I don't know why it's so rare that I love the narrative voice of a teenage boy protagonist. Well, I know why: it's because I usually find them dry, prI don't know why it's so rare that I love the narrative voice of a teenage boy protagonist. Well, I know why: it's because I usually find them dry, prosaic, and colorless. What I mean is that I'm not sure why this is nearly always the case in YA books, Variant included. What's up, male authors? Why do you make your guys so one-dimensional? So perfunctory? Don't be afraid to give them some real heart to go with that quick-thinking, unflappable "personality" they always seem to have. They can describe a girl as something other than "pretty", they can get scared sometimes, they can be wrong. Shake it up, even, make them Crabapple Mcnasties who we all hate to love. Just make me feel something for them.
Authors, if you're feeling rusty on your characterization, I suggest reading the Chaos Walking trilogy--Todd falls out of the book and into whatever room you're reading in and you sort of fall in love with him, regardless of your gender. Or maybe the Tomorrow, When the War Began series? That's an example of a male author writing a female protagonist so painfully real I wonder whose journal he stole, and can I please meet her so we can be besties.
Variant's plot was unique, and I did like the ending. I would not be opposed to reading the sequel. Much like Maze Runner (Dashner's quote on the cover should have been a tip-off), I feel the book only began to get interesting towards the very end (and therefore the sequel has potential), but unlike Maze Runner, Well's book didn't piss me off, only disappoint me slightly. A good thing. I hold out genuine hope for the sequel.
(This book was a free giveaway ARC in return for an honest review.)...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.