Another absolute delight from the talented Milan. Milan's writing bears far more in common with the darker Lord of Scoundrels and Captives of the Nigh...moreAnother absolute delight from the talented Milan. Milan's writing bears far more in common with the darker Lord of Scoundrels and Captives of the Night by Loretta Chase, than the lighter, fun regency fairytales of Julia Quinn, and, despite a hero named for one, this is not a story of rainbows, nor easy happily ever afters. It shares far more in common with the flood preceding.
But do not fear: we do get a happily ever after, and it's the work it takes to get there that renders it so much more rewarding.
Once again Milan offers a wonderful, strong, unexpected heroine, but her hero is somewhat less expected: Stoic, blunt and efficient, he is not the typical, charming and rakish hero I've come to expect from genre. It makes him no less romantic, though.
Unraveled has much to recommend it, but perhaps the greatest is a truly intelligent hero and heroine who, rather than keeping dangerous secrets, communicate--something I've made my position on exceedingly clear in the past. When threatened with blackmail, or faced with keeping a painful, dangerous secret, what does the typical romance heroine do? Why, hide it, of course, and wait for it to blow up, thus creating contrived, painful dramatics. My respect for Milan as writer has grown immensely, for what does Unraveled's heroine do? Go to her powerful lover, and talk, than heavens! I simply cannot stress how refreshing this is, and I applaud Ms. Milan.
A delightful, darker, and incredibly sexy historical, Unraveled is a fantastic offering from a truly fantastic author.(less)
Daughter of Smoke and Bone is a rare creature indeed. It's storytelling at its best; its most potent, born of a kind of dark, seductive magic—complex,...moreDaughter of Smoke and Bone is a rare creature indeed. It's storytelling at its best; its most potent, born of a kind of dark, seductive magic—complex, multi-tonal, beautiful—from the mind of a true writer. An artist, a creator. Laini Taylor is a craftsman, and her creation, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, is nothing short of magnificent.
The Story: Karou belongs to no-one, and no world. A beautiful, tattooed, blue-haired girl, she’s an enigma, even to herself. Her friends think her wild stories and extraordinary sketches of half-man, half-beast creatures are fiction—exactly what she allows them to think. Just like she lets them think she colours her hair blue, when it in fact grows that way from the roots, thanks to a wish she made at the age of seven. Her friends don’t know she speaks twenty-seven languages, only one of them learned, and not all of them human. Her friends think the Wishmonger, Brimstone—part man, part lion, part bull—is a fairytale, when in fact, Karou was raised in his fantastical shop in ‘Elsewhere’. A shop where he grants wishes to humans in trade for teeth—both animal and otherwise. The door to which opens to cities all over the world...
But the world is changing, and war is brewing. Karou will be forced to choose between the human world, and the mysterious ‘Elsewhere’ she barely understands herself... and after seventeen years, Karou must finally learn who—and what—she is.
But this is not just her story... meanwhile, beautiful, tortured Akiva flies on fiery wings around the world, determined to put an end to Brimstone’s ‘evil’, and forever close the doors to Elsewhere. He never counted on encountering a strange blue-haired girl. A girl he cannot understand, yet who feels strangely familiar. A girl from who he cannot stay away...
“Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love. It did not end well.”
This is such a strange book to review. To talk of any one aspect, in isolation from half a dozen others, seems to do it a disservice, as it’s the sum of so many different shades and layers of creativity that blend to make it such a dazzling whole. To talk of strange, lovely Karou, without talking of beautiful and mysterious Akiva, or to talk of her ‘Chimaera’ family, such as the Minotaur-esque Brimstone, or adoptive mother-figure Issa, half-snake, half-woman, is to tell only a fraction of a story. To isolate any one aspect of Karou’s splendid self is to show a shimmering thread, but not the glorious tapestry: Lovely, but abstract, lacking the meaning it deserves.
It’s the context of every strange little quirk of Daughter of Smoke and Bone that makes it shine. Nothing within its pages is inessential. Every fleeting, ephemeral detail combines to form a masterpiece of fiction.
“Happiness. It was the place where passion, with all its dazzle and drumbeat, met something softer: homecoming and safety and pure sunbeam comfort. It was all those things, intertwined with the heat and the thrill, and it was as bright within her as a swallowed star.”
So perhaps we should talk of its creator. Laini Taylor. Taylor is nothing short of an artist. She has a way of presenting the bizarre in so matter-of-fact a fashion one can’t help but be charmed, and she tells her story with an imagination as brilliant and twisted as the inimitable Terry Pratchett, J.K. Rowling, or, dare I say it, Neil Gaiman. It’s this kind of imagination that breathes life into new worlds, gives breath to strange, beautiful new creatures, and forms a reality distinct and separate from our own, yet achingly familiar. The kind of world and reality you fall into, that immerses you, and that you find yourself shocked to be torn from. Taylor forms a place as real and magic and wonderfully make-believe as the Narnia and Hogwarts of a million charmed childhoods.
“For the way loneliness is worse when you return to it after a reprieve - like the soul's version of putting on a wet bathing suit, clammy and miserable.”
While every glittering facet of the glorious gem that is Daughter of Smoke and Bone shines, its characters need to be dwelt upon. A mystery even to herself, Karou is strange, beautiful and compelling. She has no family, beyond the peculiar creatures who raised her in Brimstone’s curious shop, and she has no attachments to the human world, beyond the fact that she is human herself. Her whole life, Karou has felt unwhole, as though she is missing something, and, as such things often come to pass in such stories, she is. But despite her missing something, Karou is a whole and splendid character, as colourful and vibrant as her peacock-blue hair. Karou is imperfect, but it is her imperfections, her mistakes, and her occasional selfishness that makes her innate humour, selflessness, wit and intelligence shine. Her every word, thought, and secret longing burns with the glorious intensity of the sun, and she is a joy to read, to know, to learn.
“This new thing between them it was... Astral. It reshaped the air, and it was in her, too—a warming and softening, a pull—and for that moment, her hands in his, Karou felt as powerless as starlight tugged toward the sun in the huge, strange warp of space.”
When we finally meet Akiva, haunted and broken, Karou’s world starts to make sense. Akiva holds the keys and answers Karou and the reader do not. Akiva is as beautiful and compelling in his own ways as Karou, but infinitely more bitter and broken. When the two meet, they are drawn together, a force of nature, a gravitational pull, like the moon and the earth—undeniable, elemental and unbreakable. Their story is as dazzling as starlight, as lovely as the moon, and as vast and breathtaking as the night sky with her entire treasure of sparkling jewels. As Akiva’s back-story is revealed slowly, in parallels with his and Karou's present, it's as beautiful and heartbreaking as the rest.
