My eye twitched after I finished Velvet. I rubbed it, it twitched again. Apparently, my eye didn't know what to make of Velvet any more than I did. WaMy eye twitched after I finished Velvet. I rubbed it, it twitched again. Apparently, my eye didn't know what to make of Velvet any more than I did. Was it bad or was it good? Did I enjoy it or did I hate it? Is it possible to say yes to all of those questions? Just a heads up that this review is going to be even more convoluted that usual and skip around a lot. I regret nothing.
At first glance, Velvet appears to be the same Paranormal Vampire Romance novel we've all read a hundred times. Girl moves into a new town. Girl meets Hot Guy who's never shown interest in any other girls in town. Girl almost dies, but Hot Guy saves her. Blah, blah, blah... romance. So if you are tired of this kind of set up, then prepare to be highly disappointed for the first 40% of the novel. That fact is, if Velvet had been published during the Twilight Era--let's be honest, it totally belongs there--it would have probably been a huge hit. But now, it has a lot working against it. Readers expect more from their PNR and the Twilight-esqe model is, frankly, played out.
But moving on to what you actually really care about: was this any good? That is such a complicated question so, I will give an equally complicated response. Velvet is like an Oreo Cookie. It's not the best cookie you can have, but it will satisfy your desire for one. The end pieces are pretty terrible by themselves and the icing in the middle is just way too much high fructose corn syrup in one go. The cookie works okay when it's together, but still kinda leaves this weird aftertaste in your mouth. It's like your body subconsciously knows that you fed it a sub par treat and denied it a chocolate chip cookie. But at the same time, you find yourself reaching for another Oreo and your body is strangely okay with this. And after you've finished the entire pack, you end up craving a real Cookie.
The first 40% is an absolute struggle. It features a ridiculous premise (Adrian's demon, vampire father wants to impregnate Caitlin to produce more vampire babies for reasons), awkward dialogue (though some parts are chuckle worthy) and scenes that is sure to make your eyes roll. In fact, most of it is so unreal, that I often wondered what went through the author and editor's head when green lighting this. I really hate to say that because it sounds like an insult, but it was so bad to the point of hilarity, which made me wonder if I was reading actually reading a satire. If that was the case, then bravo to both West and her editor because they nailed it.
Oh shit. That's totally what Velvet is, isn't it? West purposefully stuffed every overused cliché into Velvet to both poke fun at PNR and attempt to write a better one at the same time! AHHHH, the world just came full circle!
Or maybe I just read it as a satire to actually make it through the book? Also a possibility.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. I need to really tell you guys how ridiculous the first half is. Many would say Velvet is just like Twilight. That's true, but not true enough. Others would say Velvet is nothing like Twilight. I guess, in a way, that's true, too. But again, not true enough, in my opinion. Velvet has an explanation for how vampires came into existence and it's as confusing as all getup, but at least the attempt is there. Then the love interest, Adrian, is actually a decent guy. He respects boundaries and goes away when Caitlin tells him to hit the road. So, I'd say Velvet is like Twilight with manners, science and a ridiculous/frustrating/fascinating plot.
While I was reading Velvet, I found some parts so unbelievable, that I went to find out what inspired West to write it. What I discovered was something shocking... she was inspired by Twilight! She wanted to write a vampire novel with a slightly different spin and therefore, it is inevitable for this novel to be compared to its inspiration. Just like how we all love to compare Fifty Shades of Grey to Twilight. Oh damn, I just went there. Anyway, in many ways, she did improve on an existing Vampire Novel Template. She excelled where Stephenie Meyer didn't for me. And I can't believe I'm about talk about some things I liked about Twilight. WTF has this world come to?
Twilight's beginning, while super slow, allows a good amount of build up for Edward and Bella to meet. I'm not referring to the insta love, because that definitely happened, but they had several interactions woven into Bella's boring life of cooking her dad dinner before things got started. Obviously, it goes downhill from there because the insta love arrives and sets everything on fire.
On the other hand, Velvet doesn't have the same setup and it makes it harder for the reader to be thrust into the novel with no real introduction. As soon as the novel starts, suddenly, Caitlin is in trouble and Adrian is there saving her.
"I nearly killed you, to keep you alive."
It was completely jarring to me because I was still trying to figure out who, what, when, where, why and WTF. And from then on there was a barrage of not-so-carefully constructed scenarios that forced the couple to be in close proximity. At one point the end up in a closet together and then a bed all in the same night. Yup. Adrian literally goes from not caring about any girl at the school to picking Caitlin up for school the next day.
"You're here two days and he just offers to drive you home?"
But of course, all these "happenings" are not without a purpose. I mentioned before that Adrian saved Caitlin from his demon vampire dad who wants to impregnate her. So it's his job to stay with her at all times to protect her.
"What did you mean when you said you were my personal shadow?" He rubbed his eyes. "It means that you're in trouble." I frowned, waiting for him to elaborate. "For instance--that storm? Wasn't a storm." "The storm was not a storm." "It was a disturbance." I snorted. "In the force?"
As per the usual characterization of a PNR heroine, Caitlin brushes off the impending danger until she finds out what he wants. And if those quotes made you slow blink, feast your eyes on this gem:
"He wants to impregnate me? Like, with a baby that kind of impregnate?" "I understand you're upset--" "That does not even cover the middle finger of what I am feeling--" "--but please believe me that nothing is going to happen to you while I'm here--while we're all here, my family and I." "What about when you're not here?" I sputtered. "What about when I'm at home? Or when I'm asleep? What about my family?" "This is not--he won't rape you, or anything," he said, struggling for words and looking awkward as hell. "He'll make you want him. It's--what they do. It's a game."
