Ugh my heart hurts so much. I am not coherent enough to write a proper review right now, but I LOVED IT....moreMy original post:
I can't believe it's over.
Ugh my heart hurts so much. I am not coherent enough to write a proper review right now, but I LOVED IT. Thank you, Melissa, for such a wonderful, thought-provoking series.
A proper review:
Discovery: I’ve been patiently waiting for this novel, the final book in the Wicked Lovely/Tattoo Faeries (depending on who you ask) series, for years. I first read Wicked Lovely in November 2007 and it remains one of the best birthday presents I ever bought myself.
+ Ensemble/world. One of the things I love most about this series is the vibrant cast of characters. Only Fragile Eternity (Book 3) served as a real sequel–Ink Exchange and Radiant Shadows opened different curtains on the WL stage. Darkest Mercy brings all the fey and humans together for one final satisfying stand. I really enjoyed the character development, especially in Niall, Irial, Donia and Keenan.
On a related note, I will be forever in awe of the world that Melissa Marr created. It’s creepy and passionate and so very alive that I’m scared the translation from text to screen (Wicked Lovely is going to be a movie!) will either take it too far or not far enough. The fey and their courts are perfectly nuanced in their presentation and it’s not hard to imagine this other world surrounding us.
+ Seth. It’s no secret that for the last four years, the teenager in me has harboured a tendre for Seth Morgan. This is a point for Melissa Marr’s characterization because I’ve never really found tattooed and pierced guys attractive. His attitude and actions speak far more than his appearance, though, and of all the characters in the series, he undergoes the most startling transformation.
I suppose what I like most about Seth is his determination. Wicked Lovely introduced him as Aislinn’s friend-who-wants-something-more, but didn’t stop there and that’s the best thing about it. The five books have seen him grow and experience pain and make decisions that speak of his maturity and acceptance of the faerie world around him. More than anything, his devotion to Aislinn isn’t blind: he pursues her and her world actively, making sure that when it all ends and whether either or both of them die, they see each other as equals.
+ Conclusion. I will argue with anyone on this, because I feel like it was the one of the most satisfying series endings I’ve ever read. I can’t say much without spoiling anyone, but I loved the simplicity and integrity of it. One of the themes in WL is the importance of compromise. These days, so much of the world is coloured gray and it isn’t easy to live a black-and-white existence. Marr’s faeries reflect our own on-the-fence choices and in the course of the series, they are each faced with decisions they don’t want to make. How they deal with it brings about conclusions none of them can foresee and the sheer bravery they display in return is commendable.
- Action scenes. In the course of reading this novel, I couldn’t help but compare it to Radiant Shadows, the previous book which I’ve read maybe 20 times. At times, it felt as though I was watching the action scenes happen through a blurry glass window. They didn’t feel real enough and I found myself wishing it would end so I would know who survived. In Radiant Shadows, I could barely keep myself from whimpering as my favourite characters took hits.
Recommendations: A stellar conclusion to a gorgeous series, this chapter will satisfy young adult readers, and provide lots of discussion, especially for faerie lovers.
Release Date:January 3, 2012 Publisher: HarperCollins Age Group: Young Adult Pages: 400 For...moreYou can find this review and many more at Mermaid Vision Books!
Release Date: January 3, 2012 Publisher: HarperCollins Age Group: Young Adult Pages: 400 Format: Hardcover Source: ARC received from Harper Collins Canada
Aria is a teenager in the enclosed city of Reverie. Like all Dwellers, she spends her time with friends in virtual environments, called Realms, accessed through an eyepiece called a Smarteye. Aria enjoys the Realms and the easy life in Reverie. When she is forced out of the pod for a crime she did not commit, she believes her death is imminent. The outside world is known as The Death Shop, with danger in every direction.
As an Outsider, Perry has always known hunger, vicious predators, and violent energy storms from the swirling electrified atmosphere called the Aether. A bit of an outcast even among his hunting tribe, Perry withstands these daily tests with his exceptional abilities, as he is gifted with powerful senses that enable him to scent danger, food and even human emotions.
They come together reluctantly, for Aria must depend on Perry, whom she considers a barbarian, to help her get back to Reverie, while Perry needs Aria to help unravel the mystery of his beloved nephew’s abduction by the Dwellers. Together they embark on a journey challenged as much by their prejudices as by encounters with cannibals and wolves. But to their surprise, Aria and Perry forge an unlikely love - one that will forever change the fate of all who live UNDER THE NEVER SKY.
