Gated is a pretty good, fairly solid and easy to read novel. It's not your typical YA book, though it does contain some of the tropes found in that age group (love triangles, love at first sight, etc.). It's got more than its fare share of action, especially as it nears the final few chapters but Parker relies on introspection, psychological thrills, and a slow build rather than a nonstop action-packed adventure to see her story through. Lyla is caught between the home she has known for ten years and increasing evidence that not all is as it seems in Mandrodage Meadows, which add up to a intense and exciting story
Parker has a simple style, which fits both Lyla's narration and the kind of secluded life she leads in the Doomsday cult. It's easy to get caught up in the first person perspective, and the subtle hints and allusions of wrongness build up naturally as Lyla learns more about her own community. The beginning is a bit dry and slow-moving, but Parker shows enough potential that reader will be engaged enough to keep reading until it gets good. The story really hits its stride just after the halfway mark, when Lyla is exposed to life outside of the Compound and begins to truly think for herself.
Breakdown by percentage:
1% - 50% - not enough going on 50% - 90% - just enough going on 90% - 100% - too much going on
I could have done without the romances. I could have done without the love triangle between the boy Pioneer picks for her and the mysterious boy on the outside. Honestly, if the story had been solely about Lyla breaking free from the severe "us vs. them" mentality ingrained over 10 years, it would've been a tighter, more engrossing read. It also would have been far more original. All of the love stuff feels so unnecessary, and so reminiscent of other YA novels.
Pioneer is both a benefit and a detriment to how Gated's story is caarried. In the beginning, his mystery, allure, and power over the group is unexplained and unquestioned. The way he approached Lyla's family when they were weak, scared, and isolated is a perfect example of what kind of man he is - opportunistic, cunning, and without morals. He camouflages his hunger for power for years under a facade of geniality, until Lyla begins to act differently than he would wish. His break down from pillar of the community to unhinged antagonist is authentic, but could use some polish. I main issue is that the story went on, and his control started to slip, he never really became more than a one-note villain. Parker never really shows why he is the way he is, or why he created Mandrodage Meadows -- whether it was for pure control, to swindle the families, etc. I don't know what led to his creation of the cult, and that felt like an oversight.
All in all, Gated had a few flashes of brilliance, but the one-note villain, the slow start, and the insane last few chapters took away from the overall impression. The story had been building neatly over the course of the novel, but I think the ending got away from Parker. There just way too much going on, much too fast. Simplifying the climax would render the whole more believable and fit with the rest of the novel better. That said, Gated makes for a complete diversion. It's a fast-reading, engaging story unlike most other YA novels out there.(less)
The Ward was a fun read. It was a breath of fresh air in the post-apoc/dystopia genre that...moreRead This Review & More Like It On My Blog!
3.5 out of 5
The Ward was a fun read. It was a breath of fresh air in the post-apoc/dystopia genre that seems to retread and reuse the same ideas and themes over and over again. Catastrophes hitting the US with dire consequences are not uncommon, but the "Wash Out" event that left New York and Jersey underwater is. This is a fun, fast-paced, fresh and creative; Jordana Frankel has hit the ground running with her debut novel. Full of adventure, intrigue, and even a bit of mythology, Frankel takes her readers to a waterlogged and dangerous futuristic New York. I had a good time reading this from start to finish. For the first time in a long time, The Ward manages to be a post-apocalyptic scenario, that if imperfect, still manages to be both believable enough and entertaining.
Ren is a mostly likeable, but flawed main character. Her story isn't too original for a post-apocalyptic set-up - a withdrawn and angry orphan with a chip on her shoulder and a dependent- but she grows and develops into more than a cliche early on in the book. Ren is a woman in a man's world in her sport of choice, and that just made me like her more. She's unafraid to do what she wants and how she wants, though the sexism she faces almost constantly in racing can be dispiriting as a female reader who enjoys typically-male sports. Either way, Ren carries the novel, for the most part ably, until the narrative works its way around to her romantic entanglements. I had the most issues with the way both plotlines about the boys involved were setup and executed.
Let me just say, I'm so, so tired of love triangles. In any genre they muck up an otherwise good book, but they are at their worse in the young adult field. They're just overwrought and always obnoxious, and often, just lazy writing and plot points. Thankfully, it's not as overt as it could have been here in The Ward, but believe me, my love-triangle senses started tingling as soon as the character of Callum is introduced. It doesn't help that the other love interest, Derek, does nothing worth making him desirable. I couldn't root for either character for two reasons: 1. I didn't care about them individually, and thus, even less so for Ren and 2. I liked Ren best on her own, without needless attractions to mysterious boys.
The Ward may not have had me thinking over deep messages and overarching themes after I finished, but it was pure entertainment for the day it took me to inhale. Frankel sucks you in with the few few chapters and you don't want to leave until it's all over and the race is won. The worldbuilding detailed through the book is minimal and, yes, honestly it could with some strengthening and expansion, but it didn't doesn't detract too much from the overall experience. There are moments of greatness to be found in The Ward - the ambiguity of the antagonists, the creation of the awesome omnimobiles, and the unexpected (and somewhat off the wall) twists and revelations - but sexism, the trite love triangle, and incomplete worldbuilding can cause it to falter.
The Ward isn't going to please all those who try to read it. It's more post-apocalyptic than dystopia, though a few elements of the later pop up throughout the narrative. Some readers won't be able to excuse the unnecessary romance, or the lack of clear worldbuilding, and that's totally okay. It's completely understandable, even. I've picked apart other novels for just those reasons. This isn't a book for everyone. It's a thrill ride, coasting along on the strengths of a complicated main character in an oppressed and dangerous waterworld. (Now try not to think about that awful Kevin Costner movie. You're welcome.) I was undecided on a rating right after finishing, still caught up in the tension of the climax, but after a few days I can see the book's faults more clearly. That doesn't mean I didn't like this book - I liked it very much. It just could have been slightly better. As it is, I had a great time reading it. I would definitely recommend this to a friend - but maybe suggest they borrow it from the library, if not buy it. (less)
I just couldn't make it through before my ARC expired. I will try again when it is published because I am interested in the story, but this is one of...moreI just couldn't make it through before my ARC expired. I will try again when it is published because I am interested in the story, but this is one of those books you have to read a little bit at a time to save your sanity.
So, no rating for the 200 pages I read, just a placeholder til I can buy my own copy. (less)
I liked this, but nowhere near the level of What's Left of Me. The characters remain interesting and well-drawn, but the plot was too flimsy and stret...moreI liked this, but nowhere near the level of What's Left of Me. The characters remain interesting and well-drawn, but the plot was too flimsy and stretched out.(less)
4 stars? 3.5? I don't really know. This was one odd, original, weird little book. I can tell I am going to be thinking about this one for at least a f...more4 stars? 3.5? I don't really know. This was one odd, original, weird little book. I can tell I am going to be thinking about this one for at least a few days, despite the fact that it took me less than four hours to read. It's contemplative and even beautiful at times. It's odd and weird and probably wonderful.
Warm Bodies can be whimsical and funny, gorey and creepy, all at the same time. An unlikely protagonist, a strong narrator, a simple but convincing plot. Utterly unlike any other horror/zombie novel I've yet read.