Because of course making someone want you, even when they actually don't, isn't rape. It's totally consensual! Like I said, the for the first 40% of Velvet, the struggle is REAL.
But then something strange happened when I hit the cream filling. I started to enjoy Velvet. My friends, who had the misfortune of being there when I decided to tell them every painful detail about the beginning, are convinced I suffered from Bookholm Syndrome. They say Velvet took my brain hostage and I started falling for my captive. But I think the real reason is, once West ditched the clichés and let the romance develop, it wasn't half bad.
Unlike Twilight, Caitlin and Adrian's romance is very slow burn. For most of the novel, they aren't "together" and don't particularly want to be, but they do have an attraction. And I have to admit, it was nice seeing their banter and watching their obvious feelings growing. West never rushed it and therefore made me appreciate it more. The only thing I have to complain about with this was that the sexual tension got ridiculous. Once Caitlin and Adrian finally admit their feelings for one another, the spend the night as his place, in his bed, clothes off, cuddling. I just don't buy that.
Another thing Velvet did right was female friendships. Caitlin's best friend is considerate and kind as well as the other girls in the novel. They hang out outside of Adrian's presence, have sleepovers and talk about topics other than boys or Adrian. Basically, what I'm trying to say here is that Velvet completely passes the Bechdel test and that's something I never expected. Even some of my favorite YA novels fail at this.
All good things came to a swift end when the final conflict caught up with the plot. Unfortunately, I was let down. I went through the entire novel waiting to find out more information about why Adrian's dad sought out Caitlin in particular only to discover nothing. I was given virtually no new development! It just ends on the same note it began, but with more romance. It was so frustrating! It feels like it was a cheap attempt to get me to read the second book and goddamn it, I think it worked because yes I'll fucking read the sequel and I'm not happy about it. UGH! Where's a real cookie when you need it?!
I don't know if I'd seriously recommend Velvet to anyone. Well, that's a lie. I kinda do want some of my friends to read it because I'm super curious of what their face would look like while doing so. And now you all know what gift you're getting on Friendship Day. I'm an awesome friend.
All jokes aside, I don't really know what to make of Velvet and I suspect its target audience is smaller than it would have been 5 years ago. If you are in the mood for cliché-filled vampire romance, double-stuffed with occasionally overly sweet, witty banter, smashed in between two, over baked, sad excuses for cookies, then this might be a good choice on a rainy day. Just remember, "C" doesn't just stand for Cookie, it stands for Crap, too. BAM!
For you visual folks, here's a book talk video on Velvet. (Yes, I drew fangs on my picture. I had one job in photoshop.)
Final books are hard. Readers dive in with so many expectations, hopes and fears, and let's not forget the ships. I suspect it must be at least a littFinal books are hard. Readers dive in with so many expectations, hopes and fears, and let's not forget the ships. I suspect it must be at least a little daunting for an author to want to give their readers everything and stay true to their story. Friends, for me, Marie Rutkoski has done just that. This story has taken me on a remarkable journey, capturing my heart and and melting my emotions in one fell swoop.
The Winner's Kiss is a perfect conclusion to an expertly crafted series. And as always there are many familiar reasons to love the final installment as much as its predecessors while containing quite a few twists that kept me anticipating the turn of each page. Our protagonists, Kestrel and Arin, experience a lot of growth as previous choices finally reach shocking, climatic consequences, many of which I was unsure how they'd move past. I definitely didn't expect the changes Kestrel underwent; she is both the same and vastly different, exploring physical and mental strength of female characters.
You don't need to be gifted with a blade. You are your own best weapon.
The unpredictability of this novel is its greatest weapon as Rutkoski clearly shows she's not afraid to make you beg for your favorites' survival. She's heartlessly brilliant like that.
What I didn't expect was how much I enjoyed Roshar's character. I give his sarcastic, witty remarks an A++ and loved how he reminded me of a rougher version of Sturmhond from The Grisha series. It was smart for him to have as much page time as he did since The Winner's Kiss contains romantic tension to the max with a few scenes causing me utter desperation—moments where I was throwing buckets of water out of my ship, lest it sink, screaming "Noooooooooo!" fiercely at my ceiling.
I still admire the writing and how it manages to convey so much more than is actually written. It's made me re-think my stance on 3rd person narration, usually my least favorite. But the fact that I, too, now feel as though I can translate Kestrel and Arin's Epic Starring Contests, Roshar and Arin's Bromatic Body Language among a host of other tells, just goes to show you the quality of writing. No words are wasted, and always feel so carefully deliberate while still maintaining its raw honesty.
Perhaps what The Winner's Kiss succeeds at the most is its ability to straddle that fine line between a character driven and plot driven novel. Neither side took over the other, out-shining or lacking in development. The relationships were given the proper amount of time and dignity. Not only is there a focus on Kestrel and Arin's, but also of another that's made very clear it's just as important, and maybe even more so. And, yes, in case you were wondering, this book does indeed pass the Bechdel test, something which I'm always pleased to see in a YA novel.
The plot was excellent. Surprisingly detailed battle scenes, strategies and political maneuvers are at the front without making my eyes glaze over with confusion. And I loved that Arin's cultural religious beliefs along side Kestrel's disbelief was handled with a great amount of respect and love. It really highlighted an ongoing theme of tolerance and respect of others' differences, and that is so incredibly relevant. And, of course, I really enjoyed how the novel began and ended with A Winner's Curse, bringing the entire series full circle. Nice touch.
