**spoiler alert** Ever since I discovered Mo Hayder last year, I became quite a fan of her writing, especially the books about inspector Caffery. They...more**spoiler alert** Ever since I discovered Mo Hayder last year, I became quite a fan of her writing, especially the books about inspector Caffery. They were exciting, nervewrecking and gross. The last Caffery I've read, Ritual, brought a really dark undertone to it all, dealing with the African Muti and Tokoloshe. I was thrilled to know that all of that would continue in Skin, as would Flea Marley return. Alas, this turned out to be everything I hoped it wouldn't be. A not so great sequel.
The plot seems interesting at first, judging by the blurb. A serial killer who skins animals as well as humans. This would become another gross read like Birdman and The Treatment. The skinning, however, is kept to a bare minimum, and apart from a dog and a rabbit, you can take that quite literally. The whole reason behind the skinning and killing that did happen, escaped me. I never got the satisfying explanation her other books had. Too bad, cause there is quite some potential here. The search for the killer is also a turn-off. It's all dark until one connection between two victims is made and from there on, it's obvious whodunnit. Even then remains the question, why skin -take a lil' bit of skin- them? It's actually not until Caffery enters the house of the killer that we know he 'skinned' them.
Then there is Flea Marley. In Ritual, she was a pretty cool sidekick to Caffery, but they barely crossed paths whatsoever here. She was completely minding her own business here. That business made her become someone completely different. Not the likeable Flea from Ritual but rather an annoying character who happens to enter the main storyline way too much. Because of all the drama going on in her own personal life, she chooses to go against the law several times, which made her act out of character, ot so I think.
Everything in this book takes place about a week after the events in Ritual, so the Tokoloshe-stuff is all quite fresh. Where in Ritual everything about this creature was wrapped in mist, here things were revealed a bit more. Even though it was an interesting thing in Ritual, and fitted nicely in the bigger picture, I felt that he was kept around just to make things a bit easier for Caffery and Flea.
At the end, the story is clealy not finished, so I truly hope Hayder picks up her game and delivers again, cause I'd hate to see the storyline lead out in Ritual shrivel down to this and less.(less)
Even the most avid genre reader has the urge to branch out every now and again, and since I was two books behind on Mo Hayder’s offerings, it was time...moreEven the most avid genre reader has the urge to branch out every now and again, and since I was two books behind on Mo Hayder’s offerings, it was time for a little trip to the local library. Ever since I read Birdman and The Treatment back in 2009, I’ve been fascinated with her writings, especially the Jack Caffrey series, seeing as her two previous stand alones, Pig Island and Tokio, weren’t much to my liking. The last Caffrey I read – Skin – was, however, a bit of a letdown. Upon reading the blurb of Gone, I was pretty sure Hayder was about to redeem herself. How wrong I was…
The idea behind this book, is very good. There is a carjacker roaming the streets – aptly referred to as ‘The Jacker’, you don’t want to confuse your readers – but he only takes cars with little children on the backseat. Can you say creep? With vague memories of The Treatment running around in my head, I braced myself for a horrifying ride – pun intended. This book, however, was everything but that and for the most part I thought is was plain boring. The first half of the book is somewhat okay, though. If there would have existed an accompanying soundtrack, the first couple of songs would be really suspenseful and perhaps even a little chilling. Then the songs would be replaced by the sound of a deflating balloon. A big one. Seriously, I am very bad at figuring out plot twists and identifying bad guys before I’m told. That’s so great about me reading, I’m always taken by surprise. With Gone, however, I figured out who did it when I was halfway trough and about fifty pages later I could tell you why and who would be next. Hayder tried to pour sand in my eyes, buckets of it, but I didn’t buy it and when it turned out to be exactly who I thought it would have been and for the exact reason I pointed out, I felt like I wasted my time reading this book. There’s just nothing fun about it when you know it all and the police just keeps making a mess when everything they need is right in front of their eyes. (view spoiler)[So you don’t like the new guy, Jack? You think he’s a prick? Did you say he came from the Traffic department? And your Jacker seems to be ahead of you, knowing exactly where you put up those cameras along the road? Umm, perhaps CHECK THE NEW GUY, YOU DOLT! (hide spoiler)] So I figured it out. That’s unfortunate, but no harm done cause the children were still missing and since it’s Mo Hayder who made them disappear, they’re probably chopped up and put back together but with different heads on different bodies and stuff like that – am I seriously saying this? But once again, a balloon deflated. Let’s start with the actual finding of the girls. (view spoiler)[Well, they didn’t. Flea did, but then she wasn’t really conscious so they backed out of there. Along the way, Flea’s consciousness slash spirit slash whatever, floated next to Caffrey and whispered where the kids were – yeah, you heard me, her spirit told Jack. (hide spoiler)] What is this, Psychic 101? I wasn’t amused and found that incredibly lame. When they found the kids at last (view spoiler)[they were buried in a trunk… with juice and candy. Are you kidding me? Juice and candy? If you’re insane enough to kidnap children because you can’t cope with your divorce, why the shred of sanity by giving them juice and candy? (hide spoiler)] Granted, he probably isn’t as insane as I thought he should have been, but it was still quite a bummer when you’re expecting something along the way of Birdman of The Treatment. Another thing that rubbed me the wrong way were the characters. Caffrey is his grumpy, annoying self, but not the good-annoying he previously was. Here he was just annoying. On top of that, Flea became a shadow of the strong woman she was when introduced in Ritual and I want her back. This little bag of misery and self-pity can leave, thank you very much.
