And commence fangirl love. I don't think I can even write a legitimate review about this book. I it finished over a week ago, and I'm still thinking a...moreAnd commence fangirl love. I don't think I can even write a legitimate review about this book. I it finished over a week ago, and I'm still thinking about it. I'm practically counting the days until the next book comes out. This book is insanely amazing.
First, let's talk about the characters. I liked Clary from The Mortal Instruments, but I didn't find her a particularly compelling protagonist. Tessa, on the other hand, is endearing and makes you want to hear her story. She has this innocent quality at the beginning, and you watch her lose her naivety and embrace the uglier side of life without getting bitter - it's like the epitome of YA character development, all rolled into one character in book one of a series. Her interaction with the other characters is incredible, as well.
Which brings me to the boys. And I thought Jace was awesome. I totally forgot about him when I met Will and Jem. Will is a lot like Jace - sarcastic, annoyingly charming, and keeps his true emotions buried. You find yourself equally repulsed by his cruelty and attracted to the glimpses of humanity Clare offers us throughout the story. He's a bigger jerk than Jace ever was, and yet, I already like him better.
As for Jem, I would marry him tomorrow. You know, if he lived in modern times...and I wasn't a mundane and he wasn't a shadowhunter...and if he were real. But that's not all that important, right? Anyway, he's totally unlike any other Cassie Clare character - he's nice like Simon, but he's also intellectual and artistic. I love that he has the weakness, that it keeps him from being as good of a shadowhunter but also makes him more understanding and accepting, more gracious. Ladies, this boy is incredible. I'm just sayin'.
I've read some negative reviews about Clare's writing style, but I didn't find it distracting. She writes in 3rd person omniscient. She also takes some time setting up the story at the beginning instead of jumping straight into the action. The book is really long for YA. All these "taboos" only add to the beauty of her style, though. The way she wrote the story is almost an extension of the time period, a reflection of the Victorian culture and how they wrote books back then - with a modern twist.
If you haven't read this book yet, go buy it. Now. It's worth getting the hardback. If you liked The Mortal Instruments, you'll love this. (less)
Everything about White Cat took me by surprise - the multifaceted characters, the shocking twists and turns, and just how much I loved reading about curseworking mafia and conmen.
White Cat is the sort of book that I wish I could write. It makes me sad to know that I will most likely never produce anything this original and wonderful. Holly Black is seriously in her element here, crafting a thrilling crime noir that I could NOT figure out, not even at the end. She shocked me in the very last chapter, on the very last twist, and I literally smiled as she unwinds her twisted plot, offering us a glimpse into her creative mind.
First, let's talk about the premise. I've never seen any type of book like this in YA. It's very reminiscent of "The Godfather," with its high-profile crime families and and family drama. Holly Black really committed to creating a wonderful cast of mobster characters, and she doesn't hold back on the gruesome details - our main characters are liars, thieves, and murderers. ALL of them. And yet somehow, you totally fall in love with their stories and even them.
Is anyone else getting flashbacks to the Corleone family?!
Cassel is a lot like Michael Corleone, actually, in that he's the youngest brother and often kept out of the look on "family business." But actually, he is the most talented of them all, and he will become the one to out-con them all.
I actually really loved Cassel, despite his flaws. He's a really fascinating character, and I loved that he was an unreliable narrator. He doesn't tell the reader a lot of what's going on in his head, so we don't always know what's going to happen. He says it multiple times: he's not a good person, and he will lie to and con anyone. But even then, you can't help but love him and his attachment to his school friends and his unrequited love for Lila, the girl he murdered.
And the end of the book?! OMG THE ENDDDDD!!!! My heart broke for Cassel and his seriously messed up relationships, not only with his family (view spoiler)[(okay, making Barron remember the fake memories about how good of friends they are?! SO SAD!) (hide spoiler)] but also with (view spoiler)[Lila (hide spoiler)]. This poor boy has a rough life.
There are tons of reviews of this book, so most everyone has already made up their minds to read this book or not. But let me just add my voice to the chorus of, "READ IT!!!!!" I can be a tough girl to please sometimes; I don't hand out 5-star ratings very often. But this book seriously deserved it. If you want to read something that will keep you guessing until the end, that's devoid of the typical YA stereotypes, and just a book full of great writing, pick up White Cat.
Then go watch "The Godfather."
Also, on a side note, WHY DID THEY CHANGE THESE COVERS?! The originals are AMAZERING! They give off the perfect mafia-esque feel, and let's be real, that Cassel is pretty cute. Just saying.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
What drew me to The Body Finder was the promise of danger, the creepiness dripping off every page that so many bloggers raved about. But honestly, I w...moreWhat drew me to The Body Finder was the promise of danger, the creepiness dripping off every page that so many bloggers raved about. But honestly, I was disappointed by this book. It wasn't the thriller I was expecting. The book is marketed as a mystery of how a girl saves her town from a serial killer, but it felt more like a contemporary romance to me.
Don't get me wrong - there's definitely a lot of scenes about the serial killer, and that's what fuels the plot. Derting also has chapters devoted to the serial killer's POV. But they didn't feel like the main point of the story. Instead, the novel focused on the relationship between Violet and her best friend Jay.
Something I did really love about this book was that Jay was a nice guy. It's hard to find books with male love interests that are the boy-next-door. So often, we get the mysterious, brooding type that has really gotten on my nerves of late. Jay was just an average Joe, but he was sweet and really tried to take care of Violet. I found him endearing.
I also enjoyed Violet. (And not only because I'm obsessed with her name.) She was a genuinely interesting character. But for some reason, I just couldn't connect with the story. I'm blaming my lack of fear on being desensitized as a child from watching too many episodes of CSI. I guess I was just hoping for something a little more thrilling.(less)
(First, I'd like to say that although I gave this book 5 stars, I actually hate it. Why? Because it freakin' made me cry!)
If someone were to ask me wh...more(First, I'd like to say that although I gave this book 5 stars, I actually hate it. Why? Because it freakin' made me cry!)
If someone were to ask me who my favorite current YA author is, I would say Cassandra Clare. She's received a lot of criticism for her Mortal Instruments series, especially the most recent addition City of Fallen Angels. However, I have been a devoted fan since first reading City of Bones. I love this world she's created. I love the Shadowhunters. I love her ability to create an entire cast of characters that are not only interesting but also engaging. I especially love Jace and his sharp, sarcastic humor. But do you know what I love more than The Mortal Instruments?