I am fiercely in love with all things Kestrel and Arin. Their relationship struggle in the novel was so real. Finally a YA book where it's not the fantasy world keeping them apart, but actual real relationship bumps that plagues us all: break down of communication, acknowledgements of individual changes and growth, trust issues, accepting faults along with strengths, understanding personal struggles, guilt of hurting the one you love the most, forgiveness, and above all, mutual respect.
"He changed us both." She seemed to struggle for words. "I think of you, all that you lost, who you were, what you were forced to be, and might have been, and I—I have become this, this person, unable to—" She shut her mouth. "Kestrel," he said softly, "I love this person."
It's sad for me to come to the conclusion of a favorite series, one that I never expected to adore so much. But I loved every minute of this ride and can't wait to revisit.
Excellent series is excellent.
An ARC was provided by the publisher. No monies or favors were exchanged.
I don't think I've ever read a story about cheaters. I'm not sure if this was a conscious decision or if it was for fear of it remiActual rating: 3.5
I don't think I've ever read a story about cheaters. I'm not sure if this was a conscious decision or if it was for fear of it reminding me of that corny reality TV show that's somehow STILL airing. (WHY? TELL ME WHY.) Plus, there's always the issue of actually sympathizing with the cheater, not an easy feat. But While You're Away surprised me. I was able to connect and understand the main character, Sarah Westlake, and her reasons for her infidelity. That doesn't mean I'm agreeing with her decision at all, far from it. (I want you all to know that I just resisted a Cheater-Cheater-Pumpkin-Eater reference despite it's non-relevenace.)
What I liked best about While You're Away is Sarah's down to earth voice. She reminds me of my teen self in some ways with her shyness and social awkwardness. At least one of those blasted traits has lingered with me through adulthood, proving that some things never change, but I digress. Sarah's perfect boyfriend, Dave, is the opposite. He's outgoing, a flirt and everywhere he goes, he feeds off of a crowd's energy. This works well for his and Sarah's band, Dasa, but often leaves Sarah lonely and put-out from seeing him flirt with so many girls. That doesn't discount Sarah's love for Dave because she does genuinely care for him as he does her. However, it gives Dave's character a flaw in his seemingly perfection. Sarah doesn't blame her infidelity on him, which I was happy to see, but you can tell that this factor of lack of attention does play into it.
Then we have bad boy Will. He's new, thrilling and completely off-limits to Sarah. Not only does she have sweet and caring Dave, but Will is also taken. Yet through one weird moment at a party, in Sarah's loneliness, she ends up making out with Will and later hiding it from Dave. And while she does feel bad about the betrayal, a part of her is intrigued with the connection she felt with Will.
Finally, I really enjoyed the Holbrook's writing style as I am a sucker for pretty writing. It's not flowery or poetic in the way you'd find Lauren DeStefano's or Tahereh Mafi's. It's more straightforward realism with Sarah's conflicted feelings particularly when Holbrook describes her feelings about Will and why she's so drawn to explore the connection further.
"I felt split in pieces, and none of them matched. It turned out that it was possible to feel guilty and elated at the same time. To be ashamed and emboldened at once. Though it had been wrong to even try it, I wanted another taste of Will."
If there were one thing I would have loved more of, it's more back story between Dave and Sarah. We are shown how they met and why they decided to start Dasa, but the reader is primarily introduced right into the infidelity scene. Though, it's entirely possible that more will be revealed as this story wears on since there are a total of six pieces. I usually prefer reading a book from cover to cover, without interruption, but I do think in this case, it works out well when you're able to leave readers on small cliffs like this gem:
"This felt like the beginning of something. A seduction that dared me to imagine what might come next. I felt like I'd been waiting for this. Needing it, even without knowing."
Because of this, I'm left internally cringing at Sarah and Will's choices, secretly rooting them on and shaking my head at the can of worms they're opening. It's funny how that happened. When did I become both the demon and the angel on Sarah's shoulder? So I think it goes without saying that I'll be continuing. Like Sarah, I'm in too deep to stop at just part 1.
e-ARC was received from the publisher via NetGalley. Thank you!
Recently, I've been reading really depressing books that have both horrified and fascinated me. But out of all of them, Charm and Strange and now ForgRecently, I've been reading really depressing books that have both horrified and fascinated me. But out of all of them, Charm and Strange and now Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock takes the cake for tackling tough, taboo issues. In this case, suicide. Now, the last suicide book I've read was Thirteen Reasons Why and this book can easily be compared to that. But instead of the story being told from tapes from the deceased and another MC, Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is told play-by-play from Leonard himself. His voice is real, broken, hurt, confused and relatable. He wants to be seen, remembered. He wants people to acknowledge his existence. So on his 18th birthday he takes his grandfather's war gun trophy and sets out to kill his former best friend and himself.
When we are introduced to Leonard, he immediately fills the reader in on his plans, though the ultimate reason why is revealed along the course of his day as he gives away personal items or gifts to four people he regularly interacts with. While Leonard calls them friends, we find that this doesn't accurately describe those relationships. Two mostly tolerate or accept his presence in their routine, but unlike most of his peers, they communicate with him in some way despite being weirded out by his differences. Leonard is vastly different from his classmates and that is quickly apparent in his reasonings and speech. He sees the world and challenges things normal teenagers wouldn't think about. This doesn't do Leonard any favors regarding his popularity, but he brushes this off as ignorance on their part.