“Love is a luxury.” “No. Love is an element.” An element. Like air to breathe. Earth to stand on.
The Verdict: I’m hardly sure of where to start, or, for that matter, where to finish. The vibrant characters? Taylor’s stunning, lyrical prose? Misty, mysterious and lovely Prague? Brimstone's wishmongery, bizarre and eclectic in the elusive ‘Elsewhere’? Daughter of Smoke and Bone is a thing of overwhelming beauty. Every detail of it is rendered with a true craftsman's attention to detail, and the world that results is vivid, strange, and strangely real.
As Daughter of Smoke and Bone drew to its inevitable close, I longed for it to continue. But just when Karou and Akiva's story ends—for now—it begins. Its closing pages are filled with beauty and anguish, glorious joy and fierce pain, heartbreak and tragedy, but a beautiful one. If Daughter of Smoke and Bone is just an opening chapter, what follows promises to be a truly extraordinary journey.
Throughout Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Taylor’s writing shines, her creativity glows, and I was repeatedly teased with chills; caught up in such sweeping, overwhelming beauty my chest ached. It’s a story of true scope, real brilliance, and unique vision. It could have been told by none less than Taylor, just as Harry Potter could have been told by none but J.K Rowling, Lord of the Rings by Tolkien, or Narnia born of any imagination other than C.S Lewis’. It is thrilling and lovely and strange, and utterly distinctive. It’s beautiful. It’s dark. At its ugliest it’s resplendent. For me, Daughter of Smoke and Bone was perfect.(less)
4.5 Stars It's NOT a perfect book. But it's one I loved so, SO much, and loved the series so much, and am so absolutely CRAZY in love with, it gets rou...more4.5 Stars It's NOT a perfect book. But it's one I loved so, SO much, and loved the series so much, and am so absolutely CRAZY in love with, it gets rounded up to 5.
Between the idea And the reality Between the motion And the act Falls the Shadow(fever) Buckle up, girls and guys. Shadowfever’s here, and Moning finally delivers everything she’s promised... and then some.
With three billion people dead, the walls still down between Faery and earth, Mac has lost everything. Her sister, her home, her identity, her world, and now it seems the one remaining thread tethering her to what’s left of it. Bitter, jaded, and now as ruthless as her mentor, Mac will stop at nothing to find the cursed Sinsar Dubh, and bring an end to the Fae madness that has taken over the planet. But nothing’s as easy as it seems, and Mac must get to the bottom of a million-year old network of lies, deceit, prophecy and mythology to discover who she is, and who to trust, all while fighting to stay alive long enough to complete her task. More than ever, Mac must uncover answers: Who and where is the Unseelie King? Where is the Seelie Queen? What really happened to the concubine who set this whole series of tragedies in motion, and caused the Sinsar Dubh to be brought into creation? Mac may just be the only person with the answer.
With the final page closed on the Fever series, and looking back at the journey as a whole, I can honestly say I’d never imagined it would wind up here. When Pink Mac, or Mac 1.0, as she calls her old self, first stumbled, grieving her sister, through the craic-filled streets of Dublin, I don’t imagine she did either. I remember that Barbie-girl, and I remember wanting to shake her. Shallow and selfish, over-confident and outright silly, that girl is gone. Mac is battle-scarred, jaded and bitter, but she’s learned that “Hope strengthens, [and] Fear kills”, and she clings to that adage. Mac’s been brutalized, tortured, betrayed, and manipulated countless times, but rather than letting it destroy her, she’s let it build her, shape her into a stronger, better, version of herself. I can’t believe the girl I could barely stand in Darkfever is now one of my favorite characters. Mac is one of the best examples of character growth I’ve seen in literature. Ever. She’s unrecognizable from her old self.
That’s not to say this book isn’t a journey for her. When we open the page on Shadowfever, we find a stricken, broken woman, overwhelmed with towering grief and fury. That fury and grief turns to cold resolve, and that resolve leads to one hell of a journey.
In Shadowfever, the players become clear. We finally see the true faces of the good guys, the bad guys, and the questions we’ve been asking, the riddles we’ve been agonizing over for four long, brilliant books are finally, finally, finally answered. Infuriating, cryptic Jericho Barrons. Pernicious Sidhe-Seer Grand Mistress, Rowena. Fae Prince, V’lane. Mac herself. Who and what she is. All is revealed. And despite an obsession rivaling Mac’s own when it comes to the question of Jericho Barrons, it’s perhaps the question of Mac herself that is Shadowfever’s biggest mystery and revelation.
And finally, after hundreds and hundreds of pages of the most electric, palpable, frustrating sexual tension I’ve ever read, we get satisfaction. Real satisfaction. I almost expected disappointment. How could anything possibly live up to the towering build-up? Disappointment? Not a drip, not a drop. Jericho Barrons is neither hero nor anti-hero. He just is. One of the most prickly, acerbic, powerfully sexual and utterly compelling characters I’ve ever read, well, I never expected him to break my heart. Barrons and Mac are a match forged in the fires of hell, and cooled in the springs of heaven. Believe me when I say the wait has been worth it.
The Verdict: Through five books, and over many hundreds of pages, Karen Marie Moning has built a world as dangerous, broken and terrifying as it is seductive, beautiful and compelling. She’s populated it with characters I love and loathe. She’s given it depth and painted it in colors beyond imagination. With the dozens of questions, cryptic clues, and frustrating mysteries she’s created over the series, I wasn’t sure how she could possibly wrap the series up, and deliver a satisfying dénouement. I don’t know what to say beyond, well, she does. Has Shadowfever left me with questions? Of course. Good books allow you to think for yourself. To imagine futures, and worlds and possibilities beyond a final, finished page. But has Moning delivered the satisfaction I longed for? The answers I needed? Yes, and then some.
The most sexually-charged installment of the series on a whole, Shadowfever delivers. I can’t possibly imagine the series ending any other way. Mac’s world will never be the same, nor will she. Yet despite unimaginable loss, tragedy, and heartache... they might just be better. Five books, one apocalypse, billions of dead, and an inter-dimensional war later, I still have the Fever. (less)
I love books like this. Ones that are exciting. And Hunting Lila is a debut every bit as exciting as its gun-fights and getaways. Sarah Alderson blend...moreI love books like this. Ones that are exciting. And Hunting Lila is a debut every bit as exciting as its gun-fights and getaways. Sarah Alderson blends intrigue, superhuman powers and fast-paced action with romance, teenage longing and a pinch of heartbreak like a seasoned-master.
