I have to give this book props for being a YA sci-fi/fantasy book that ISN'T a trilogy and actually wraps up the story in one book. Halfway through II have to give this book props for being a YA sci-fi/fantasy book that ISN'T a trilogy and actually wraps up the story in one book. Halfway through I couldn't believe it was a standalone and had to double check that there wasn't a sequel because the way it was set up, I couldn't believe it would finish in 100+ pages. And it did. There's an epilogue. So legit.
This book has some really interesting elements. We have alien attacks, post-apocalyptic survival, massive deaths, superhero powers... The first chapter wastes no time in kicking things off with a bang. Aside from a few occasional lulls in the story, it definitely kept my interest, especially the twist at the end I did NOT see coming and the resolution.
My main gripe, and the reason I am not giving 4 stars, is the protagonist. She did nothing for me. The quiet, thin, beautiful girl who puts up walls is kind of the epitome of a stock YA female lead. Throw in a romance with a more dynamic male character and I'm left rolling my eyes over what he sees in her. So many YA books seem to suffer because the author chose to surround their (boring) leads -- male and female -- with secondary characters who are way more interesting and likable. Why do girl protagonists always have to be wallflowers who are afraid of their own ~quiet strength~? Who never feel beautiful? Madeleine is technically the strongest character -- when it comes to their supernatural powers -- but she never seems to own it. Very deus ex machina. Picture Bella from Twilight. But she can also punch a hole in a building with pure energy.
But back to those cooler secondary characters. Talk about diversity! While it did feel a little forced sometimes, I really did appreciate the variety of ethnicities, genders, etc. of all of the characters. You don't see enough of that in the SF/F genre and I love that Host made it a point to include them. Maybe they were a little too quirky sometimes, but I digress.
Also, I rarely say this about a book, but I think it could have used a little tighter editing. There were too many moments of confusion for me and a lot of re-reading of sections to figure out what the heck just happened. Nearly every new chapter begins after a period of time has passed since the end of the previous chapter. The previous chapter will end on a cliffhanger, then the next chapter starts and, like, a day has passed and they are having a conversation about things I don't know yet, and I have to try and work out what they're saying until they finally reveal what happened during that gap in time between chapters. This type of narrative trick is fine if you use it once or twice in a novel, but EVERY chapter was a little excessive. It threw off the pacing. It was annoying, but it didn't ruin the book for me by any means.
Conclusion: if you enjoy aliens and superpowers and fun, quick reads--check this one out!
I received this eARC free from the Publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review....more
This book is probably not a 4 star book overall, it's more like a 3 star book with some 4 star moments. To begin with, it's a YA book with a male narrThis book is probably not a 4 star book overall, it's more like a 3 star book with some 4 star moments. To begin with, it's a YA book with a male narrator which hardly ever works for me. Authors usually try way too hard to give the guys a "modern" colloquial way of speaking and so first person narration can often be cringe-worthy. This book had some of those moments, but it was never so annoying that you couldn't stand it. I was always pleasantly surprised when a certain passage was particularly beautiful. For example, I nearly teared up during this part:
I saw [Nicki] sobbing and heard her crying out pitifully again and again, "I want to go home! Please! I just want to go home!" And she wasn't pretty anymore or glamorous, the way she had been. But she just looked so wonderful, like such a wonderful person. I thought about how happy it always made her to dress up and wear jewelry and put on makeup and about the sweet way she would sit with the little girls in the village and teach them how to do their hair. It was as if I realized for the first time how great she was, how perfect, really, the one and only perfect Nicki of the world.
That whole sequence/chapter is probably the best part of the book; I think Andrew Klavan captured so perfectly those moments when someone is so close to death that their entire perception of the world changes. There were other "emotional" moments in the book, but nothing lived up to that early sequence. The action/dramatic scenes were fun (I put the book down a couple times during the crocodile scene holy crap), but the whole thing felt too short. It could have easily been twice as long.
I also appreciated that it wasn't ham-fistedly Christian; I'm a Christian and I can admit that most Christian books are super cheesy and lame. To be honest, I think Klavan could have even delved deeper. There could have been more discussions on the morality of certain actions the characters took and more debate on what was right and what was wrong. As it was it was really just a bunch of mentions of "praying" and even that never really got too specific.
But a part of that 4 star rating is because of Meredith. THANK YOU, author, for making the strongest character in this book a lady. ...more
I got this as my first free giveaway here on Goodreads and was SO EXCITED! Fell in love with the cover immediately and the prologue definitely grabbedI got this as my first free giveaway here on Goodreads and was SO EXCITED! Fell in love with the cover immediately and the prologue definitely grabbed me.
Horlock is without a doubt a talented writer. Often when authors apply the dual narrative gimmick it ends up reading like the exact same narrator (made more hilarious when they’re supposed to be different genders). Horlock pretty much shoved that problem off a cliff (eh? See what I did there?). The dual narrative voices in Book of Lies were incredibly clear and distinct. In fact, I’ve actually seen that listed as a complaint in other reviews: it sometimes seems as though you’re reading two different books. I admit it’s a little jarring: snarky/angsty modern teen girl vs. WWII memoirs. But it paid off in the end.
I really liked how Horlock dealt with the theme of lies/truth. As much as I liked Cat’s distinct voice, I kept thinking that not a lot was going on in her timeline—all the action had already happened. However, the story cleverly begins to intertwine with Charlie’s story, leading to a reveal I didn’t see coming and thought was pretty brilliant.
I guess I just got that feeling while reading that this was a talented author’s first work. It wasn’t incredibly engaging and I never felt a sense of urgency to finish. Overall, I definitely liked it, but it was flawed. I really do look forward to what Horlock writes about next, she definitely has a flare for characterization (which I find the overwhelming absence of in today’s fiction so depressing). So thank you, Horlock, for characters who are actual human beings.