The thing about Leonard is that he's such a smart character, but he never comes across as pretentious like some characters from other equally morbid novels. (This is me giving The Fault in Our Stars the stink eye.) It's easy to see why he's misunderstood and underestimated, but such a shame to read about such a lonely kid. His situation depressed me on a serious level and I just wanted to give this guy hug. He doesn't have friends his age or even the support of his family. His mother spends her days in New York, living her dream working as a designer and his father is nowhere to be seen, leaving Leonard to mostly fend for himself. Thankfully, Leonard is not entirely alone and when the climax hits, he does begin to see there are people who care about him.
If there is one piece of criticism I do have it was the way the Letters From the Future were introduce. In certain chapters of the book, the narrative and setting switches and their isn't any notice. I'll admit to be completely caught off guard to this and confused as to how it held any relevance to the story until after his teacher mentioned them in class. Leonard also has moments when he references footnotes in his narration, which is generally not a style that I love since it causes me to flip back and forth from the footnotes to the story. Word to the wise, reading this one on your kindle might be a royal pain in the ass.
All in all, I'm really glad I decided to check Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock out. It's a very different story, the kind I'm not used to reading. But just like Thirteen Reasons Why and Charm and Strange, it's one I'll probably be thinking about for a while. Highly recommended.
ARC was provided by the publisher for an honest review. Thank you!
I didn't want to admit it, but after reading all of her books now, I can safely say her writing style jIt's time for Rainbow Rowell and I to break up.
I didn't want to admit it, but after reading all of her books now, I can safely say her writing style just isn't for me. It's like that time I cheerfully broke up with Cassandra Clare, though, admittedly, over different reasons. But this time it hurts. It wounds me to realize that I can't join in with all my friends, ride the Rainbow iz Queen bandwagon, roll around in a meadow of flowers that magically whispers witty Rainbow Rowell quotes and feast at the Fangirl banquet. I know it may seem foolish to be disappointed. I mean, what can a person physically do? No book can be universally loved and I did give it the good old college try.
Here's the thing: For all intents and purposes, I should have loved Fangirl.
The strange thing about my reading experience with Fangirl is that I actually deeply connected with all of the characters on a personal level. As a person who suffers from anxiety and has dealt with a father who was admitted to a mental hospital when I was a teen, I sympathized with Cath. I remembered those feelings of craving independence from my sibling as Wren did. I understand having an intense passion for a fandom and being at midnight parties, waiting for the next book in your favorite series. I even connected with Laura's inability to handle life as a mom. In a lot of ways, quite a few of the experiences these characters dealt with, I have dealt with. For that reason alone, I gave this book an extra star. Unfortunately, that was not enough for me.
Rainbow Rowell lives and breathes characters. They are fluid, realistic (for the most part... Eleanor & Park excluded), memorable, flawed, and relatable. These aren't the type of characters that stay on the page. They shout, scream and jump out at you because Rowell is just that good. But it's also her flaw because that's all she writes, characters. In fact, many times it feels like her stories have neither a beginning or an ending, with the reader viewing a piece of a character's life through a small window of time. So I'm convinced that Rowell can't plot her way out of a brown paper bag.
I know that might anger some of you, but hear me out.
Fangirl is a very character-driven novel and doesn't actually have a plot. Rowell's created these characters, placed them in situations and forced them to react to said situations. She's great at that. But where does the book go from there? Which direction are the characters moving? What are they moving towards? What's the goal of the novel? These are some questions I've asked myself through every one of her books. And I often feel like I'm floundering around in her prose like someone who's gone swimming in the ocean drunk. Everything around these characters is static. Only they move from point A to point B to further the story along. Because of this, if you don't happen to fall in love with the characters early on, the story doesn't work. Rainbow Rowell's characters ARE her stories.
One thing positive that came out of reading all of Rowell's books is that, I've learned that I am not the character-driven sort of reader. I'm more of a reader that needs a strong plot to see me to the end of the book. I can deal with unlikable characters or characters that have issues if the plot can save the day. I have the patience of a fruit fly and if I'm expected to sit around reading about a character who is waiting for something to happen to them, then forget it. You've lost me as a reader.
The second issue I had with Fangirl was Rowell, once again, tip-toeing around elephants in her stories. Her novels are so focused on her characters that she never addresses things that feel essential to the plot. With Fangirl is was the slash fic and how it relates to fandom. With Landline it was the magical phone. With Eleanor and Park it was race and Park's self acceptance. It's the same formula for each of her books over and over again.
Step 1: Develop characters for half the book! Step 2: Introduce something heavy to center my quirky characters around something. Step 3: End the book without tying up loose ends because they served my purpose and Honey Rainbow don't care.
It's the most frustrating thing about her books! It's like she dances around the heavy stuff on purpose! There is almost always something that feels deliberately left out, basically anything that could remotely make the story more interesting. Which leads me to my third point...
Fangirl is boring. While I could relate to Cath, she is the dullest person to read about ever. The only scenes that she showed life with was either with her dad or Levi when she suddenly had a personality and wanted to be witty. Those scenes were the best in the book and what kept me reading. But they were few and far between and I started to question why this book was over 400 pages. Not even the fan fiction or cute romance could save this book.