In the end, it all comes down to one thing: disappointment. I wonder what happened. What made an author, who used to deliver raw, edgy and horrifying thrillers, deliver prefab cookie cutter like Gone? I guess there’s a market for both, but I’m not buying this. Stand out, don’t blend in.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
The recent popularity of Young Adult dystopian novels has brought my attention to the genre, and subsequently, made me purchase some series within the...moreThe recent popularity of Young Adult dystopian novels has brought my attention to the genre, and subsequently, made me purchase some series within the genre. These are, of course the one and only Hunger Games-trilogy, but also Divergent, Gone, Chaos Walking,… You name it, I’ve got it. There is one, however, which I didn’t buy despite the popularity and that is this one. The Chemical Garden trilogy and more specific the first book, Wither. Why not? First of all, whereas the other series I’ve mentioned have got terrific reviews, the ones I’ve read and heard about Wither were kind of a mixed bag and second, I do have a fairly good intuition whether I will like a book or not. If my intuition says ‘yay’, I’ll buy it, it it’s a ‘nay’, I don’t. Wither gave me a nay-feeling, but despite that, I was curious about it, so I tracked it down at my local library. Conclusion: nay.
So, Wither. In a not so distant future, the whole world except North-America is wiped out and what remains of humanity isn’t that human anymore. Geneticist have found the answer to almost every illness we know today and altered the genetic code, making a first generation of human beings who are as healthy as can be and who will live a long happily ever after. Their children, however, are the drawback in this deal. Boys die at 25, girls at 20. This makes procreation at an early age a necessity and polygamous marriage, preteen pregnancy and girl-abducting practices are part of everyday life. This is the background against which the whole story develops, and credit where credit’s due, I think this is a really fascinating world DeStefano created here and the main reason this series intrigued me. The thing is, you can’t stop with the idea alone, you have to sell it. This is where Wither fails to deliver. As good as the world seems at first sight, it’s not very believable. I can go on about this, but I feel that this review review captures my thoughts and even more. The title of the book is actually fitting, cause as far as the plot is concerned, after the first 20 pages, it withers away. I thought the beginning was very well written and caught my attention from the start. However, once the main character was in the Manor, it just dragged on. It takes a long time before anything of interest does happen and when it does, it’s not even touched upon. I mean, girls are meant to die at age 20 and die slowly at that, but (view spoiler)[when your sisterwife dies at 19, after she spent the whole afternoon with your father in law – whom you find an utter creep, cause you mentioned it more than enough already at that point – in the cellar – which you find also very creepy, cause you mentioned that a couple of dozen times – and you’ve heard some other disturbing things about him (hide spoiler)] isn’t it your duty as an author to do something with that? To make your main character investigate the event and create some suspense, some tension? Apparently not. Throughout the whole novel, suspense it non-existing. Even the ending is stripped of any form of tension and is a major anti-climax and adding some disturbing and morally questionable scenes won’t add to the tension or will disguise the lack of plot. On the contrary, it gave me a serious case of eyerolling. I’m not a very demanding reader. I really love big books like George R.R. Martin’s A Song Of Ice And Fire, but at the same time, I can enjoy very simple novels. I am even willing to look past a not so coherent piece of worldbuilding, if only you give me some tension or something else that makes me engage with the story or the characters. Speaking of which, the characters in Wither are some of the kind I don’t like. The one-dimensional kind. It may sound harsh, but it’s the truth, at least to me. The characters you meet at the beginning are exactly the same at the end, after being locked away in Maison Du Creep for some months. You would think they’d change a bit, right? Apparently not. The only one I found remotely interesting is Cecily, for she is capable of actually evoking some genuine emotion. Not on my part, though, but when she acts, I believe her. The main character, however, I don’t believe. Rhine – another name very well chosen, for it rhymes with whine – does nothing but whine about this and that. The whole novel. She says she’s angry, but I don’t believe her. She just fell flat to me and reminded me of Twilight’s Bella. Agony agony, my life is misery. But it just doesn’t feel genuine. It’s not all bad, what Wither has to offer. Like I said, the idea behind it is fascinating and it’s such a pity it isn’t executed that well. I do have to give DeStefano props for the writing, cause even though I’ve read a translation, there was some beautiful prose present. Also, the cover and the whole styling of the book were very pretty. Unfortunately that doesn’t add any star to my rating.
In the end, I think the main problem with this novel is that it lacks an editor who had the backbone to point out the major issues with the plot, instead of publishing it and letting it ride the Dystopian wave. Seeing the prose she’s capable of, I think that, given time, Lauren DeStefano can accomplish not only becoming a successful but also a very good author. The Chemical Garden trilogy, however, is not what I’m looking for. If I happen to stumble across Fever when strolling the library, perhaps I might pick it up and give it a try. I am, however, not a die-hard series completest and there have been series in the past who’ve been kicked out and The Chemical Garden has quite a chance of befalling the same fate.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
For the eagle eyed among you, you might have noticed that this book isn’t really part of my usual reading habits. I did pick it up because it was reco...moreFor the eagle eyed among you, you might have noticed that this book isn’t really part of my usual reading habits. I did pick it up because it was recommended to me – not really in particular though – by thebookfox. If you don’t know who she is, be sure to check out her channel cause she is a great booktuber. So her review on it made me check out this book and I’m glad I did cause I liked it.