The Infernal Devices.
Clockwork Angel was my first venture into modern steampunk. (Technically, H.G. Wells and Jules Verne could be considered the founding fathers of the genre.) It totally changed my view of historical fantasy, and I fell so in love with the genre that it quickly became one of my favorites. But Cassie, more than any other YA author that I've ever read, has managed to totally capture the Victorian time period in her novels. I have never - NEVER - read another book that encompasses the culture, the literature, the art, the mindsets, and the twisted beauty of that time period as Clockwork Prince.
I'm a HUGE Victorian literature fan. It's all I read in high school, and it still holds a very special place in my heart. I'm fascinated by every part of it. Most books written about it now, however, just can't really capture the feel of Victorian England.
But this book does.
Cassie quite famously spent an extended period of time in England, walking the streets her characters walked and reading only books written during the Victorian Era. And you can totally tell! It's obvious on every page that she did her research. The language the characters use, the way they interact - it was all spot-on! I also loved the many literary and cultural references. I mean, we're talking both Brontes, Coleridge, Byron, Tennyson, Dickens. It was like walking through a literary wonderland. I'm pretty sure I squealed at least twice - once when Magnus quotes Swinburne's "The Garden of Proserpine" and again when I realized that the head of the London werewolf pack was part of the Aesthetic Movement and a disciple of Dante Gabriel Rossetti.
Along the same lines, Cassie does an incredible job with Tessa, the protagonist. I love Tessa. Seriously. She's not all that physically tough, but she's spunky and brave. She also agonizes over her behavior and how the Shadowhunters break propriety all the time. This really rang true for me. She's been taught her entire life that she must be a "proper lady" and focus entirely on her virtue and decorum. So when she's thrown into the world of the Shadowhunters, which allows for a woman to run one of their Institutes and lets her fight alongside men, she's shocked. I absolutely adored her character arc and really just her as a narrator. She's level-headed and bookish, but she's not mousy or too wrapped up in the romance.
And speaking of romance, I've got to say that this book has an incredible one! Actually, it has two. I know, I know. A love triangle. But don't discount it just yet. I went to one of Cassie's signings last year, and she said that with The Infernal Devices, she wanted to create a love triangle in which the reader really doesn't know who the heroine will or should choose. So many times in YA, it's obvious who the true hero is. But it's much harder to tell in Clockwork Prince! Will and Jem were introduced in the first book, and I've got to say that I was definitely Team Jem. He's incredible nice, patient, courteous, and loyal. Will was reminiscient of Jace from The Mortal Instruments but a lot meaner.
Then I read Clockwork Prince, which was SUPPOSED to make us love Jem, but which actually converted me to Team Will. I don't want to give anything away, but there's a huge bomb dropped on us about his past in this book. And it totally changes the way you look at him. He's now my favorite character in the entire series. (And if Tessa hadn't annoyingly referred to him as "beautiful" or "angelic" on every other page, he might have become my favorite character from all of Cassie's books. Alas!) I don't want to give anything away, but I'll just say that I totally fell in love with his character. I was really happy to see that there were sections told from his POV, so we got to see into his head. Maybe that was why I ended up liking him more than Jem - I felt like I knew him better at the end of the book than I knew Jem.
This book as the love triangle to end all love triangles. It is perfect. I never once thought Tessa was being selfish or silly. Her choices are mature and well thought-out. And, my goodness, there are some swoon-worthy moments with both Jem and Will. Like...fan yourself swoony.
Cassie has this way of creating characters that you just can't help but feel bad for. I seriously wanted to reach into the book and give both Will and Jem giant hugs. They're both hurting like crazy. And their friendship? A-freakin-dorable! (view spoiler)[I LOVED that Will saw Jem as his only real friend, the only person he would let love him. It was incredibly sweet and heartwrenching and just wonderful. And when Will gave up Tessa for Jem? #OMGSOSWEET! (hide spoiler)] I now want a parabati. And I think my favorite quote from the book is...
Jem: "Whatever part you [Will] might act to the contrary, I see you as you really are, my blood brother. Not just better than you pretend to be, but better than most people could hope to be." (p. 481)
And while this was definitely a character-driven book for me, the plot is also fantastic and the worldbuilding is complex. One of my favorite parts of the book was the urban fantasy feel to it. The world of the Shadowhunters is so realized that I feel like I know as much about it as I did the world of Harry Potter. The politics of the Clave, the role of the Silent Brothers, the blood fueds among Shadowhunter families. #OMGILOVEIT!
This is my favorite Cassie Clare book. Of them all. The others entertained me, but this one really touched me. This wasn't a book I devoured like candy. This is a great book that deserved more time with me thinking about it. The characters are all so vivid and their pain so visceral that I felt totally connected to them.
I've read some great books this year, but Clockwork Prince reminded me why I love reading, why I wade through all those mediocre paranormal romances and hollow contemporaries - so I can get my hands on gems like this one.
This book is incredible. It's beautiful. It's exciting. It's romantic. And it's my argument against everyone who says that contemporary YA fantasy can't be literary.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
This book might be one of the most hyped books of 2010. And for good reason. It really is amazing.
Beth Revis' debut mixes together sci-fi, mystery, an...moreThis book might be one of the most hyped books of 2010. And for good reason. It really is amazing.
Beth Revis' debut mixes together sci-fi, mystery, and dystopian that totally surpasses every genre you could place it in. At times, it reminded me of Brave New World. Then Star Trek: Voyager. Then an Agatha Christie mystery or Stargate Universe.
Across the Universe takes place on the space ship Godspeed, where almost 3,000 passengers live and work with the hope of finally reaching their destination: Centauri Earth. Most of those aboard ship have no idea there are frozen people in the cargo holds of the ship, that is, until leader-in-training Elder discovers them. When Amy is mysteriously unfrozen and wakes up 50 years ahead of schedule, the ship is in for some drastic changes.
While I found the murder mystery slightly predictable, I didn't think it took away from my appreciation for the story. I knew who was the murderer in the first hundred pages, but there were a lot of other twists I totally didn't see coming. And I loved watching Amy and Elder unravel it all.
While this book was marketed as a romance, there really wasn't much to speak of; but I liked that. The attraction between Elder and Amy was believably slow, and I liked that it didn't have a rushed feel like many books do. That being said, there was still a lot of romantic tension, especially on Elder's part. I loved that Revis made him a product of his society and yet still a relatable teen boy.