And let's talk about this Simon and Baz fan fiction. Clearly it is a homage to Harry Potter, yet, Harry Potter happens to exist in the same universe as Simon Snow? No, I don't buy that. That's a plotberg if I ever saw one. The fan fiction sections in the novel really didn't do much for me. This isn't because it wasn't good, but because it didn't have enough page time for me to attempt to connect with the Simon and Baz. I did feel like bashing my head in when Cath would read Levi the long sections of her fic, so I guess they did spawn some type of emotional reaction in me, albeit, not a positive one. Also, did Cath ever finish her fic? Rowell wrote so much about Simon and Baz and just completely left that open... AGAIN FRUSTRATING.
Side note: I'm really curious to see how Rowell manages to write Carry On, Cath's fan fiction of Simon Snow, without people directly comparing it to Harry Potter. I mean, essentially it's Draco/Harry fic. But since monetizing fan fiction is now a thing, *cough* Cassandra Clare, E.L. James *cough* who am I to stop her?
To conclude, Fangirl ultimately let me down, but I'm not entirely disappointed that I read it. I learned something about myself as a reader and I did gain a few good laughs from the clever banter. I wouldn't call this a terrible book, and hey, it was better than Eleanor and Park. So there's always that.
Thank goodness this didn’t fall victim to Second Book Syndrome. While I do think I enjoyed The Archived a tiny bit better than The Unbound, this was sThank goodness this didn’t fall victim to Second Book Syndrome. While I do think I enjoyed The Archived a tiny bit better than The Unbound, this was still up there as a tightly-plotted and well-written book. The best thing about both books is that the mystery is really solid. My mind was constantly trying to figure out who the bad guy was or how things would turn out in the end, but it surprised me. Also, more Wesley FTW! The thing that bugged me was Mac’s inability to trust Wesley. I understand why she held back, but I felt very frustrated when he obviously wanted to help. At the same time, he was holding back from her and it looked like a convenient and deliberate attempt to give the romance tension. Man, I hate when that happens. The worst part is that I’ll never know how it turns out since Disney didn’t pick up the third book. BOOOO, DISNEY! I really hope Victoria considers self-publishing it, because I’d totally buy it....more
"I believe that anyone who reads the novel will understand its strong stance against racism." -Victoria Fyot (Judging A Book By Its Cover Gives Birth
"I believe that anyone who reads the novel will understand its strong stance against racism." -Victoria Fyot (Judging A Book By Its Cover Gives Birth To Racism)
Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you failed. Badly. To say Revealing Eden is offensive is such a massive understatement. I couldn't even stomach more that a few pages at a time. It was like taking a spork to your eye, but then it breaks leaving you with only the handle to carry out your dark deed. Even with the obvious racism aside, the Revealing Eden is simply not good. From the dialogue to the characters to the plot, it was very badly written. A tragic mess.
There are a few things you should know before reading this review:
1. I am an African-American. 2. I went into this book knowing I would probably dislike it. Why? -Because I'm obviously masochistic. -Because I'm taking one for the team. You're welcome. -Because Foyt made a statement that not many African-Americans had read her book. Here I am and yes, we still exist. 3. I will most likely address a few statements made by Foyt about her novel as it pertains to Revealing Eden. 4. Oh, and this review is kinda long. Sorry about that. LOADS to cover. >.<
Apparently, according to Victoria Foyt the population of white people have plummeted due to an increase in sun radiation, leaving black people in charge. My first issue was with the lack of science in that premise. (And no. Throwing out random scientific names of insects, animals and plants does not signify that you've done your homework.) If the sun's radiation was *that* bad, being black won't do you that much good. What's even more odd is that for majority of the novel, Eden is hanging out outside in the sun without her coating (more on that later).I kept waiting for her to complain about how hot it was or that her skin felt burnt, but it never happened. Her father is working in a lab attempting to genetically alter people so that they have animal traits and no one has created a better sunblock or, I don't know, CURED CANCER?! Where is the logic in that?
Whites in this novel are considered a burden to society since they have such a low rate of survival. If one does not have a mate by age 18, they are to be sentenced to death. There seems to be an obvious solution to this hypothetical problem: breed out the weaker genetics. But instead white people are oppressed just for the sake of oppression. And even though Eden knows she has had two mating offers, she refuses to accept either one, choosing to wait for her "Dark Prince" in hopes that he will pick up her mating option. Her reasoning?
"Because I don't want my child to be all Pearl. I'd rather be dead than mate with one of my kind."
*sigh* I can't believe I have to break this down, but if a black person and a white person have a baby, that doesn't automatically guarantee a dark-skinned baby. In fact, some may have very fair complexion. Funny thing the way genetics works. But what did I expect? Almost all the dark-skinned people in Revealing Eden were black as night. The one person who is mentioned with brown skin is assumed to be mixed. *Shaking my head* It was then I should have realized that logic was not going to be Revealing Eden's strong point.
In order for Eden to fit in, she walks around with a coating of "Midnight Luster" on her skin and hair. She talks about dying her hair black and I couldn't figure out why she was doing that. Doesn't Foyt know that black peoples' hair is not actually black? Is that a common misconception even today? It's weird because it's something I've never thought of before. Sure, there are some whose hair is black, but it's not very common at all. It was the little things like that were I noticed a trend beginning: Foyt did absolutely no research on African-Americans or any other race for that matter. It is very evident by her constant reliance on black stereotypes applied even to white characters.
*Warning: Many quote-inducing headdesking ahead.
Applying black stereotypes to a white female to generate sympathy for the main character:
"White people were lazy good-for-nothings with weak genetics."
A black woman's figure categorizing her status in society:
"Voluptuous, with raisin-colored skin, everything about Ashina screamed ruling class."
"On the main stage a band of Coals performed in whiteface."