Seventeen year old Lila Loveday has a rather singular talent... one she’ll keep hidden at all costs. After narrowly avoiding a mugging by telekinetically wresting a knife from her attackers, she flees London to the safety of sunny California and the only two people in the world she trusts implicitly: her brother Jack, and his best friend, Alex. Well, now Lila has bigger problems. Like keeping her other great secret safe: that she’s been hopelessly in love with Alex since the age of seven. Not to mention that Jack and Alex are working for a shady government organisation, or that they’re hunting the people who murdered her mother five years ago... people like her.
Lila, You’ve Got Me On Knees, Lila... After her mother was brutally murdered five years ago, Lila was torn from her happy life in the United States, and relocated to London with her grieving father. In the space of weeks, she lost her mother, lost her brother and Alex, who remained in the States, and her mourning, absentee father is hardly there for her either. Not long after, her power manifested itself, and if she wasn’t isolated enough before, that seals the deal. She doesn’t have anyone to turn to—the two people she would are thousands of miles away—and it leaves Lila alone inside her head.
It’s that Lila’s so isolated, coupled with her introspective nature that allows us to get to know her so well. A great deal of the book is Lila, alone, with nothing but her overactive (and at times deliciously X-rated) imagination for company. Despite a first-person narrative, many stories don’t get quite so deep into the protagonist’s psyche, peel away quite so many layers of their paranoias and fears and give us such an intimate view of their mind. I loved getting to know Lila: her paranoias and insecurities and her imagination.
Lila is smart, independent, entertaining, and while she has a tendency to jump to conclusions and run from her problems (oh yes, the cover on this one could be straight out of the book—including the dress), Sarah Alderson (author/evil-genius) somehow makes this trait not frustrating, but wholly endearing. Lila is defined not by what she is, but by who she is. Despite an extraordinary talent, the book is, well, about her, not about what she can do. As Lila re-establishes her relationship with her brother, and with Alex, we start to venture out of her head a little... and then things get really exciting. I’m talking gunfights, explosions, and high-speed getaways on motorcycles.
Alex Oh my, Alex is more than a pretty face. Kind, caring, and a genuine good guy. As much as we like them, he’s not a bad boy, and it’s lovely. He’s the boy next door with Marine training. Lila’s been infatuated with Alex for years, but it’s easy to see why. He’s a lovely human being. The tension between Alex and Lila is palpable. It crackles with electricity, and every casual touch, or innocent, friendly hug had me holding my breath. The intensity of feeling is thrilling and overwhelming, developed over a decade long crush. The heat the two share aside, it’s so nice seeing a romance built on a real, genuine friendship. The two have been close as siblings for years, and seeing the pain and beauty of the shift to something more is beautiful to witness.
Politics and Murder and Intrigue, Oh My! Alderson has an extraordinary knack for writing mystery and intrigue and shady organisations with murky motivations. In Fated, it was an inter-dimensional war between two equally perfidious groups, and In Hunting Lila, the manoeuvring is about something much more familiar and far closer to home: politics, power, and money. Sarah keeps turning characters completely upside down. Her heroes and villains are hard to pin down, and I never know who to trust.
The Verdict: Hunting Lila has everything: action, intrigue, excitement and scorching-hot, incredibly sweet, romance. From its thrilling first chapter, to its satisfying, but slightly heartbreaking conclusion, it held me utterly enthralled with its humour, slowly-unfolding mysteries, and remarkable characters. There’s a perfect blend of politics and paranormal, intrigue and romance in Sarah Alderon’s fabulous debut, and I’m invested and in-love with its huge cast of characters, and even fascinated by the ones I loathe. With the final page turned I’m still reliving fights and flights, breathtaking revelations and perfect first-kisses. I need the sequel, Losing Lila. Now, please.(less)
I sometimes feel it’s the stories that effect us the most, the deepest, which are the hardest to sit down and tell someone else about, and explain exa...moreI sometimes feel it’s the stories that effect us the most, the deepest, which are the hardest to sit down and tell someone else about, and explain exactly why. Saving June effected me. It touched me. It reached into my heart and spoke the language of my soul—music. Saving June is beautiful. It’s a heart-breaking, heart-warming and poignant picture of loss and grief, love and friendship, and finding oneself and what truly matters.
Harper Scott is angry. A week before graduation, her sister, June, committed suicide, and left her alone to pick up the shattered pieces of the lives she left behind. No-one knows why, but everyone’s so sorry.
Harper doesn’t know what to do, but she does know that, despite her overwhelming sadness and anger, she can do one last thing for her sister. June lived for one thing: California. She never made it. So Harper takes June’s ashes, and accompanied by her best friend and an annoyingly cryptic music-obsessed boy from June’s past, they head out on a road trip that will draw them together, tear them apart, and bring all three healing in the way they least expected, but exactly the way they need.
About A Girl We meet Harper at her sister’s wake, a bit angry, a bit sad, and a lot numb. Harper deals with her pain in a way the people around her struggle to understand. She internalizes. People are expecting her to cry, to rage, but they can’t seem to figure out how to handle her way of grieving. While she can be immature and selfish, she’s also incredibly selfless in the ways that matter. She’s not a people-person, and she can be cagey and aloof, but she’s fiercely committed to the people she loves. She’s self-aware in a way I loved. Harper’s a poster girl for disenfranchised youth, but she’s real, she’s authentic, and I loved her. I felt for her, my heart broke for her, and I longed to reach into the pages to her, and heal her pain in a way that ached in my chest.
This Boy For me, the real star of the story was Jake Tolan. He has a bad attitude, a major chip on his shoulder, and the boy lives and breathes music. It’s Jake who provides the soundtrack to the life-changing road trip Harper, her best friend Laney, and he take on their way to see June to her final resting place. He’s fascinating. His motives for helping are murky, aside from some vague connection to June, though not sinister—just unclear. While not always friendly, the relationship that develops between Harper and Jake is intense and honest, and filled with electric tension. I’ll never listed to The Doors the same way again.
I Can Hear Music It’s impossible to talk about Saving June without talking about Music. Music plays an enormous and intrinsic part in the story, but the innumerable references never feel forced or contrived. They feel as natural as breathing. This is a book with a soundtrack that tells as much of a story as its words. It adds enormous depth, and I was wrapt with the references to the bands that not only shaped my love of music, but my whole outlook on life. The Doors, The Beatles, Clapton, Simon and Garfunkel, Nirvana, The Beach Boys, Hendrix, and Bowie. And don’t even get me started on Johnny Cash (Seriously. Mention Johnny Cash. My husband will just roll his eyes).
“Without music, life would be a mistake.” “Did you coin that one yourself?” “Nietzsche did, actually. But it’s a common mix-up.” “And you believe that?” “Isn’t it obvious?”
