Right from the start, Shadow Hills is attention-grabbing. It begins with a dream sequence that immediately has the reader on edge and manages to keep...moreRight from the start, Shadow Hills is attention-grabbing. It begins with a dream sequence that immediately has the reader on edge and manages to keep being suspenseful right up until the end of the novel.
Each of the characters that Hopcus has created is unique and multidimensional, and I liked that even the bad guys may not seem so “bad” once the reader understands their motivations. It takes skill to create well-rounded characters and Hopcus does this impeccably.
It was also fascinating to read about the secrets of the inhabitants of Shadow Hills and to discover that they came with a cost – a thing most people don’t think about when wishing they too had a similar secret.
An intense debut novel with a mixture of romance, supernatural, science and mythology, Shadow Hills will have readers asking for a sequel!(less)
The Rise of Renegade X begins with its protagonist, Damien, waiting to become sixteen and get the V on his thumb that signals he will become a supervi...moreThe Rise of Renegade X begins with its protagonist, Damien, waiting to become sixteen and get the V on his thumb that signals he will become a supervillain. With his supervillain mother - the Mistress of Mayhem (aka Marianna Locke), - his friends and a bunch of strangers on hand at his birthday party to witness this milestone in his life, Damien eagerly waits for the clock to turn to midnight. Unfortunately, when the clock does strike twelve, Damien’s thumbprint forms a horrifying X, which basically means the inconceivable: his father is a superhero (with an H on his thumb)! Determined to find out the truth about how this could have happened, Damien asks his mother for details but she refuses to divulge anything. So, he resorts to snooping through his mother’s diary and then creates a list of potential superheroes that may be his father.
When Damien does finally meet his father, his dad manages to convince Marianna to let Damien stay with him for a while so that Damien can see what it’s like to be a superhero. Much to Damien’s shock, Marianna agrees because it’s a great opportunity for Damien to learn about the enemy (and it allows her to not have Damien underfoot as she works on her super secret nefarious project). With an X on his thumb, Damien better be prepared to work extremely hard to have it changed to a V or risk having the X become an H!
The Rise of Renegade X does a great job of looking at the power of choices. Normally those born with the “super” gene are fated to either go to Vilmore and become a supervillain or go to Heroesworth Academy and become a superhero. However, Damien has the luxury of being able to choose who he becomes because it’s ultimately his actions that will determine whether he becomes a supervillain or a superhero.
Speaking of Damien, I absolutely adored his character! He had such a snarky voice and I loved all the high jinks he got up to. For example, the girl Damien is interested in thinks he’s a supervillain and the girl who is sort of interested in him thinks he’s a superhero, and Damien doesn’t hesitate to use the situation to his advantage. Naturally, it backfires.
I also really loved the ending which was surprising (but in a good way). Sometimes tough decisions need to be made and you have to do what you consider to be right despite the fact that not everybody will be happy with your choices.
One of the things that was unclear in The Rise of Renegade X though was the genetics behind how superpowers were inherited and what triggered the H, V or X to show up on one’s thumb specifically on their sixteenth birthday. Since I’m in the science stream, that stood out for me right away but I’m not sure if most people would be putting as much thought into that. (less)
Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick is the first post-apocalyptic book I’ve ever read, and I learned quickly that this is a genre I’m probably going to stay away fr...moreAshes by Ilsa J. Bick is the first post-apocalyptic book I’ve ever read, and I learned quickly that this is a genre I’m probably going to stay away from in the future simply because I tend to avoid stories that are really violent. With a large amount of people becoming feral and happily munching on entrails and such, Ashes made me a little nauseous; but if that’s something you can handle, then it is full of it.
That said, I kind of felt like Ashes was almost two books put together into a really long one. The first part was action-packed and intense as Alex, Ellie and Tom tried to avoid any zombie-like teen who craved their flesh (i.e. one of the Changed) and figure out what had happened and what to do. While I liked Tom, and Ellie ended up growing on me despite the fact that it was harder for Tom and Alex to survive with her than without her, I couldn’t really connect with Alex and thought that her character was slightly unbelievable. I don’t know many seventeen-year-olds who seem perfectly capable of surviving by themselves, but with Alex’s knowledge about camping, various gadgets, guns and medical aid as well as her ability to shoot well, it turns out nicely that she ended up being Spared. Expect me to not last very long if an apocalyptic event ever occurs!
Then something happens and the story randomly skips forward by three days. Huh?! The characters you’ve become familiar with disappear and the pacing slows to a crawl once Alex settles in the town of Rule. Bick soon introduces a new romantic interest, but because he and Alex don’t spend tons of time together, I felt like I barely knew him and couldn’t figure out why they liked each other. Things in Rule however aren’t what they appear to be. Just as secrets start to get revealed though and the stakes rise again, a cliffhanger leaves you high and dry.
So, I lied. Since Ashes turned out to be better than I thought it would be, I probably will read another post-apocalyptic book in the future – just one with less gore. (less)
As a murder mystery, I thought The Butterfly Clues by Kate Ellison was rather predictable and far-fetched. Lo stumbling upon clues that the police mis...moreAs a murder mystery, I thought The Butterfly Clues by Kate Ellison was rather predictable and far-fetched. Lo stumbling upon clues that the police miss; Lo disguising herself to appear older so that she can try to get hired at Tens, a strip club, in order to talk to the other strippers about Sapphire; the connection between Bird and Oren … all of it was just hard to believe.
The Butterfly Clues does a much better job of capturing the thoughts and behaviours of someone with OCD. Lo’s disorder begins at a young age and has gotten much worse since Oren’s death – to the point where she’s now also a kleptomaniac and hoarder. This information is shown in such a natural way that you come to accept it as part of Lo’s personality. As an outsider, you can see how severe Lo’s disorder is; yet through Lo’s eyes, it’s just who she is.(less)