I also loved Amy and her reactions to living aboard the Godspeed. I can't imagine living in a space ship for 50 years, never getting to see the sky or experience real weather. Godspeed is unlike any other ship I've seen in movies or books - unlike Star Trek and Star Wars, where the vessels are built similar to an Earth ship (small, compact, with a "bridge" and living "quarters"), Revis' was created to mirror life on Earth, to be its own small country of sorts. Very interesting. And creepy.
There were a lot of eerie things about Godspeed, and I definitely wouldn't want to live there! Amy's struggle to come to terms with living there and realizing that she won't see her parents again until they reach Centauri Earth. I really sympathized with her.
I think I liked Elder more, though. His character arc was fascinating, watching him mindlessly following the orders of Eldest to growing brave enough to be a real leader. He was an endearing character, and I enjoyed seeing him mature.
But my favorite part? The new curse words Beth Revis invented! Hysterical! This book was frexing awesome. And shite, I loved it. You've got to check this one out!(less)
I wasn't sure about this book when I read the blurb. I thought I was over werewolf books. But Andrea Cremer proved me wrong.
I could sit here and tell...moreI wasn't sure about this book when I read the blurb. I thought I was over werewolf books. But Andrea Cremer proved me wrong.
I could sit here and tell you about the amazingly intricate plot or the amazing historical details that added depth to the story. I could even talk about how much I enjoyed reading about Calla and the relationship between her and her packmates. But I won't. I'll tell you about who made this book so amazing: Ren Laroche.
Ladies, if you're searching for a book boyfriend, look no further. Ren (Renier) is the epitome of the alpha male hero, not only because he's a literal alpha of his pack but also because he has the attitude to back it up. He's cocky, but for good reason. He's also hot and totally into Calla. While at first, you might think he's too overbearing, he slowly chips away at your heart until you're totally in love with him and wondering why Calla isn't.
I'll admit his name was a little weird for me at first because one of my best friends (who is a girl) is named Ren, but I got past that pretty quickly. I loved watching Ren's vulnerability grow until he's finally able to show Calla who he really is, sensitive side and all.
I can't believe I'm saying this right now, but I might very well like Ren better than Jacob Black.
I didn't think that would ever be possible.
If this character isn't enough reason for you to run to your local bookstore and grab a copy today, maybe you'll be moved by the amazing action and creepy witchy-ness that permeates the entire novel. Seriously, these villains are freaky, and the fact that the werewolves (called Guardians) are ruled by witches (referred to as Keepers) and they literally must do whatever the Keepers say (including taking abuse or sex) was so disturbing. But not so much that you can't handle it. Cremer does a great job of maintaining a level of distance from the horrors of Guardian lifestyle that make it so you don't have to check out emotionally.
You have to read this book if you enjoy fantasy or a good romance or a love triangle. Or really if you just enjoy reading. Andrea Cremer's debut novel is fabulous, and I met her, too, and she's a really cool person.
Okay, first, let me say that I'm a huge Simone Elkeles fan. She is my go-to author for contemporary romance. I don't really reread books, but I've rea...moreOkay, first, let me say that I'm a huge Simone Elkeles fan. She is my go-to author for contemporary romance. I don't really reread books, but I've read the other two books in the Perfect Chemistry series more than I would like to admit. They're just feel-good reads.
So I was counting down the days to the release of Chain Reaction, and like all the other fans, was really upset when the release date got pushed from May to August. But after actually reading the book, I've got to say that I'm a bit disappointed.
These are character-driven books, despite the gang violence and rough neighborhood setting. At their core, these books are about romance and how love crosses cultural and economic boundaries. They also happen to have very hot male leads in them. Luis has been my favorite Fuentes brother since Perfect Chemistry because he was cute and smart and different than his two older brothers.
But I felt like in trying to appeal to her established fanbase, Elkeles sacrificed some of Luis' individualism to make him more tough, arrogant, and hot-headed. Grown-up Luis is entirely too much like Alex. Luis is still smart and driven, but there were too many similarities between him and his brothers. I guess I wanted him to be more different. He felt a bit like a knock-off Fuentes brother. It would have worked better if he had been totally different, I think. I felt a little jipped, like this character that I had come to know suddenly became a different person.
Also, I tend to have issues with the heroines in Elkeles' books. I had lots of issues with Nikki. I understand that she's got a rough past, and she feels like she can't trust guys. Okay, I get it. Then be a bitter shrew. But she's also really flirty and a maneater. The two combined to create a character that I just couldn't sympathize with. She was straight up mean sometimes, and I still have no idea why Luis liked her besides the fact that she was a challenge. She really had very few redeeming qualities.
All that being said, this is still an addictive read. I flew through the pages, as I do with all of Elkeles' books. The romance was just as steamy as the other two, maybe a bit more so. There were moments I thought she toed the line of what's appropriate for a YA book, but maybe I'm being overly critical. I just wasn't as invested in Luis and Nikki's relationship; I didn't care if they got together or not, unlike Alex and Brittany or Carlos and Kiara, who I really wanted to have happy endings.
The best part of the book is the inclusion of Alex and Carlos, who play pretty influential roles in the story. It's like a Fuentes family reunion! Alex plays the protective father figure, and Carlos is hilarious, as always. I just wish Kiara had been in more scenes. But that's probably because she and Carlos were always my favorite. Of course, the ones they did have were wonderful, so I shouldn't complain, I suppose.
I also loved that this was a book almost solely about minorities, and it's a huge commercial success. That's very rare. I liked that Nikki was a Mexican American, making her different than Brittany and Kiara. There was definitely an exploration in themes of race and prejudice in the entire series, but I thought they were most prevalent in this book. Very cool.
Fans will enjoy this story, even if it's a bit of a let-down. I'm sad to see the trilogy end, but I can't wait to see what Elkeles has planned for the future. I have faith that her next series will be just as awesome as this one, though I wish I could have more Carlos...(less)
High fantasy books (think Tolkien or A Game of Thro...moreOh. My. Gosh. This book. Oh heavens, this book.