+ Setting. I loved everything about the Never Sky! These days, it seems as though the weather is the only thing we can't control with technology, and the world that Veronica Rossi writes about seems all too possible. I definitely want to know more about how the Aether developed and when it became necessary for the people to inhabit the Realms instead of the outside world. While I'm not a nature girl by any means, I found myself enthralled by the challenges that this kind of habitat would pose to its inhabitants. I loved that it played such a big part in how certain characters developed and changed, for better and for worse.
+/- Characters. Having heard so much about the brilliant story and vibrant characters in this book, I'm sorry to say that very few of them were actually compelling to me. Aria's personality felt hollow, a shell of what it could have been. The story moves her along more than anyone else. For most of the book, it seems as though she simply reacts to the things around her and never takes charge. On the other end of the spectrum, we have Perry who is simultaneously passionate and cold. As a reader, I never felt as though he was someone I could invest in, because he seemed so fickle. His devotion to his nephew Talon is remarkable, and I admire him for that, but I wasn't sold on Perry-and-Aria.
I think a lot of the tension comes from the fact that we're meant to believe that they fall in love with each other. I hoped--even though it was probably silly--that they would become and remain friends. Opposites attract, sure, but neither of them seemed right for the other person. The way the relationship comes about feels contrived and when I finished the book, I couldn't tell you for sure that they're meant to be together. I do want to know more about them, and maybe the second book will give me reasons to like them as a couple.
The final say: Dystopian and sci-fi fans will be pleased with this horrifying look at a world gone wrong and the people fighting for survival.
Discovery: I started following Tahereh Mafi on Twitter before I learned about her book, and to be honest, I wasn’t hooked on the plot. When I won an A...moreDiscovery: I started following Tahereh Mafi on Twitter before I learned about her book, and to be honest, I wasn’t hooked on the plot. When I won an ARC from Lucy of The Reading Date, I figured it was a sign that I should give it a try.
+ Writing style. I wanted to point this out first because it is a rather striking (pun intended) feature of the book. While the reader is led by first-person narration, there are passages on almost every page that are struck out, adding a disjointed feel to the story. I love that Tahereh Mafi took this risk and stuck with it, because the narration truly shines.
+ Juliette. I didn’t say much about the writing style above because a lot of my thoughts are connected to Juliette as a character. Obviously, the reader is presented with her perspective and ideas and out of the hundred-something books I’ve read this year, Juliette is one of the strongest voices I’ve encountered. She is determined and passionate and intelligent, which is why my brain automatically linked her to another strong female heroine: River Tam of Firefly.
In case you haven’t seen the show, River is a genius. In fact, that word still underestimates her. Her brilliant brother Simon–who became a doctor in eight months–refers to himself as an idiot child compared to River. Juliette is just as enthralling as River and with the same kind of dilemma: how can they keep from hurting the people they love? Is there even a choice? The struck-out passages reminded me of the tangents River would erupt into, seeming to babble on about nothing. It’s clear, however, that these secret words are the only way Juliette can stay sane. Her story wouldn’t be as compelling without them.
+ Romance. I remember tweeting Katie as I was reading Shatter Me and commenting on the smoldering scenes between Juliette and Adam. YA isn’t really known for sexy scenes, but Tahereh Mafi raised the stakes and still managed to keep it PG-13. Most parents won’t have a problem with the scenes in this book, and older readers like myself will enjoy the care Tahereh took in writing them. Sarah Dessen fans will know exactly what I mean when I say: SA-WOOOOOOON.
Recommendations: Buy a copy for yourself and for your best girlfriend and your favourite library. There are some steamy scenes that parents may want to watch for, but nothing is overwhelmingly sexy for a teenage reader.
Discovery: I’ve never read any of Sarah Mlynowski’s books before but Ten Things sounded like a fun, frolicking adventure.
+ Humour. The two hours I spe...moreDiscovery: I’ve never read any of Sarah Mlynowski’s books before but Ten Things sounded like a fun, frolicking adventure.
