Nina Kane is trying to survive, but it's difficult. Her mother is an oblivious drug addict bent on escaping reality, so money, food, and r* spoilers *
Nina Kane is trying to survive, but it's difficult. Her mother is an oblivious drug addict bent on escaping reality, so money, food, and resources are scarce. Nina does everything she can to provide for herself and her little sister Mellie without letting anyone know anything is wrong. She only needs another few months until she's 18 years old and free from her toxic mother. On top of this, the world they live in is incredibly dangerous: demons have decimated their population, making souls scarce. The church rules with an iron fist, but keeps everyone safe from the demons. Nina finds out Mellie is keeping a secret that will destroy everything they tried to accomplish. She meets a rogue exorcist named Finn by chance while being attacked by a revenant who shouldn't even exist. They have to trust each other to get to the bottom of why demons are still around in New Temperance and how to save herself and her sister from the wrath of the clergy.
The world in The Stars Never Rise is different than any other I've seen. Demons have been consuming souls at an alarming rate and possessing people. Possessed people appear normal while demons care enough to pretend. Over time, they get more and more corrupt and deteriorated. The Church saved humanity with exorcisms and made the world safe again. In exchange for safety, the Church expects everyone to adhere to their strict regime which includes purity, faith, and obedience at all costs. Because souls are so restricted, bodily autonomy is a thing of the past. Only women deemed worthy can reproduce. All others are forcibly sterilized. Of those "worthy" women, only ones that can find a soul for their baby are allowed to get pregnant. These souls can be donated from family members or they can try their luck from the very small registry. Women who can't get a soul for their baby are condemned to carry to term, give birth, and watch their baby die with no soul. This world is extremely frightening to me because this puts into practice many religious group's paradise where women have no rights and their particular religion is mandated practice in school, work, and life only with some supernatural elements.
One of the main problems I have with the novel is the conflicting rhetoric. The Church is staunchly against abortion as expected, but abortion is still looked at by the characters as immoral and not an option. I suppose it could be argued that their indoctrination is lifelong and hard to break through, but it annoyed me that these characters recognize that practically everything else about the church is crazy and oppressive bullshit except for this. They affirm this pretty significant church belief. Of course the pregnant teenager in the book wants to keep her baby despite there being no soul available for it (so she would have to simply watch it die) and no resources for her to raise it let alone to take care of just herself. This could have been the perfect opportunity to include a teenage girl who wants an abortion to really push against the religious right wing rhetoric that constantly works to chip away at abortion rights, but Vincent chose to go the opposite way. Everything else in the novel from freedom to sexuality to bodily autonomy is in line with liberal beliefs except this one.
Other than this grievance, I greatly enjoyed The Stars Never Rise. The characters are interesting, particularly Finn who has no body of his own. The romance with a boy who is basically just a spirit and Nina was unique and intriguing. I'm wondering what his backstory is and if he is exactly what he thinks he is. I love Rachel Vincent's writing and her ability to create varied and layered characters. Nina in particular was fun to read with her no nonsense approach, good heart, willingness to self-sacrifice, and her big heart. I also liked that even before all this started happening she didn't believe everything she was fed by the church. I am interested in reading the next installment....more
Cass Dollar is a survivor. She has survived addiction, cannibalistic zombies (called beaters) attacking her, turning into a cannabalistic zombie, losiCass Dollar is a survivor. She has survived addiction, cannibalistic zombies (called beaters) attacking her, turning into a cannabalistic zombie, losing her daughter, and fighting until finding her again. Now Cass is living in a fairly comfortable life in a community called New Eden of fairly friendly people. She doesn't have to fight every day or worry about someone taking her daughter or keep looking over her shoulder. Everything seems to be going fine except she keeps sleeping with Dor despite Smoke being in a coma and she's started drinking again. Everything comes crashing down when beaters start to swarm the shores of the river bordering New Eden and slowly learn to swim. The inhabitants know they are no longer safe and are forced to travel through a dangerous wasteland full of beaters and unsavory people alike. Can Cass's group overcome their weaknesses and survive to be able to find someplace safe to live?
This is the third book in the Aftertime series and it's still going strong. Cass Dollar is one of my favorite zombie apocalypse characters because of her strengths, her weakness, and her humanity. She was attacked by beaters when she first got her daughter back because she was an addict deemed unfit to have custody. She has no idea what she did when affected by the beater fever, but she has a huge amount of guilt over who she may have hurt. Now, Cass does physical labor to keep her mind off her troubles in addition to some drinking at night when she's not responsible for anyone. She has doubts and sometimes doesn't feel she deserves such a comfortable life. I admire her strength and her ability to persevere through everything: being a beater, addiction, relapse, and everything this post-apocalyptic life can throw at her. She's also one of the most physically capable people to take on the beaters. New Haven has gotten too comfortable and very few people have the skills she and Dor have to protect themselves. Cass isn't the best or most virtuous person, but she does her best. Most of the people in this world are shades of grey rather than stark black and white.
The beaters are frightening creatures who aren't strictly dead, but can sustain crazy amounts of damage to their bodies before succumbing to their wounds. They eat people, themselves, and each other (but only in extreme situations). They don't change too much or at a fast rate, but they slowly learn from their comrades mistakes until they can do things like swim and ambush a group of humans. Their nests are disgusting to behold and their appearance gets less and less human as they age. As always, the disease is transmitted through bites or fluid exchange. The beaters are brutal creatures that match this brutal world.
Two things bothered me about the book. One is Cass's total lack of caring that she saw the beaters in huge numbers AND saw them learning to swim without telling anyone. They could have done something to save their haven rather than having a few people die and then relocate when it became too dangerous. I also thought it was weird that she didn't harbor any guilt about that either. The other is the love triangle situation. It's actually a pretty unique one because both men are well characterized and very different. However, I thought her choice was clear pretty early on and it just seemed to drag out too long after that. Other than that, Horizon is an enjoyable but dark read. There are no sappy happy endings for these characters and I appreciate that Sophie Littlefield keeps that realism consistent throughout the series. ...more
Ridgedale, New Jersey is a quiet town until a dead newborn is found in the woods bordering the prestigious college. The whole town is sent reeling byRidgedale, New Jersey is a quiet town until a dead newborn is found in the woods bordering the prestigious college. The whole town is sent reeling by the senseless tragedy. Speculation abounds, but no one seems to know anything about its origins. Molly Sanderson is a freelance journalist working for the Ridgedale Reader and recovering from a miscarriage and the depression that followed. She is unexpectedly is sent to cover the story and she's shocked at the discovery. The case obviously hits close to home and she is determined to find out who is responsible. Memories from her own tragedy resurface, but her determination doesn't waver. Her investigation will delve deeper than she expected into the town's past and unearth secrets thought to be long buried.
Where They Found Her is a well written and multilayered mystery. It's told from the point of view of three women: Molly Sanderson, the freelance journalist with a recent tragedy; Sandy Mendelson, a teenage high school drop out trying to cope with her drug addled mom; and Barbara Carlson, wife of the chief of police and busy body extraordinaire. All three of these women are fully realized with their own voices and points of view. Molly is trying to move forward from her depression by seeking justice for the dead, abandoned newborn. Her story is the most fleshed out with journal entries and transcripts from therapy sessions interspersed between chapters. She lets her personal feelings drive her and refuses to back away when others try to baby her or deter her. I admire her conviction and rooted for her throughout the story. Sandy Mendelson is also very sympathetic. She dropped out of school to work so she and her mom could live. Her mom is an erratic and irresponsible drug user and alcoholic. It's sucks to live with her mom, but it's what she knows. Who knows how bad foster care would be. She works tirelessly to provide for her mom. I loved the reveal of her mom. She refers to her mom by her first name and they just seemed like roommates until she offhandedly called her mom. The revelation was shocking and put Sandy's life sharply into perspective: her mom's inappropriate sexual behavior, drug use, and irresponsibility with money. The two seemed the same age, showing Sandy's maturity and her mother's immaturity. I just wanted to shake Sandy and tell her to leave and never look back.
This brings us to Barbara. She's the parent I would hate to encounter. She puts a crazy amount of pressure on her kids to be perfect and doesn't care that they are both close to cracking. Quick to criticize others and put everyone else under great scrutiny, she is super offended if anyone suggests she's doing anything wrong. When her son starts acting uncharacteristically violent, she was quick to blame another mom. Then she brought him in to a therapist and she didn't want to listen to him. Her own preconceived notion of what happened had to be the truth no matter what anyone else told her. It was interesting to see into her head and witness her fall from what she thought was above everyone else. The revelations at the end of the novel directly affected her in surprising ways. Long buried secrets reemerged and just shows that even if something is decades in the past, you can never truly be safe from it. If things had been dealt with back then, a lot of lives could have been a lot better.
Where They Found Her is an engrossing mystery that had me constantly reevaluating my predictions and ended up surprising me. My only criticism is some of the red herrings where so obvious that they didn't even seem worth mentioning. Other than that, I greatly enjoyed the novel. I'm a sucker for a small town with lots of secrets. I would definitely read Kimberly McCreight's next book....more
Princess Aurora wakes up unexpectedly after over one hundred years of enchanted sleep as a result of the curse she was put under as a child by a malicPrincess Aurora wakes up unexpectedly after over one hundred years of enchanted sleep as a result of the curse she was put under as a child by a malicious witch. Everyone keeps telling her how much more wonderful life will be for the people now that she's awake, but she just doesn't feel it. The boy who kissed her awake is nice, but she doesn't love him. The fictionalized version of her story where she brings magic back to the kingdom and lives happily ever after with her true love is widespread and rings so false to Aurora. She doesn't know what to do: keep being the royal family's pretty and useless pawn while the common people starve, join the resistance to overthrow the corrupt king, or something else entirely her own?