Music and fiction hold so much in common. Both are waiting to reveal their secrets and meanings and melodies, waiting for someone to just open their ears and eyes to listen and see. A song tells a story in a way, with a raw intensity of feeling, that the written word sometimes loses, and a book can tell a story with a depth and scope that’s only present in the most magic and memorable songs. Saving June sang to me.
The Verdict (When The Music’s Over): Saving June paints a raw, uncompromising picture of grief and loss. Its cover proclaims it’s an ‘incredible debut’, and it is. At times it feels like a literary anthem for disenfranchised youth, and at others, it’s light and fun. There were moments I found myself laughing at loud while still wiping tears from my cheeks.
It’s filled with such poignant moments and insights into grief, yet for all this talk of sadness and loss, it’s certainly not a depressing story. It’s about finding oneself, and the gradual journey towards acceptance. It gave me a sense of hope, and it’s more about finding healing—through friendship, love, music and sacrifice—than losing oneself to brokenness.
Saving June tore at me till I felt naked and raw and stripped completely bare along with Harper’s heart and soul. I discovered myself, as she did. I lost myself in song as I stared up at the night sky with her. I felt tiny and I felt lost and I felt like I was falling into a million shattered shards, only to be pieced back together in an indelibly different way. Sad and happy and somehow more whole and more real than I was before.
“There is so much beauty in just existing. In being alive. I don’t want to miss a second.”
Reading Saving June is like listening to that one perfect song—the one that moves you, makes you and breaks you. It’s beautiful. It’s life affirming. The world melts away, and it touches you in a way you can’t quite describe, but you can feel deep under your skin. I loved this book.
“This is the kind of music that changes people, the kind of music that changes the world. The same kind of music that changed me.”(less)
Look, I have a confession to make: I’ve known about Divergent for months, and I’d intentionally ignored it. I saw the cover and thought it looked... I...moreLook, I have a confession to make: I’ve known about Divergent for months, and I’d intentionally ignored it. I saw the cover and thought it looked... I don’t know. Like action? Wasn’t interested. Then someone had to go and rave about it, and ignoring it was no longer an option (it was an eminently convincing rave). There’s nothing Divergent doesn’t offer: high stakes, intrigue, action, romance and characters I’ve fallen in love with. Putting this book down at 3 in the morning to sleep is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Sound good? You have no idea, and I’m just getting started...
In a dystopian future, society has divided into five factions, who co-exist in peace. At an appointed time, all sixteen year olds choose the faction with whom will align themselves for life: Erudite (the intelligent), Amity (the peaceful), Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless) or Dauntless (the brave). The faction they choose will dictate their behaviour, their future, and possibly cut them off from their family. To live factionless is to be cut off, drifting, unwanted, and not a life at all.
Beatrice Prior is sixteen. Her time to choose has come. Renaming herself Tris, she leaves her family, joins her new faction, and starts the terrifying and competitive training that will shape her future. But danger surrounds her on all sides. Tris worries about Faction unrest, one of her fellow initiates is a psychopath, and the life she’s chosen may just get her killed...
Tris: Selfless, brave and intelligent, Tris is an extraordinary character. Faced with more or less sanctioned threats to her life and sanity as part of her training, Tris doesn't just survive, she thrives. She learns to stand up for and protect herself, and question who she is and wants to be. Despite growing up meek, she’s a fighter, and she grows into her strengths over the course of Divergent. She has backbone, and she has self respect.
She's not pretty, sweet, or charming... she's her own amazing self. And she's allowed to be... and that's not only OK, that's awesome. I loved this girl. She's the perfect balance between action-chick, brains and heart.
One, Two, Three... Enter Four. Tris’ enigmatic trainer, Four is tough, fascinating, and... kind of scary. Despite an intimidating outer shell, Four is layered, his character nuanced, and he has depths we slowly begin to see as he and Tris grow closer. I loved the humour and Tris and Four shared, and the level the (sometimes) seem to 'get' each other one. The chemistry Four and Tris share is electric. A living, sparking thing that consumed whole scenes, pages and chapters. Tris has never so much as kissed a boy and each of Four’s touches are new, exciting, and hold an intensity and heat that I swear wouldn’t be out of place in an adult romance.
Absolutely Absolute: Divergent presents a rather chilling picture of what humans are really capable of. When a single trait is prized and cultivated in isolation from all others--intelligence without selflessness; bravery without compassion; honesty without wisdom--values which do make up the best of humanity are taken to extremes and become ugly, twisted, perverted things. You remove any selflessness from intelligence, and you wind up with greed for power, knowledge, and corruption.
You've heard the phrase 'absolute power corrupts absolutely', but Divergent posits that absolutism itself is the danger. The world in which Tris lives tried to eradicate war by cultivating the best of mankind. This worked for a long time, but ultimately, it relies on an expectation of innate goodness in human nature... A nice idea, but no one--not even 'good' people--are black and white, and Tris' world is filled with people who are most definitely grey--many of those she loves included. Tris is starting to see cracks form in her world. Tiny hairline fractures that could topple the whole structure. It's a dangerous time to live in the world of Divergent.
The Verdict: Exciting, terrifying and completely and utterly captivating, Divergent had me sold from the get go. I shared Tris’ excitement as she joined her new faction and began to learn and understand her new way of life, and herself. I also shared her fear and trepidation when people began to show their true natures, and learns her world is not as safe as it seems. Despite a society that has come to value one defining trait over all others, and requires people to act within the parametres of it, we begin to see other aspects of the characters in Divergent... and it’s often scary seeing what some of them are hiding behind their outward show of faction loyalty.
I’m often left rattled by dystopians, as I see a possible future for our own world. While this is not necessarily the case in Divergent, I see so much of our world already in it. Wars started by lust for power, greed, misunderstanding. Media games and manipulations motivated by politics. The lengths people will go to prosper themselves. The world Veronica Roth has built is vivid, real and frightening, and despite turning the final page on Divergent, it’s still with me, quite literally haunting my dreams (goodness I'd like a good night's sleep). 3D characters I care about, a surprisingly electric romance, stunning betrayals and stakes so high they threaten to topple an entire civilisation, Divergent is not to be missed.
BIG LOVE to the fabulous daydreaming_star for the read along. Amazing books? EVEN MORE AMAZING with amazing company xx(less)
The Demon Lover is so not the book I thought it was going to be. Let's face it: the name? The cover? It even has the word 'virile' in the cover copy!...moreThe Demon Lover is so not the book I thought it was going to be. Let's face it: the name? The cover? It even has the word 'virile' in the cover copy! We all know what type of book it's going to be. Except, well, it's not. At first I felt kind of cheated... but I really enjoyed this book.