Oh and I can't forget about the constant theme running rampant that black people are out to get the white people. As if black people, that are now in charge, have nothing else better to do with their time than antagonize others. White women everywhere are doing the "White Woman's Workout." >_>
Every black person in the world is out to get white people:
"She suspected that each and every Coal passerby wanted to hurt her..."
It's always black people:
"All of a sudden, she heard two men behind her. Coals, she figured by their careless, drunken laughter."
Songs about black men raping a white girl:
Little Pearly whirly, lost inside the mines; tossed from Coal to Coal, in fear, she whines, "I'm sorry, Mother, he said he only wanted to see my white skin shine."
Even more rape comparisons:
She felt more violated than if she'd been raped.
Go on and scream. Let it out.
And on and on it goes. But then it gets worse when because there doesn't seem to be any indication that slavery or the Civil Rights Movement ever happened. How was she being oppressed? Well as far as I can tell, white people were well-fed, had their own places, had jobs etc. The biggest thing against them was the mating age, having to wear their "coating" (I'm not sure if that was a law or anything) and getting rude remarks from black people. On a few occasions Eden even wishes the world could go back to a time where white people were free to go outside with their white skin without being persecuted. She frequently says that a black person couldn't possibly understand what it was like to be in her shoes. *slow blink*
"Someday, when you're locked up in a cage, Bramford, maybe you'll understand what it feels like to be an outcast."
If only Bramford knew what it was like to be an outcast.
Maybe now he would know how it felt to be judged by your appearance.
What did Bramford know about disappointment?
Yeah, that's not offensive at all. Not one bit. #sarcasm
And then there is the issue of the FFP A.K.A. the Federation of Free People, "a militant organization of Coals that vowed to rid the planet of Pearls." Pause. *deep breaths* How am I supposed to take that? The Federation of FREE People? Get me off this planet. I'm just going to leave that alone before I start seeing blood-red. Too late, I just saw red. Excuse me.
Okay, sorry about that. That was a tad awkward.
I also want to address the titles given to the races.
Latino- Tiger Eyes
Are you kidding me? Coals? As in black as coals? Pearls? As in precious pieces of jewelry? Cotton? As in what my ancestors were forced to pick in the fields? Do I even need to explain how offensive that is? And Foyt's response to the backlash of these titles?
"Why are whites called Pearls, while blacks are called Coals? Imagine a gritty, post-apocalyptic world where all that matters is survival. What good will a pearl do you when luxury items have no use? Coal has energy, fire, and real value. It is durable and strong, not easily crushed like a pearl. Pearl is a pejorative term here. Coals are admired. Coals oppress Pearls because they fear that those with light skin will add to a population unable to survive “The Heat,” and drain meager resources."
No, no, no, no. NO! You do not give a title that has been used as a racial slur to a people who have been oppressed. You do not do that. And if you think any of that is okay, something is deeply wrong with you. By no stretch of the imagination can "Pearl" be considered a racial slur. Unless, along with common sense, this society has happened to lose every dictionary in existance. In which case, I shall provide the definition.
pearl1 [purl] noun 1. a smooth, rounded bead formed within the shells of certain mollusks and composed of the mineral aragonite or calcite in a matrix, deposited in concentric layers as a protective coating around an irritating foreign object: valued as a gem when lustrous and finely colored. Compare cultured pearl. 2. something resembling this, as various synthetic substances for use in costume jewelry. 3. something similar in form, luster, etc., as a dewdrop or a capsule of medicine. 4. something precious or choice; the finest example of anything: pearls of wisdom. 5. a very pale gray approaching white but commonly with a bluish tinge.
Yup, that is just the title I would give to a group that is being oppressed. Tell them they're worthless while giving them a name that literally means precious. Moreover, if "Coal" supposed to be a positive title, highlighting their strengths, then why is "Cotton" considered derogatory? By definition cotton is a very useful resource. It's strong, durable, able to withstand cold and hot temperatures. So what's the deal here?
Only Cottons, the derogatory word for albinos, were lower, and they were extinct.
I don't think for a second Fyot didn't know what she was doing when she wrote that because in the beginning of the novel she calls "Coal" a racial slur herself.
Before she knew it, she blurted out an incendiary racial slur. "Gets your hands off of me, you damn Coal!"
First of all, I'm surprised she was still alive after saying that to someone of the elite class. Surely if Pearls are so worthless and oppressed, there would be severe consequences for an action like that? Second, Foyt is again baking her cake and trying to stuff her face with it too. Which one is it? It's either a positive term or a racial slur. It cannot be both. I'll tell you what I think. I think Foyt was just trying to smooth things over with her choice of words. And failed, I might add, because my bullshit meter is about to explode.
In the second half of the novel I had no idea what was going on half the time. The scenes were very jumbled with no clear direction of where the plot was headed. World building left way too many holes in the story. Because surely there are more races on Earth that just the ones listed in Revealing Eden. Character interactions were much of the same confusion. But I think that it mostly had to do with the fact that Eden was a fucking idiot. Her stupidity burned. For real.
From this day forward I can never say Bella Swan was the worst. Eden is the worst protagonist I have ever read. Not only does she completely miss the point over and over again, regardless of how many times it is spelled out, but she is extremely selfish and all around unlikable. There is a scene in the novel where Eden happens across an anaconda and I felt myself rooting for the snake. Sadly, he didn't win. *weeps*
One thing that was clear was how Eden suddenly became attracted to Bramford after he became half beast. One minute she is talking about how sexy he is and the next she is calling him names, even after he saves her life several times. (Bold is mine.)