+ Humour. The two hours I spent reading this novel were two of the most entertaining hours of my life. April is a wacky girl and that wackiness only becomes more and more obvious as the book goes on. Part of the humour comes from her own naivete, but the reader never feels like she’s going to fail. Her clear narrative voice carries the novel and makes it fun to follow. Certain situations seem set-up to be funny and are simply okay until April starts to consider them. That said, it isn’t a ha-ha kind of funny, but more oh-my-God-no-way-is-she-really-oh-my-gosh trail of nervous laughter and shared embarassment with April. To be honest, it’s hard to explain just how funny Sarah Mlynowski’s dialogue is unless you’ve read the book.
+/- Plot. While I liked the pacing and set-up of the book, the plot offers a more mixed view. On one hand, April’s year seems to be set up for some epic stuff: no parental supervision and a friend who lives it up can only equal crazy adventures. I didn’t read the cover copy, so I had no idea what to expect and that anticipation made the reading experience far more fun. I saw a lot of myself in April–wanting to try new things, but really nervous about them–and I liked cheering her on as she staked her independence.
On the other hand, some of the things April and her friends do seem really over-the-top and unbelievable. I always felt like they were dancing on a very narrow wire and that made me a little cynical that they could pull it off. I wanted her to succeed, but at the same time, I wanted to sit her down and say “April, maybe you’re moving a little too fast.” Thankfully, she realizes this too and while I personally might not have done the same things she did to fix it, I do admire her determination and good heart. Mlynowski’s writing pulls in some bonus points here–the writing is perfect for the tone of the story and doesn’t bog it down with unnecessary lyrical prose. April and her story are simply fun to experience.
- Certain characters and their motives. The last two points may have made it clear just how much I like April, but some characters weren’t so pleasing. I did find that Vi, April’s “housemate,” was larger than life and not in a good way. Her interaction with April did make me wonder at times if peer pressure was a factor in April’s decisions and I’m not sure how to feel about how Vi is glamourized. I also have to ask why she decided to let April live with them. It’s a fast decision, one that’s glossed over in favour of getting to the “Ten Things,” but I do think it’s an important part of the story. What really connects these girls?
Recommendations: I enjoyed this book, but I think I might be too old to find it really believable. Mlynowski does offer up a tasty dish of intrigue, romance and growth and teen readers will have fun crossing off their lists with April.
Go visit Sarah Mlynowski at her website and follow her on Twitter @sarahmlynowski.
You can check out Ten Things We Did (And Probably Shouldn’t Have) on Goodreads and order it over at Amazon and Book Depository.
And just as a little bonus, my own list of Ten Things I Did (And Probably Shouldn’t Have), University-Edition:
1.Slept in a coffee shop 2.Stayed up all night to buy tickets for a basketball game 3.Pretended I was my own twin sister (spoiler alert: I don’t have a twin) 4.Dared a friend to cannonball into a pool with his suit on 5.Joked about posing with a 3-foot poster of Darren Criss in the middle of a mall (spoiler alert: guess what I got for my birthday that year?) 6.Made my entire floor (I lived in a dorm) read The Hunger Games. (spoiler alert: there may have been actual wailing once they got to Mockingjay.) 7.Agreed to visit the red-light district at 3 a.m. with a huge group of friends on a Friday night (spoiler alert: my best friend and I almost got picked up) 8.Fluffed Darren Criss’ hair (I actually don’t regret this at all, but I probably shouldn’t have done it because now some teenage girls want to maim me.) 9.Done NaNoWriMo last year 10.Waited so long to read Anna and the French Kiss. (Clearly, I am not as daring as one might think.)(less)
Release Date:January 24, 2012 Publisher: HarperCollins Age Group: Young Adult Pages: 400 Fo...moreYou can find this review and many more at Mermaid Vision Books!
Release Date: January 24, 2012 Publisher: HarperCollins Age Group: Young Adult Pages: 400 Format: Hardcover Source: ARC received from Jen (Library Gal Reads)
Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath, where immortals Feed on the emotions of despairing humans. Now she's returned- to her old life, her family, her friends- before being banished back to the underworld... this time forever.
She has six months before the Everneath comes to claim her, six months for good-byes she can't find the words for, six months to find redemption, if it exists.
Nikki longs to spend these months reconnecting with her boyfriend, Jack, the one person she loves more than anything. But there's a problem: Cole, the smoldering immortal who first enticed her to the Everneath, has followed Nikki to the mortal world. And he'll do whatever it takes to bring her back- this time as his queen.
As Nikki's time grows short and her relationships begin slipping from her grasp, she's forced to make the hardest decision of her life: find a way to cheat fate and remain on the Surface with Jack or return to the Everneath and become Cole's...