The Demon Lover is an odd creature. From 'Juliet Dark', the pseudonym Carol Goodman, it starts off a lush, gothic mystery/horror, with an almost meta-fiction feel to it, which I both loved and loathed. Filled with literary references from Sookie Stackhouse to Jane Eyre, it's at turns funny and witty, and at others painfully self-aware. The Demon Loverknows what kind of book it sounds and looks like, and at times revels in it, and others seems to almost distance itself from it... Like, 'yes, I'm totally your grandma's trashy romance novel... But I'm cool! I swear!' It's almost like a kid trying to fit in at a party by making fun of himself. I really struggle to explain how I feel about it... I'm conflicted, but the more I think about it, the more I feel this slightly conflicted, dualistic start is completely the point: Callie's made a living of the study of gothic literature and paranormal romance. It stands to reason that, finding herself in a gothic romance, she's going to be super self-aware and question what's going on, or write it off as an over-read, overactive imagination.
The thing is, this 'start' to the novel? It goes in for ONE HUNDRED PAGES. That's one hundred out of three hundred and seventy. And it's sloooooow. Very slow. I struggled through, and had basically made up my mind that I didn't like this book. Then it got GOOD.
The Demon Lover comes into its own when Callie discovers that, well, she's not nuts. There really IS something rather supernatural going on in Fairwick. In fact, the whole town has been founded around the existence of the supernatural. Welcome to the Hellmouth, baby. From this point, the book takes on a rather delicious Sookie Stackhouse feel, and only gets better. Demon Lover is like a mash-up of Sookie Stackhouse, the Caster Chronicles, and a delicious touch if its own brand of quirky.
Cailleach (That's Kay-lex, or 'Callie' to you): Callie is an interesting heroine. Intelligent and independent, she can be really fun to read... at others a tiny bit stupid, careless, and that's not to mention a total snob... not even snobby in a deliciously-fun-to-read way. Nevertheless, past page 100, I liked her, and immensely enjoyed her journey of self discovery (golly that sounds hackneyed), because that's what this is: Callie coming to terms with a very, very strange new world.
I also LOVED her love interest, but let me tell you guys: this really isn't a romance. Romance readers will be disappointed by the open-ended close to the book. The romance aspect, though? It has me clamouring for more. I really want to see how Juliet Dark resolves this, or at least where she takes it in Water Witch, slated for a 2012 release (there's a bit of info on Juliet Dark's Facebook page--there's no website or blog).
The Verdict? What surprised me most about Demon Lover is just how much I enjoyed it. After a very slow--and slightly awkward--start, it turns into something witty, sexy, magic, sad and compelling. Sookie fans, rejoice: if you can get past the first half of this book, you're in for a real treat. What Dark has done brilliantly in The Demon Lover is set up a tantalizing start to a VERY promising series, and now that set up is done? Oh boy is this going good places.
A BIG thank you to Random House via NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review The Demon Lover early. (less)
Part Vertical Limit and part Meet Joe Black, comes Jordan Dane's On A Dark Wing. Beautifully written, and set against a gorgeous Alaskan backdrop (ser...morePart Vertical Limit and part Meet Joe Black, comes Jordan Dane's On A Dark Wing. Beautifully written, and set against a gorgeous Alaskan backdrop (seriously, it had me at Alaska), I loved everything about this book... except the main character.
Five years ago, Abbey Chandler survived the horrific car accident which killed her mother. And this girl has major survivor's guilt. Abbey is still haunted by memories of the ethereal boy with gorgeous blue eyes who held her hand in the wreckage. Well, as it turns out, Death hasn't forgotten her, either.
Now fifteen, Abbey has an all-consuming, passionate, earth-shattering crush on golden boy Nate Holden... who doesn't know she exists. Like, literally, wouldn't know her from a bar of soap dressed in jeans and a parka. Thing is, Nate's about to climb Alaska's monster of a mountain, Denali. And Death is watching very, very closely. Abbey and Nate's lives are inextricably drawn together when Death decides watching isn't quite enough anymore.
On A Dark Wing is told in shifting POV, from Abbey's first person, to Nate, Tanner (Abbey's BFF) and a few other characters' third person. This raise warning flags for you? Put them down. Because it really works. You get to see all the action, from every angle, and oh my goodness, it's amazing. It allows Dane to tell a wholly unique and utterly riveting story, and here's the thing: she can write. In Dane's hands, this is magic. I loved the characters in this book (with one exception)
There were moments in the book that were so very, very beautiful I caught my breath. Others were edge-of-my-seat gripping and frightening. In others my stomach had butterflies. I loved Dane's writing. Abbey, Abbey, Abbey... Abbey is bitter, cold and isolated--a lot like the place she calls home. After her mother's death, Abbey is left with a major case of survivor's guilt, and given she was ten at the time, it's really shaped her perception on life. Her mother was the butter to her tiny family's bread, and with her gone, she and her dad don't know how to connect.
Abbey has this 'me and my BFF against everyone else in the world' thing going on. She is quite obviously miserable, but rejects every offer of help and support. She acts like she hates her father, because he doesn't 'get' her, and flies into fits of temper or sulks for reasons I never understood. Here's the thing: I never 'got' her, either. In a book, I need motivations for actions, words, feelings... and something about Abbey's felt off. Aside from vague suggestions she might be suffering clinical depression, I could never quite follow why she behaved and felt the way she did.
But watching Abbey find a way to connect with her Dad over the course of the story, and coming to terms with her grief after five long years, well, that was magic. And ultimately? I liked her, for some reason. Nate Does Denali: Fact about me: I love the mountains. I love snow. I love the biting cold of the alpine air, the dead still, and the roaring winds. In Australia, that's one thing, but Alaska is almost a holy place to a skier. No, there's no skiing here, but there are mountains and mountaineering, and here's where my Vertical Limit comparison comes into play.
We get to visit Nate's head as he prepares for, and begins his ascent of Denali (Mt McKinley outside of Alaska). Dane weaves in little facts about the mountain, about mountaineering, about the planning and preparation that's gone into this climb, and I was hooked. I even managed to get my husband to read this bit of the book, and that's a massive achievement.
