkness provides readers with faster pacing, clearer world building, and more character development.
Note: This review refers to an advance review copy. (less)
After narrowly escaping a suspicious forest fire that threatened to destroy their island home, Maya, Daniel,...more Second disappointing installment in series
After narrowly escaping a suspicious forest fire that threatened to destroy their island home, Maya, Daniel, and their friends find themselves in even more danger as their rescue helicopter crashes and they’re left to survive and outwit their pursuers in a remote wilderness. As their potential captors get closer, Maya must struggle to decide whom to trust and what to believe about herself and her friends. Strange rumblings start to surface as others in the group begin to learn about their own special powers and as Maya learns more about what may have really happened when her best friend drowned a year before.
I went into reading The Calling with some anxiety because I didn’t enjoy the first book in this series, The Gathering. Sadly, my unease was warranted. Unlike Armstrong’s first young adult series (Darkest Powers), I just can't get into this trilogy or feel attached to any of the characters, even now after reading the second book. Most notably, this book (and this trilogy in general) feels like a rehashing of the author’s previous books. With the repetition of the same plot points (run, be captured, escape, then repeat) and the same world of the St. Clouds and the Cabals, I’m just not intrigued anymore. The idea of genetically-modified supernaturals and a conspiracy-laced research firm was exciting in her first few books, but it now feels overused and uninspired.
Because so much of the book is action-focused, little character development also occurs, and when it does, it seems superficial. I was also bothered by the author’s clumsy attempt to include a gay/lesbian character; though it seemed well-intentioned, the characterization only served to reinforce stereotypes. The story doesn’t take any real risks with the plot, the characters, or any of the potential (and likely) bad outcomes that would result in a situation like this. When villains appear, they are too easily foiled or appear from nowhere for the purpose of simply creating another action scene. Finally, as the book closes, it ends on a cliffhanger with little resolution. Armstrong has explained that her trilogies are meant as one plot line across three books, but it still makes each book feel abrupt and unfinished to me.
On the plus side, if you like Armstrong’s formula and her world, then this book will be a good fit. Also, like her other books, this installment is a quick, easy read and very action-based. I also appreciate that the superpowers that these teens possess vary from what’s seen in her previous books.
These things, however, weren’t enough to make this book an enjoyable read for me. I’m sure I’ll read the final installment (The Rising) to see how things end, but I’m already feeling apprehensive about it because I fear it too will be too similar to her other stories. Even with this gloomy outlook, I hope I’m proved wrong and that Armstrong brings unexpected plot twists and well-rounded character development to the final book.
Note: This review refers to an advance review copy.(less)
Mystery, politics, and romance combine for easy but slow-to-start read
In Kathleen Peacock's Hemlock, the town of Hemlock has been ravaged by a string...more Mystery, politics, and romance combine for easy but slow-to-start read
In Kathleen Peacock's Hemlock, the town of Hemlock has been ravaged by a string of fatal werewolf attacks. Mackenzie's best friend Amy was among those killed, and ever since she's been trying to come to terms with what happened. When a vigilante group called the Trackers comes to town to investigate the murders, Mac decides she wants to find out the truth for herself. She soon learns that people aren't always who they seem to be, including her good friend, Kyle, and Amy's former boyfriend, Jason, and that danger may be closer than she realizes.
HEMLOCK is yet another addition to the crowded world of werewolf fiction, but it adds some unique elements to the familiar set-up. In this world, everyone knows that werewolves exist and how people are infected. This framing allows the story to be about more interesting topics, like who is one or how the werewolves are being stigmatized by those in power, than about the revelation that werewolves exist. The mystery makes up the most important part of the story, and it includes political scheming, a few unexpected twists, and chilling and sometimes brutal show-downs between the different sides. The story also contains some likable and believable characters, especially Kyle, and Mac's internal conflict about her nightmares of Amy is fascinating. The reader never knows whether Amy's appearances in Mac's dreams are simply her subconscious or something paranormal, and that adds to the intrigue regarding what the dreams might really mean.
On the less positive side, the story didn't grab me for a long time and I didn't find myself actually interested until past the half-way point. The novel also devoted too much time to a love triangle that seemed to come out of nowhere. Neither relationship provided much swoon, and the focus on the potential relationship with each guy often overtook the more interesting plot lines as the story progressed. Descriptions of dialogue sometimes came off as awkward, such as characters who "whisper-muttered" or sentences that were run together as one long word for dramatic effect. Though not a true cliffhanger, the ending also leaves readers in an unfinished place with a new adventure about to start for some of the characters.
Taken together, HEMLOCK was an easy read about a world where werewolves, murder, and friendship all intersect, but it didn't end up being anything truly memorable. In future books of this trilogy, I hope the author continues to develop her focus on the mystery and politics and that she brings more swoon or believable tension to the love triangle.