Discovery: I've always been fascinated with the darker side of mythology, and the Hades/Persephone myth is one of my favourites. When I heard about Everneath, I immediately put it on my wishlist--modern retellings are always interesting to consider.
+ Creepy factor. The story opens with a chilling description of the Everneath, and Nikki's captivity is uncomfortable to witness. Cole is a smarmy, almost perverted presence, and it's easy to imagine him wrapped around her mind, warping it with his own selfishness. I loved Brodi Ashton's theatrical writing style and attention to detail in these scenes, both of which link Everneath to its mythological roots. I definitely wish there had been more fantasy and less contemporary scenes, because this is where Ashton's story shines.
- Characterization. Despite the strong start, I quickly grew disappointed with Nikki. For a girl who presents herself as untouchable and distant (which necessitates confidence), she's not as strong as she thinks she is. I've noticed a pattern in stories like these: the main character often feels that they can't tell anyone their secret for some important reason. That's all well and good, but in this particular case, I didn't really see why Nikki had to allow her family to believe that she was doing drugs or just running away. As much as this is a paranormal fantasy, the events are still based on reality. Sixteen-year-olds aren't allowed to just disappear and then come back for no reason. I never got thought that her family hated her, but I do think that Nikki treats them and her friends unfairly and it doesn't make sense. Martyrdom for the sake of martyrdom is tedious to read about.
- Pacing. Six months, four months, two weeks after, three weeks before--I was extremely frustrated with the pacing and structure of this novel. By the time I got halfway through the story, I was experiencing whiplash from the fast switches between time periods. Nikki's indecisive nature and constant backtracking made it difficult to keep track of the story. I often had to reread previous pages to remember if I was supposed to like Jack or hate Jack. As much as I would have wanted to suspend my disbelief regarding certain events and attitudes in the story, the structure was just too unwieldy to follow. The last 15 pages were slightly easier to understand, and I will consider reading the second book if it's more straightforward.
The final say: While I don't believe that Everneath will become a classic retelling of the Persephone myth, its fantasy and romantic elements are sure to please teen readers.
Pride and Prejudice sweeps into YA with this adorable retelling from Claire LaZebnik. Her creativit...morePosted on Seashell Reviews at Mermaid Vision Books!
Pride and Prejudice sweeps into YA with this adorable retelling from Claire LaZebnik. Her creativity with the tropes of Austen's work is both entertaining and heartwarming, with characters that burrow into one's heart as easily as Darcy and Elizabeth do. The realistic dialogue was my favourite part of the novel, as well as the high SA-WOON factor that Derek Edwards brings to the table. Elise Benton is a heroine to watch, and I can only wish for more of her perceptive voice.(less)
Discovery: While searching for books that were similar to The Hunger Games for a blog post I wanted to write, I happened upon Eve. I was lucky enough...moreDiscovery: While searching for books that were similar to The Hunger Games for a blog post I wanted to write, I happened upon Eve. I was lucky enough to win a copy from Karen at FWIW.
+ Reality. I can pinpoint the moment I decided to read this book: the second I read the words “The Handmaid’s Tale” on the cover. While I’m very wary of any books that are marketed as “blank-meets-blank,” it takes a lot of guts to compare a new YA novel to a classic dystopian, especially one written by Margaret Atwood. The world Eve lives in is deliciously creepy and the descriptions of her real future are horrifying. I would have loved to know more, and in that way, the novel succeeds. Dystopians rely on a strong background to draw the reader in.
- The “huh?” factor. With such a strong start, I was expecting the novel to be an excellent look at the dynamics of a male-female relationship when so much is at stake. I was very disappointed. Nothing about what Eve is taught in school comes across as unpredictable, and after a few pages of “Men are evil!,” I got bored. It becomes more confusing as the book goes on. Eve and her encounters with men aren’t anything to write home about and the cave scenes were lackluster at best. All in all, I found it very difficult to care about the story, but I was hoping that Eve and the other characters would make up for it.
- Lack of character development. I’ve heard comparisons of Eve to Kathy H. of Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go. As a reader who adores that book with the fire of a thousand white-hot suns, I would say no. I can see where the comparison might have arisen, but Eve has none of the inner passion that Kathy H. has and none of the smarts either. Kathy is not nearly as naive or reckless as Eve. This book isn’t the worst I’ve ever read, but it doesn’t help that Eve is simply too naive to be likeable. She doesn’t think about her actions and still expects things to work out the way she wants them.