Nate's point of view gives us a chance to meet him, beyond Abbey's slightly obsessive-creepy crush on him. We get to connect, and care for him as he fights for survival. And Nate is a really cool guy: He loves his family, loves his best mate, and lives the mountains... which basically meant I loved him. Death: Death... well Death was... unique. I felt for him--ached for him. You could feel his longing to belong, love, be loved. And I loved how Dane imagined his role in the scheme of things... his guardianship of the souls he carries. Looking For Alaska: As I've mentioned, the real winner for me in On A Dark Wing was the backdrop. Dane painted a picture of Alaska so real, so beautiful, and so vivid, I was lost in it. I felt the slushy snow under my boots, I was there with Abbey watching the rippling light of the aurora borealis, and I smelled the crisp mountain air. Everything about this Alaska was vivid, beautifully described, and so, so real. The Verdict: Almost despite myself, I loved this book. I loved every minute of reading it, even if I can't reconcile my Abbey-issues with how very much I enjoyed it. On A Dark Wing is beautifully written. It's intriguing. It's set against the most incredibly gorgeous backdrop imaginable. At times it was exhilarating and exciting, at others quiet, sweet and sad. It just... worked for me. I want more. Now!
On A Dark Wing was kindly provided by Harlequin TEEN via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. (less)
Gorgeous, heartbreaking and darkly romantic, The Iron Knight has all the ingredients expected of an Iron Fey novel -- and perhaps a little more. Unlik...moreGorgeous, heartbreaking and darkly romantic, The Iron Knight has all the ingredients expected of an Iron Fey novel -- and perhaps a little more. Unlike previous instalments, it's a story removed from the mortal realm, yet still very much concerned with humanity. Feels a lot more like pure fantasy. I REALLY loved this.
I went into Lola and the Boy Next Door expecting to read Anna and the French Kiss. In other words, I expected perfect. But, like its vibrant titular p...moreI went into Lola and the Boy Next Door expecting to read Anna and the French Kiss. In other words, I expected perfect. But, like its vibrant titular protagonist, Lola and the Boy Next Door isn’t perfect. It’s about a flawed girl, difficult choices, and a beautiful, sweet, overwhelmingly kind boy next door. Like someone very wise once said, “it's a person's imperfections that make them perfect for someone else.” And I think it might just apply to books named Lola, as well as girls.
I finished Lola and the Boy Next Door in a happy, dazed blur, so rather than presenting you with a marathon-length gush, I thought I’d try something different. So here you are: 8 Reasons (among many) to read Lola and the Boy Next Door:
1. Lola is F A B U L O U S Aspiring costume designer, Lola, is quirky, independent, funny and utterly unique. She never dresses the same way twice. She’s a different version of herself every day—on the outside. She’s vegetarian. She speaks and prays to the moon like it’s her oldest friend. But perhaps the coolest thing about Lola is that she’s not perfect. In fact, she’s quite often a mess. She makes mistakes, and she hurts the people around her. She lies—often—but she’s not malicious. She’s sweet, bubbly, caring, and she’s completely herself.
2. The Characters: All of them Stephanie Perkins writes completely distinctive characters. Lola is nothing like Anna—she has a unique voice. She never sounds like Anna, or anyone but herself. Cricket is nothing like Etienne. Whether it’s Lola’s dads, her birth mother, Cricket’s twin sister and resident mean-girl (perhaps), Calliope, every character is completely new, completely wonderful, and perfectly imagined. 100% not recycled.
3. Lola has a real BFF. Lindsay Lim is a wannabee Nancy Drew, permanently dressed in red Chuck Taylors. She gets her own happy ending, too. Perfect, or what? She might not have a huge role to play, and they don't always do the right thing by one another, but you can see real friendship. I loved this.
4. Lola’s Dads Lola’s dads are lovely. They have a beautiful, caring, real relationship, and Stephanie Perkins presents us with a gay couple who aren’t camp, aren’t caricatures, but are good, kind, real people. They’re good parents, and Lola’s little family unit is sweet and wonderful and welcoming. They deal with normal family dramas, love each other like any other family, because they are. Perkins is making a statement with Andy and Nathan, yes. But it’s never preachy, never overt, and it’s an essential, beautiful part of the story.
6. Banana Elephant and Etienne St. Clair Make no mistake, this is Lola’s story, but Anna and Etienne return to the page, and play no small part in Lola and the Boy Next Door. It’s lovely to see one of my favourite couples reappear, even more in love than before. Fans of Anna, prepare to be charmed by a certain boy masterpiece and our delightfully neurotic girl all over again.
7. Cricket Graham Bell Guys, I loved Cricket Bell just as much as I loved Anna and the French Kiss’ Etienne St.Clair. But Cricket Bell is not Etienne. Cricket is awkward, geeky, and—this ‘word’ has never been more appropriate—completely adorkable. There are no moral quandaries for Cricket. It’s painfully obvious he’s desperately in love with Lola, but he respects she has a boyfriend. Cricket’s had a difficult childhood, and been constantly moved around the country, but he’s not bitter, he’s not broken. He’s sunshine. He’s simple. He’s good. He’s sweet and funny, and kind. He’s as quirky in his own ways as Lola is in hers. Cricket is amazing.
8. The tension and the romance Lola and Cricket are perfect for each other, just like mac and cheese, fries and ketchup, or hot chocolate and marshmallows (note to self: no more writing when hungry). From the first moment Cricket Bell shows his sweet, goofy face, it’s painfully obvious that Lola’s deep deep deep in Denial. Yes—with a capital ‘D’. The tension between them crackles with electricity. It’s delightful and heartbreaking to watch the two struggle with their genuine friendship, and the strain their draw to one another causes. And when the two share a moment… there’s fire. Innocent glances and a brush of hands holds so much heat and intensity and longing it’s a palpable, living thing.
The Verdict: Lola Nolan is not Anna Oliphant, and Lola and the Boy Next Door is certainly not Anna and the French Kiss. They’re both different, and both have their own unique brand of charm and magic. In some ways, I wanted more from Lola. I wanted more Cricket, I wanted more Lola and Cricket, I wanted to see more of Lola’s world, to see more of Lola's friends and family and relationships. But that’s what makes Lola so wonderful: I want more. I’m so completely charmed by Stephanie Perkins—again—that I don’t want to stop living in her world.
Stephanie Perkins once again brings the charm, magic and je ne sais quoi that made her debut so utterly memorable and loveable. Sparkling, vibrant characters, and sugar sweet, heart-melting romance as colourful and vivid as the blindingly bright Lola herself combine to make Lola what it is: simply wonderful. (less)
One smoking hot bad boy? Check. One brainless, reckless, but still cool heroine? Check. One diabolical baddie? Check. And a twisty, eerie, story woven...moreOne smoking hot bad boy? Check. One brainless, reckless, but still cool heroine? Check. One diabolical baddie? Check. And a twisty, eerie, story woven with mystery and menace? Check. Oh yes: It’s a new Hush, Hush novel. And I was taken by surprise: I freaking loved it.