*stunned to silence*
*recovers ability to articulate*
High fantasy books (think Tolkien or A Game of Thrones) used to be my favorite kind. I read them like crazy, totally engrossed in the foreign worlds. But then I was introduced to paranormal, dystopian, and contemporary, and my love for high fantasy waned. Until recently, I even thought that I was completely over the genre. Everyone was talking about "Game of Thrones" and George R.R. Martin like he was some sort of literary god, and I just shrugged it off. I wasn't interested in high fantasy anymore.
Then I read Throne of Glass.
There were so many elements in this book that could have gone wrong for me, so many elements that I normally don't like. First, you have a seriously kickbutt heroine. I've never talked about this at length, but kickbutt heroines irk me like crazy. How many teen girls can ACTUALLY take down a full grown male?! How many teen boys can take down a full grown male?! And I don't like that we're supposed to fall in love with this heroine on the simple fact that she's tough. Sure, being tough is cool, but that's not going to make me like you out of some repressed sense of feminism that I see fulfilled on the page. You have to be likable too.
So I was wary going into this book. I was terrified that I wasn't going to like Celaena, that she would be so unrealistic that I couldn't stomach it. But honestly, she's really cool. She's only an assassin because she was forced into that lifestyle. And she also likes other things, like clothes(!!) and reading. She's smart and snarky, but she's also really wounded. I loved that she constantly had to remind herself to not be afraid; her fear was powerful, just like her conquering it was.
Another element that could have gone terribly wrong was the love triangle. But OMG IT'S MY NEW FAVORITE LOVE TRIANGLE! I really loved both boys. First is Dorian, the prince who's funny and flirty and oh so sweet; but he's immature and still afraid to stand up to his father, even to defend the people he cares about.
Then you've got Chaol. *swoon* I could go on and on about how much I love this boy. While Dorian comes out of the gate charming you, Chaol sort of sneak up on you until you look up from the book and realize that he's totally stolen your heart. I adored the fact that neither he nor Celaena know just how much he cares about her, not even at the end, after they've gone through so much together. He's reserved and awkward and honest, which is my FAVORITE type of romantic hero (along with the bumbling ones that are too cute to ignore). And while Celaena is distracted by Dorian, you can watch her slowly falling for Chaol. It is PRECIOUS! And there was one scene in particular that almost killed me it was so sad. (Anyone who's read the book: After the big ball, and Chaol looks up at her from below the castle? OMG! OMG!)
Really, you should read the book if only for him. But you should read it for other reasons too: it's super exciting, the worldbuilding is interesting, and it's funny. I wasn't really expecting the humor, but it was great.
The only part of the book that I didn't like and what kept me from giving it 5 perfect stars was the fact that it felt a little long, especially in the middle. There were about 50ish pages that I thought dragged roughly halfway through, and I got a little bored. But once it swings back into action, you're desperate to read more. Still, I thought the book could have been cut down some. There were scenes that felt unnecessary.
Even still, this is an INCREDIBLE book! And if all my exclamation points and words in ALL CAPS doesn't convince you, read it. If you're already a fan of high fantasy, you'll eat this up. If you're unsure, like I was, have no fear - you'll love it anyway.(less)
White Cat is probably one of my favorite books I've read all year, so I was really excited to read Red Glove. Unfortunately, this one just didn't deliver in the same way.
When I read White Cat, I had zero expectations. I really didn't know much about the book besides the fact that a lot of people liked it. So when I read the twist at the end, I flipped. It was one of the most sophisticated plots of any YA I've ever read, one that's impossible to anticipate. But when I read Red Glove, I had super high expectations. I knew there was going to be a big twist, so when it came, I wasn't shocked and impressed. So maybe my lack of enthusiasm was a result of that? I don't know.
Also, I thought the pacing was a bit slow. The book's not very long, but it FELT long. It took me a few months to read this book, off and on. I would get bored with it and pick up something else, which is a shame since this really is a well-crafted book.
What did NOT fail to impress me was the writing. Holly Black is still in fine form here. The way she digs into Cassel's POV is incredible. It's hard to imagine that this was written by a woman because she does such a marvelous job of writing from the perspective of a teenage boy (a very troubled teenage boy, to boot).
Cassel is really what makes the books for me and redeemed Red Glove from a negative rating. He basically goes on my list of favorite characters ever. I love him, faults and all. I love how he tries to protect his family, how he wants to be good even though he thinks he never can, and how in love he is with Lila, despite the fact that she's a crazy, controlling witch. (Erm...I mean, she's a little forceful.) His POV is just such a pleasure to read.
The other characters are great, too. Sam is adorable and Barron is heartbreaking (not in and of himself, but in his relationship with Cassel). I love Cassel's mom and Zarharov. Really, the only character I don't like is Lila. But I guess I can see how Cassel would want to be with someone like her when that's the kind of mother he has, and really the only experience he has with girls has been of that variety.
I just wish this book had been a little more engaging. I don't think the pacing did the story justice. But I'm definitely still going to be reading the third one! I can't wait to see where Cassel ends up.(less)
I had a really hard time rating this book because I wish I could give it two ratings: one for the actual story and one for the way it utilized (or did...moreI had a really hard time rating this book because I wish I could give it two ratings: one for the actual story and one for the way it utilized (or didn't) mythology. So the four stars goes to the story and I would have to give 1 1/2 stars for the mythology because it definitely failed to impress.
Because I've never read a Meg Cabot book before this one (shocking, I know), I can't compare Abandon to any of her other books. But from what I've gathered, the others were all pretty upbeat and had a strong heroine. This book is nothing like that. There's a definite dark tone, and Pierce is depressed, quiet, and a bit of a pushover. All that being said, I still liked both her and this story.
I really liked the setting for the book. The oppressive heat and the spooky vibe of the entire island of Isla Huesos gave the story an added layer of depth for me. I also found the jumping around in time interesting. The story opens up after Pierce has met her death diety BF, and we see their meeting through a flashback. There are a lot of scenes like that, and I found that technique intriguing.
While Pierce wasn't a strong figure in the book, I found reading about her almost relaxing. I was never worried about her, but I followed the story from a detached place where I could observe and enjoy. This sounds like a negative reaction, but I don't think so - just different.
My biggest issue with the book was that the mythology didn't make sense. And just so everyone knows, this is not the myth of Hades and Persephone. It's not a retelling or even a reminagining. It's like when you see a movie that's "inspired by" true events: the director stole an idea and then did his own thing. That's kind of like what Meg Cabot did here - she was reading some Greek mythology, liked the idea of a death deity in love with a regular girl, so she wrote her own story that's "inspired by" the true myth. The "Hades" character in the novel isn't Hades. Nor is Pierce Persephone. Plus, we're led to believe that John Hayden's (the death diety in the story) Underworld isn't the Greek one.