Right from the beginning, A Wicked Thing just sucks you in. How would you feel if you had been sleeping for a hundred years and some random boy invaded your room to kiss you? Suspicious and violated are my guesses and how I would feel. She has no idea how much time has passed and everyone she loved or even knew are now dead. The beginning of this book is perfect and illustrates how a real person would feel in a fairy tale situation. I was immediately on Aurora's side. Her struggle to make sense of this new world rings true and made me sympathize with her. Her parents practically smothered her growing up and her new family isn't much better, but only because of the strategic benefit of her presence and not because they actually like or care about her. She longs to be free and make her own decisions. Unlike the classic Sleeping Beauty, Aurora isn't a delicate flower of a heroine, waiting for her true love to save her. She's also not an action hero either. She's a conflicted girl mostly just trying to figure out what she really wants and what path will hurt the least amount of people. With no clear cut answers, she spends the majority of the book letting others push her around until things get really dire.
A few things annoyed me about the book. It's pretty slow moving and seemed like the goal was to stretch the plot to make a series rather than just have a good stand alone. Much of the book felt like marking time because it was the same situations: Aurora agonizing about her decisions, then people pushing her around, and Aurora allowing herself to be pushed around. There were way too many love interests and most of them weren't interesting. The majority of them wanted her for what she represented and power, but not because they actually liked her. The evil fairy who cursed her was also largely absent from the book and she's one of the few characters I find interesting. Although I generally liked the book, I'm not sure if I would read the sequel. The ending had a lot of action, but I'm not looking forward to another book were very little even happens....more
Lark and Wren Noble are twins who are very different. Lark has white hair while Wren has red hair. Lark is more sarcastic while Wren is more sunny. LaLark and Wren Noble are twins who are very different. Lark has white hair while Wren has red hair. Lark is more sarcastic while Wren is more sunny. Lark is alive while Wren died when she was born. They can communicate and see each other, but no one else can see Wren. Rumors abound as they grew up when Lark's imaginary friend never went away and it stopped being cute. Lark attempted suicide, was saved by her friend Mace, and was sent to a mental institution for her supposed delusions. She's back and a bit traumatized and more jaded, but better than ever. Now, Mace needs her help. A group of his friends stupidly pissed off an old and very powerful ghost at a dilapidated mental institution and desperately need their help. Can Lark and Wren beat this powerful ghost or will they die trying?
I loved Kady Cross's Clockwork Century series, so I had to read her new supernatural book with a modern setting. The strength of the novel is in the sisters. Lark and Wren are fully realized and have very different outlooks on life. Lark is snarky, sarcastic, introverted, and kind of cold. Some might find her unpleasant, but I understood where she was coming from. Most view her as a crazy freak and don't care to get to know her. She recently went through a dark patch where she tried to kill herself and ended up in a mental institution. There, she had herself almost convinced that Wren was a delusion, but came through stronger than ever. Now, she has to lay low and keep attention from herself to ensure never returning to that awful, ghost infested place. She owns her mistakes and learns from them. She can be a bit reckless, but she's crazy brave and willing to fight for those she cares for. The power she shares with her sister is strong and not fully understood by either of them. Not everything can be Googled. I liked that they learned their limitations and abilities over time through experience.
Wren is a bit different. She obviously can't talk to a lot of people and has minimal contact with other ghosts because of her close bond to her sister. Loneliness is pretty familiar for her. Then, she suddenly has a few more friends and a living boy who both likes her and can communicate with her. Wren is definitely more friendly, warm, and much less jaded than her sister. I felt for her because she doesn't really have a life of her own. She can explore the Shadowlands and meet other dead people, but she chooses to stick close to her sister and the land of the living. It simply isn't enough to have only one person to interact with. Wren also has a dark side that she rarely indulges in, but it's definitely disturbing and she relishes in it. She hides it from Lark and it'll be interesting to see how deep into it she's willing to go in future books.
The story itself is pretty cool. I liked how Cross wasn't afraid to delve into some darkness and gore, but it was fairly predictable. I expected some wrenches thrown into my expectations, but was a bit disappointed. I also didn't really like many of the human characters beyond Lark. Mace kind of seemed sleazy because he clearly has a crush on Lark, but also has a girlfriend. That girlfriend (her name escapes me) is insufferable. If you thought Lark was a bitch, this girl takes the cake. She's mean for absolutely no reason and stays that way. The writing for Lark and Wren is so good, but this girl is super flat and every time she showed up I wanted to throw the book across the room. Kevin the clairvoyant was mediocre and the other human characters just kind of jumble together in my mind. The cover really bothers me. The concept is good, but the photoshop looks awful.
Overall, Sisters of Blood and Spirit was a fun book. I always like dark stories with fun characters. Everything was not always gloom and doom. Cross brings in humor to lighten the mood and break up some of the heaviness. The ending is satisfying without tying everything up too neatly and I would eagerly pick up the next book....more
Prudence "Rue" Akeldama doesn't have much to do in England. Lord Akeldama gives her a dirigible, which she paints like a ladybug and names the SpottedPrudence "Rue" Akeldama doesn't have much to do in England. Lord Akeldama gives her a dirigible, which she paints like a ladybug and names the Spotted Custard, and charges her with the very important task of bringing new strain of tea from India back to England. Rue assembles a crew including her best friend and fashionista Prim, Prim's academic twin brother Percy, and rakish French engineer Quesnel to aid her in her quest. They encounter a wide variety of unforeseen problems and complications on the way that includes whole new races of shapeshifters, a kidnapped brigadier's wife, culture shock, an ages old rivalry, and, of course, tea.
Prudence is the first novel in the Custard Protocal series that leaps forward years after the last Parasol Protectorate book. The world looks a bit different with frivolous Ivy Tunstell as a vampire queen (and whose hideous preference in fashion actually matters) and the younger generation making their own trouble. The first quarter of the book describes the world and how it stands since the end of the previous series. At first, I thought the old characters seemed to be cartoony caricatures of themselves, but they are being viewed by Prudence who may very well see them that way. When Alexia and Maccon share a private moment seeing Prudence off when she leaves unexpectedly (to everyone else) early, it feels like the real characters again. The novel really takes off after Prudence and her crew leave for India. It's a new setting for the world and I thought the culture, flavor, and sights were well written.
Rue and her best friend Primrose Tunstell couldn't be more different. Rue is a firecracker as she has been since she was a child. She never really grew out of seeing the rules of polite society as frivolous and unnecessary, but she reigns herself in a bit more than as a child. Besides Rue's ability to borrow other supernaturals' abilities, she can also morph her personality to suit any given situation by taking traits from those she knows. I liked this because it's not supernatural; it's just a product of being observant and knowing what attitude is needed for the situation. Rue just has an infection exuberance for adventure and she's fun to read. As much as she seems to dismiss her mother, they have more in common than she's willing to admit. Primrose is easily dismissed as being as frivolous and annoying as her mother, but she is different. She has actually good taste in fashion and ensures everyone around her isn't a fashion disaster. She also is deft at manipulating situations within the bounds of polite society and resolving everything in a civilized fashion. Neither character is exactly like past characters or their parents and provide a breath of fresh air in this new series.
Prudence is a fun steampunk adventure with new characters. Some people thought the resolution of the book was problematic due to imperialism, which it is, but Prudence alone can't fix the problems of one country occupying another. I think she resolved the situation the best way she could have. Overall, Prudence is a worthy successor to Alexia and I can't wait to read more of her adventures....more
Golden Son starts shortly after Red Rising. Darrow au Andromedus has accepted a position with Augustus, Archgovernor of Mars, after his rule breakingGolden Son starts shortly after Red Rising. Darrow au Andromedus has accepted a position with Augustus, Archgovernor of Mars, after his rule breaking stint at the Academy. Things aren't going well. Darrow makes some miscalculation and other insidious people spread mostly untrue rumors about him to discredit him. It doesn't help that the Bellona family still wants him dead and it has escalated to a house war. All of this is why Augustus is on the verge of abandoning Darrow despite his potential. Darrow allies with an old enemy and exploits injustice he sees in their Sovereign to descend Gold society into chaos. Now it's Augustus and their few allies against the Sovereign and most other Golds. To win the war, he must convert Golds to his side and crush the rest while keeping his true aim, to destroy the hierarchy their society depends upon, a secret.
Like Red Rising, Golden Son starts a bit slow. I read the first book a year and a half ago, so I don't remember every character with great clarity. The book just throws the reader into the world with no recap to speak of. About a hundred pages in, I felt solid with the characters and the story really takes off. Darrow faces hell in this installment. First, he's disgraced and almost gives up on his mission altogether. He is totally unprepared for the indirect backstabbing and cattiness of Gold society and just flounders. After everything looks hopeless, he almost succumbs to a senselessly violent plan that would do nothing but make Gold vengeance swift and terrible. Throughout the novel, plans are formulated and things seem like they looking up, but then nothing ever turns out as it should. When the Sovereign throws out their society's laws for her own political gains, Darrow sees where he can create chaos and start a war with the highest and most corrupt level of the Golds. He quickly rises to power with the backing of Augustus and Golds follow in his wake to glom onto his success.