That dumb beast had been gone since yesterday afternoon.
And why had she thought the dress would please such an insensitive brute?
"Is this where you lock up your victims? You're an animal, Bramford."
The selfish beast simply dropped the subject and ignored her.
Also she likes to ride him like an animal:
She sunk her fingers into his long silky hair, like reins on a horse. As if she controlled the beast. Eden knew it wasn't true, but she enjoyed the illusion just the same.
What. The. Hell. A black man is turned into an animal and you have your white protagonist daydreaming about riding him like a frickin' pony? I just... can't.
When I finally finished reading Revealing Eden I had to ask myself what kind of person would think any of this would be remotely okay? Foyt says:
"So yes, this book is meant to provoke the white community that has never experienced racism or been oppressed because they have been in the majority in this country."
I take issue with the white community only able to be provoked by featuring a white girl who is oppressed by black people using the very same stereotypes we fight against everyday. So, yes. I taking extreme offense to that. If Foyt is indeed "color blind" as she claims then making readers connect with a black character shouldn't be a problem for her. But instead she chose to "turn racism on its head" and say, "Black folk, I know you guys have dealt with some really rough shit in the past, but what if it happened to white people?" No, just no. The African-American community exists *because* of the oppression. It is our history, our roots. It is the one thing that must be left alone. You can't just take that away from us and apply it yourselves and make us look like the bad guys in your novel! This is one of the few times where I had to sit back and wonder who could possibly enjoy this book.
"And if you ask if all these reviewers are white then consider that you have a racist point of view."
Oh, really? Racist point of view? Racism isn't dead. It's something that many of us has to face everyday. As a people, it is ingrained in our society that our features are less desirable than that of whites. There are somethings some people will never understand. They have never had to walk in the shoes of another race and therefore they have limited understanding on what it means to be a Person of Color. When you get followed around in a clothing store because of your skin color, when you can't go into the 7-11 with your hoodie on, when a job tells you your natural hair is "unprofessional," when your 4-year-old daughter asks you why her hair doesn't "go down like a princess" as if hers could never be considered as such, when you see celebrities of your race white washed in ad campaigns, when your male relatives are arrested for looking suspicious, when you see your grandparents cry after Obama was elected because they thought they would never live to see the day where a black man held office, when you know there are some parts of the country where you are just not welcome because of your skin color, or when you walk down the aisle of your local book store and all you see on the book covers are white people, with a small section devoted to African-Americans, you realize you are living in a white world. Racist point of view? Wherever would one have gotten that?
I think this goes without saying: NO STARS FOR YOU!
You didn't think I'd just leave it on that unhappy note did you? Pfft, as if!
Ay yo, if black people truly ruled da world we damn sure wouldn't be toting 'round some whack name like "Coals." Naw, we'd go for something MUCH more gangsta like, ChocolateThundas. Then we'd go n' elect Snoop Dogg as our president and Dave Chappelle as our VP, ya feel meh? We'd give women back control of their bodies. We'd legalize MJ and the national anthem would be "Young, Wild and Free." We'd move the capital to the ATL, where we like to "throw dem bones." Grillz would be covered by dental insurance. Free health care to all citizens. Oppress white people? Naw, we ain't got time fo' dat shit, man! We'd be too busy spending our reparation money from da Gov'ment, giving back to the economy.
Chicken spots n' drive through liquor stores would be on every corner. You welcome! (So what, we get drunk...). 12pm would be a mandatory nation wide nap time, which no one would pay any attention to. Fuck the system! (So what, we don't sleep...). Though dey should 'cause "The Itis" is a very serious condition affecting 1 out of 2 black folk e'rywhere. And finally, random flash mob dances would be to songs like "Lean Wit It, Rock Wit It" and "We Fly High" (We just havin' fun and we don't care who sees...).
We stay fly. No lie. You know dis...
Book was provided by publisher/author via NetGalley for an honest review.
Before there was Harry Potter there was Animorphs. I was in love with that series as a child. It was pretty serious. Half my c Actual rating: 1.5 stars
Before there was Harry Potter there was Animorphs. I was in love with that series as a child. It was pretty serious. Half my closest was dedicated with Animorph books and I had a special shelf full of them right next to my bed. And honestly, looking back I'm surprised I didn't have an Animorph shrine a la Helga G. Pataki.
Obsessed? I like to think of it as an extreme hobby.
So when I saw Eve and Adam go up on NetGalley, I'll admit this freely, I squealed. I waited with bated breath for Macmillan to approve me for this title and dove in not long after receiving it. Unfortunately, it's not at all what I was expecting. When I think back about Eve and Adam I just have an overall feeling of "meh." In fact, there isn't much I like at all about it. Not the plot, not the characters and not the ending. Okay, wait. I like the cover. There. *happy sigh* Now that I have that out the way, I won't feel too bad for giving two of my favorite authors a negative review.
I had a feeling that Eve and Adam and I wouldn't get along right from the beginning. Readers are immediately introduced to Eve via a car accident where she loses a leg. Then her mother, Terra Spiker of Spiker Biotech, whisks her away to her facilities to be looked after. There she heals faster than humanly possible, meets a boy named Solo and begins working on a project to create her perfect boy, Adam. And all that happens in the first 15% of the novel. It felt like a lot of events was happening in a very short amount of time and I was still attempting to process that the girl had lost a leg. Then you add it the random sexually promiscuous best friend who's in love with a loser drug dealer sub-plot, the insta-love and the perfect boy, Adam, who literally stops traffic with his good looks and you've pretty much lost me as a reader.