Three months have passed since the final pages of Crescendo, where we left Patch and Nora as they were torn from each others’ arms by the villainous Hank Millar. Nora wakes up in a cemetary with no memory of the last five months. No nephilim, no fallen angels, no revelations of shady parentage, or plots on her life… no Patch.
After three months missing, Nora returns to find things have changed. People are keeping secrets, and she doesn’t know who to trust. With a gaping hole in her memory, Nora know she can’t move forward without first facing her past. What happened to her? Who should she trust? Should she sneak out in the dead of night after escaping kidnapping? Start a fight with her mum for no reason? Perhaps throw herself in front of a Mack truck? And who do the black, silky eyes that haunt her dreams belong to?
Firstly: Silence has the most exciting, scary, suspenseful first chapter/prologue ever. I was hooked from page one. I couldn’t put Silence down, even when I needed to.
We Need to Talk About Nora: I enjoyed Hush, Hush immensely, despite being seriously freaked out that the whole storyline revolved around a romance developed specifically with the intent of the romancer murdering the romancee. It was mysterious and creepy, and a sense of menace was was woven throughout the story. Then Crescendo came, and I don’t remember ever hating a character as much as I hated Nora. This girl is about as sharp as a pool noodle. Well, I had the same problem with Silence, but I must admit—blissfully—to a far lesser degree.
When Nora mysteriously reappears after twelve weeks missing, so she sneaks out in the dead of night to a cemetery. Alone. Her mum's being kind and understanding? She hurls abuse at her. The girl's mood changes direction faster than the wind can. She gave me whiplash. I couldn't blame Patch if he'd taken the opportunity to hightail it out of there, and hope the amnesia stuck. But alas, no luck. Yes, Nora still has an unhealthy proclivity to run headlong into danger, but in Silence she at least seemed to acknowledge when she was being slightly reckless, and she had cause to. I wound up quite enjoying her after a while, and I admired her grit and tenacity. Something’s been stolen from her—something huge—and she’s sure as hell not going to stop until she gets it back. Go Team Grey!
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (I’m talking the poem, but man oh man I <3 that movie) Coming into this book, I thought I was going to hate the amnesia plot device, but it worked for me. One of the things that worked so well about Hush, Hush was the feeling of mystery and menace (that’s the third time I’ve used the word ‘menace’ this review. Now it’s four!) that hung over it and enveloped it’s pages and plotlines. It was dark and twisty and kept me guessing. In parts, it left me genuinely jittery and frightened. As we experience Nora’s uncertainty and confusion in Silence, we recapture that feeling: she’s lost, but caught up in a web of lies, trickery and danger she can’t leave behind, all while being completely oblivious to it. The people she trusts to be honest with her are lying, and the honesty ends up coming from a place we’d least expect it...
Scottie The Hottie (And Friends): I hated Scott in Crescendo. Yet another irk with that book. I was genuinely surprised to find a likeable character in him in Silence. He’s grown-up, he’s developed, he’s learned a lot. And he’s good to Nora. I groaned in annoyance and pity when things started to unravel for him.
Vee’s back, but in a much more minor role than previous installments. As always, she’s funny, annoying (in a good way!), and I love the constant inane chatter that comes out her mouth. Nora’s Mum is back, and, well… Mum. It’s hard to watch Mrs Grey in Silence, as she goes through a lot… and doesn’t even know it. She genuinely cares for her daughter, and despite being hard on her sometimes, I try to put myself in her shoes: Nora would not be easy to have as a daughter.
Queen Bitch Marcia Millar is back too, and in a larger role. I was surprised to find myself genuinely caring for Marcie towards the end of this book.
All our favourite (and least favourite) characters back, and there’s development and growth to be seen, which is surprising, as it seems they don’t get a huge amount of page time. Out of necessity, Silence revolves largely around Nora and her often solitary quest to recover her stolen memories. This means we get a lot of Nora, a surprising amount of Scott, and of course...
P A T C H!: Oh, lordie. Patch is baaaack! I loved Patch in Hush, Hush, but he scared the bejeezus out of me. He was there in Crescendo, but the book was drama-drama-drama. After a fair bit of hold out at first, We see a deepening of the relationship between Patch and Nora, and with no hidden or ulterior motives. For the first time, I saw real, genuine feeling and care between the two. Patch showed exactly what he was capable of, and the lengths he would go to in order to protect Nora. There are a few really intense—emotionally as well as physically—scenes shared by our two lovebirds in Silence, and it’s delicious.
Patch shows a bit more of his bad-boy side in dealings with Hank, and we get a few tantalizing hints of his past, though really nothing more.
The Big Bad: Hank Millar is diabolical. At one point in this book, he genuinely had me fooled—there was a moment I thought he might have a soul. Nope. Dude's an asshat. He makes for a fantastic foil and villain. Unpredictable, hard to get a read on, and freaking scary.
The Verdict: I actually think Silence may be my favourite entry in this series. The sense of menace (five!) and mystery that made the first book such a winner is back, and the amnesia element of the storyline allows us to re-learn the series and discover what’s going on along with Nora along with her. Fans of Patch will be very, very happy with this book, as we see a lot more of him, and a much deeper side to him than we ever have before. Fans will also be happy to see Fitzpatrick address the issue of an immortal fallen angel and a very-mortal seventeen girl having a long-term relationship in a very interesting—and very unexpected—way. Prior to reading it, I was slightly annoyed Silence wasn’t going to be the final Hush, Hush installment, I wanted that Happily Ever After! Now I’m dying for the next. Mystery, danger, romance and all-round general awesome, Silence is awesome, action-packed excitement.(less)
I have seriously mixed thoughts on Beautiful Chaos. On one hand, I love Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl’s writing and, like always, it shines through....moreI have seriously mixed thoughts on Beautiful Chaos. On one hand, I love Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl’s writing and, like always, it shines through. The second half of this book was exciting, and left me not just with tears in my eyes, but crying. Ugly crying. On the other hand, the ending felt like a kick in the gut, and I really struggled to get into the story after a very slow start. Beautiful Chaos was not easy to read.
Imagine the movie trailer voice: THIS SUMMER, THE APOCALYPSE IS COMING TO GATLIN. We join Ethan in a darker place than we have before, and something is wrong. He's losing the plot. In addition to dangerous dreams, he’s forgetting himself. Memories, phone numbers, everyday details, Ethan's losing little pieces of himself one bit at a time. Not good. He can’t even confide in Amma: she’s gone darker than she ever has before.