My favorite part of Golden Son is Darrow's consistent efforts to treat other colors the same as he treats Golds. He never forgets that deep down he is Red and what his true mission is: to overthrow the caste system and make everyone equal. Although it angers his allies, he puts this into practice by allowing a Blue to command his ship, allowing an Obsidian to wield a weapon made exclusively for Gold, and striving to keep the other colors out of the crossfire of the Gold war. He even causes a whole enemy ship of Lowcolors to follow him by treating them as people and valuing their lives and talents. The best instance of this Darrow's conversation with Ragnar the Obsidian. Darrow reveals his true origins and throws Ragnar's world into chaos. Obsidians are taught that they are slaves to the Golds, who are nothing short of gods. Darrow forces Ragnar to decide for himself if he wants to follow Darrow or go along with Gold propaganda. Little by little, Darrow undermines the status quo and breaks down at least a little of the brainwashing the Golds work so hard to maintain.
Golden Son is an addicting read. War in earnest comes to the Golds and it's not as glorious as they were expecting. I was on the edge of my seat for most of the book and I was surprised by the plot's twist and turns. It doesn't fall into the second book of a trilogy trap. The story is compelling and interesting in its own right while still setting up for the big finale. The ending is so insane and does end on a cliffhanger. I usually hate that, but I didn't mind it. I can't wait to read the final book, Morning Star....more
May Harper and Lily Deaton have been best friends since fifth grade. They do everything together although May is kind of awkward and shy while Lily isMay Harper and Lily Deaton have been best friends since fifth grade. They do everything together although May is kind of awkward and shy while Lily is confident and outgoing. Together, they created the adventures of Princess X, a girl who lives in a haunted house, wheres sneakers, and carries a samurai sword. Then Lily and her mother die in a car accident. Now, May is sixteen and still feeling unresolved about her best friend's death. She starts to see Princess X everywhere on street art and stickers all over the place. Princess X is now a famous web comic with a mysterious creator. The adventures are different, but most of the characters are the same. Princess X has to find the five keys in order to escape the Needle Man. May starts to read it and sees references to her childhood with Lily. Convinced Lily is still alive, May examines the comic and tries to find the messages she believes Lily has left for her with the help of a tech savvy neighbor. Their quest attracts the attention of the real life Needle Man and the race is on to connect the dots and help Lily before he catches them.
I Am Princess X is Cherie Priest's first foray into young adult fiction and I enjoyed it. It's a hybrid comic book and novel. I read an ARC, so I didn't get to see the majority of the comic part. The art at the beginning was adorable and I'll have to pick up an official copy so I can see the grown up Princess X art. It starts with May and Lily's friendship and their adventures of Princess X. It's adorable, creative, and gave me the warm fuzzies. Then Priest drops the bomb: Lily and her mother die in a car accident. May never really recovers from it and always has an inkling that Lily is still alive. A lot of things just didn't add up and she discovers that her best friend and her mother were actually murdered. Her father rightfully becomes concerned when Lily obsesses over the Princess X comics. Maybe May is latching onto it simply because she never had closure and she sees things that aren't there. I was surprised that the plot went so dark, especially in such stark contrast to the happy, bubbly beginning. The darker plot really hit me and I felt for May.
The rest of the novel is a cool mystery/thriller where May deciphers each of the keys to find the mysterious comic book creator while avoiding the villain. I enjoyed her friendship with Trick, the hacker who gets roped into all this. They have kind of a sibling vibe and trade snarky remarks. The lack of any romantic subplot is so refreshing and I wish more YA books would follow suit. My only real problem with the novel is the Needle Man. He may as well be a shadow because his presence is just a blank menace. He doesn't even really seem like a person. The creepy factor is pretty high, but I don't care for one dimensional villains. The rest of the book is so well written that it stands out as meh....more
Alexander Feldman is a virtuoso violinist and well regarded teacher who is sought after for his talents and revered by the music community. He is alsoAlexander Feldman is a virtuoso violinist and well regarded teacher who is sought after for his talents and revered by the music community. He is also volatile, passionate, and sometimes cruel. In the middle of his career, he bought the Silver Swan, a Stradivarius cello, to play for his career and pass on to his daughter, Mariana. She performs and teaches well herself, but abruptly quits her career after a failed concert and a scandal involving a years long affair with a married conductor. Now, she focuses on taking care of her father as a passes 90 years old. He passes away and leaves her a note, detailing his decades long affair with another woman. Then another bomb drops when he leaves the beloved and priceless Silver Swan to that woman's son, Claude Roselle, so the cello can continue to be heard in performance. These revelations turn Mariana's world upside down and she starts to come apart at the seams.
I am a musician and love music, so I have a hard time passing up books about music. The Silver Swan has a lot of enjoyable elements. Alexander's magnetic presence is all over the novel, even after he has died. He is wonderful and terrible all at once. His tremendous talent makes him justify his giant ego and his selfish, demanding nature. It was especially interesting to see all sides of him and how each character viewed him. Mariana sees the most of both. He wants her to succeed and become great, but he also doesn't want her to surpass him, so he puts her down whenever he can. Their relationship is complex and difficult. The musical elements are well described and actually accurate.
Unfortunately, all the characters are pretty awful. Mariana seems pretty reasonable and relatable at first, but rapidly becomes unlikable. She is so upset that her dad cheated for so long, but she had a years long affair with a married man as well. It doesn't really make sense. I'm more surprised that he didn't have more lovers and children out there. Claude is just a huge douchebag. He begins an affair with Mariana while he is in a committed relationship with someone else without disclosing it when Mariana specifically asked. He ignores his girlfriend when he's with Mariana and then Mariana when he's with his girlfriend. Then he wonders why everyone is mad at him and laments over wanting to be free from being tied down while also sleeping with any woman he wants. Claude is the whiniest, childish idiot and I kind wish he would just shut up. The whole book is like two children fighting over a toy.
Some of the plot developments got really weird and V.C. Andrews-esque. There's a really weird scene where Mariana's mom accuses her of incest and replacing her with Alexander. It was really off the wall and out of place. There was enough there to be interesting without venturing into this territory. The back cover touts it as being sensual and sexy, but it's really quite awkward and not very well written. Overall, The Silver Swan is an interesting read but has a lot of big flaws that makes it insufferable by the end. ...more
Kestrel made a deal to free Herran with the emperor in exchange for her betrothal to the emperor's son. She is surrounded by the best of Valorian sociKestrel made a deal to free Herran with the emperor in exchange for her betrothal to the emperor's son. She is surrounded by the best of Valorian society and all the riches she could want, but she's completely unhappy. She's torn between wanting to further help Arin and the Herrani people and loyalty to her own people and her father. Of course she has to keep her true motives from everyone, including Arin, to be able to eventually rule the empire and do some good. The emperor is controlling and demanding, keeping watch over Kestrel's every move. Arin, on the other hand, is also miserable, but for completely different reasons. Herran may be technically free, but Valoria is leeching the country for all its worth so the people are as impoverished and beaten down as ever. Arin is trying to his best for his country, but he essentially has no power. Can Kestrel and Arin make a difference in their respective situations? Will they stay estranged forever?
The Winner's Curse was one of my favorite reads of last year and its sequel follows that same trend. It doesn't fall into the second book funk that so many other trilogies do. Although there isn't a huge revolution like in the first book, much of the plot is political intrigue and misunderstandings. Kestrel has to navigate the shark invested waters of the Valorian capital. She can never be herself or let her true feelings known, so she's constantly assessing how best to lie in each situation. With both the war in the East and the situation in Herran, Kestrel has to suggest ways to minimize harm without seeming too sympathetic towards the enemy cause. The emperor has taken her under his wing in the worst way possible. His goal is to make her as callous and cruel as possible to follow in his footsteps since he's labeled his sympathetic son as a lost cause. Kestrel can be his true heir if she follows his guidance. Understandably horrified, she struggles to seem like a true protege so she can do some real good as ruler when she and his son take over. However, this training includes witnessing torture and enduring countless mind games that wear on her psychologically. I felt for her each step of the way. I didn't always agree with her decisions, but I understood where she was coming from, even through all of the deceptions and lies. Juggling so many expectations and deceptions wears on a person.
The story also follows Arin and his struggle to save his country. The freedom of Herran is a sham since the emperor demands more money and resources than they can afford to give. Arin is still expected to be part of Valorian society even though it's painfully obvious how separate he is from them. He's mocked, looked down upon, and treated like dirt. After Kestrel convinces him she is a heartless opportunist and the emperor attempts to murder him, Arin recklessly decides to go to the East to secure an alliance against Valoria. His story is so heartbreaking because there's truly no hope for his people without outside help. He's powerless in the face of the empire and his people starve and become sick with every passing day. His exploits in Dacran expand the world and allow the reader an unbiased look at this different culture as well as bring back an interesting character from the first book. Arin spends most of the novel angry or frustrated and I also felt for him. I was impressed by his ideas even if the implementation may have been a little rough. It's just part of who he is. He isn't built for intrigue or deception and it's one of his endearing qualities.
The Winner's Crime puts Arin and Kestrel through hell and keeps them mostly apart. Their scenes together were excruciating because they could never be truly honest with one another. It's cliche to have a couple misunderstand and misinterpret things badly, but there's a real reason for it here. The ending is a huge cliffhanger, so wait for the next one if you don't want to sped months wondering what will happen like me. The book moves slower than the last and a lot of the conflict is less obvious, but it's no less exciting or well written. Marie Rutkoski's skilled writing creates vivid images, taps into emotions, and kept me reading for hours on end. I'm counting the days until the conclusion....more
Jekel Loves Hyde takes the classic Jekyll and Hyde story by Robert Louis Stevenson, treats it likes it's actual history, fast forwards to present timeJekel Loves Hyde takes the classic Jekyll and Hyde story by Robert Louis Stevenson, treats it likes it's actual history, fast forwards to present time, and adds teenagers. Jill Jekel and Tristan Hyde couldn't be more different. Jill is a good student who is always on time and achieves the highest she can. Tristan is content to sit in the back of the classroom and read instead of paying attention. Of course he is devastatingly handsome, but he has a dark side. When extremely angry, he blacks out and loses control. He thinks it's a curse originating from Henry Jekyll and wants to work with Jill to somehow find a cure.