A part of me isn't sure where to begin with what didn't work for me with Eve and Adam. Was it the characters? The plot? The slut-shaming? The insta-love? I think I've come to the conclusion that it's actually two things that stood out the most:
1. Show, don't tell.
Right from the beginning we are told about Evening's accident and how horrible it is. And as the novel goes on, it is referenced a few times, but with the same old, "It was so horrible. I lost a leg." Even after finishing the book, I never felt I had a good understanding of what actually happened during the accident. It wasn't necessarily terribly important, but it did bother me.
This is also done with Solo's dislike for Eve's mother, Terra Spiker. As a boy he lost both of his parents in a car accident and Terra Spiker (his parents' employer) ended up looking after him. He constantly says how evil she is, how he hates her, etc. But we never actually see proof of that evil beyond what he tells the reader. Sure, she wasn't the friendliest character in the book, but it didn't equate to the evil that he accuses her of.
Then of course we have Le Hottie McHottiekins, A.K.A. Adam, the perfect boy Eve has been tasked to create while she recovers from her accident. We are told over and over how incredibly gosh-darn howt he is. And when he goes out in the world looking for Eve, everyone - male and female - stops what they are doing for a moment of silence for the baby angles that obviously died for his magical existence. So I guess you're supposed to feel your ovaries exploding at that point.
But the descriptions used to describe his howtness? He has blue eyes, black hair and he's just perfect in every sense of the word. Riiiight...
2. The characters
The other major thing that bothered me were the characters. First off, the novel flips back and forth from Eve to Solo's PoV and later Adam's. But the thing is, they all read like the same person. And I was told that the novel was supposed to funny, but I think I may have chuckled a grand total of one time. Their personalities along with their interactions resembled robots or cardboard characters. They we unrealistic like so:
Eve - The girl loses a leg in the very beginning of the novel and she gives exactly two shits that it was at one point attached to her body. The day after she is admitted in her mother's facility she doesn't even show concern over her injuries. She doesn't even find it weird that she is healing so fast nor does she even look at her leg. Her explanation is that the doctors and nurses told her not to look at so it wouldn't upset her. She also thinks her lack of pain is due to the strong meds they have her on. I'm sorry, but I don't buy any of that. She doesn't ask any questions about her recovery? She's not the least bit concerned? Those were simply convenient allowances to move the plot along.
Solo - I never liked this kid. From the moment he entered into the story thinking Eve was hot as they wheeled her and her detached leg from the hospital to when he thinks she is checking him out while she screamed in pain from her injuries, I thought he was a douche.
I know she's checking me out. Fair enough, because I'm checking her out. "Ah ahhh ahhhh!" Eve cries out suddenly. She's in pain. Bad pain. So it's possible she's not really checking me out.
I mean, who actually does that? I'm not sure how I was supposed to react to that. Was it meant to be funny?
Also, I could never understand his intense hatred for Terra Spiker. So she's mean... okaaayyyy. But she's taken care of him, given him a job, etc. Yet here he is determined to bring her and her company down. Oh, and did I mention the insta-love? After only a handful of interactions, Solo feels conflicted about taking his evidence of Terra's illegal activity to the Feds because he is in love with Eve. HUH? I wasn't even aware that they were friends. There was absolutely no time for them to develop any type of relationship. Note to self: Staring+two conversations=love.
Adam - "I'm so howt, but why is everyone staring at me? Someone hold me." *eyeroll* For his name to be in the title, he had the smallest role in the book.
Terra Spiker - "I'm evil bitch incarnate and I know it." <=== The only character personality given to readers. She also loves to slut-shame Eve's best friend, calling her a "drunken slut" any chance she gets.
Aislin - Eve's best friend who has only one purpose in the novel: To make Eve look good. By coming off as the self-destructive, drunken BFF who happens to also enjoy sexy times (honestly, why is this portrayed as a bad thing?), you have a character who Eve can spend her free time worrying over and protecting. This makes Eve look caring, kind, thoughtful and selfless. It also provides a clever way for the main character to admit they wish they could be like the BFF while never actually engaging in the more risqué behaviors. Instant innocence. Take out Aislin's character and Eve has no real depth to her. She'd also be boring considering she'd have no reason to put her Under Dog cape on and save anyone in her spare time.
Oh, and I can't forget the other scientists featured near the end who make perverted statements toward Eve.
"You haven't tapped that little piece yet? She's no great beauty, but she's cute enough, and she's got a nice little body." "I'd do her, " Dr. Chen says.
Did I mention these men are probably old enough to be her father and grandfather? I get that they were supposed to be evil, but the layer of sexism wasn't necessary to drive that point home. All it did was turn me completely off to the book.
While Eve and Adam didn't do much for me, it is readable. But I was, unfortunately, left disappointed, confused and underwhelmed. *sigh* The only other possible positive is that the novel is a very quick read. You could probably read it in only a few short hours. However, I sadly can't recommend anyone wasting those precious hours reading Eve and Adam.
ARC was provided by the publisher via NetGalley. Thank you!
EDIT: So the cover is up and I'm actually happy with it. I'm very please Harlequin dropped the model from The Immortal Rules who wasn't Asian and went EDIT: So the cover is up and I'm actually happy with it. I'm very please Harlequin dropped the model from The Immortal Rules who wasn't Asian and went in a different direction. It's not my favorite cover in the world, but it's not bad either.