Note: This review refers to an advance review copy. (less)
3.5 stars. Best one in this three-book series with characters who are actually likable and fun to read about. Repetitive descriptions remained, esp. d...more3.5 stars. Best one in this three-book series with characters who are actually likable and fun to read about. Repetitive descriptions remained, esp. during the sex scenes, but I found myself actually enjoying this one overall and feeling for the characters. (less)
Though I should be terribly ashamed of this rating, I have to admit that this book was the addictively readable, sometimes swoony stuff that brought m...moreThough I should be terribly ashamed of this rating, I have to admit that this book was the addictively readable, sometimes swoony stuff that brought me into the fold of YA literature. It was rife with anger-inducing sexist stereotypes, unhealthy relationships, and poor writing, but Meyer does weave a tale that pulls the reader in. That doesn't forgive it all its faults, but I admit to being sucked in, all while yelling at the characters (literally) about their foolishness.(less)
Since I'd already read the first three books in this series, I decided to take on the fourth installment when it showed up at my local library. Though...more Since I'd already read the first three books in this series, I decided to take on the fourth installment when it showed up at my local library. Though Stolarz's writing continues to be easy and quick to read, the story lacks any real substance or originality. Not surprisingly, the plot involves Camelia's touch powers and yet another stalker out to hurt someone in her town. The love triangle between Ben (mysterious and brooding) and Adam (sweet, hot, and understanding) persists, and the side-kick characters of Wes and Kimmie continue to say ridiculous things at inappropriate times.
With nothing really new added to the story or Stolarz's stock plot line, I found it difficult to care about any of the characters, their relationships, or the dangers that might be following them. I'll probably read the final book, Deadly Little Lessons, when it comes out just to see how things end, but I'm not excited about it. (less)
Strong relationships & better world building make for solid sequel, 3.5 stars
Through the Ever Night opens just where the first novel left off: Ar...more Strong relationships & better world building make for solid sequel, 3.5 stars
Through the Ever Night opens just where the first novel left off: Aria and Perry are seeking each other through the shadows of the borderlands after months apart. Though their reunion is sweet, the relief is short-lived as they return to a tribe that doesn't trust Dwellers and where Perry's new position as Blood Lord is questioned. When distrust and danger force them apart, Aria and Perry must work separately to save the world and those around them from falling apart.
Though I wasn't impressed with Rossi's debut novel, Under the Never Sky, I picked up the sequel because I was intrigued enough to see where Aria and Perry's journey led next, and I'm very glad that I did. Not only did this novel move along better than the first, but many of the problems I experienced with the debut were absent. Quick, fast-paced plotting had me turning pages to see what happened next, and many of the world building issues were cleared up, even if in convenient ways.
The greatest strength of the novel, however, laid in its depiction of complex and meaningful relationships between the characters, including that between Perry and Roar, Perry and the band of Six, and Perry and Marron. Most notably, the relationship between Roar and Aria was a standout. Except for a few moments of hesitation or questioning from others, Aria and Roar's relationship was never fraught with unnecessary romantic tension; instead, it was portrayed as a supportive and resilient friendship between a man and a woman, something not often seen in a young adult novel. The relationship between Perry and Aria also felt less forced and more real, and talks of scents and senses added to their relationship this time instead of distracting from it.
While I did enjoy reading this, it's not a book that struck me deeply or that stayed with me long after reading - it was simply a fun, action-filled adventure-romance. The novel was very much a middle book, in that there was the expected distancing of the lovers and the fight to come back together. Anyone familiar with this genre can also foresee what lies ahead in the final book in terms of the conflict between the outcasts and those in power. As a character, Perry also seemed too perfect. Despite the described concern of his tribe regarding his ability to lead, readers will not find a single undesirable trait in him. Though I love reading about a `good guy' hero, this portrayal seemed unrealistic, especially given the rough way Perry was portrayed in the first book.
Even with these qualms, I'm glad I took another chance on this author and was able to immerse myself in the world of the Never Sky for a few days. In the final book of the trilogy, Into the Still Blue, I hope that Rossi maintains her focus on the characters' relationships as they forge ahead into an uncertain future.
Note: This review refers to an advance review copy.(less)
Having trouble rating this one. As a standalone, I would give it three stars for its sheer readability, but as a sequel that should be an extension of...moreHaving trouble rating this one. As a standalone, I would give it three stars for its sheer readability, but as a sequel that should be an extension of the first book's theme and tone, it falls flat and would only get two stars.(less)
Quick and easy to read but ultimately unsatisfying. Though fun hijinks ensue, the outcome of the plot is too easily deduced via the synopsis, the char...moreQuick and easy to read but ultimately unsatisfying. Though fun hijinks ensue, the outcome of the plot is too easily deduced via the synopsis, the characters aren't consistent, and the romantic connection doesn't make sense. (less)
I read this on a whim while home sick from work; Harlequin has been bombarding my GR and Facebook feeds for weeks with their advertisement of a free e...moreI read this on a whim while home sick from work; Harlequin has been bombarding my GR and Facebook feeds for weeks with their advertisement of a free e-book so I decided to take them up on the offer. This title is mindless and unrealistic with very limited character development, but it wasn't the worst writing I've encountered in a romance novel and it was free.