I'm a sucker for a good retelling and this book stood on my shelf for years. I finally decided to read it and I simply couldn't finish it. Up until the halfway point, the characters, the plot, and the writing were fine. Nothing momentously good or bad, so I kept reading. The characters are a little flat. Jill is super straight laced and rejects everything else until Tristan comes along. Then she's sneaking out at night, kissing, and breaking into schools. The romance was ok and I was becoming invested in their characters. I really wanted to know why they were two people since Jekyll and Hyde shared a body in the original story. However, I rage quit when Tristan is kissing Jill, attempts to go further than she wants, and she sticks around to comfort him after he comes very close to assaulting her. This a book for teens. I don't want to support a story or an author that shows teens that sexual assault or rape (even attempted) is ok and not the perpetrators fault. The real world solution would be to get as far away from him as possible and get help, not stick around and feel so sorry for his inner evil.
Also, based on reviews, Jill and Tristan trade personalities later in the book so Tristan is super good and Jill has the dark side. Tristan's evil manifests in the urge to kill people and apparently Jill's makes her promiscuous. So a teenage girl being sexual and acting on natural sexual urges is just as bad as a teenage boy attempting to kill people. That's horrible and incredibly sexist. I'm very glad I stopped reading. I won't be subjecting myself to any other books by Beth Fantaskey....more
In 2032, the zombie apocalypse is a thing of the past. Zombies haven't been seen in years and life has gotten back to normal. Josh is fascinated withIn 2032, the zombie apocalypse is a thing of the past. Zombies haven't been seen in years and life has gotten back to normal. Josh is fascinated with them and plays a virtual zombie killing game with his friend Firecracker every chance he gets. The game is based in reality and features a militia that torches zombies with flamethrowers. Josh is steadily rising in the ranks, but has to hide his gaming because his parents think it's in bad taste. He is approached by the best player in the game to play in real life with a team of teen torchers and cybernetic zombies. Josh is eager to play and doesn't notice that things just don't add up. He's just happy to earn some money and do what he enjoys without thought that the guy who runs the event is into some shady stuff and all isn't what it seems.
Z is one of a growing category of books where the zombie apocalypse has already happened and people have moved on. This zombie disease is a flu that attacks the higher brain functions and strengthens the base functions or "lizard brain." Zombies aren't the undead, but people who fail to process pain and are taken over by animalistic instincts. By the time Josh is born, a vaccine has been developed that everyone gets at birth. There are still a lot of dilapidated locations, but most of civilization is back to normal and thriving. This was only mentioned in passing, but biological animals seem to be endangered, but the extent is unclear.
Josh is a typical, middle class kid with typical problems and susceptible to peer pressure. He is obsessed with playing the virtual reality torcher game where he is viewed as a rising star. He hides his gaming activity because his mom made her feelings perfectly clear. His own aunt was one of the earliest people to turn into a zombie and his mom takes offense to her horrifying reality being made into a game. Like a typical teen, he doesn't think about others very much. Throughout the novel, he blindly stumbles into dangerous situations with only thoughts of fun. He joins the real life torcher tournament and doesn't believe the danger is real. In fact, he doesn't think to question anything at all. He takes a drug called Z that makes him act bit zombie-ish for a while and doesn't think anything of it when he attacks random strangers on the street or digs into raw meat with furvor. I found him pretty annoying for the most part until the very end.
I have a problem with the core concept of this book. Why use flamethrowers to subdue zombies? I get that it prevents the spread of the disease, but it should really be used when the zombie is already down for the count. Flamethrowers are not good melee weapons at all. Zombies do not go down automatically when set on fire. It could take a while for them to die, so it's pretty dangerous for everyone around and whatever building they happen to be in to use flamethrowers. I'm not sure why the game, the history, or the real life game torchers didn't just have regular guns to use in tandem with the flamethrowers. The dangers of fire in enclosed spaces and to other humans is mentioned a few times, but no one ever thinks of simple solutions to the problem.
Z is a bit of a disappointment. It's been on my shelf for a while and I had high hopes. The world is interesting and the narrative flows, but Josh is pretty awful and the main concept doesn't make much sense. The ending is a bit abrupt and ends in the middle of a scene, which annoys me. It's wide open for a sequel, but so far there is none. I would give the next book a chance because I enjoy Michael Thomas Ford's writing....more
Anthem Fleet, ballerina extraordinaire, is privileged with having millionaire parents and a cushy apartment. She rarely sees the real world until sheAnthem Fleet, ballerina extraordinaire, is privileged with having millionaire parents and a cushy apartment. She rarely sees the real world until she meets cute Gavin, who is poor and from the wrong side of town. After they illicitly sneak out a few times, she spends the night over at his place. In the middle of the night, a gang of criminals busts in, find out who she is, kidnaps her boyfriend, and demands that she pay an exorbitant ransom to get him back. She rushes home and ends up falling into a river and having her heart replaced by a machine.
The premise is pretty cool and the writing is pretty engaging. Anthem Fleet is a horrible name, but I was willing to overlook it. The world building is nonexistent. I have no idea where it takes place or when. The only differences between the present and the book world is the weird gas mask gangs going around and gassing people and the horrible lingo for drugs. I read about the first 100 pages. Anthem got her new heart from a random illegal doctor who just so happened to have a bionic heart that fit Anthem's body. She wakes up a few days later and sneaks away, totally fine. Not slowed down at all by the very major surgery that REPLACED her heart. She runs home and no one thinks to have her examined even though she was missing for days. Then, on top of this other ridiculousness, the new heart somehow makes her crazy beautiful and have super powers. The whole thing is also based on Anthem being head over heels in love with Gavin, which I just don't buy after so little time and development. I didn't hate the book, but since logic didn't play into the story anywhere, I just put it down and started a new one. ...more
Estelle Paradise wakes up in the hospital after a horrific car accident and some sort of attack with no memory of how she got there. She quickly discoEstelle Paradise wakes up in the hospital after a horrific car accident and some sort of attack with no memory of how she got there. She quickly discovers that her 7 month old daughter Mia has been missing for days. People across the country speculate that she murdered her child and label her convenient amnesia as a lie. The police doubt her story and put her on the top of the suspect list. Even her own husband accuses her of being at fault and essentially abandons her. She checks into a psychiatric care facility with a stellar memory recover therapist in order to find out what happened. What happened to her baby and what happened to her?
Remember Mia brings to life a parent's worst nightmare: a defenseless baby is missing and no one knows what happened. The narrative follows Estelle as she uncovers what happened. The story moves quickly and keeps momentum throughout. I had to know what happened. Estelle is a typical mother. Her baby developed colic a few months in and never recovered. Mia cries and screams all day long no matter what Estelle does. It has worn on her and she's become depressed. Estelle was so excited to have a baby, but the reality is much harder than she imagined. After calling every specialist and having them all tell her the same thing about Mia, her husband draws the line and puts her on antidepressants. She starts losing track of time, forgetting things, and making horrible decisions. In this situation, it's so easy to look in from the outside and call her a bad mom, but she probably has post-partum depression and has no support system at all since her parents died and she doesn't seem to have any friends. I liked Estelle and mostly felt sorry for her. Her mental state makes it hard to tell what is real and what is in her mind.
Although it's a very readable book, I had quite a few problems with the book. The work to recover Estelle's memory seems very easy and conveniently fast. The characters beyond Estelle are pretty one dimensional. Her husband is a self involved jerk who takes no responsibility for anything. I couldn't believe how horrible he was and it really called into question why she even married him in the first place. Even their very first meeting shows his true colors. The villains of the piece literally detailed their entire plan for Estelle like Bond villains. They are flatly evil and call her a bad mother while turning around and admittedly selling children to abusive households or criminals. The book jacket touts itself as similar to Gone Girl, but it's a pretty basic, straight forward story. The twists are few and far between. After the villains are revealed, the plot just becomes uninteresting. I thought the ending was much too convenient and the actual outcome would have been quite tragic.
Overall, I like Remember Mia, but it's a beach read with not a lot of rereadability. It was an interesting adventure, but not terribly complex....more
Fei lives in an isolated mountain-top village where everyone is deaf. Somewhere in their history, they simply lost that particular ability. Fei worksFei lives in an isolated mountain-top village where everyone is deaf. Somewhere in their history, they simply lost that particular ability. Fei works in the most prestigious position: artist. These artists don't simply draw or paint what they want; they record the goings on of the day and display it for the village to read and see. Now, some of the villagers are also losing their sight, including Fei's sister Zhang. Along with her crush Li Wei, she decides to descend the mountain and confront the person who gives them every decreasing rations to survive. The journey will reveal secrets long kept and shatter their world.
I've enjoyed Richelle Mead's writing in the past, especially the Vampire Academy series, so I was excited to start Soundless. The world is interesting. It takes place in Ancient China and Fei's whole village is deaf. I liked the way their silent communication was written. There is no spoken dialog because even though Fei can hear, she can't understand spoken words. The best part of the novel for me was when Fei regained her hearing and began learning how to describe and get used to sounds. I also liked the inclusion of the pixius, Chinese mythological creatures who are hybrid creatures and protectors. I also enjoyed the underlying message of the story.