I’m not sold on Caleb either. For a character who’s supposed to be dreamy enough to sweep Eve off her feet, he’s surprisingly bland. I finished the book without seeing any proof that he’s worth Eve’s time or mine. Arden, on the other hand, makes an excellent case. She is smart, but isn’t given enough credit by the author (in my opinion) to become a truly vibrant character.
Recommendations: I don’t hate this book, but I do feel hoodwinked into believing that it would be a jaw-dropping story. The problem might be that I’ve read so many dystopians that it’s difficult to refrain from drawing parallels, but Eve doesn’t match any of the books it’s been compared to. In conclusion, it’s just not for me, but maybe other readers will enjoy it.
Release Date: August 28, 2012 Publisher: HarperTeen Age Group: Young Adult Pages: 352 Forma...moreYou can find this review and many more at Mermaid Vision Books!
Release Date: August 28, 2012 Publisher: HarperTeen Age Group: Young Adult Pages: 352 Format: Hardcover Source: ARC received from publisher
Tell Me More: If there's one thing Lesley Livingston does well, it's smart and sassy adaptations of European mythology. Starling is just as enchanting as the Wondrous Strange trilogy, and highlights Livingston's charming writing style just as well.
Mason Starling is--dare I say it?--the Livingston heroine to the letter. She's clever and capable, with a touch of the strange about her. Even without having read the synopsis, it's clear from the first chapter alone that Mason is a mystery even to herself. On a related note, I've always found it interesting that paranormal stories mirror the unpredictable nature of adolescence. Mason isn't an easy character to know, and the reader discovers her identity the same way she does, through action. Livingston takes her readers into a new world, with unfamiliar rules, and it's only through actually participating in it that you can begin to unfold the richness of that world and its people.
Starling is an extremely lively novel, and the pace is rewarding for readers who don't like a lot of exposition before getting to the exciting parts. As you find out about Fenrys and the supernatural conflicts that awaits Mason, the story is deepened with just the right amount of details to help flesh out both worlds. I will admit that I was wary of what Fenrys would be like in this story--he had never felt quite real to me in the Wondrous Strange trilogy. But from his outstanding entrance to the very last page, he is a solid and believable person and the right kind of partner for Mason to have on her journey. There's a very real sense of that partnership throughout the entire story. They complement each other and best of all, neither of them are afraid to tell each other off. The development of their relationship is realistic and understandable, and it never takes away from the focus of the plot.
The Final Say: The Norse gods may have already made their comeback with Thor and Loki, but Starling can certainly give both boys a fight to remember. Young women will find an admirable heroine in Mason, who never fails to remain interesting as well as dangerous.
Tell Me More: There are some books that make you wonder if you've hyped them up too much in your head, if time will show that they weren't really as good as you thought they were, if maybe you just saw what you wanted to see and not what was really there. For a while after reading Shatter Me, I felt this way about Juliette's story, and I was nervous that my distaste for dystopians would colour my opinion of the sequel. Happily, Tahereh Mafi doesn't just manage to meet expectations in this second installment, but blasts past them to bring another heart-pounding story into the world.
Where Shatter Me was isolated and centered solely on Juliette, Unravel Me is wide and open. The reader is introduced to supporting characters who don't exist just to fill gaps and help move the story along. They all feel like real people, with different motivations and goals. They are all memorable, from Sonya and Sara, the twins that help heal the injured at Omega Point, to Brendan, a soldier who makes Juliette smile, to Castle, the enigmatic leader of the Point. Mafi's decision to spend time with all of these characters is one that pays off handsomely before the end of the novel.
Kenji and Warner are the returning characters that shine the brightest in Unravel Me, while Adam seems more like a shadow of his Shatter Me self. Kenji is as witty and funny as ever, but he doesn't give Juliette any room to pity or isolate herself further. Sometimes I felt like he cared more for her welfare and growth than Adam did, and I can only conclude that Adam's desire to keep her safe blinds him to the fact that she still has agency.