Basically, you should read this book if you like a quick and disturbing read. Quick, because it is a really short book and even though I am not that fast a reader, I managed to get through it in about two hours. Disturbing, because the plot is, well, disturbing. The book begins with a young couple, Rex and Saskia, who are driving trough France on their way to a hotel. When they stop at a gas station, Saskia goes out to buy some refreshments never to be seen again. Later on, we meet Raymond. He is a middle-aged guy, teacher and married with kids. Upon meeting him, he saves a little girl from drowning. After doing something that good, he starts to wonder if he is also capable of doing something really bad. So the plot is actually quite simple, but effective in its simplicity. There aren’t any subplots to distract you, just the main storyline in all its disturbing glory. What also adds to this, is the fact that it is such a short book. The pace is high and things keep moving, there never really is a time to take a breath. I really liked that. As far as the characters go, it’s a but of a mixed bag. You don’t really get to know Rex and Saskia, especially the latter since she disappears after about 20 pages or so. Rex sticks with us for the rest of the book, but we don’t really get to know him that good. The only impression he made on me, is one that sparks annoyance. I really felt like he was being a d*ckhead when it came to Saskia and I never really liked him. The character of interest here, is Raymond and this is where I wished the book would be the length of your average thriller. Raymond is such an interesting character and I just wanted to dive into his troubled persona. I just want to know why.
Why is something I’ll never know, I guess. The books stops very sudden and leaves you quite disturbed. You know what, and it isn’t pretty. It also gives a totally new meaning to the title of the Dutch version of this book, which translates to ‘The Golden Egg’. I admit I was feeling a bit stunned by it all, really. Why, Raymond? Why?(less)
The Child Thief is a retelling of Peter Pan, originally by J.M. Barrie. In the author’s note, Brom mentions that in the original tale of Peter Pan, Ba...moreThe Child Thief is a retelling of Peter Pan, originally by J.M. Barrie. In the author’s note, Brom mentions that in the original tale of Peter Pan, Barrie lets Peter thin out the Lost Boys when they’re too much grown up or just doesn’t fit anymore with the Boys. He thins them out, as in killing them? This little piece of knowledge really taints the vision you have of Peter as the happy and playful Disney character. That morbid side of him was used by Brom in his retelling of the story and frankly, retelling isn’t really apt to use here. This isn’t a mere retelling, but rather a completely new story with some of the characters from the original tale. I got this book from the library because it’s set to be discussed somewhere in the near future and when I saw all of the raving reviews, I got really excited. I feel a bit bad, however, giving this book only three out of five stars, given all the fivers, but I can’t help but feel a bit disappointed with this book.
The book starts of with Peter taking a girl away from her abusive step-father and leading her to Avalon, a land without grownups. The land, however, is dying and Peter needs his army of Lost Children to drive the evil Flesh Eaters out of Avalon in order to save it. Immediately after the prologue, we get to know Nick. He is a troubled boy who got caught in a drugs-affair and is desperately trying to find his way out of misery. After some struggles, he is another of the children Peter takes with him and soon after, we find ourselves in Avalon. First off, let me start by saying that I really liked this take on the story of Peter. I thought the plot was really imaginative and instead of rehashing Neverland, you get a refreshing tale in a disturbing world. However, I did feel that the book took quite a long time to get things going. Partly, this is because the book is full of backstory. Don’t get me wrong, I thought the story of how Peter became and how he got in Avalon was really interesting, as was his history with Jenny and Ulfger, but I thought these parts of the book took a bit too long. They dragged a bit and took the pace out of the story as a result. They were necessary to understand what was going on today, but I guess the length of these pieces didn’t sit really well with me. When things finally get going, I was really invested. I thought the whole part in the village of the Flesh Eaters was disturbingly good and The Reverend was just creepy, as were his doings. The ending (view spoiler)[back in our world (hide spoiler)], however, was a bit unsettling to me. It’s not that I didn’t like it per se, but there was something off about it and I can’t really pinpoint why that is. It’s an ending not many readers will expect to happen I guess, which is a good thing, but at the same time, it’s not really the ending I wanted. Fitting, yes, but for me not completely satisfying. The fact that (view spoiler)[almost everyone dies except Peter and a random girl (hide spoiler)] isn’t really helpful, is it? Whereas I thought the plot was very good, I had a big problem with the characters. See, for me to like a book, I don’t necessarily have to be able to relate to the characters, but there have to be at least one whom I find likeable. It’s really hard for me to read a book where I don’t find any character likeable. It’s like hanging out with people you can’t stand. This was my experience here, I didn’t like any character, at all. I had hoped to like at least Peter but he turned out to be the worst of all. I knew beforehand that I shouldn’t expect the sweet Disney Peter, but this one is just a douchebag, and a cruel one at that. Peter is a sociopath