Overall, I was let down by the book. Fei wasn't horrible, but didn't wow me. She proved to be a little too perfect and less relatable. She has a typical romance with a typically attractive guy to save her isolated, oblivious world. The plot was too by the numbers for YA fiction. It just felt too similar to other stories like I'd read it before. The village seemed a little too simplistic since they seemed to only three classes: artist, miner, and servant. A village needs more than those types to function. The ending was way too deus ex machina for me, even though it was very obvious from early on. Soundless is a fast read, but didn't leave any lasting impression on me. ...more
Twylla isn't like other seventeen year old girls; she's the embodiment of the daughter of her people's gods. She ingests poison at regular intervals mTwylla isn't like other seventeen year old girls; she's the embodiment of the daughter of her people's gods. She ingests poison at regular intervals mixed with her blood to prove her divinity and keep her powers that allow her to kill people with a touch. Her origins are much humbler than her present life. Her mother was a Sin Eater, one who eats a feast representative of the deceased's sins in order to purge them and allow the dead into the afterlife. Her whole childhood was taking care of her sister and learning to be the next Sin Eater. Now, Twylla lives a rich, but lonely life with the king and queen of Lormere. The queen is cruel, irrational, and volatile. She kills at a whim and manipulates those around her into silence. Because of her abilities, almost everyone fears Twylla and stays away from her. She's set to marry the prince who she barely knows and eventually rule her country as its queen. Then she meets Lief, her new personal guard. He treats her like a normal person and they quickly becomes close. Who will she choose? Will she abandon her destiny to have the life she really wants or will she attempt to save Loremere?
The first thing that drew me to this book was the gorgeous cover. The second was the cool premise. Twylla (I kind of hate this name) is the embodiment of the offspring of her gods, which is kind of complicated. The gods are the embodiment of day (Daeg) and night (Naegt), where the female night steals from the day out of jealousy. She commits the first sin and must be punished. Although it reflects many real life religions, the misogynistic myth bothered me, especially when the two main mother figures (and 2/3's of the main female characters) are one dimensionally awful and cruel. Anuway, Twylla has dedicated her life to the gods and, by extension, to the royal family who claim to be chosen by the gods. Underneath her piety and dedication, she's just a teenage girl. She wants normal things like friends, a real family, and a life she actually wants to lead. All of her life, her mother figures have told her what to do. Her biological mother chose her as the first born to take up the mantle as a Sin Eater. When presented with the opportunity, Twylla chose to abandon her family and become Daunen Embodied, but once there, the queen's whims command what she does: who to poison, who to marry, where to go, etc. It's only natural that Twylla falls for one of the first people to treat her like anyone else and see through all the craziness.
Much of the book was quite atheistic which is pretty rare to see in teen fiction. Lief points out how his country values science and logic over religious fairy tales. They are more technologically advanced and have made more advances in medicine than Loremere has dreamed of. Loremere's royal family uses religion to placate the masses and solidify her place as ruler. Things were going terribly when the queen's brother/husband died and she saw Twylla as a away to legitimize her place by citing the gods' will in Daunen Embodied. There's this whole weird thing with Loremere where the bloodline must be pure and siblings have married for years and years. It's convenient that the royal family has no physical defects after generations of inbreeding. This part seemed a little clunky and I felt it was only included to ride on the popularity of Game of Thrones with their incestuous Lannister family. Anyway, I appreciated that religion is used for a sinister end here and shows that the religious leaders aren't exempt from committing horrible acts. This is especially relevant today.
Overall, The Sin Eater's Daughter is an interesting book that takes on unique subject matter and explores different themes than usual in YA. I dislike the misogynistic elements of the book and I also hate that this interesting story boils down to a love triangle. It's such an overused trope at this point and it takes away from the novel. I would definitely read other books by Melinda Salisbury because the things I liked left an impression....more
Carly and Kaitlyn Johnson are two people in the same body. They have been this way their entire lives no matter what Dr. Lansing tries to tell them. CCarly and Kaitlyn Johnson are two people in the same body. They have been this way their entire lives no matter what Dr. Lansing tries to tell them. Carly is awake during the day while Kaitlyn is awake at night. They each have their own journals, which are kept private even from each other, and they communicate through notes. After the accident, the girls stayed full time in a psychiatric care, but are now allowed to attend Elmridge High, a boarding school. One day, Kaitlyn sees a figure and dismisses it. These visions, whether real or imagined, then recur with alarming regularity and realism. Kaitlyn then seeks help for these attacks. Does Carly/Kaitlyn have dissociative identity disorder? Is she being haunted or is she just delusional?
The Dead House takes place years after Elmbridge High burns down and after a number of students die or disappear during that time. It's an unsolved mystery that has gained popularity over a decade and the authorities are still trying to find out what happened. The book is a compilation of all the evidence related to the case: singed journals, descriptions of video clips, post its, testimonies, transcripts of therapy sessions, flyers, newspaper clippings, and instant messages. The amount of detail is insane. The edges of Kaitlyn's journal are burned throughout the book. Tons of fonts are used to detail the different mediums and handwritings. Some papers have bloodstains or doodles. The different perspectives and sheer detail involved are the book's strongest aspects.
There are two interpretations of the plot: either Kaitlyn is plagued by demons and an evil spellcaster or she is delusional and others play into that delusion as reality. The two sides are pretty thoroughly explored. Dr. Lansing, Kaitlyn/Carly's therapist, insists that Kaitlyn is a personality created by Carly's mind to protect her from the trauma of witnessing her parent's deaths, which neither of them remember. The visions and attacks could simply be delusions that were worsened by improper medication that causes psychosis and improper treatment. On the other hand, one of Carly's friend is a practitioner of Scottish witchcraft insists that she is possessed by a demon and targeted by an evil magic practitioner. The text never really picks one side or the other. I didn't connect with the Scottish magic stuff and I greatly preferred the psychological thriller aspects. The demons and magic parts simply weren't as strong.
The first half of the story is the stronger half because it focuses more on the psychological aspects of the story and introducing all the characters. Even though Carly is assumed to be the more dominant personality, we only really get to know Kaitlyn. She has never seen the daylight and mostly keeps to herself. Her friend circle has only a couple of people. I like Kaitlyn even though she is sometimes selfish. She isn't perfect and copes in her own ways, but cares for her sister unconditionally. The second half of the book has her descending into all this magic stuff and doing uncharacteristic, horrible things. She really lost my sympathy at that point and the book felt like it lost its way. I would give another book by Dawn Kurtagich a try because most of the book was interesting and addictive....more
Angels aren't beautiful creatures of benevolence. They watch over us, but look for patterns and redundancies instead of protecting us. They eliminateAngels aren't beautiful creatures of benevolence. They watch over us, but look for patterns and redundancies instead of protecting us. They eliminate the superfluous people to feed the Machine. Carey in 1977 New York and Kaitlyn in 2013 Hollywood both encounter these angels and their inhuman minions. Both just want to live their generally unsuccessful lives and have friends disappear around them. Both want to do something about it and try to despite crazy odds against them. Can two nobodies save their friends and other invisible people from being changed into empty puppets or flat out killed?
From the very first line ("I met my guardian angel today. She shot me in the face."), I was hooked. The story is split into three narratives: an unnamed narrator at an unknown time, Carey in 1977, and Kaitlyn in 2013. The unnamed narrator (the one shot by said angel) is rapidly losing his humanity and wants to tell his story. Carey is a punk whose interests are limited to punk rock, drinking, smoking, fucking, and stealing to get what he wants. He and his friends frequent clubs, create a bit of mayhem, and have fun. You see some pretty weird shit in New York, but Tar Men that melt people to goo is usually not one of them. He stays quiet because no one will believe him anyway, but when his close friends are targeted, he makes beating these creatures his personal crusade. However, Carey is a professional fuck-up, so his attempts are laughably bumbling at best and horribly inept at worse. I love his irreverence and self aware nature. He knows he's an asshole and most of the things he says are horrible, but that's just who he is. He's the most unlikely hero, but he has the best intentions at heart along with the drive to get drunk as cheap as possible and chase women.
The last narrator is Kaitlyn, waitress and out of work stuntwoman. She loves her work in movies, but she just sucks at networking, a vital trait to stay employed. Her best friend Jackie doesn't come home from an industry party after Kaitlyn is attacked by her childhood celebrity crush. Unfortunately, that crush talks in prerehearsed, mechanical sounding phrases and there's something off about him in addition to the huge alien tongue he shoved down her throat. This man is an Empty One who creates Unnoticeables, people who you can't describe even while looking at them. They blend in perfectly and lure people away in order to further fuel the mysterious Machine. Kaitlyn uses her background and cunning to save her fellow aspiring actors. She also has the bumbling help of a much older, crazier sounding Carey. He is pretty much the same, except closer to babbling homeless guy than sexy rugged punk. Both of them are considered expendable to these angels, but they couldn't be more different. This odd couple is hilarious to read and have some of the most fun interactions.
The Unnoticeables is a fun mix of urban fantasy and horror with vivid underground worlds in New York and Hollywood. I would love a sequel with more of Carey and Kaitlyn's adventures, exploring more of these underground, hiding in plain sight but no one sees it worlds. Carey is extremely entertaining to read while Kaitlyn is the more relatable one trying to make ends meet and being shunned from jobs despite being quite qualified. I would recommend this to fans of Richard Kadrey and Clive Barker....more
Jessie is a teenager who died in a car accident with her parents and rose up with them as a zombie. Instead of worrying about boys or school, she worrJessie is a teenager who died in a car accident with her parents and rose up with them as a zombie. Instead of worrying about boys or school, she worries about enough food to eat and where she is on the pecking order in her zombie gang in Calumet County, Indiana. Despite the obvious negatives of being a zombie like losing limbs and rotting away, Jessie's existence is pretty normal. She has people she cares about who are like her and a place in the world. Unfortunately, some people don't understand this and that misunderstanding will put world-altering events into motion.
