4.5 stars Considering my horrid experience with Firelight, Sophie Jordan’s YA paranormal project, I started Uninvited a bit wearily, honestly not expec...more4.5 stars Considering my horrid experience with Firelight, Sophie Jordan’s YA paranormal project, I started Uninvited a bit wearily, honestly not expecting much. And yet, not even 50 pages in, I found myself wound so tightly I could barely breathe.
Jordan did an excellent job of building this mistrustful, terrified society. Parents turning on their children, boyfriends turning on their girlfriends, best friends turning on each other, for no reason other than two recessive genes combined. Fear and mass hysteria are worst enemies of mankind, and combined with the financial interests of some huge company, they make the most dangerous thing in the world.
The horrible injustice of it all burned my throat as I struggled to understand how an entire nation could become so close-minded and prejudiced in such a short period of time. How does one go from ‘innocent until proven guilty’ to ‘guilty simply for having the so called kill gene’? Are we really that easily manipulated? I’m afraid the answer to that question came to me just a bit too quickly, and it wasn’t one I wanted to believe.
Ostracized by her friends and completely abandoned by her formerly loving family, Davy suddenly finds herself completely alone in a world unknown. The rules she lived by for the first 17 years of her life no longer apply. One minute she is a former child prodigy, a well-loved and well-cared for girl, already accepted to Julliard, girlfriend of the most desirable boy in school, with her life all planned out – the next, she is no one, a person with no friends, no family, no name and no rights. She is fair game to every bully and predator out there, and the law is never on her side.
At the beginning, the author took a great risk by making Davy just as prejudiced as her peers, just as ready to judge and turn her back on someone without bothering to find out the first thing about them. She discriminated even while being discriminated against. However, the worse her situation got, the more she realized how unimportant outward signs of violence – forced upon those like her by the government – really are. Little by little, Davy changed the frame through which she viewed the world, and built herself into the person she needed to be to survive.
The strong philosophical undertones, the never-ending nature vs. nurture discussion, make Uninvited a much better book. This isn’t a story you’ll breeze through. If you pay enough attention, it will force you to consider things you’d rather not think about.
Thought-provoking and deeply disturbing, Uninvited is a perfect read for those who enjoy their dystopias with a slightly more realistic edge.
1.5 star Oh, how deceiving looks can be! (I just love being overly dramatic sometimes, don’t you?) With the cover and the blurb as impressive as these,...more1.5 star Oh, how deceiving looks can be! (I just love being overly dramatic sometimes, don’t you?) With the cover and the blurb as impressive as these, Drawn can easily pull in even the most skeptical of readers – and in my case, it did. Everything about this book looked right on the surface. The cover is alluring, the premise so very intriguing, and the short graphic introductions to each chapter promised a unique reading experience. However, it soon became clear that Drawn is nowhere near as good as I was hoping it would be. Instead, it is slightly amateurish novel that may appeal more to middle grade readers.
How many fabulous, but poorly executed ideas can you think of right this second? I bet I could come up with at least a dozen off the top of my head, and yet very few have had such promising beginnings and have ended up disappointing me to such extent. The protagonist, Sasha, is a human lie detector – her voice can make anyone say what they’re thinking out loud. Because of her talent, Sasha lives a very lonely life. Her parents abandoned her when she was a baby and she moved from home to home, friendless, until she was assigned to a female FBI agent who took care of her and used her to solve cases.
Considering Sasha’s unique ability, the mission she was sent on in Drawn, and by the CIA, no less, seemed ridiculously easy and entirely unnecessary. Her job was to infiltrate a group of graffiti artists and uncover the identity of the infamous Kid Aert, and how convenient that the daughter of Sasha’s handler – a girl who befriended her despite constantly blurting out embarrassing truths around her – was already a part of said group. Of course, as she befriends this group of French artists, Sasha ends up with an internal conflict – do her job like she’s always done, or protect the only friends she’s ever had?
The attempt to build Sasha into a complex character, bitter for being abandoned by various parental figures and constantly used by the government, failed spectacularly. Not for a second did I feel her loneliness and insecurity as I was undoubtedly supposed to. Instead, she came across as unapproachable and somewhat obnoxious.
As a general rule, I try to find at least something positive to say, and in this case, it would probably be the setting, except for all the errors it brought with it. Sasha’s assignment takes her to Belgium, a country we don’t see much of in YA, which I’d normally be thrilled about. However, although I don’t speak much French, even I could notice all the language disasters – the kind of errors Google Translate would do.
To make the long story short – I can’t, in good conscience, recommend Drawn to anyone. This is not Gray’s debut, but it certainly reads like someone’s first high school attempt at writing a novel, and I think we can all agree that those should be kept hidden.
Every once in a while, I read a book that has no ratings or reviews by people I trust, hoping to discover a hidden gem. And every once in a while, tho...more Every once in a while, I read a book that has no ratings or reviews by people I trust, hoping to discover a hidden gem. And every once in a while, though not as often as I’d like, I actually succeed (which, I freely admit, happens to be very good for my ego). Angelbound is one of those gems I’m thrilled to have discovered. I picked it up on Netgalley not expecting much at all and I ended up reading it in one sitting. This YA paranormal fantasy is cute, compulsively readable and above all fun.