who doesn’t really care that his Devils get killed and he finds pleasure in murdering people. Really, the very last lines of this book make it perfectly clear that Peter is severely troubled, messed up and whatnot, and that makes him so hard to like. The Lost Children aren’t as bad, but I felt like I never really got to know them. Those who I did like a bit, like for example Sekeu (view spoiler)[gets killed halfway through (hide spoiler)]. Are you kidding me? Nick also fits in the ‘meh’-category. He was okay for quite a big part of the book, but afterwards he just got annoying. The one exception here is Leroy. He’s one to hate with a passion. Near the end, his story gets told, but it didn’t redeem him in my eyes. Just die, bastard. Everyone else living in Avalon is also hard to like. They are colourful and interesting, that’s for sure, but it doesn’t make them likeable. They are all a bit wicked or just evil with the exception of The Lady, but she’s a bit misty up there so she’s not much of a help either way. I do want to point out that, even though I didn’t like the characters, that doesn’t mean that I thought they weren’t good. Cause in fact, I thought they were very good in their wicked ways. It’s just like I mentioned before, I felt like hanging out with people I couldn’t stand and it really affected my reading experience. If there were one or two characters I genuinely liked, I would have liked this book way more as a whole.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
**spoiler alert** Read the book before the movie/series, that is a rule I try to stick with as much as possible. One will always end up spoiling the o...more**spoiler alert** Read the book before the movie/series, that is a rule I try to stick with as much as possible. One will always end up spoiling the other, so I prefer not to be spoiled when it comes to my reading experience. Another thing you can count on when it comes to being me, is that I’m always late to jump on a certain train. I’ve heard people raving for years about how good the TV series ‘Dexter’ is, but I still haven’t seen a single episode. My excuse used to be that I had plenty of other series I was following, but when I found out that the series was based on a book series, I postponed watching it until I’ve read some of the books. With ‘Darkly Dreaming Dexter’, I’ve taken the first step.
Dexter Morgan is on the police force as an analyst of blood patterns. In his spare time, he is a serial killer. He doesn’t kill at random though; he kills those who deserve to be killed. He kills the bad guys. When prostitutes turn up bloodless and cut into neat pieces, Dexter is challenged by someone who seems to be his equal. Early on, I quite liked the plot and how it was developing. Nothing ground-breaking, but a nice enough idea for a first in the series and a good way to introduce the characters. The thing is, however, that you have to keep your plot in control and this one here is spinning madly. I have nothing against plots who go crazy, but in those cases, there are enough things to keep it grounded. With Darkly Dreaming Dexter, however, that was not the case. It was all well until Dexter starts dreaming about the next victims of this serial killer. Since this whole killer-thing is the one and only thing that’s going on here with next to no side plots to keep the story on track, the whole dreaming issue made the story unbelievable. There was never any indication that Dexter had any supernatural ability, so why the sudden dreaming? Perhaps it does get explained near the end, but by then I was only skimming the pages looking for something remotely interesting. Also, the big reveal of who the killer is, was way too easy. Up until the end, not a word is spent on Dexter’s family, which makes it easy to suddenly write in a brother who is able to outsmart Dexter. For me, a thriller has to enable the reader to figure it out by themselves whilst trying to make this an almost impossible feat. When the killer turns out to be someone you just couldn’t have guessed because you just didn’t know they existed, I feel cheated. I’m usually not someone who starts skimming, cause with most books, there is something that makes me want to keep on reading. If it isn’t the plot, it’s the characters. Alas, the characters weren’t able to keep me reading as well. Every single character is a cartoon, cardboard figure only able to think and react in a certain way, with the inability to develop in any way. The only one who is remotely interesting is Dexter himself, but only for the fist half of the book. The way he is and acts is very interesting, but it gets pretty old pretty soon. His detached way of thinking is quite fascinating, but as such he is not able to connect with the reader.
They say that there can’t be a rule without an exception. Well, if that is so, then let Dexter be the exception to the golden rule stated above. This wasn’t a big book, but all the while, I felt so disconnected that it felt like reading a book three times the size. All in all disappointing, and I’ll be watching the series without reading the books.(less)
If there is one author I couldn’t escape – even if I wanted to – in the last few months, it’s John Green. Truth be told, I had not heard from him prio...moreIf there is one author I couldn’t escape – even if I wanted to – in the last few months, it’s John Green. Truth be told, I had not heard from him prior to the release of the acclaimed The Fault In Our Stars. Now, I can’t stop hearing about him. Everywhere I turn, there seems to be someone gushing over how amazing his books are and why everyone should read them. I did not immediately run to the nearest of his books, cause the YA contemporary genre isn’t one I particularly enjoy. Still, when I came across Looking For Alaska in my local library, I decided to give it a go.
