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 via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
Indelible is Dawn Metcalf's second yReview first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
I received a copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
Indelible is Dawn Metcalf's second young adult novel and while the ideas behind her novels are incredibly original, I fail to connect with her story telling. I won't lie, I was super enthusiastic to read this one--I mean, look at that cover and that description! Who wouldn't want to read something that both looks and sounds so appealing? And while Indelible will definitely be loved by many readers, I unfortunately found Metcalf's novel to be disappointing and weakly written.
The beginning shows a lot of promise, what with the mysteriously handsome and dangerous boy, the fun and youthful setting, and the idea of magic within the folds of reality.
Joy, the protagonist, starts off as an interesting character who has gone through some seriously dark stuff. At first I felt compassion for her--after all, here's this girl who is terrified, but has no one believing her. But then, I started to get annoyed. Not just with her character, but with nearly every character in the book. First you have the meddlers, then the naggy characters, then you have the very frustrating and slightly creepy love interest and protagonist. Let's just say that after a while, every character got on my nerve.
Okay, I understand where some of the characters are coming from, and perhaps my reaction to how they acted towards Joy might be biased, since my personality would never allow for people to treat me the way they treat Joy, but come on. If a girl doesn't want to talk about something, that's her business. This felt like a huge issue in the novel, as if Joy was fending off people telling her to tell them this or that, which drove me nuts and was a total turn-off. I find it very hard to connect with characters who are either very indecisive throughout a novel, or who let others push them around (without speaking up by the end of the novel).
Like I said before, the beginning of the novel is the redeeming quality, so naturally I enjoyed almost every aspect of it. The pacing was well done, since we're immediately brought into the heart of the situation where Joy's life changes forever. I like that Metcalf doesn't dwell on the mundane at the beginning, since her novel is full of creepy and fast-paced moments. She also creates a dark and uncomfortable tone by using effective descriptions and metaphors.
But as the novel progresses, the story begins to unravel like a badly knitted sweater. The pacing, once comfortable, becomes jerky, the storyline starts to take a few too many twists, A LOT of new information is introduced, which is very overwhelming.
Joy is frustrating because she never quite knows what she wants, the romance in the novel feels forced and lacks that raw power that is usually evident in great romantic novels, and everything just feels like one big mess.
Honestly, I don't know what to make of the novel. The beginning shows a lot of promise, but from the middle to the conclusion, it's almost like Metcalf is trying to make her story more original and more complex, so as to have a reason to write a sequel.
If you like original stories and very stubborn characters, then give this one a read. I may not have enjoyed it, but I know that others certainly will--mainly because of the magic, romance, and adventure. I wasn't a huge fan of her first book, but those who were, might end up loving this one....more
I received a copy from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review
Josin L. McQuein's Arclight is a crReview first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
I received a copy from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review
Josin L. McQuein's Arclight is a creepy, but very cool young adult novel. McQuein's debut is teeming with individual stories begging to be told, as well as a mystery that pulses with a life of its own. Basically, who is Marina? We are plagued with this question for the majority of the novel as we follow Marina, the protagonist, and the other characters on her quest to self-discovery.
But the creepy tone of the novel is what will surely capture the reader's attention. McQuein takes the common fear of the dark and twists it into her own horrifying perfection. She does not simply create monsters who lurk in the dark, she creates creatures who are made of the dark and so much more--giving them the disturbing ability to blend in with nearly anything.
The pacing is great. The story begins in the heart of a crises, giving us a chance to see which characters will stand out in the novel, and what side they will sit on (either they are bad guys, or good guys). The introduction also works for me because I am not left wondering why Marina isn't popular, and why the people living in the Arclight are so scared of the dark.
Having complimented the pacing, I think it's important to state that the storyline (and rising action) can be described as a very action-filled read--never a dull moment. We are continuously led from one terrifying moment, to another.
There is romance, as there usually is in post-apocalyptic/dystopian novels. The affairs between these young characters add not only blush-worthy story lines, but also hope to the bleak setting. The romance between Marina and her love interest makes you hope for the best for them, even as the dark encroaches on their world.
The complexity of the novel is brought up a notch as we learn more about the Fade, the creatures that live beyond the light barrier. McQuein somehow makes a terrifying creature into a thing of beauty by using poetic prose in her descriptions. She touches on the power of nature in a world seemingly bereft of life, she explores familial connections, and how trust can be more powerful than fear.
The one thing I am not a huge fan of is how stubborn Marina is. I also find her behavior near the end to be slightly hypocritical. Here's a girl who's been shunned by those around her because she's different, yet she cannot offer the same compassion to others in similar situations. Her attitude mimics that of the people who mistreat her, which completely baffles me. While I like the other characters, like the thoughtful and hopeful Tobin, or even the chatty Anne-Marie, Marina acts just like the other ignorant people in the Arclight--even though she was not born there.
Which adds to the fact that, no matter if the subject is human or not, prejudices run deep in this one.
At first, I was extremely happy to have found a post-apocalyptic/dystopian novel that was a standalone, but then I found out that Arclight is simply the beginning of a series. I have mixed feelings about this because while I would like to know what happens to the characters beyond Marina's story, I'm going to need a heck of a new mystery and discovery for the sequel to intrigue me. Arclight's mystery explains and disproves so many of the prejudices and fears in the novel, that a sequel feels a little dangerous.
I recommend Arclight to readers of post-apocalyptic and dystopian fiction. If you like novels that play with the dark, offer fearful situations that have more depth than simply being terrifying, and like complex mysteries, then you might want to check this one out.