Dust is an odd book that I don't entirely like or dislike. It's more of an experience that I'm glad I had. I enjoyed many aspects of it. The zombies are quite different than a lot of other stories. Zombies have existed for hundreds of years at this point, but throughout history, their populations haven't been big enough for anything amounting to more than rumors. Now, zombie gangs roam around, eating people and animals along the way. The zombies have many physical differences from humans: elongated sharper teeth, larger brains, slower decomposition rate, and alternate ways of communication. Since zombies are largely too damaged to speak, they have brain radios that communicate through music. Each person has their own particular tune that changes with their mood or state of mind. Sometimes they all spontaneously dance together to their unique music. This sounds cheesy, but it's well written and beautiful in the book. Zombies have different classifications depending on their state of decomposition. 'Maldies are zombies who were embalmed and beautified. Feeders are infested with bugs. Bloaters are in the second stage of decomposition where gas is released from the intestines. Dusties are zombies in their last stage before death when they are mostly dried out. These new zombie aspects were the most enjoyable part of the book.
Jessie didn't get to live very long as a human, but she enjoys her zombie life. She has friends; she's good at fighting; she sort of has a boyfriend. She feels complete and has a place in the world. Her sister just assumed that because Jessie is a zombie that she is suffering and unhappy. With no way to communicate, this isn't an outlandish assumption, but it leads to the devastation of both human and zombiekind. A new disease makes their differences practically disappear. Humans start eating raw flesh until they're sick. Zombies regenerate and start to breathe again. Once the disease progresses, the vast majority of the infected die.
This is the part where the book loses its way. Instead of a coherent story, it goes off into an odd, existential direction where death speaks to Jessie. People are thought dead and then come back to die again and come back. The ending kind of just falls apart and I had to work to finish. It's supposed to be dream-like and surreal, but the plot just screeches to a halt. The first 3/4's of the book did a great job of building the world and developing it. The one problem I had with the beginning was that people still buried their dead. It's undeniable that zombies exist, so why isn't cremation or the removal of the head standard? Burying the dead just contributes to zombies that will eat people later. It just doesn't make sense in this world. Dust does some new and interesting things with zombies, but because of the last bit of the book, I have no interest in continuing with the series. I'm glad I experienced it, but I have no desire to return to that world....more
Nicolette was once rich and privileged. Her father was a successful merchant and her mother was a skilled and brilliant inventor. Both of her parentsNicolette was once rich and privileged. Her father was a successful merchant and her mother was a skilled and brilliant inventor. Both of her parents unfortunately died and now she's stuck living with her callous stepmother and her cruel stepsisters. She serves them like a slave and mostly doesn't protest because she doesn't want to leave her parents' home and her grief weighs on her greatly. On her sixteenth birthday, a letter from her mother is sent to her revealing the location of her secret workshop. Nicolette suddenly has a place safe from her stepmother and stepsisters, a new connection to her mother, and the means to possibly leave with her own business creating useful gadgets. Everything hinges on the technological exposition following the ball for the reclusive heir to the throne.
Mechanica is an interesting twist on Cinderella. Nicolette made the story for me. She is motivated to create her own way to leave her abusive step-family and will do anything she can to achieve this end. So many people in her situation would be beaten down, but she keeps persevering to change her circumstances. She has some help from automatons created by her mother and some friends she made along the way, but I like that she is largely self-sufficient. There isn't really a fairy godmother/deus ex machina to solve all of her problems with a magic wand. I also liked her realistic relationship with her parents. After people die, it's easy to idealize them and forget about all their flaws and annoyances. She sees her parents for who they are, flaws and all. Her mother prioritized her work and inventions about her husband and daughter. Her father took the credit for her mother's inventions and was incredibly intolerant of anything magic related after her mother died. Even though her parents aren't perfect, she sees both sides of them and as the people they actually were. I also liked that the focus of the story was on a chosen family and friendship rather than romance.
I had quite a few problems with Mechanica, one being the namesake. It's supposed to be a demeaning name like Cinderella, but it's not bad and there were some verbal gymnastics to get there. In the background, a faerie revolution is brewing with hatred towards faeries reigns after the humans invaded their land and treated them as inferiors. Nicolette made a few decisions I didn't agree with and had dubious thought behind them. For example, she decides to use Ashes, a magical mystery item, in her new invention. Magic is illegal to use in her city where the inventor's exposition will be and the faeries are offended that she even mentioned them. Maybe just leave them alone. Mechanica has way too many elements smooshed together: faeries (who are barely there), possibly sentient automatons, typical Cinderella story, friendship/almost romance, and steampunk-ish inventions while being completely absent of anything else in the style. It's just too much and not everything is even possible to properly cover in one book.
Overall, Mechanica is readable and entertaining, but has too many elements. I liked Nicolette, but I think her character development suffered because of this. I did like a lot about it and I might pick up the next book to see where it's going....more
Theo "Turtle" Dawson is going through a hard time. His brother A.D. died and his mother isn't taking it well. She copes by ignoring Turtle and keepingTheo "Turtle" Dawson is going through a hard time. His brother A.D. died and his mother isn't taking it well. She copes by ignoring Turtle and keeping A.D.'s room obsessively clean. Turtle copes by eating sweets and meekly trying to avoid bullies at his school. Two events turn his whole world upside down. A girl named Rita Calderon saves him from a bully and his two giant brothers. Then his brother A.D. comes back from the dead. Rita gets him to wake up and live his life. He falls in love, lets go of the candy, and becomes more self assured. His brother, on the other hand, unsettles him. At first, it's wonderful to have his brother back. It's like nothing changed at all. Then he presses Turtle into stealing a drink from the market. Then the demands get more and more dangerous from there and Turtle loves his brother, but sees how wrong it is. Will he give in to his brother's demands despite the danger? Will his new found love suffer because of A.D.?
The Secrets of Love and Death is a complex book with a lot going on. Its greatest strength is in the characters. They all simply ring true. Each has their own different motivations and viewpoints, whether they are open-minded or bigoted, virtuous or morally bankrupt. All of them also have their own emotional baggage that they either work through or use as motivation to make others feel their pain. Turtle tries to be good, but finds himself being blinded by his grief and love for his brother to properly assess the situation until its too late. His home life makes me want to give him a hug because his mom is also so blinded by grief that she can't see her living son and his needs through it. Rita has to take care of her sometimes coherent grandmother who hoards cats to an unhealthy degree. She chose to hide it, but didn't take it out on others. Ansley Meade the bully has a not stellar home life, but he chooses to lose himself in alcohol and inflict his pain on others. A.D. was killed before his time and also uses his pain to hurt others. I loved that none of these kids have perfect lives and the main differences are how they deal with their pain. I saw myself and a lot of my friends reflected in these characters. The novel has a lot of fantastical elements, but the realism is what gives it life.
The novel starts out with normal, everyday events. Turtle and Rita are in love for the first time and all the messiness, anxiety, and happiness that comes from that. Turtle becomes more confident and self assured, but still experiences doubt and his previous, more cowardly feelings coming back when times get tough. Rita opens up about her real home life and fears being rejected. All are very real and relatable situations. As the book go on, more horror and supernatural elements occur. It starts with a short scene with a Teddy Bear and then it's forgotten for a little while. Near the end of that book that creepy teddy bear comes back with a vengeance, so it made up for the first half of the book not having enough horror for me. With a teen book, I didn't expect the story to go so dark with the main villain, but it's more realistic and I appreciated that. A.D. returning from the dead opens up a whole supernatural can of worms. Another spirit also attempts to communicate and a clairvoyant gets mixed up in the story.
Overall, The Secrets of Love and Death is an exciting supernatural book with universal emotions at its core. Everyone processes grief and pain in different ways and not always in healthy ones. I'm a little sad this is a standalone because Rita and Turtle were so fun to read, but I'll settle for waiting for more books from E. Van Lowe....more
Benny Imura and his friends have seen a lot in the few months they've been out in the ruin. They've found the mysterious airplane that they saw in theBenny Imura and his friends have seen a lot in the few months they've been out in the ruin. They've found the mysterious airplane that they saw in their home town so long ago and the city of Sanctuary. The plane is a little underwhelming since the people involved with it refuse to tell them anything and are happy to hide themselves from people who could benefit from knowing they're out there. Sanctuary is more of a hospice than anything else. One hopeful development is a missing box from the airplane that may lead to a cure for the zombie disease, but who knows where it is. On top of these things, the Night Church, full of psychos that want everyone to die, is mounting a huge attack on their friends and family. How can Benny and his friends, still teenagers even after all their experience, do anything in the face of such huge odds?
Fire and Ash is the last book in the Rot and Ruin series and it's a bittersweet experience. I've been reading this series for years and I'm sad it's over, but happy to see where the characters end up. The thing that strikes me most about the book is just how much the characters have grown, Benny and Nix in particular. Benny still has some flashes of immaturity in the novel, but they are much more abbreviated than in the past. He sometimes pushes people buttons just because or acts like he has a huge chip on his shoulder or gets testy when anyone even comes close to contradicting his older brother Tom's teachings. More and more we get mature Benny who can think a situation through, keep his emotions in check, and be a real leader. Looking at how he acted in the first book, he's practically a different person. Nix has turned into quite the samurai warrior. She has seen a lot of pain and death. Despite and because of that, she chooses to fight with her sword to protect people even though it's horrible and unpleasant. She can't justify standing by and doing nothing. Her feelings for Benny have changed and she's not sure about them anymore. They are practically strangers to each other at this point because of their respective changes and they have to get reacquainted and see where they stand. Lila has reverted back to her very quiet, noncommunicative self. She's the only character who I thought had the least amount of change. Her character was harsh, sad, and angry, but that was pretty much it. She didn't have a lot going on outside of being sad and angry about Chong's semi-zombie condition. This was my only complaint about the novel.