The story is about a boy named Miles, who, in his search of something more, decides to go to boarding school. There, he teams up with a group of friends and discovers smoking, drinking, pranking and love. Until the unthinkable happens… The plot very much reminded me of your typical teen movie and there wasn’t anything that struck me as particularly remarkable. I might end up not remembering much of what happened next to the big events, but even so, it all felt really genuine. There was never a moment where I felt it was forced or anything and it had a certain feel about it that made me like this book more than I normally would have. The one thing that will always stay with me, about this book, is how it made me want to feel. Prior to reading this, I noticed this book evokes some emotion in people, and, while it didn’t do that for me, it made me want to feel what the characters felt. Especially the first part of the book pictures them as carefree teenagers and while reading it, I found myself smiling and just wanting to be there, with them. The second part of the book, after the dramatic turn of events, should have squeezed some tears, I guess, but I’m afraid that part fell a bit flat for me. That’s not to say I didn’t like it, cause I did, but the characters – read: Miles – prevented me from investing in it on an emotional level. I liked Miles from the start and the image I have from him before he went to boarding school, reminds me of myself when I was younger. Once away from home, the similarities stopped very soon but I still liked him. However, after (view spoiler)[ Alaska’s death (hide spoiler)], he becomes pretty annoying. He acts like nobody could understand what he’s going through and he’s just a miserable prick. I found that to be quite selfish of him, cause why on earth would he be the only one who suffers? I mean, he’s only been there for less than a year, where Takumi, The Colonel and Lara have been there way longer. So, why shouldn’t there emotions not live up to his? It just made me not like him very much and distracted me from what was going on. Which is a shame, cause it was a very nice story and when you figure it all out, it’s pretty heart wrenching, the reason why.
I might have never heard of John Green before, but I’m glad I did, cause this was a very nice book to read whilst soaking up the sun. Perhaps I should have been a little younger to really love this kind of books, but every now and again, when I’m looking for something different to read, I’ll make sure to have one of his other books by hand cause if this is his debut, I’m curious to see how he goes on from there.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Perseverance and a strong belief in improvement, that’s what it all comes down to in the end. If there is one thing history thought me, it is as...more2.5/5
Perseverance and a strong belief in improvement, that’s what it all comes down to in the end. If there is one thing history thought me, it is as much: even though I love Mo Hayder’s writing to bits, I am definitely way more a fan of the Jack Caffrey series than her standalone thrillers. Even though I didn’t like Pig Island and The Devil Of Nanking a.k.a. Tokio, I won’t skip any of them cause I might end up missing one that trumps the first three Jack Caffrey novels. With that in mind, and a blurb that fascinated me, I went for a trip to Hanging Hill. Alas, the trend continued and I ended up disappointed.
Hanging Hill tells the story of two estranged sisters, Zoë and Sally. The former a strong and independent detective with a crippling past, the latter a happy go lucky beautiful girl who gets a reality check. When Lorne Woods, a beautiful girl of only sixteen, is brutally murdered, both of their lives change for the worse. Whereas Zoë’s past starts surfacing, Sally finds herself in dire need of money to keep her daughter safe. She needs lots of money, and it takes her into the world of hard pornography. Basically, this is what the story looks like from the outside and I had high hopes for a return to the brilliance of Birdman, The Treatment and Ritual. However, as was the case with the latest offering in the Jack Caffrey series, this one was a big deflating balloon as well, be it for different reasons. See, I really liked the premise and when I was walking home from the library, I started envisioning all things horrifying, this being about pornography and stuff. Knowing Mo Hayder, I knew it wasn’t going to be too graphically detailed – cause honest, I can’t really stomach the gore supreme – but I excepted it to be a thrilling read for sure. How disappointed I was… (view spoiler)[See, what the blurb doesn’t tell you – and frankly I think it should, cause it’ll save you a lot of time – is that when Sally rolls into the world of hard pornography, what they really mean is that she does the housekeeping for a pornlord. The only time she does come in contact with the stuff, is on her first day when she opens a video on his computer. The one he uses for work which she wasn’t supposed to touch, mind you. The result is quite obvious: he gets mad, she gets scared, she wants to leave, he gets aggressive. When he tries to shove her into her own car, she notices the nailgun – conveniently turned on – of her new boyfriend and shoots him in the leg to ward him off. She manages to hit an artery and he dies. (hide spoiler)] From that moment on, the plot looses everything that made it remotely interesting. Normally, when you (view spoiler)[off a character with little to none relevance to the actual conclusion off the book (hide spoiler)], this should not happen. In this case, however, both Sally and Zoë’s story isn’t strong or interesting enough to invest. They just aren’t able to carry the plot. Now, three days after finishing the book, I’m not able to recall a lot to describe either of them. In comparison, I can easily picture Jack of Flea for you. Granted, they got respectively five and three books to settle themselves into my grey matter, but shouldn’t you be able to picture them after only three days? For me, they somewhere down there in the line of forgettable and uninteresting characters. The remaining part of the novel is dedicated to the search for the killer and frankly, it couldn’t spark my interest for even a single moment. You do get some tension near the end, but by then I was so bored with the book I wanted it to be over and done. It wasn’t until the very last pages that I became alert. Those two last pages really saved this book and made me appreciate it a little more.
