Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer was a seriously weird and unexpected read. When I saw it being compaReview also appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer was a seriously weird and unexpected read. When I saw it being compared to the movie Alien and when I read that mysteriously creepy synopsis, I knew I had to have this book. I have to read it; my desperation knew no bounds (Which kind of makes me think of the characters' almost hypnotic obsession with Area X). While I did enjoy this book, I'm going to pretend it's a standalone. I mean, I liked it, but I didn't love it and I'm wary of having to go through something like this again, especially if it's drawn out more than its predecessor.
VanderMeer's novel is as mysterious as Area X, which is where the last eleven expeditions have wandered to. We are introduced to flat characters who, really, only serve the purpose of disorienting us and leading us farther away from the truth, even if we think the novel is advancing. The characters, even the protagonist, have no known identifiers--we don't know what they look like, what their names are, if they are actually what they say they are, where they're from (or where Area X is) and even their memories are compromised, since the protagonist states, "These things are real and not real. They exist and they do not exist. I remake them in my mind with every new thought, every remembered detail, and each time they are slightly different" (VanderMeer 189). This quote may seem like a spoiler, but if you decide to read Annihilation you will find that it can be applicable to the whole reading experience. The answers we want are so shrouded in mystery; they are so private, even the characters are unknown to us.
The prose is beautiful because of how it twists and turns, but especially because of how it plays with your senses. In moments when you expect the protagonist to be fearful, anxious, or elated, he kind of makes the tone either flat or the complete opposite of the natural emotion. The effect is both mesmerizing and slightly terrifying. To me, this is like a very slow simmering stew of terror, since all we feel is this dread that something is going to happen just around the corner. Warning to prospective readers, this isn't a horror book--but an imperfect terror novel that manages to pull you in, much like the protagonist at certain points: "I was almost relieved to be rid of that unnerving repetition, for there had been a hypnotic, trancelike quality to the accounts" (VanderMeer 114). Not only is this evidence of how terror slowly builds within the protagonist, but the irony in this quote is that the protagonist is basically stating what she is doing--like an endless loop of repetition both in her world and in our reading experience. We are being shown a story that can be as hypnotic, terrifying, and mysterious as Area X itself.
The reason why I'm not giving this a higher rating is because of the pacing. While I admit that the pacing had an almost psychedelic feel to it, I live in a world where I need almost immediate gratification when it comes to books. It was easy to get lost within the pages, but this read more like a 300-400 page book than a 190+ page novel. Also, I blame my level of expectation. I never would have thought that this book was going to lead me on this kind of trip.
Though the conclusion left much unanswered, I'm not disappointed. I believe that to truly tell the story of Area X, most things have to remain a mystery. Why do we, as the readers, have the right to know what the protagonist may never learn? Plus, if Ghost Bird, the protagonist's nickname, did find any answers, I don't know if I would believe her. I don't know if it would be her speaking, or Area X.
I would recommend this book, simply because it's too weird not to read. I do, however, warn you to go in with no expectations and a very open mind.
I received a copy from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review
Another Little Piece by Kate Karyus Quinn is a unique and creepy young adult novel that follows the protagonist, Annaliese, after a year-long absence. Though the novel is rife with mystery, hints of the paranormal, and has a disturbing conclusion that leaves the reader asking more questions, I found that this one might be more geared towards a specific group of readers. As the first paragraph in the synopses states, "The spine-tingling horror of Stephen King," I would probably guess that this is more of the audience in mind for Quinn's debut.
The writing is intriguing, but very confusing. The plot tends to jump from one place to another, sometimes making the hints the author gives her readers about the horrors in Annaliese's world a little too subtle. Don't get me wrong, I love a good horror novel that slowly builds up the anticipation, but I felt like this story was both slow and confusing and a little too secretive.
The pacing was another issue I had with Another Little Piece. I'm fine with a book that decides to give us small fragments of the bigger mystery throughout the novel, as long as the pacing is flowing well enough to keep me hooked. I was, however, more bored than I'd like to admit and I did skip ahead on several occasions. I have a heavy reading list and felt like this one really slowed me down. But then again, thinking back, the resemblance to Stephen King makes more sense too, since the storyline really tends to drag (ever read King's work and think, man, when are things going to start happening?).
I did like the rawness of Quinn's novel, though. Her unflinching descriptions of blood, gore, and Annaliese's parents' experience while searching for their daughter were, perhaps, the most entertaining aspects of the novel. I'm not stating this because I like the macabre, I say it because they were well described and bone chilling, probably the best parts of this novel.
I also enjoyed how everything came together at the conclusion. After a novel full of confusing twist and turns, it was nice seeing a conclusion that not only tied together the loose strings of why things happened and why some of the characters were connected, but also left you with the horrifying sensation that though this story is over for Annaliese, someone else may be living it over and over again in another part of Quinn's fictional world. The conclusion is also a false sense of security, since really, it makes you ask, is the horror that is Annaliese's life really over? Is this really a happy ever-after ending?
Though I did not entirely enjoy it, I know that there are some horror buffs who will enjoy this. There's gore, crisscrossing plot lines, the dangers of dark magic (or what alludes to it), and the slow build-up of a mystery that is both dark and very disturbing....more
I was intrigued by Debbie Davies's Any Love But Mine because of theReview first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
I received an e-copy for review.