This year is looking good for dystopian/post-apocalyptic novels, and Arclight is a nice addition to the already impressive collection. ...more
Lauren Henderson's Flirting in Italian, the first in the Flirting in Italian series, is neither a booReview first appeared on my blog: Bookaddict 24-7
Lauren Henderson's Flirting in Italian, the first in the Flirting in Italian series, is neither a book that promises an eye-opening storyline, nor is it a book that will leave you breathless with how philosophical the message of the story is. Henderson's novel is simply a fun romp of sexy Italian men in one of the world's most romantic cities.
I don't know what I was expecting when I jumped into this book, to be quite frank. My mind lingered on other novels that toyed with their settings by displaying different languages in the titles, but I was not expecting what Henderson offered me.
Violet, the protagonist, is an English teenager on the verge of going to university who finds a painting that portrays a girl who looks very much like herself from centuries before. She later learns that the painting was bought in Italy and, being from a wealthy family, she manages to score a spot in a summer course for young women in Italy. There, her adventures begin.
This was definitely one of those books that left me smiling at the end, simply because of how cutesy the characters are. But it also left me feeling frustrated because I feel like making this book the first in a series is unnecessary. I have a feeling that all of the answers could have been stuffed into the one book, but hey, why not?
Also, Violet is one of those naive characters that tries very hard to be strong, but fails. For me, Violet is still growing as a character--a young girl on the cusp of figuring out that life isn't simply black and white.
I loved the sexual attraction in this novel. It was cliche, I won't lie, but when it comes to romance I will not say "no" to the cliche. What did bug me though is how masochistic Violet appears to be. Her love interest shows no romantic emotions, hell, he at times ignores her or tells her that he isn't interested in anything serious, and though she tells herself she won't go after him, we see her flail whenever he is around.
As for the mystery, it is a strong introduction to the story. It guides us, as the readers, into Violet's new world, but then it is nearly lost. There are moments where I even forgot that there is a mystery because Henderson focuses so much on everything else around Violet. I'm not saying this is a bad thing, I just wish that the story flowed better, rather than just have random instances of mystery here and there.
Would I recommend this to other readers? If you want a cute, light read that can make you giggle, then yes. This is one of those summer reads that can be read by the pool or when lazying around in the heat. If you're looking for something deeper, eye-opening, and without the slightly insulting comments on nationality and gender issues, then you might want to steer clear of this one....more
If We Kiss by Rachel Vail is a light young adult novel that deals with the difficulties of first lovReview first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
If We Kiss by Rachel Vail is a light young adult novel that deals with the difficulties of first love and the sometimes unexpected consequences of first kisses. Vail also challenges her young protagonist to mature as her thought-to-be perfect home life changes when her mother falls in love with a man that isn't her father.
Charlotte, the protagonist, is a good girl whose first kiss comes from a very unexpected source. What ensues is a novel full of questions regarding loyalty, love, and a new way of life.
The writing is very fast paced and straightforward. If We Kiss can be easily read in one sitting. Despite Charlotte's less than stellar behavior, one can't help but want to finish the story and see what happens next.
Though the story is a fun and quirky read, it is a little hard to take it all seriously, especially since Charlotte is a bit whiny and very naive. Her best friend, the supposedly experienced one in the group, is increasingly annoying because she is incredibly condescending. Her remarks towards Charlotte reminds me of just how catty us women can be.
When Charlotte's mother meets a man, Charlotte is quick to dismiss the fact that her mother has a life beyond her motherly duties. While I understand that she is a younger teenager, it is very unfair and stubborn for her to assume her mother would not live a life beyond their home. There is one particularly disturbing scene where Charlotte is less than civil with her mother.
We expect character growth, since that's what this kind of novel calls for: the character will learn from his/her failed/successful love experience, and s/he will learn to accept that his/her parent is happier. But what actually happens is momentary acceptance, which turns into a sequel that sounds to be a repetition of the same issues.
One of the most important lessons I believe the reader can learn from Vail's novel is the difference between lust and love, and how this can cloud our judgement. It makes you question how many of your first crushes were just a result of lust and not love. Some may find this message inappropriate, especially for the age group, but it teaches us to not take things at face value, and to not drop everything just because we are romantically inclined towards a person.
And simply because I can't end this review without mentioning it: the possibility of a step-brother romance. While some may be turned off from the novel because of this topic, it isn't a huge issue in the novel. Charlotte mainly focuses on how to face her feelings and how to be true to herself and those around her.
I recommend If We Kiss to readers who want a light read to pass the time. Vail's novel, though not the most substantial novel I've ever read, teaches its readers to think before reacting. ...more
I think it’s only fair to begin this review by stating that Megan Crewe’s novel was not at all what I was anticipating. I honestly don’t know what I eI think it’s only fair to begin this review by stating that Megan Crewe’s novel was not at all what I was anticipating. I honestly don’t know what I expected, but it wasn’t really what Crewe offered. I blame this on the fact that I didn’t properly read the synopsis (and I caution all of you to read future synopses thoroughly so that a novel isn’t a complete and utter surprise to you).
The Way We Fall is the first installment in the Fallen World series by Megan Crewe. The story follows Kaelyn, a teenager living on an island that is quarantined during a virus outbreak. As she watches the people she loves get sick in front of her, she must figure out a way to protect those she loves and avoid those who have let the fear of sickness reign their actions, whether they be inhumane or not. All the while, Kaelyn is writing down her experiences in a journal that she hopes to give to her ex-best-friend when the horrors of the island end.
(view spoiler)[ this is not a zombie tale, but simply, a story of people getting sick… and rambling… and then hallucinating… before dying. (hide spoiler)]
Though Crewe’s novel wasn’t what I expected, it wasn’t all that bad. The story line was thought out and I liked to see that the protagonist was bi-racial.
Read the rest of my review on my blog: Book Addict 24-7["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more