While this may all sound a bit harsh, I didn’t hate the book. It’s just one of those books I could’ve lived without reading them for it wasn’t anything special. The writing, however, was very good, but that’s always a given when you read Mo Hayder. She does know how to write and how to make the story feel authentic. It’s just a pity that her more recent novels are just an okay read, instead of the superb she used to bring some years ago. Still, I’ll keep reading everything she puts out, cause I have a very strong belief that the best is still in her pen, and with some patience I’ll hold in in my hands one day.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
**spoiler alert** The urge to read some books, even though you know you won’t particularly like them, is sometimes so strong it’s strange. About a yea...more**spoiler alert** The urge to read some books, even though you know you won’t particularly like them, is sometimes so strong it’s strange. About a year and a half ago, I picked up the first book in The Chemical Garden trilogy, Wither, and didn’t like it that much. Back in the day, I said that perhaps I might read the rest of the series if I happened to come across them in the local library. For the longest time, I haven’t given this series any thought, but guess what happened? Yes, Fever caught my attention in the library’s YA-section and I took it home.
After escaping the manor and her evil father-in-law, Rhine is running cross-country alongside her servant Gabriel, in the hopes of finding her brother Rowan. This flight/search leads them to a big brothel and an orphanage, in the company of a handicapped child and with Rhine getting sicker every minute. This pretty much sums up everything that’s happening in Fever and in truth, I liked the plot of Wither better. The manor of the first book actually provided the book with an intriguing atmosphere and created a certain tension and creepiness – not that it actually lead to something, but let’s not digress. Here, DeStefano tried to recreate that threatening atmosphere of confinement, but the brothel just didn’t cut it. This might be just my interpretation, but it felt like the brothel was there just for shock value – oh my god, a brothel where the girls are being drugged etc. – but at the same time trying not to be too shocking in terms of the target audience. This led to some very boring and frankly unbelievable parts. The necessity of Dolly’s addition to their party completely eludes me, with the exception of the shrieking once every chapter and announcing the fact that Rhine’s going to get molested two chapters before it actually happened and thus ruining every bit of tension that part of the novel could have had. Thanks a lot, Dolly, we’ll take you along next time as well… Luckily, there’s the fact that Rhine’s showing symptoms of the virus, cause this managed to save the book from being a total drag. One thing, however, which I hated, was the tracker chip. Rhine was destined to end up back where she started, in the manor with Linden and Vaughn, but couldn’t she get there with something more creative than a tracker chip, please? And why did it take Vaughn a whole damn book to catch up with her? For a good portion of her escape, she was on foot and he has a car… it’s not like she was busy hiding, cause the tracker comes into play after she’s back. Oh well… In terms of the overarching dystopian storyline, we get a glimpse – but no more than a mere glimpse – of some presidential stuff, but that’s all there is. Also, the idea behind this world still doesn’t seem that much plausible. The second part of the book, Rhine is almost constantly wondering if Rowan thinks she’s killed and emphasis is put on the fact that she managed to survive where other girls who where snatched, got the bullet. This made me wonder, cause why on earth would you want to kill all those girls if procreation is the only occupation? I just wonder where this is heading, cause I have no idea and there is no hint of anything to be found here whatsoever. If there is to be some grand revolution of – dare I say? – solution, it’s all saved for the big finale. Another thing that’s probably being saved for last, is character development. Every single character is pretty much made of cardboard, with the exception of Linden. When he does finally show up, he seems to show some growth in his personality, but the rest remained the same, flat characters they were. Granted, Rhine does whine way less than she used to in Wither. Then again, she spends the first half of Fever drugged en the second half, well, with a hell of a fever.
In the end, this book does justice to the middle-book cliché, cause it doesn’t get nowhere except taking 350 pages to explain the mystery of the basement. I don’t mind the idea of shock value, but it has to be executed well. Fever, however, is way too middle of the road for me because of which it fails to be enjoyable for the wrong reasons. There sure is an audience fit for these novels, but it’s not me. As with Wither, curiosity got the better of me and I’ll more than probably read the final book, so there is something pulling me towards the Chemical Garden. I’m not sure what, though…(less)
The vast amount of dystopian fiction that has been produced in recent years is almost unbelievable. Not all that glimmers is gold though, and whi...more2,5/5
The vast amount of dystopian fiction that has been produced in recent years is almost unbelievable. Not all that glimmers is gold though, and while a lot of these books sound really exciting, few are really worth the time, I think. Which means that I’m picky when it comes to buying these books cause I’m not an unconditional fan of the genre. I do like to stroll the shelves in the library and pick them up for a read. Just for – free – fun. Thus I happened to stumble across Legend and it got me intrigued, cause I’ve heard a lot of good things about this book upon its release some years past. It’s about time to see what it’s all about.