But Warner? He's the real stand-out character in this installment. He permeates Juliette's thoughts, and while she can't quite figure out why at first, she soon realizes that she sees something in him that he might not even see in himself: hope. His characterization is reminiscent of Draco Malfoy in many ways, though I think Mafi is setting Warner up for a redemption arc. It'll be interesting to see how she stays true to his characterization thus far, while opening the story up to allow for a romance between him and Juliette. His ruthlessness and cruelty is given reason in Unravel Me, though it's still up to the reader to decide whether or not it's a good reason. He and Juliette both represent the potential for people to change and grow, and I do think that they complete each other in important ways.
The story itself reflects that completion: when Warner first appears, it feels as though the missing part of the story has clicked smoothly into place, and now the real action can begin. The chapters preceding that are comfortable and help the reader settle back in, but the novel shifts into a faster pace and more intense scenes once Warner is thrown into the mix. Mafi is talented at building suspense--my heart was literally pounding during certain scenes, and by the time I closed the book, I felt just as exhausted as Juliette. But oh, I am just as ready as she is for the next step in the journey.
The Final Say: Unravel Me probably isn't a book you should pick up if you want to relax, but should you rise to the challenge, you'll find a story that is even more astonishing than its predecessor, and an author who has only grown more confident in the story she's telling and in her characters.
Release Date: August 27, 2013 Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (HarperCollins) Age Group:...moreYou can find this review and many more at Mermaid Vision Books!
Release Date: August 27, 2013 Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (HarperCollins) Age Group: Young Adult Pages: 330 Format: Hardcover Source: ARC from publisher
Tell Me More: There are some books for which you know exactly what's going to happen, the secrets which will be revealed, the main overarching journey that the protagonist takes, and you love that book anyway. The Beginning of Everything was not that book. It dances on the edge of being something breathtaking without actually jumping off and losing its breath, and does so in favour of a rushed and unsatisfying ending.
Ezra is not a difficult character to decipher: he slides in perfectly with the typical hero of this subgenre, and you could recognize him in a heartbeat. He's used to life falling into place just so, without complications or complexities. The novel's first chapter hints at the supposed development of his personality with careful, poignant writing, and it was precisely those first few paragraphs that sold me on the book when the premise had not. That said, I didn't feel that his character development was explored as deeply as it could have been, and I didn't get the sense that he had truly matured. In fact, the experience was quite similar to how I'd felt at the end of (500) Days of Summer. I won't spoil it for anyone who hasn't seen the film, but Tom Hansen and Ezra share quite a few traits. They're not horrible people, but they are very self-centered in the most basic sense of the term. Unlike Tom, Ezra takes on more responsibility for his choices and his perspective of the world by the end of the novel. And that's great, but the development is crammed into the last 20 pages of the book, as though the reader is just expected to take his word for it without seeing proof.
Cassidy Thorpe, on the other hand--I was never quite sure what Schneider had intended for her character. We get a portrait of a girl painted in very broad strokes, with the occasional quirk to make her relatable to the reader. She enchants a cynical and tired Ezra almost effortlessly, though I enjoyed the banter between her and Toby more. But she's selfish, in a way that the titular Summer Finn never was (Tom Hansen's bitter viewpoint nonwithstanding). She was unsettling to me, because I could sense there was something off about her from the beginning. At first, my fear had been that she would turn out to be another manic pixie dream girl, but as the book went on, it became clear that she was faking that too. And again, that's fine and I applaud Schneider for steering away from that trope. But there is very little time to digest that revelation before the book has ended and the reader is faced with questions they didn't think (they had) to ask. The big plot twist was obvious from the start, and it didn't have the impact it probably should have had because there wasn't enough time spent on building it up/making the reader care about it in the first place. Instead, the reader is caught up in the relationship between Ezra and Cassidy, which only adds to the dissatisfaction when things don't exactly work out the way you think they will.
The plot is heavily centered around the mental and emotional journey that Ezra embarks on, so it isn't heavy on the worldbuilding. I highly enjoyed the scenes during the debate tournament because they felt the most real, even when Ezra didn't know what was going on. And oh, I could sing praises about Toby for nights on end--he practically leapt off the page, his energy and enthusiasm so palpable that they were almost contagious. But though parts of the novel were very well-drawn and substantiated, the fact remains that this is Ezra's story, and it never achieved the closure it should have.
The Final Say: Though the original title--Severed Heads, Broken Hearts--would have been an eye-catcher, I do think that the current title of this story fits it perfectly. The Beginning of Everything is full of false and fresh starts, but you may want to avoid it if you want a novel that pushes itself to the limit and past.