Myla is a quasi-demon – a half demon, half human 17-year-old girl enslaved by ghouls in the Purgatory. She did nothing wrong to end up there; her species used to rule the realm until Armageddon, the King of Hell, allied himself with the ghouls and helped them in their rise to power. Aside from going to school where she learns all about being a good slave to the ghouls, Myla fights in the Arena against souls that choose trial by combat in their afterlife. Her opponents are always the most wicked of souls and it’s Myla’s job to make sure they don’t win against her, thus earning a one-way ticket to Heaven. Luckily for everyone, Myla is very good at what she does.
Myla is a magnificent heroine, fierce and outspoken, hilarious and mischievous, and yet compassionate and mature when the need arises. As fascinated as I was by the worldbuilding, it was Myla who turned this book into something memorable. This girl never faltered, she fought back with a healthy dose of humor and an arrogance I would probably hate in anyone else. I do love a girl who knows her strengths. And did I mention that her demon tail is sentient? Best. Sidekick. Ever.
When Lincoln, the High Prince of the Thrax first appeared, I disliked him so intensely, I didn’t think there was any hope for his character. But only a boy equally skilled and equally arrogant could ever hold Myla’s interest for a longer period of time, and the prophecies soon proved true – they were indeed perfectly matched. What started as an awfully antagonistic relationship, ended up being one of the sweetest, drama-free romances I’ve come across in a very long time. Don’t you just love it when couples present a unified front in all things?
Ah, but here’s the real treat: Bauer took the very basic Heaven-and-Hell outline and then built upon it, creating five realms with rich history, each ruled by a different race. Usually, the word ‘angel’ on the cover of any book is enough to make me shudder, but thankfully, I didn’t let my prejudice stop me from requesting this, and thank Heavens for that!
The secondary characters, with the unfortunate exception of Myla’s best friend Cissy, are all very lovable and interesting. I could have done without the focus on Cissy and her love life in the first half, but when Myla and Lincoln took center stage, the annoyance was quickly forgotten. As far as narrative techniques go, I’m usually not a fan of flashbacks, but these dreamscapes in which Myla discovered the truth about her mother’s past were perfectly timed and reasonably short, so I found myself enjoying them despite myself.
Fans of interesting worldbuilding, fans of romance, fans of kickass heroines, fans of great fight scenes, fans of all of the above… I believe you’ll all find plenty to love about Angelbound. Although it ends cleanly and beautifully, I can’t wait for the release of Scala in May 2014.
After Kim Curran’s original and highly entertaining debut, Shift, my expectations for the sequel were pretty high. I read both books back to back, but...moreAfter Kim Curran’s original and highly entertaining debut, Shift, my expectations for the sequel were pretty high. I read both books back to back, but a significant improvement was easily noticeable. She has matured as a writer from one book to the next, and although Control had its problems, it’s a read I’d never hesitate to recommend.
In Shift, Scott discovered that he has the power to change any decision he’s ever made. In other words, he’s a shifter. But the power is far more dangerous than it seems because even the smallest change can have catastrophic consequences. What’s more, his power won’t last forever – the ability to shift is limited to teens. Once Scott reaches a certain age, entropy will set in and he’ll be just a regular person once more. Through it all, he has the help of a shifter girl, Aubrey. She was the one who helped him adjust to his new life as an agent of the ARES, and – to Scott’s never-ending astonishment – she seems to like him just as much as he likes her.
At only 15, Aubrey is intelligent, talkative and energetic, true force of nature. Both books are told from Scott’s point of view, but although we only see her though his eyes, Aubrey is no less of a protagonist. For Scott, she is the only constant in his otherwise turbulent life, something to hold on to in the ever-changing realities.
Male voices are so difficult to get right in YA (a teen boy’s mind is a mysterious thing indeed), but Scott’s struck me as very authentic. Both Scott and Aubrey were extremely mature for their age, but it never really seemed odd considering the amount of power they wielded and the type of job they did. Each of them was burdened with so much responsibility that it’s no wonder they talked and acted like 30-year-olds.
The plot in both books is downright excellent and Curran leaves her readers no time to breathe or relax. Scott and Aubrey face true horrors on every turn. The only letdown was their final encounter with the villain in Control. This person had been terrorizing and manipulating shifters for decades, and yet Scott handled the situation so easily, it was almost ridiculous. Aside from that, Shift and Control are amazing and compulsively readable.
Another thing I feel the need to mention: I. Do. Not. Appreciate. Cliffhangers! Ending your book with a cliffhanger is a sure way to ruin the whole thing for me. While Shift has a nice, clean-cut ending, Control ends with a huge pile of mess at Scott’s door. It’s a good thing a third book was recently announced, or I’d be tempted to pull my hair out. Or well, someone’s hair at the very least.
Cliffhanger or not, these books are a much needed breath of fresh air in YA. If originality is what you’re after, pick up a Strange Chemistry title and give it a try. It’s quickly becoming my favorite and most reliable imprint. These days, it’s enough to see their logo to know that I’ll thoroughly enjoy a book. Kim Curran’s series is no exception.