Storms and floods have made Los Angeles a harsh place to live in the future, and the war the Republic is fighting against the Patriots from the Colonies has transformed the once beautiful city into a military society. Here, children turned ten, have to take a Test and depending on their results, they are awarded a place at university of deported to the working camps. June, a prodigy, is climbing the societal ladder. Day, a rebel and most-wanted criminal, is trying to survive day by day. Under normal circumstances, their paths wouldn’t have crossed, but when June’s brother is killed, Day is suspect number one and June is out for blood. As is the case with most dystopian novels, the plot is actually nice, although not terribly original nor exciting. The idea behind the military society and the plague-subplot makes for a good read. The worldbuilding, however, isn’t what it should be. There is constant mention of the Republic and the Colonies, but it’s never explained who is who and why. It’s not that I want to know it all right away, but some initial worldbuilding to place the events in a bigger picture would have been nice. Now, it’s just confusing bordering on messy. As it is, there are two main mysteries in Legend. First and foremost, the search for Metias’s – June’s brother – killer, and second, the truth about the plague. Sadly enough, both mysteries are solvable halfway through the book, which leaves you with two protagonists stumbling about trying to figure out what you know all along. The hints that are being dropped are so big, it’s a real effort from their side not to have seen them. The conclusion as well, was fairly predictable, but nonetheless, it was enjoyable to read. Legend is told through the perspectives of June as well as Day, and their POV’s alternate chapters. Every chapter mentions which POV you are reading from, which is a good thing seeing as there is almost no difference between June’s voice and Day’s. If it weren’t for the chapter titles, you’d have a hard time figuring out who was POV. June as well as Day are prodigies, and while there is nothing wrong with that, you’ll have to give them an edge to make your characters interesting. Unfortunately, June nor Day holds that edge and they come across as flat and utterly unbelievable. Sure, June might be a prodigy, but she’s only fifteen and being so high up the ranking just doesn’t match with the way society is structured. In the midst of all the military control and trying to contain everyone and everything – and going to horrible lengths in order to achieve it – they hand a lot of responsibility to a girl of only fifteen? Beats me. Day’s bag of tricks comes across as unbelievable as well. Climbing up the walls of buildings – with a butchered knee – in mere seconds? Sure he’s not Clark Kent or Spiderman? Despite my annoyance with the characters and the predictability of the plot, this books wasn’t all bad. In fact, I quite enjoyed reading it. It’s fast paced and exciting, and Marie Lu’s writing style is simple and clean, which keeps you reading.
Legend has gotten some hype a while back, and while I’m not convinced that the hype was justified, I had quite a good time reading this book. While it is predictable and the characters don’t interest me at all, the stuff that was going on was exciting enough to keep me reading. If I stumble across the sequels in the library, I’ll pick them up, cause if you want a light read between some other stuff, you can’t go wrong with Legend. (less)
Before starting this review, I’ll have to admit that I’m not big on aliens and Sci-Fi in general. But because of the praise Rick Yancey has been...more2.5/5
Before starting this review, I’ll have to admit that I’m not big on aliens and Sci-Fi in general. But because of the praise Rick Yancey has been receiving for this and previous novels, I decided to give it a try, also because the premise – an invasion consisting of different waves – spiked my interest even more. I did know, though, that it had to be a very good to excellent book to change my mind about aliens and stuff. So, did it succeed?
As we dive into this book, we meet Cassie, a young girl who’s seemingly the only real human being left on the whole planet. For some time, aliens have been taking over Earth in different waves. First, there was the black-out, then came a tsunami, followed by the plague and lastly snipers. In the midst of all this, Cassie lost her parents and got separated from her brother. Her promise to retrieve him keeps her going, siding with the mysterious Evan Walker to find her brother and fight to survive. The main story, as I already mentioned, was quite intriguing and engaging. I actually thought that this might be the first alien-esque book that I might actually come to like. That was, however, before the plot took a wrong turn. As it happened, (view spoiler)[ all the adults got killed, and the children are being ‘rescued’ by humans who’ve been taken over by some alien thing. Those children are brainwashed into soldiers who are sent out to kill other humans and this is the alleged ‘Fifth wave’ (hide spoiler)]. See, I quite liked the idea of the different waves in which the aliens – or should I say ‘Others’? – are taking over the planet, but their grand scheme is pretty flawed. They claim to have been studying the human race for a long time now, so they could have come up with the perfect way to rid the planet of everything human. The first four waves are acceptable attempts at trying to reach their goal, but this fifth one doesn’t really make sense, does it? Why leave your success in the hands of (view spoiler)[children, for crying out loud? Sure, it does shock more than if it were adults, but so many things could go wrong. And they do go wrong (hide spoiler)]. Another thing that bothered me, was the whole red and green thing. Later on in the book, it becomes quite clear what triggers the difference, but at first, in the bus, it just doesn’t make any sense to me. Moving on from the failure that is the fifth wave, the romance as well is all but brilliant. In fact, I don’t really understand the need to force some romance in novels like this, especially a cheesy romance like this one. It kind of turned it all into a knock-off of the already not so brilliant The Host by Stephenie Meyer. Which brings me seamlessly to the characters. Most of them came across as quite believable considering the circumstances though they are not particularly likeable. Cassie came across as harsh and unlikeable. Her harshness was believable seeing all she went through, but it made me not care about her at all. Evan Walker, on the other hand, was everything but believable. When you discover the truth about him, it was on the one hand very predictable, but on the other hand it didn’t add anything at all to the story except to generate some more angst by Cassie. The writing itself was pretty much ok. Rick Yancey has a nice, fluent way of writing which allowed me to read it pretty quickly. I also liked the shortness of the chapters, so it never really dragged even though the first part was quite slow. I did wish, however, that there was a better distinction in the different voices. There are four characters who are POV, but except from the little kid, all the teens sound quite similar which made it not that easy to figure out who’s POV you were reading from. Alse, seeing as Evan has quite a peculiar disposition, I had hoped that you would be able to tell – if even for a little – in the writing when he was POV. Alas, it wasn’t the case, which made Cassie, Evan and Ben’s POV’s all one blur. So in conclusion, while the initial premise held the promise of potential, I think that potential was wasted on trying to be too many things that are already out there, instead of trying to be something new, unique and exciting. This caused me not to buy into the plot and detracted from the general joy that could have come from reading this book. It’s not that I had a terrible time reading this – I did finish it, so there was something there – but this could have been a lot more. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I’m always looking for new books and series to read, for I love discovering hidden gems. If that book manages to stand out in one way or another, it’s...moreI’m always looking for new books and series to read, for I love discovering hidden gems. If that book manages to stand out in one way or another, it’s even better. When I heard about the Touching Juliette-trilogy, I didn’t feel the need to read it right away – cause to be honest, the series title, Touching Juliette, doesn’t bide well for the content between its covers. However, I heard that the writing should be superb and poetic, so when I came across it in the library, I decided to give it a go. Looking back on my reading experience with Shatter Me, I can only say that if this book was written in 1984, Prince would have sung about Purple Prose rather than Purple Rain.