So...how is this the Hades/Persephone story again?
Also, John is hardly ever in the story. I was expecting him to be a major player since he's - oh I don't know - the hero! But, no, the story just follows Pierce as she goes to her first day of high school and complains about her dad and wallows in depression.
If I was so turned off by the mythology, how could I have given the book 4 stars, then? Well, I just don't know. I did enjoy the book. I wasn't all that invested in the characters, but I was interested enough in the actual plot and figuring out the mythology that I kept reading. The book is also pretty short, so it kept my interest.
So, no, the mythology isn't good. But I enjoyed the story and will definitely be reading the next one. I just wish the book hadn't been marketed as true to the myth when it wasn't. I'll stick to my Rick Riordan books when I actually want to read something that interprets the real stuff.(less)
When I read Anna & the French Kiss, I just couldn't understand all the hooplah over Stephanie Perkins. I mean, sure, it was super cute. But there...moreWhen I read Anna & the French Kiss, I just couldn't understand all the hooplah over Stephanie Perkins. I mean, sure, it was super cute. But there was little to no substance, and I wasn't head over heels for St. Clair. However, I was determined to give Stephanie Perkins another shot, especially after everyone raved about her sophomore effort, Lola & the Boy Next Door. And, boy, am I glad I did!
In a nutshell, Lola is everything that I wanted Anna to be - sugary sweet on the outside with a deeper level of truth hiding underneath. There's also possibly the most amazing boy of all time in this book. OMG.
There are...no words for his awesomeness. He is the epitome of the nice guy. He made highwater pants cool and science sexy. Seriously, every description of him made me love him even more. I adored the fact that he was smart and was into inventions, that he supported his twin sister so fully, and that he had pined for Lola for years. Also, the fact that he's a bazillion feet tall, wears tight pants with colorful socks, and keeps his hair spiked was just precious. I. Love. Cricket Bell.
I also loved Lola. She's one of the most unique protags that I've ever read about, I think. I often have a hard time liking female heroines in YA, but I totally wanted to be besties with Lola. She's quirky, sassy, and mature, but she's also a little broken on the inside. She's got a drugged-out mom and a boyfriend that's a lot older than her. And she's got insecurities a mile wide.
Lola isn't as innocent as Anna. There are a lot of touchy issues in this book, ranging from the reprecussions of having a bad-boy boyfriend to the LGBT community. The only part of the book that niggled me was that slightly too forceful (in my opinion) push for acceptance of gay marriage. I don't like my politics mixing with my books, and there was a little too much mixing for me here - only a couple paragraphs here and there, really, so I was able to get past those.
My main issue with Anna was that I felt there wasn't any substance - no real struggles for the characters besides their getting together. And I know that's what most people want in a frothy, girly read, but I also like some more substantial conflict. I thought that was more apparent in Lola. There's lots of dealing with insecurity, which I liked. Lola is desperate to be unique and special, and she has to find a way to truly be herself.
But above all, what makes this book great is the romance. Let's be real - Perkins is a master at building a relationship. While I did miss the romantic setting of Paris (you just can't get any more beautiful, sensual, and romantic than the City of Lights!), I thought Perkins did an incredible job of integrating the personality of San Francisco into her story of young love. And the sweet, budding romance between Lola and Cricket is everything we loved between Anna and St. Clair. I thought it was interesting that Max and Lola's relationship is clouded in this dark, almost toxic feel; it's almost like Perkins is comparing and contrasting two different kinds of relationships. I loved that! Very literary. :)
In summary, this is an incredible book. It's cute and fun and fresh, but it's also got a spine that Anna didn't have. Perkins is still a master at setting and relationships. I'm now totally counting the days until Isla and the Happily Ever After!(less)
I *really* wanted to love this novel. One, because it has a rockin' cover. Two, because Leigh Bardugo is pretty awesome on Twitter and generally seems like a cool person. And three, because there really is nothing better than a great epic fantasy.
But sadly, this one fell a a little flat for me.
Let me address this right out of the gate: yes, the Darkling is awesome. No really, he's awesome. And not just because he's sexy - although he is that, as well. But because he's probably the best villain I've ever read in a YA book, like ever. Why? Because you like him.
If I could sum up my feelings for him, it would be a mixture of
Honestly, I could write this entire review on my love for the Darkling as a character: how he didn't sit well with me at the beginning, how I was suspicious of all his brooding ways (and the fact that his name is the freaking "Darkling," for heaven's sake) but how he sorta won me over. Even how I was rooting for him to do something nice all the way until the end. THIS is a character - complicated, interesting, seductive. He is basically everything that is wonderful wrapped up into a little package of awesome.
But unfortunately, he couldn't carry the novel.
I wish the entire book could have been told from his perspective because I had zero connection to Alina. I found her too naive at the beginning, and her whining irked me. I also just wanted her to grow a pair and actually DO something, stand up to her enemies. But she just sort of muddles through, being angry at the Darkling for manipulating her and then worrying about Mal when she SHOULD have been plotting an escape.
And even though Bardugo managed to surprise everyone with some twists and turns, I found the book to still have a lot of YA cliches, including one of my absolute least favorites: the "chosen one" plot.
Oh, lord. If I have to read one more book in which the MC is going to somehow save the world because she was born to do so, I'm gonna stop reading fantasy. Why must every book be this way? Why can't protagonists just be normal people in extraordinary circumstances?
Alina also goes through what I fondly call "girl-learns-how-to-kick-butt training" (i.e. that awkward middle part of a novel where the Chosen One protagonist must come into her own and be taught how to fight so that she may save the world in book 3). I really hate this plot device. It's like Star Wars Episode II, where Luke spends a ridiculous amount of time with Yoda and we all fell asleep until he meets pseudo-Vader in that dream place and cuts his head off.
And while I appreciated the throwbacks to Russian folklore and history, I found the influences a little too strong. The story almost read like historical fantasy, like she put these characters into actual Russia. The language is the same, the religion is the same, the culture is fundamentally the same. Even the politics are similar! I guess it just felt sort of like plagiarism of actual history. Why not just make your story alternate history/historical fantasy if you're going to draw upon SO much influence?
