**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)
Though strikingly similar to other young adult paranormal romances, Carrie Jones' Need was an enjoyable read, e...moreEnjoyable read that NEEDs a little more
Though strikingly similar to other young adult paranormal romances, Carrie Jones' Need was an enjoyable read, even if a predictable and choppy one. After her beloved father's death, Zara sinks into a depression that prompts her mother to send her to her grandmother's home in Maine. At the same time that she must adjust and make new friends, Zara must contend with her grief and the appearance of an apparent stalker. In addition, two different boys at the school take an interest in her and other boys around town start to disappear without apparent cause. Supernatural beings are afoot, some with sinister plans, and Zara ends up squarely in the middle of things.
Pros: Zara was a well-drawn character, complete with an obsession for naming phobias and for human rights work. She was a strong female lead who faced her perceived threats head-on, even if done foolishly. Though much of the plot was predictable, there were a few interesting twists regarding her family's history and the true purpose of the stalker. Some of the secondary characters had better development (e.g., Gram/Betty was a sassy delight) compared to other YA books. The depiction of Zara's grief was also done well. In those moments Zara was thinking back to her father, the emotional pull was strong and visceral. Finally, the romance, once developed, was sweetly sexy.
Cons: The writing was rough in many places, with a stilted voice, but it was unclear whether the author intended this to represent a teen voice or whether it was just poor writing. Plot development was predictable, with only a few twists or variations. Clues about the plot and the true identity of certain characters were dropped heavily and obviously, reducing suspense that might have existed otherwise. Despite little evidence, the characters were too willing to believe in (and act on) a specific supernatural explanation for the stalker. Also, some secondary characters, like Ian and Megan, were flat caricatures.
Regardless of these qualms with the first book, I know I'll plan to read the sequel, Captivate, one day when I need a little mind candy. I hope that Jones can tighten and smooth her writing in the sequel and work on flushing out some of the secondary characters. (less)
Powered down all 400 pages in 3.5 hours due to it being 1) written in verse and 2) due for class this evening. An interesting but not mind-blowing fic...morePowered down all 400 pages in 3.5 hours due to it being 1) written in verse and 2) due for class this evening. An interesting but not mind-blowing fictional examination of the social and personal motivations that may have moved the accusers in the Salem witch trials to do as they did. Consider as a companion text to Arthur Miller's The Crucible.(less)
Charming historical-supernatural romance that's slow to start
In Saundra Mitchell's The Springsweet, seventeen-year-old Zora finds herself stuck in Ba...more Charming historical-supernatural romance that's slow to start
In Saundra Mitchell's The Springsweet, seventeen-year-old Zora finds herself stuck in Baltimore - both emotionally and physically - as she grieves the tragic loss of her fiancé. When a rash choice provides a way out, she takes it and finds her way to the wind-swept prairies of Oklahoma to live with her aunt. Once there, Zora discovers that she has the power to sense water under the ground and that her skill is in much demand in a drought-ridden land. While burdened with the responsibility of locating water (and hope) for others, Zora finds that her own heart may be awakening again.
Overall, The Springsweet was a charming historical romance with a light dash of the supernatural. The novel was short and succinct, and it was easy to sit down and devour it in one sitting. Zora, though a bit selfish, was a sympathetic character given her experiences and loss, and side characters like aunt Birdie and her young daughter helped flesh out the story. One of the love interests was also very likeable, and the romance, though quick and not entirely explainable, had some swoony moments. The greatest strength of the novel, however, lay in its detailed and beautiful descriptions of prairie and frontier life; these vivid mental images provided the story with an excellent sense of place and time.
Despite these positives, the novel was slow to start, and the writing felt a bit awkward in a few places. This novel is also not a good choice as someone's first foray into a historical/period novel, as there were words or descriptions, such as Zora lifting up the "combination" under her dress, that didn't mean anything to me and left me confused. Some of the supernatural elements weren't clearly explained either. The romance also developed too quickly and without much substance. This was one of the few times that I wanted a book to be longer, instead of shorter. It seemed like a lot of my concerns about the romance and the supernatural elements could have been cleared up with a few more pages about each topic. Though it's advertised as a companion novel, not a sequel, there were also times I wished I had read Mitchell's first book, The Vespertine, before this. The story does a good job of filling in the gaps, but I still felt like I was missing something.
Even though I found things I didn't like in The Springsweet, I found a lot that I did, and those strengths are enough to make me want to catch up on the first book The Vespertine and read the next (Aetherborne) when it comes out. In the coming book, I hope Mitchell continues to create a memorable sense of time and place while also providing readers with more insight into the supernatural ways and romances of her characters.
Note: This review refers to an advance review copy.(less)
Dystopian romance that seems to have it all, yet still needs a little more
In C. J. Redwine’s debut novel, Defiance, Rachel Adams doesn’t want to admi...more Dystopian romance that seems to have it all, yet still needs a little more
In C. J. Redwine’s debut novel, Defiance, Rachel Adams doesn’t want to admit the possible truth: that her father, the city’s best tracker and courier, may be dead. Finding herself essentially orphaned, Rachel is appalled to learn that her new Protector will be Logan, her father’s apprentice and the boy who rejected her love two years ago. When she and Logan realize that her father may still be alive and in horrible danger, they concoct a plan to slip past the gated walls of the city to find him. By doing so, they risk death in the Wastelands, the dangerous area outside the wall, or death within the city, where the cruel ruler could kill them for treason.
With its combination of action, romance, and a dystopian setting, Defiance is sure to be a hit. The novel is a very quick, easy read that flows along from beginning to end with excellent pacing throughout. Tension-filled, sometimes harrowing, action scenes move the story along, and Rachel is a feisty, capable heroine who stands up for herself and her loved ones. Redwine’s writing is strong overall and, at times, beautiful in its descriptiveness. Several important themes also underscore the story, including the importance of family (both those we are related to and those we choose) and how violence changes people.
Despite this promising combination of elements, the characters or their struggles never truly resonated with me. I had fun reading the book, but I also had an uncomfortable sense at all times that I should be feeling more strongly about the characters and what was happening to them. Though based on a solid foundation, the romance was too predictable to have much tension, and the voices of the two narrators (Rachel and Logan) felt too similar. Most notably, I was distracted by the novel’s lack of world building. The setting had many hallmarks of a popular dystopian book – a totalitarian government with a cruel leader, no fuel or electricity, tracking devices implanted into each citizen, and a patriarchal system where women are controlled by men – but the reason for this society and its development was never explained. As a reader, I could never grasp where and when this story was supposed to be taking place. When a fantasy element was introduced on top of this, it felt out of place and unnecessary. Overall, the story just felt too much like other underdeveloped dystopian adventure tales.
Even though I was disappointed in the romance and the lack of world building, I enjoyed Defiance enough that I plan to read the coming books in the trilogy to see what Rachel and Logan do next. In future installments, I hope Redwine does more to explore and expand the world she’s created and that she brings some more novel elements to her story.
Note: This review refers to an advance review copy.(less)