Since Lena claimed herself, both the Caster and Mortal worlds seem to be falling apart. I wasn't joking about the apocalypse. Drought, pestilence, swarms of locusts. The Caster's powers are misfiring, which is kind of dangerous when you can set fire to things with your brain. Where Beautiful Creatures and Beautiful Darkness were about choosing your own path, and taking control of your destiny, Beautiful Chaos is about dealing with the consequences, and perhaps about the inevitability of fate.
“The Mortal world is in a state of beautiful chaos, which will ultimately lead to an exquisite end.”
These books are so immersive. As Beautiful Chaos commenced, some quality or cadence of tone sucked me once more into the tiny world of Gatlin, and had me enthralled by that lush, hypnotic, flowing prose Garcia and Stohl have mastered. The short version: I love Garcia/Stohl's writing. The quality and feel of it. But I struggled to get into the story.
Beautiful Chaos has SO. MUCH. GOING. ON. that for the first half—that’s 250 pages, folks—it felt like nothing happened. So much time was spent on setting up so many different plot threads, events, and carrying over ones from the previous book, it was overwhelming. I struggled through the beginning of Beautiful Chaos like I was walking through knee-deep mud. But then, thankfully, it got GOOD. Pages 250-500-something are exciting, mysterious, high-stakes and everything I expect from these two darned-talented authors.
Did Someone Turn Out The Lights? The Caster Chronicles have always been dark, but Beautiful Chaos is darker. The bleak tone and hopelessness of the situation in Gatlin weighed down on me, and as much as I love revisiting the world of this series, for me it made Beautiful Chaos hard to read.
Once again, people are keeping secrets, but this time, the people we trust to have the answers—Amma, Macon Marian and the other Casters—are at a loss themselves. The safety net’s gone. The stakes are higher this time; the dangers seem more real. Characters we’ve come to know and love get hurt. And, as the cover copy promises: this time, there’s no happy ending. There’s a feeling of desperation hanging over our favourite Caster-Mortal blended/extended family, and it rubs off on the reader.
One of the darkest points of Beautiful Chaos for me was Amma: like Ethan, we’ve come to count on Amma as our pillar of strength, but Amma’s falling apart at the seams. Seeing Amma like this was heartbreaking and frightening. The lady's a seer--if she’s that worried, well, people: we have problems.
Did I Say *Tiny* World? One of the things I love most about the Caster Chronicles is Gatlin: it’s as much a central character as Amma or Macon. It’s not just a backdrop, but a living, breathing thing. Wake’s Landing, Marion’s library, Ravenwood, the tunnels, the cliquey school, the self-righteous, bigoted DAR and quirky sisters combine into something larger than themselves. I love Gatlin. It excites and terrifies me. It’s like the TARDIS: there’s more than meets the eye—it’s bigger on the inside!
“Don’t you start Mercy-Lynne. You know vegetabalism is one step closer ta a world without panties an’ preaches. That there is a documented fact.”
Hmmm... So Basically: Unfortunately, for me, Beautiful Chaos didn’t feel like its own book, but more of a culmination of the events of those preceding it. The whole book was climax Climax CLIMAX! Then it ended. Seriously. Mega-uber-massive cliffhanger. And not in a good way. Beautiful Chaos was five hundred pages of build up to an event that didn’t happen in this book.
I’m the first to admit I don’t love cliffhangers, but I can respect a good one... and in a way, I suppose this one was, but, at the same time, there was no resolution to any of the events within this book, and that frustrates me. I was left knowing (almost) as little on page 516 as I was on page 1.
Despite these complaints, I enjoyed Beautiful Chaos. The writing is gorgeous, the stakes are high, the characters I know and love are all there hiding their secrets, and Gatlin? My oh my I love Gatlin.
Beautiful Chaos was dense, convoluted, overwhelming, heartbreaking and... unsatisfying, on some level. Nevertheless, it’s achieved its goal: I’m eagerly anticipating book four, if for no other reason than to find out how this one actually ends! If you're a fan of the Caster Chronicles, definitely read Beautiful Chaos. If you're already undecided on this series, Beautiful Chaos will do little to change your mind.(less)
Let me start by saying that the blurb for this book is terribly misleading. The community is not trying to hide any secrets at all.
Cryer's Cross is a...moreLet me start by saying that the blurb for this book is terribly misleading. The community is not trying to hide any secrets at all.
Cryer's Cross is a small rural community, with a population of less than 250. When a school student goes missing, the tiny population is shocked to its core, but slowly returns to normal. Life goes on, but then 16 year old Kendall Fletcher's boyfriend, Nico, who she's known all her life, disappears also. Struggling to cope with her OCD, and the loss of the boy and best friend she's never known life without, Kendall tries to piece her life back together. But she's drawn to the one thing both Nico and missing girl, Tiffany, shared in common: a desk. And she swears she's noticed graffiti scratched into it that looks fifty years old, but wasn't there before... but that's crazy, right?
Cryer's Cross is addictive, from page one. The disappearance of one girl was sad, but you could feel the town settle back into its normal routine; life going on, and leaving a shattered family behind. When Kendall's best friend/boyfriend, Nico, disappears, the town is not the same, and the events and mystery that follow kept me flicking through the pages holding my breath. Between chapters, the book's peppered with short passages that are both sinister and obscure, and add to the creepy atmosphere of the story.
Lisa McMann has a unique way of writing that feels incredibly intimate. When Nico vanishes, Kendall's world is shattered. I felt the heavy, oppressive weight of her grief, and I cried real tears with her. When her hope of his return lapsed into doubt, then hollow acceptance, I felt her despair and depression. I felt empty inside when she realized her goals and dreams had been torn from her, but kept on keeping on. What Kendall experiences in this book is painful, real, and very serious. This is not a light, fun, weekend read: Cryer's Cross is emotionally intense, dark, and seriously creepy.
Given McMann's unique writing style, I'm inevitably drawn to make comparisons to Janie, from the WAKE series. Kendall feels younger than Janie, but this doesn't feel wrong. Kendall is from a very small rural community, and she's a lived a quiet, sheltered existence. She hasn't experienced half of what Janie had, and rather than a protagonist already as damaged as Janie (though not without her issues), we witness a loss of that innocence. Kendall suffers from OCD, and experiencing the burden this with her is heavy, but fascinating. She's an interesting character, and she's engaging. As is Cryer's Cross in its entirety.
I'm not sure what else to say--with this book, the less you know, the better. I was constantly questioning what was going on, what would happen next, and completely in the dark the whole time. It's FANTASTIC.
Eerie, dark, haunting and heartbreaking, Cryer's Cross is gripping YA fiction at its best. No vampires, no werewolves or faeries here. A fantastic offering from the brilliant Lisa McMann.(less)