In a nutshell, I was disappointed by this book. I wanted it to be a sweeping epic that would blow me out of the water and topple Sarah J. Maass's Throne of Glass as my current favorite high fantasy. Unfortunately, it did not. BUT Bardugo still managed to write the bestest villain ever, and I still want to read book 2. I'm just *really* hoping that the Darkling gets lots and lots of face-time, we get to know Mal better so that I can actually fall for him, and Alina musters up some guts.
Also, is anyone else wondering what the heck the Darkling's REAL name is?! I feel as if I must find out.(less)
I thought that while I was on a cute, girly book kick and since Elizabeth Eulberg was at the Decatur Book Festival, I should knock out Prom & Prej...moreI thought that while I was on a cute, girly book kick and since Elizabeth Eulberg was at the Decatur Book Festival, I should knock out Prom & Prejudice. And while this isn't going to win any literary awards, I have to say that I thought it was adorable and, in a word, charming.
Eulberg stays pretty close to the original Jane Austen story, but the way she reimagines Elizabeth Bennett's world was interesting to see. I liked the settings of Longbourn and Pemberly as boarding schools for rich kids, where Lizzie is a scholarship kid. Jane, of course, is her wonderful roommate, and Charles Bingley is the nicest guy at Pemberly Academy. Really, the only characters I missed were Mr. and Mrs. Bennett, both of whom always have me giggling in the original.
I really loved how Eulberg portrayed Mr. Collins, though (or just "Colin" in this version). He was just as bumbling and awkward as in the original, and he made me smile whenever he showed up. I liked that Eulberg made him kind too, though.
Maybe because the story revolved around prom and not marriage, but this version of Pride and Prejudice didn't have quite the same seriousness to it as Jane Austen's novel. Sure, the real P&P is a fun romance, but underneath everything, it's about survival: girls finding husbands so that they don't starve when they get turned out of their house upon their father's death. The case of Charlotte Lucas is the cold reality of what happened to so many women - marrying out of desperation instead of love or even respect. Austen's critique of her society was just as apparent as the story of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy overcoming their prides and prejudices.
But Eulberg's novel is much lighter, I think because the stakes aren't as high. Sure, Lizzie suffers mistreatment from her fellow Longbourn students, but it's not a huge deal if she doesn't get a date to prom. There's also not much social commentary here, besides that both rich and middle class people can be as equally snobby or nice, depending on the individuals. Maybe I was expecting too much to find some real substance here when the book is so obviously a frothy, fluffy read. But I don't think it would have hurt to include something serious.
There's also the issue of a lack of originality. I know, I know, this is a retelling - how original can you get? But Eulberg is almost a slave to the original here. I liked that she respected Jane Austen's original story by not botching it, but I think I would have liked a little more of her own character development and exploration of the characters. This is a really, really short book. I read it in 2 hours...and I'm not a fast reader. Really, the only original part of the plot is that Lizzie plays the piano. There could have been more.
All that being said, this is good brain candy, a fun end-of-summer read or something to cheer you up on a dreary winter day. It's light and fun, and even though we all know the ending, it's just wonderful to see how it all comes together.(less)
In a word, this book is brilly! I'm not sure why, but I was really hesitant to read this one, afraid it wouldn't be as good as Across the Universe. Oh...moreIn a word, this book is brilly! I'm not sure why, but I was really hesitant to read this one, afraid it wouldn't be as good as Across the Universe. Oh, how silly I was! This book was even better than the first - it exceeded my expectations tenfold.
We were left at the end of Across the Universe reeling after discovering the truth about Amy's unplugging. How would she respond? How would Elder now lead Godspeed? And will they ever make it to Centauri-Earth? A Million Suns picks up three months later, with everyone on the ship now off the Phydus drug but also a lot more disgruntled with the current leadership.
The politics of the Godspeed really come to the forefront in this book. And what I loved was that Beth Revis doesn't shy away from allowing her characters to make tough choices. There's a lot of discussion about what makes a good leader and what must be sacrificed for the greater good. Elder really comes into his own in this book, which I loved. He was a little wimpy in the first book (understandably), but we see him mature a lot in the sequel.
His romance with Amy also blossoms in A Million Suns. I've got to say that the romance between these two is one of my favorites in YA right now. Revis has really caught the truth in the less-is-more theory: Amy and Elder aren't all over each other all the time, thereby making their romantic moments that much sweeter because there are so few. Plus, I love how Amy really isn't sure about Elder. Does she love him? Does he even really love her? How can she love someone when he's the only option? It was great! And Elder is precious, as per usual. You can't help but love him and his puppy dog-ness.
I also loved Amy's uneasiness about the ship. I've got to say that there is something incredibly creepy about what Beth Revis has created in these books - being stuck on a ship for the rest of your life, confined within a county-sized area FOREVER. *shudder* I can't even begin to explain to you how terrifying that is to me. I've always had a bit of a restless spirit, and I can't imagine living my life that way. So I really can relate to Amy's feeling of being stifled. Forget the real sun and real rain - I wouldn't want to see the same exact people day after day, and walk the same streets day after day until I died. I would genuinely go crazy.
And the writing. *sigh* There is something so simplistic and beautiful about Beth Revis' writing style. I adore it. It's not frilly like Maggie Stiefvater's, but it's also not Spartan like Veronica Rossi's. It's very dramatic and reads like true thoughts. I love how she utilizes line breaks and run-on sentences and even words scrunched together into one word to reflect consciousness. It all makes the English nerd inside me do a little happy dance.
But what really made me love this book was the mystery and suspense. Although I enjoyed Across the Universe, I figured out who the murderer was like 50 pages into the book. So the mystery just wasn't there for me in that one, which was disappointing. Plus, I thought Amy and Elder were really stupid for not figuring it out. But in A Million Suns, I couldn't figure out who was causing all the trouble. And the trail that Orion leaves for Amy to follow, along with the huge surprise that's dropped about halfway through the book, seriously had me flipping through the pages rapid-fire.