Fire and Ash isn't all fuzzy and about relationships and feelings. The Night Church is a crazy organization with total human annihilation as their goal. They think further ahead than I thought possible and are quick and clever on top of being completely insane. These villains not only have desperate people who they would have otherwise killed on their side, but they herd and manipulate zombies to do their dirty work for them. As we saw at the end of the last book, the Night Church plan to attack Benny, Nix, and Chong's hometown in a huge assault of thousands of people and zombies. We see a new type of zombie in this installment, one that is super fast and strong, but dies out after a few weeks. I usually don't like fast zombies, but this actually makes sense and One or two are fine to deal with, but a thousands of them are practically impossible to deal with. The stakes are the highest they have been. Benny and his friends have to decide if they will do anything to beat these zealots, even do some monstrous things.
I didn't realize before that all of Jonathan Maberry's zombie series culminate here. Dez Fox from Dead of Night is one of the Freedom Riders who carries her dead husband's zombified head in her bag. Sad, but it makes sense with her character that we saw in Dead of Night where the first outbreak happened. The disease is the same with the parasite reanimating dead flesh created by that crazed doctor. Joe Ledger is from a different action packed series where he fights international threats of all different kinds. He helps out Benny and his group immensely once he realizes (thanks to them) that keeping their organization secret from the public doesn't help anyone. I love how these seemingly disparate stories come together after already experiencing a taste of this world before the apocalypse happens. Now I have to reread the series now that I realize this and am familiar with the characters to see these connections in the earlier books.
Fire and Ash is a magnificent end to an exciting, emotional series. Everything ends pretty satisfyingly in unexpected ways. It's not without heartbreak or loss, but that's life. I found it realistic and well written. My only complaint is some of the characters' changes were a little too self aware, but it's written for a younger audience. I look forward to anything else Jonathan Maberry writes whether it's about zombies or not....more
It's 2575 and Kady thought the worst thing to happen to her was breaking up with her infuriating boyfriend Ezra. Unfortunately, she was dead wrong. JuIt's 2575 and Kady thought the worst thing to happen to her was breaking up with her infuriating boyfriend Ezra. Unfortunately, she was dead wrong. Just a few hours later, their planet is attacked by a rival megacorporation that wants the planet's resources. Kady and Ezra had to depend on each other (and a little bit of luck) to escape with their lives onto evacuating spaceships with the rival company's warship in constant pursuit. It later becomes apparent that their enemies attacked them with a biological weapon that has infected some of their people and created an epidemic of catastrophic proportions. If that wasn't enough, their ship's AI who is supposed to be protecting them may be their biggest enemy, but none of the higher-ups are telling anyone anything. Kady hacks into the ship's computer, determined to figure out what's really happening. She realizes the only person who can help her is the only person she never wants to speak to again: Ezra.
Illuminae blew me away. The story is told not in a conventional narrative, but in a compilation of hacked files, interviews, reports, schematics, instant messages, and descriptions of security footage. I've seen a few books that use this style, like The Dead House, and I haven't seen it be truly effective until now. This style does a great job of immersing you in the story and the world with crazy amounts of details. The variety of narrative plays with how the story is conveyed: different points of view, and comments in the margins. I like the different word density of each chapter and how the author plays with the tempo of the story. Some pages, mostly near the end, are so incredibly artistic and unique that it brings to mind the amazing post-modern work of Mark Z. Danielewski. The typography captures the mood of the scene and it's just plain beautiful.
I liked the characters right from the beginning. Kady and Ezra's testimonies about the disaster that changed their lives, killed their friends and family, and destroyed the only home they ever knew were full of snark and defiance towards those questioning them and each other. Their romance is sweet and organic, but doesn't overpower the story. It figures largely in the beginning, but when the greater conflicts start rearing their ugly heads, it takes a backseat while still affecting the relevant characters. I liked that they were two distinctly different people and had a lot of disagreements, fights, and resentment. However, both of them had similar angst and pain over the horrific events that destroyed everything.
Initially the plot sounded like way too many things all together, but each story line fits together like a well crafted puzzle. There are three main conflicts: the rival megacorporation out to kill them, the rogue killer AI called AIDAN, and the airborne, mutated bioweapon that causes extreme rage and violence in the afflicted. Once I started the story, it felt that everything fit together organically and nothing seemed out of place or overpowering. The rival megacorporation takes a bit of a back seat near the middle simply due to proximity, but comes back with a vengeance at the very end. AIDAN and the rage filled infected people are more immediate threats. AIDAN is malfunctioning and has become more than he is supposed to be. I don't consider him evil, much like HAL 9000, and he learned things like humor and sarcasm by the end of the book. The infected people are super creepy and the disease is airborne. They start out with a fever and then end delusional and murderous with the intelligence of the person they once were. Not only do they have loved ones faces, but they can strategize and lure prey. All of them hate being looked at and that one common thread just turns the creep factor up to eleven.
Illuminae is an epic science fiction adventure with a healthy dose of horror that has made it into my favorite books of the year. I didn't find anything lacking or annoying. The writing flows well and had me at the edge of my seat for most of the story. The different styles of narrative and type lend a freshness and provide a unique vehicle for the story. This concept has always interested me, but I've never seen it executed as well as this. I am so incredibly excited for the rest of the series that I can't stand it!...more
Melanie loves going to class and interacting with her teachers, especially Miss Justineau. When she's not in class, she sits alone in her* spoilers *
Melanie loves going to class and interacting with her teachers, especially Miss Justineau. When she's not in class, she sits alone in her cell with no one to talk to and nothing to do until Sgt. Parks comes to collect her. When this happens, he trains a gun on her and straps her thoroughly into a wheelchair and takes her to class, to bathe, or to eat. Her classmates disappear periodically and don't return. One day, the base is attacked and Melanie finally gets to leave her very small world. She escapes with a small band of people including Miss Justineau, Sgt. Parks, Dr. Caldwell, and Private Kieran Gallagher. Together, they work to seek shelter, collect food, and avoid hungries in the wasteland that is England. Unfortunately, Melanie is discovering much about herself in her new environment, including keeping her own hunger in check...
The Girl with All the Gifts is a zombie novel. It's kind of weird this fact isn't advertised on the book jacket at all, but it was a pleasant surprise. The zombie apocalypse happened 30 years ago and only the smallest semblance of human society exists now. The zombies are called hungries for obvious reasons and the condition is caused by a fungus, a variation of Ophiocordyceps unilateralis. I love authors that take frightening, real things in the animal kingdom and apply it to humans like the tape worms in Mira Grant's Parisitology series or the parasitic crustaceans in the 2012 film The Bay. The real world version of this affects ants and makes them drastically alter their behavior. They abandon their nests, find a place where the fungus can flourish, and stay there until they die to further the fungus life cycle. In humans, this looks like attacking other humans to spread the fungus, which is only spread through saliva and blood. The first generation of hungries is completely animalistic. They are attracted by human scent, follow it to their prey, and mindlessly attack. When humans aren't present, they don't even move. It simply isn't necessary for the fungus that has spread throughout their bodies and destroyed their brains. Like the ants, the infected will also eventually lay down and die to allow the fungus to grow from their bodies. The second generation of hungries retains some of their mental faculties when out of the scope of humans and can eventually be taught to act like normal humans.
Melanie is one of the second generation of hungries. When the novel starts, she has no idea what she is. She only knows her teachers, her classmates, and the lessons she is taught. She has no memory of the time before when she roamed with the other hungries in the wild. Her compassion throughout the novel is truly unparalleled. She feels for hungries and humans alike, but she doesn't let her emotions control her choices. Her classes lead her to be fascinated with Greek myths (Pandora in particular) and her teacher Miss Justineau. Despite being very sheltered for the first few years of her life, she adapts perfectly to each situation. She fights her instincts to eat people when needed and cooperates completely when the humans need to restrain her to feel safe or when she needs to intervene with the wild hungries. Despite all of the chaos and violence, Melanie stays mostly quiet and contemplative, processing all the new information and figuring out her place in the world. She ends up making a very important decision for the future and comes to it through careful thought. The ending is bittersweet and weirdly hopeful. Although Melanie is only ten years old, she's clearly wise beyond her years and a compelling focus character.
The military base where our cast of characters starts is the only known instance of conventional society and of people actively studying the zombies and working towards a cure. Their work is fascinating, but dubious in ethics. They are doing what they can to discover a cure with no sophisticated technology and no outside support. Unfortunately, their work also entails vivisecting sentient zombie children. I don't like Dr. Caldwell, the spearhead of the science study, but I respect her. The whole of humanity depends on her research and she's presumably the only person working on this. She dehumanizes the sentient zombies, but it's necessary to keep emotionally detached and focus on her research. Her research comes before everything. I enjoy books that give the villains dimensions. Dr. Caldwell is arguably not a villain, but the closest thing to it besides the zombies. I can see where she's coming from and I admire her dedication despite her abhorrent actions. Other humans are known as junkers and are content to live day to day, finding other people's bases and looting them in order to live another day.