Juliette Ferrars is a 17-year old girl with a lethal touch. Literally. When she touches someone, they start squirming and if the touch lasts long enough, they die. For this, Juliette was locked up and isolated from the outside world. Not that that world was much to speak of, cause it has been shred to pieces in the war and now everything is so messed up that even birds don’t fly anymore. After being locked up for more than a year, things start to change for Juliette when the government wants to use her as a human weapon in their war against the rebels. Things get even more confusing when she meets Adam, a boy who’s immune to her touch… Plotwise, the premise of Shatter Me isn’t half bad. The trick is to act upon it rather than let it go to waste. Alas, it’s the latter that happened. The plot isn’t moving in a direction that’s particularly interesting and the focus is more on dressing Juliette up in all kinds of fancy dresses and moving towards a love triangle. Funny how YA-literature handles the romance. First off, it seems as if a book isn’t complete without any sort of romance and once the romance is there, it almost always has to be a triangle. Is it just me, or does the fact that there are two guys lusting after the same girl and said girl lusting after both of those guys, a complete fiction. Funny enough, the love interests tend to be the complete opposites of each other, so as not to alienate a whole bunch of readers to make the protagonist’s choice even more heartbreaking. While I think the triangle-stuff is a bit overdone, it’s not a complete turn-off if done well. Alas, Juliette has a big case of the insta-love. Never mind that she knew Adam before, from what she told it barely counts as a foundation for any kind of love besides infatuation. Her relationship with Warner is not only a case of the insta-love, but also adds a big spoon of Stockholm-syndrome into the mix. This is one big saccharine-overload. The titbits of action nor the ‘big reveal’ a.k.a. ‘this book is an X-Men knock-off’ manages to salvage what’s left of it. The lack of redemption lies for a part with the characters who are completely unbelievable. Juliette, for starters, has to be one of the most annoying protagonists I’ve ever come across. She’s constantly whining and downplaying herself and has so much self-pity she can build a new world upon it. Not only that, she’s also incapable of accepting a compliment and thus becomes frustratingly annoying whenever she speaks or thinks even a single thought. Was she supposed to be a strong heroine? Perhaps I read another book, cause Juliette to me is far from whom everybody seems to be talking about… One of the things I heard people applaud her for, is for her strong will by not accepting the food. Fine, swell. Then explain to me how a girl, deprived from any form of healthy natural light, oxygen and food, for more than a year, appears to be beautiful with luscious and wavy hear and is so strong. Oh well… Funny how, once released, Juliette becomes a horny teen lusting after either Adam or Warner. Both aren’t that much of a character either. One is a sick psychopath lusting after Juliette and the other also occupied with Juliette and touching every inch of her body. So much for character development. Which brings me to the writing. Presented as original and poetic, I find it gimmicky and convoluted. At first, the strike-outs are a nice touch, but the novelty of it quickly fades and turns into a gimmick. Whereas this technique could have been interesting in deepening Juliette as a character, it’s mainly used to convey Juliette’s lustful feelings towards Adam. The writing as a whole also doesn’t fit the story. The world is supposed to be a bleak and barren place and Juliette’s situation is never more than iffy, yet the writing never brings that across. On the contrary, the pages are filled with metaphor upon metaphor, one even more silly than the other. The metaphorical overkill is a bit overwhelming, but once you learn to look through it, it’s nothing more but a device used to mask the lack of plot or character growth. If purple prose didn’t already exist, it would have found it’s origins with Shatter Me.
The one thing almost all of the positive reviews are adamant about, it’s the writing, which is supposed to be this stellar piece of brilliance and poetic achievement. However, not even the best paint can completely hide huge cracks in the wall, and when those cracks are at the foundation – the plot and the characters – not even all the metaphors in the world can fix that one up. In the end, I can understand why some might enjoy this book a lot, but unfortunately, I’m not one of them. I want more than some convoluted pretty writing and gimmicky witty strike-outs centred around an love triangle, but that book is not Shatter Me. (less)