Let's talk about that big surprise. And for those of you who don't like spoilers, know right now, major spoilers ahead. (view spoiler)[THEY'RE ALREADY AT CENTAURI-EARTH?! I flipped when I read this. I mean, really, WTF Beth Revis?! And how could you leave us that way at the end?! I'm dying here! I've got to say that once they introduced the new planet, though, I figured that there were probably some kind of dangerous inhabitants. I just hope that we'll have something Star Trek-esque, and there will be Vulcans or something. :) (hide spoiler)]
Honestly, this is one of the best sophomore books I've ever read. The action was nonstop, the suspense kept me glued to the pages, and the romance was sweet and slow-developing. But now I have to wait forever for the next one. I can't wait to find out what happens to Amy and Elder next!
But on a more negative note, the cover. Really? Elder is wearing jeans??? It just doesn't capture the same feeling as the first one, which is one of my all-time favorite covers EVER. I was really disappointed with this cover. But that's okay, because the contents make up for it. :)["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I'm a huge fan of books (and movies/TV shows) that deal with people trying to "make it" in the entertainment industry. This interest has led to me watching movies like "Fame," eating up every last bit. I also really liked Elizabeth Eulberg's previous novel, Prom & Prejudice, so I was excited to see her writing about one of my favorite topics!
This is a short little book that I read in one sitting. It's told from four different perspectives, and it's super fast-paced. The four main characters couldn't be any more different. You've got Carter, the former child star who is now a regular on a daytime soap and trying to decide if he's actually still interested in acting. Then there's Sophie, who is determined to graduate high school with a recording contract, and she'll do whatever it takes to reach her dreams - including using her friends and boyfriend to get ahead. Emme is the soft-spoken songwriter that grows a lot during the book, and Ethan must deal with a lot of inner-demons before he can ever become successful.
Emme is really the main protagonist of the story, and she propels the plot. She was a good MC, though I thought maybe her character development was a little too extreme. She and Ethan are best friends, but it's clear at the beginning that Ethan is more talented. However, as the story progresses, Emme begins to overshadow him. I didn't like that her talent made him less talented, and she ended up becoming the better songwriter. Also, he was a little too dependent on her, like his world revolved around her - a little too much girl power for me.
But other than that, I really liked this book! Sophie is ruthless, and I loved to hate her. And her friendship with Emme was really interesting. I liked watching Emme make excuses for Sophie until she just couldn't take it anymore. I think this sort of frenemy relationship is one that a lot of girls deal with at some point in their lives (if not always), so I think that's a really relatable topic.
Then you've got the music aspect, which was wonderful. Honestly, that's what I loved the most. I liked when Emme and Ethan would talk about songwriting, when Sophie would dream about getting a Grammy. This book reminded me A LOT of the movie "Fame," with the overwhelming pressure these kids have to face. I kept wondering if it was all worth it for them, and the different characters come to different conclusions, which I loved.
This is my favorite Elizabeth Eulberg book so far, and I can't wait to read more by her!(less)
Honestly, I put off reading this book because I was afraid that I wouldn't enjoy it. I liked the first one quite a lot, but I worried that this one would fall into the sophomore slump. But I shouldn't have been concerned - this is Meg Cabot, people, and she always delivers!
I actually liked Underworld even more than Abandoned! There's a deepening of the story and the characters, the ideal of what should happen in every sequel. We get to know Pierce and John SO much more, and you're drawn deeper into the story. While the first book had a bit of superficiality in that I never felt all that connected to the characters, I now feel like I know them so much better.
We learn a lot more about John in particular. In the first book, he's more of a figurehead than an actual character, almost an archetype of the lord of the underworld. He's big and brooding, violent but sometimes sweet. We don't know anything about him really, but Underworld gives us a lot more info about him, including his backstory. I found myself really intrigued by his character and his umm..."friends" that we're introduced to in this book. I actually felt bad for him.
I still loved the setting in this book, as well. Isla Huesos is just so creepy and perfectly atmospheric for this story. You can practically feel the humidity dripping off the pages. But then you've got the added setting of the Underworld in this one, which was great, too! I loved the descriptions of John's castle and the shores of the Underworld, where the souls have to get on the boats.
Really, my only criticism was that I'd sorta forgotten what happened in the first book, and the second one doesn't really give us much summary of what happened in Abandoned. You know how most books will give you a little recap commentary? This one doesn't. And I was lost for a while before my memories kicked in. That was kind of annoying.
Also, the book takes place over like a 48-hour period, and books that have such a short time frame get on my nerves. I don't like it when I'm settled so deeply into the time so that it takes me the same amount of time to read it as the time the book covers. That's just not my style.
But overall, this is a really interesting book! The writing is still great, and the characters were interesting. I'm really looking forward to the final book now!(less)
This is an adorable book about love, grief, and acceptance that's wrapped up in small, sweet package. Smith's story is both touching and entertaining, and I devoured it in one evening.
The magic of this book lies in the premise - that the entire story takes place within the span of 24 hours, starting at the JFK airport and ending in London after Hadley has flown across the Atlantic beside a cute English boy named Oliver. Interspersed throughout the narrative are Hadley's memories that give us more insight into her past and character motivation.
Hadley's headed to England because her father is getting remarried, and she's not too thrilled. We are shown the tense relationship they've had since he and Hadley's mother separated, and we watch Hadley grieve for her family and resent her father for leaving them. Enter Oliver and his charming way of making her forget about her problems and just have fun, even if she's terrified of flying.
Really, the best part of the novel for me were the scenes on the airplane of Hadley and Oliver's banter. It's snappy and cute. Oliver is really very charming, and it doesn't hurt that he's from the UK. I really liked the humor he brought to the story, which balanced out Hadley's angst very well.
The romance was also very sweet. It's not earth-shattering and epic, like so many YA books try to make it. It's simple, light, and fun, just like this book. It asks the question, "Is it possible to fall for someone after having known them for only 24 hours?" I really loved how Smith dealt with this, never dropping the l-word between them. The ending is also left pretty open. It all felt very real and honest, which I loved.
But beneath the humor and romance, there is a solidity that keeps the fluff afloat, and that's Hadley's relationship with her father. It's the main conflict of the story, and it keeps the plot moving forward. His wedding is something that looms over the first three-fourths of the book. What will happen when they see each other? I loved this more serious substance.
My only issue with the book was that I didn't like that her dad never really says he's sorry. I felt like the author made excuses for his behavior, that it wasn't really his fault because he fell in love with this new woman. I felt his character arc only propitiated the modern notion of trading in one family for a new one once you're bored - what leads to so many divorces. I understood that Hadley needed to forgive him, but I thought the dad shouldn't have been let off the hook so easily. He cheated on his wife and left his family for another woman - that's not okay, no matter how you spin it.