I was intrigued by Debbie Davies's Any Love But Mine because of the storyline. Although not obvious from the synopses, Acacia, the sometimes awkward and indecisive protagonist, is a young adult immortal attending a mortal high school. The story, though original, to a point, and intriguing, is flawed by the lack of editing and the sometimes inconsistant and unreliable narrator. This being said however, Davies has a good concept in her novel, especially the merging of mortals and immortals into one book. Current trends in literature will welcome a romantic young adult novel with this much potential.
In order to get to the praise, the flaws need to be mentioned. Davies has a strong voice that echoes on every page, but her strength is weakened by a very distracting lack of punctuation and the occasionally awkward word choice.
Acacia was a very hard protagonist to follow and trust. She was constantly jumping back and forth about her love life, family, and safety. It was hard to pinpoint what she would do next, which I admit would be an attractive quality in other novels, but Davies's story acquired a sense of confusion at various points.
With all its faults, however, Davies writes a swoon worthy romance, albeit brief, between Acacia and Josh. Before the plot turns complicated and confusing, the reader is set on a sure path between these two characters. We watch as the inevitable meet and greet occurs, as Acacia's knowledge of her world is challenged, and find ourselves wishing we could aid Acacia with her internal struggle of right versus wrong.
Save for minor inconsistencies, the storyline is promising. Any Love But Mine is a romance worth checking out. Davies's novel touches on mythology in an original way, even if the conclusion is a tad cliche. If subjected to several bouts of editing, Davies's novel has a chance of becoming a favorite among Young Adult paranormal romance enthusiasts....more
Thirteen Days to Midnight, by Patrick Carman is a young adult novel that follows orphan Jacob FThis review first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
Thirteen Days to Midnight, by Patrick Carman is a young adult novel that follows orphan Jacob Fielding after his guardian's death and the legacy that is left for him. The premise of this novel is what drew me in since I was curious to see what Jacob experiences and his apparent connection with death. While Carman introduces his character in a pretty neat way, his story wasn't what I was anticipating.
"You are indestructible. Three whispered words transfer an astonishing power to Jacob Fielding that changes everything. At first, Jacob is hesitant to use the power, unsure of its implications. But there's something addictive about testing the limits of fear.
Then Ophelia James, the beautiful and daring new girl in town, suggests that they use the power to do good, to save others. But with every heroic act, the power grows into the specter of a curse. How to decide who lives and who dies?"
Various things, good and bad, stuck out for me as I read this book. At points I was confused while at others I was awed at what the characters were experiencing.
1. I know some authors include a prologue into a novel as a way of either preparing a reader for an upcoming moment of tension, or for giving the reader some information that may be vital for understanding the text. Carman, however, includes a prologue that is separated into two different one and a half page chapters. The first is an italicized third person view of what is apparently happening later on in the novel (though the scene doesn't make a reappearance and I think this will just add to the confusion), and the second is simply labelled "One Day Later", yet it is first person, with Jacob asking the reader a series of questions. Personally, I would have just included the latter chapter. One, because it is a cool introduction, and two, it feels more effective than blindly throwing the reader into a situation where the style of writing isn't even the same as the rest of the book.
2. The front of my hardcover copy of the novel says, "The Grim Reaper doesn't disappear...he catches up." I'm sorry if I ruin this for anyone, so (view spoiler)[, there is no "Grim Reaper". What there is is a death monster that Jacob carries with him ever since the car accident where he was spared and his guardian died. The monster is a result of a curse placed on a man hundreds of years ago and yes, it keeps the person that hosts the monster safe and immortal, but the wearer can't just toss it around from person to person and then take it back. In a way, the monster is an omen of death, but it is in no way a Reaper. (hide spoiler)] This confused the hell out of me at the end... it's just so complex.
3. The way that Jacob falls in love with Ophelia James is a bit too much, to be honest. It only takes him several days to fall in love with her and then risk not only his life, but his best friend's life as well in order to save her.
4. Ophelia's character, while I know that she was changing from influences I can't state, was so dramatic I wanted to reach into the book and slap her.
1. Each day is separated by a page that tells the reader how many days there are left until midnight (which is what the prologue is about). I think this is cool because I didn't have to read the same sentence stating what day it is and how many days are left with each new chapter. Of course, there are various chapters in each section.
2. The latter part of the prologue is awesome and I like that Carman uses the same tactic of superpowers and the curiosity that humanity holds for those things we don't have at the beginning and the conclusion. It is not just cool, but a great way to wrap up the story.
3. Even with all the little nuisances, Carman writes a fun story that moves along quickly. He doesn't focus on unimportant scenes that don't have any relevance to the story. Everything is connected, one way or another.
4. The ending is predictable, but I was still surprised by some aspects of it. I'm not spoiling it for you guys, so you'll just have to read the book to find out what it is!
Though Carman offers us a fast-paced and adventurous story, the concept of the novel is a bit confusing. I won't be surprised if future readers jump into this with one idea of the novel in mind, only to come out thinking, "huh, that's different."