The Girl with All the Gifts is a superb zombie novel. Mike Carey managed to put a new spin on an oversaturated genre, but this is unsurprising looking at his past works, namely the Unwritten comic book series. It's the best zombie book I've read in a while and I can't recommend it enough....more
Hazel and Ben Evans live in Fairfold, an odd town that lies adjacent to a magical forest. This forest is populated with faeries and supernatural monstHazel and Ben Evans live in Fairfold, an odd town that lies adjacent to a magical forest. This forest is populated with faeries and supernatural monsters that usually lurk around the corners of human civilization. Chance encounters happen sometimes usually resulting in a person's good luck or death. Hazel and Ben embraced the magical danger as children as they teamed up to battle the monster as a knight and a bard. They also both made up stories about the horned boy in the glass casket in the woods. Nothing awakens him and nothing can even scratch the glass, so he lays there year after year. When Hazel and Ben have quit their adventuring and they view such things as childhood fantasy, the horned boy escapes from his glass prison. Hazel's whole world is turned upside down as she discovers those forgotten or rationalized memories of fighting magical creatures are shockingly real. Can she remember enough of her past to be able to fight in the present?
I've been a huge fan of Holly Black since reading White Cat and she has yet to disappoint me. The story immediately drew me in with the town that is both aware and in denial about the supernatural creatures and forces influencing the town in the periphery. I am a sucker for this concept. It brings to mind Sunnydale from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and New South Bend from Brenna Yovanoff's Fiendish. All of these works have a magnetic quality where the townspeople experience all this craziness, but rationalize it with normal causes. When confronted with the unbelievable reality, they tend to lash out and then go back to their comfortable, normal reality as soon as possible. Growing up in such a forest definitely affects the young people in the area while the adults seem pretty oblivious, only brought out of it by tragedy. The teens in the area are surprisingly normal despite the things they've experienced.
Hazel and Ben are pretty normal. Hazel gets herself into trouble by kissing boy after boy and living life to the fullest despite the consequences. Ben is the angsty artists type because was blessed/cursed by a faerie as a baby to have an exceptional musical talent and feels great guilt over how he has let it get out of control in the past. They are so similar in other ways. Both are boy crazy in their own way and want to find lasting love. Both of them love each other fiercely, but also try to keep huge secrets to protect the other when it does the exact opposite. I loved reading these characters and their mistakes and blunders powered by their love. I forgave all of their sometimes frustrating mistakes because it came from a good place and they were only doing their best. I especially liked the way Ben was treated. His sexual orientation just was; no explanation or special treatment needed. No one in his life treated him any differently. The other character I loved was Jack, a changeling child all grown up and raised as human alongside the human boy he was meant to replace. The concept alone is amazing and one I haven't seen. Jack acts as the bridge between the two worlds and can't decide which one he belongs in. He has significant ties to both sides and either choice would be a betrayal.
The book is organized in an odd way. The plot isn't really solidified until much later than expected in the novel. The beginning is just establishing the world and exploring into the lives of the main characters. The plot moves forward and then there's intermittent flashbacks to show why characters are the way they are or background on what's presently happening. If you hate stories jumping around, this wouldn't be for you, but I enjoyed it. Things became clear the more the flashbacks happened and it just shows Holly Black's writing skill. The revelations are doled out carefully and bring clarity to the story. I really enjoyed the journey and exploration through Holly Black's unique world. I hope another book is in the works in the same world (because I would be all over it), but it works very well as a stand alone novel. It's one of the best reads of the year so far....more
Feyre and her family are living in poverty. Her father used to be a successful merchant, but disaster struck, leaving their debts unpaid and her fatheFeyre and her family are living in poverty. Her father used to be a successful merchant, but disaster struck, leaving their debts unpaid and her father grievously attacked and disabled. Feyre is her family's only source of income, so she hunts to provide for them. One fateful day, she finds a huge wolf in the woods about to attack her quarry. She chooses to kill the wolf and the deer to sell the pelt and eat the venison over a couple weeks. Things seem to finally be looking up until a faerie in wolf form named Tamlin bursts into their house demanding recompense for the murder of his friend. Feyre has two choices: either be executed or go to live in the faerie land of Prythian for the rest of her life. Of course she chooses life, but faeries are inhuman, cruel, and horrible creatures who used to enslave and use humans as playthings. Feyre braces herself for torture, enslavement, or just incarceration, but Tamlin proves to the opposite of her expectations. As they develop a relationship, it becomes clear that all is not well in Prythian. A blight that has robbed the faeries of most of their power is moving towards the human realm, posing a threat to everything and everyone. Can a weak mortal like Feyre help save her world?
A Court of Thorns and Roses is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast that subverts a lot of the expectations of the fairy tale while staying true to the spirit of the story. Our Beauty is Feyre who is unlike any iteration of the character I've read or seen. She is pretty joyless, but not outright bitter. Her family needs someone to step up and get the money and food necessary to survive. Feyre is a pragmatist willing to do whatever it takes no matter how it effects her personal happiness. She has the strength and determination to hone her skills in hunting and other important skills even though she doesn't enjoy them. When she moved to Prythian, she became almost a different person. She was suddenly without direction. Her family was taken care of and she didn't need to do anything anymore, so she loosened up a bit. She focused her energy at first at trying to escape, but realized her family is better off with her there as the faeries provide for them. So then she learns and hones more unnecessary skills that she actually enjoys like learning to read and painting. She starts to tell jokes and actually get to know the faeries, who she has considered flatly evil and dangerous creatures her entire life. Her outlook completely changes and she starts to fall in love with Tamlin, the Beast. Despite some superficial changes, the core Feyre is basically the same. Later in the story, she also takes on momentous tasks to attempt to save her love and her friends despite prolonged suffering.
Tamlin, our Beast, is a mix of sensitive and callous. He was raised to be a warrior to survive his world while his true interests were in music and the arts. War and hardship have been such a part of his life that it's easy for him to forget who he is outside of all of that. He has to present a hard shell and make difficult decisions to succeed as a ruler in Prythian, but he changes as Feyre does. Both become more sensitive and learn something about each other and the culture they come from which causes both to shed their prejudices. The romance develops organically and over a large chunk of the book. That part does move a little slow, but if it were any faster, Feyre's actions at the end simply wouldn't make sense. It takes a lot of time to completely change your outlook on something that's been hammered into your head since birth. Also, I LOVE the way sexuality is treated in the novel. Feyre is very matter of fact and comfortable with herself. She had one partner in the human world who she liked but didn't love. For both of them, it was a convenient escape from their respective hardships, a spot of joy among all the misery. With Tamlin, things are more fiery and passionate because of love. I like that both sides are portrayed as positive instead of having a preachy message against different types of sexual relationships.
The book is lengthy and goes through a lot of different changes. It almost feels like it's multiple books in one due to the changes in location and tone. I read it in about 2 days because I had to know what happened next. Sarah J. Maas knows how to construct a book and I was invested from the first chapter. The fairy tale aspects are handled very well. The general story line is similar with the curse being the most obviously Beauty and the Beast aspect, but the story is free to move into past the plot of the fairy tale. I also enjoyed all the different types of faeries show, mostly of the horrific and variety. The ending is satisfying and at the same time leaves some loose ends that make me want to read the next book immediately. In the time before the next book comes out, I'll be reading all of her other books....more
Catt and Bree are hairdressers in LA. They've been friends for a long time and been through alcoholism, recovery, and over a decade of sobriety togethCatt and Bree are hairdressers in LA. They've been friends for a long time and been through alcoholism, recovery, and over a decade of sobriety together. Catt's husband Dash suddenly leaves her for a rich, young starlet. This along with the Hollywood Serial Killer murders that seem to be closer and closer to her are shattering her world. She seeks comfort in many men, but all of them turn out to be using her. She sees a pattern to the murders and thinks Bree might be next, but is she right or is she becoming unhinged from reality?
Beyond the Pale Motel is Francesca Lia Block's newest adult novel. It's a bit more sexy and dark than her teen work, but just as lyrically written. I loved how the horror theme extended to unexpected areas of the story. Catt's salon is called Head Hunter and her gym is called Body Farm. Her blog is called Love Monsters and she has monster labels (vampire, manticore, zombie, or goblin) for the types of men there are. The story centers around Catt who has it together. She's been going to AA for years and her relationship with her husband is solid as can be. Her family consists of those she has chosen: Dash, Bree, and her son Skyler. Everything is idyllic and happy right up until it all falls apart. It was hard to read Catt's life just disintegrate. She is a sensitive person who needs people desperately and wants to be a mother above all else. Her need for people translates into hypersexuality after her husband leaves her and she invites man after man into her bed to fill the emotional void. This doesn't work out since they turn out to be scumbags. These encounters don't help her initial pain from her breakup, create more pain, and send her spiraling out of control, ending her sobriety. She also consistently had a horrible view of herself, thinking she was unworthy, ugly, fat, etc. This is unfortunately confirmed in one way or another by virtually all those around her. Her journey from solid to shattered was well written, but heartbreaking and hypnotic to read.
I have a lot of problems with the book that infuriated me. First, the way Catt's "friends" treated her when she was down. She made one mistake and her best friend just completely cuts off all contact and removes her from her life after over a decade of friendship. One mistake. Really? That is a sucky and unsupportive friend. I also couldn't believe how she was treated by her AA sponsors. They either weren't available for her to talk to during a crisis or wouldn't even "waste time on her" if she didn't redo some of the steps of the program. They along with the entire book were super judgmental about her sexual activity. There's nothing wrong with finding solace in sex as long as it's consensual. It didn't turn out to be good for her at all, but it's a better way to cope than turning to drinking or drug use. There was no understanding from anyone really. The horror element didn't figure as largely as I would have liked. It was really an afterthought to all the stuff that was going on in Catt's life. That element came into play during the last few pages and ended very abruptly. It just wasn't satisfying and just rubbed salt in the wounds.
Beyond the Pale Motel is well written and evocative, but the horror element isn't major enough and the people populating Catt's life are awful, selfish, judgy people. The writing kept me interested, but my grievances outweighed the good things about the novel....more