Other than that one issue, however, I really enjoyed the book! It's a fairly clean read, and it's really very cute - definitely a feel-good book to curl up with this winter. I look forward to reading more from this author!(less)
I put off reading this book for quite a while because (1) I thought I was over contemps and (2) I had high expectations for this book's greatness and was afraid I'd be disappointed. I now have no idea why I was so worried - this book was everything I was hoping it'd be and SO. MUCH. MORE.
If I had to sum up my feelings for this book, I'd say I'm like...
There are basically 3 elements that will make me go crazy and fangirl over a book. I like to call them the "3 F's," and this book has them all. It's funny, fluffy, and foreign.
First and foremost, this book is hilarious. I loved Julia as a narrator. People go around talking about this nebulous concept of "voice" and how it's so important for an author to have. Sometimes, it's hard to tell if an author has a good one or not, whether it's distinctive. But I'm just gonna say this: Lauren Morrill has a great voice! And it's absolutely perfect for this genre.
Something that kept me from loving Anna & the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins was the fact that I didn't much care for Anna. I didn't connect with her or her voice. But there's just so much to love about Julia. She's quirky and nerdy and basically 100% adorable.
And can I just say that this book is FULL of awkward.
But in a totally wonderful way. Julia literally football tackles someone in the middle of the Tate Museum. I had to re-read that passage to double-check that I hadn't made that up. Julia just gets herself into so many incredibly awkward, hilarious circumstances that you can't help but root for her.
Now. Let's talk about one of the best parts of the book. Jason Erm...I mean, the romance.
The cuteness, it killed me. Julia and Jason are just SO FREAKIN' CUTE TOGETHER! I loved their banter and how perfectly imperfect Jason is. Also, he's a ginger, which was totally unexpected and basically made me love him. I mean, how many redhead heroes are there in YA? Not many. And the fact that he's SO immature could have been off-putting, but I couldn't stop laughing at his antics. He reminded me of the funny guys in high school that you always liked but never dated because you were too busy crushing on the football star or the one in a band.
Thank you, Lauren Morrill, for helping score a point for the funny guy!
I also really liked that the romance felt very real and honest. Jason doesn't always say the right thing, and Julia has to lose a lot of her naivety about relationships before she can be happy. And while I was afraid going into the book that the romance would feel rushed because the book takes place over only 1 week, it never did. There's no dropping of the l-word, which was great, and really, Julia and Jason were just great together.
2012 has really been a year of contemps for me, and this is definitely one of my favorites. It might very well be my favorite book of the year period, tied with Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard.
I've been confused about this book since I heard about it pre-publication. Is it fantasy? Is it dystopian? Is it plain 'ole science fiction? The cover...moreI've been confused about this book since I heard about it pre-publication. Is it fantasy? Is it dystopian? Is it plain 'ole science fiction? The cover makes you think epic fantasy, but the blurb made me think maybe steampunk. Come to find out, it's dystopian.
...at least I think it is.
Besides having a slightly misleading cover and blurb, I found the beginning of this book also really confusing. I didn't feel grounded in the world until maybe halfway through, mostly because I wasn't sure if I was supposed to be envisioning our world but post-apocalyptic or a completely different one. I mean, they fight with swords and wear cloaks, but they also have electricity and tracking devices. The MCs' names are Logan and Rachel. WHAT THE HECK IS THIS GENRE?! I'm saying it's dystopian because I can't really think of another way to describe it that fits.
The story itself was a lot different than what I was expecting. I was ready for high action and this epic quest to find Rachel's dad. But the first third of the book takes place inside Baalboden, where basically all that happens is character development - we get to see Rachel and Logan interact, and learn their history. I wasn't actively engaged in the story until Rachel watches someone (who I won't mention because of spoilers) die and then the Claiming ceremony.
One of the big parts of the story is gender roles, and some people might be pissed about me mentioning this, but it sorta reminded me of Islamic culture in places in Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan - women aren't allowed to walk around by themselves, and they're supposed to dress modestly or else they're "asking for it." Women aren't respected and are used for basically just having kids. Add burqas and prayers six times a day, and this could be a society living under the Taliban. I'm just saying.
But in this society is Rachel, who has been taught how to take care of herself and be independent by her father Jared. Rachel was an okay character for me. She bordered on what I fondly classify some kickbutt characters as "I-kick-butt-so-I-don't-need-a-real-personality." And I say "bordered" because she had moments where I felt like she was more than just her survival skills, but most of the time, I thought her entire personality and character revolved around her being able to hunt and wield big weapons.
Logan, on the other hand, was more interesting. He has a tumultuous past, he likes to invent things, and he's really smart. I liked how he could assess a situation and come up with possible, and the most probable, scenarios.
I know a lot of people criticized him because of a few comments he makes (like when he tells Rachel that she's lucky he's not wringing her neck when they have an argument and then when he makes a comment that one of the guards would probably rape her if they saw her walking around in tight pants). But as for the latter, he says the guard won't hesitate "to take what he thinks she's freely offering" - Logan isn't saying that he thinks she's offering it, he's saying the guard will think she's offering it. That's really different! As for the former, I'm not gonna lie - I wanted to wring her neck after what she pulled. He's speaking in hyperbole, people. You've done it. I've done it. It's how we talk. Give the kid a break, it wasn't a real threat.
Anyway, I liked Logan a lot and I felt like he had much more personality than Rachel. And while she had a clear motivation, he was more complicated and interesting, and I would have preferred reading the entire book from his POV.
With less action than I thought there would be, I thought Redwine did a good job with the romance. There are a lot of sweet moments between Rachel and Logan, and I think my favorite scene was post-Rachel-freaking-out-over-someone's-death and the Claiming ceremony. Both revolved around how these two interacted, and I enjoyed watching them together.
I was a little torn on my feelings for this book, but I think I liked it enough to read the second one. This isn't my favorite genre and I was frustrated by Rachel a lot of the time for acting so childish, but I have the hope there's potential for book 2, Deception. (Also, these covers are GORGEOUS and deserve to be on my shelf.)
I think people who enjoy dystopians and can forgive a character for having less personality if she can kick someone's butt will like this book more than I did. Still, the writing is solid, and C.J. seems like a really cool person, so I'm saying it's a good debut.(less)