I received a copy from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review
Loretta Nyhan's The Witch Collector Part 1 is a fantastic read that is short enough to read in one day, but addicting enough to make the reader want the sequel to be available now.
The reader is immediately brought into the action of the novel. We aren't entirely sure what will happen next and this will make the reader instantly curious about what this small family is running from.
The pacing of Nyhan's novel is surprisingly strong, considering how short it is. Breeda, the protagonist, is a young witch full of questions that her parents never get around to answering before their disappearance. Nyhan expertly navigates Breeda's dangerous and confusing new world by giving us only what Breeda knows--this is enhanced by her use of the first person narrative.
Nyhan uses brief flashbacks to describe Breeda's past and this technique can either work for the story, or it can go very, very wrong. In this case, the glimpses into Breeda's past are enjoyable and interesting because they do not dump information on the reader in excessive amounts. I usually find continuous flashbacks to be irritating and boring, but Breeda's beautifully cryptic past is full of unexplored mystery.
Breeda is interesting because of her parents' mysterious disappearance and her abnormal growth as a witch, but it is the characters around her that truly make this an addicting read. The themes of family and redemption are strong in The Witch Collector, and Breeda's new friends all have a part to play in the mystery that begs to be solved. The chemistry between the other characters and Breeda is immediately warm and trusting, making this a refreshingly drama-free novel.
Perhaps the greatest draw a future reader may have to The Witch Collector is how unique it is. I know, I know--the witchy/magic genre is currently full of newly published works, but Nyhan explores the darker aspects of witch craft in a very original way. Instead of strictly sticking to the cliched good vs. bad witch theme, Nyhan shows us that there is more to the dark arts than nefarious intents.
Sometimes, you have to be bad to be good.
I recommend The Witch Collector to fans of the magical genre. If you like shorter reads that feature great pacing, then you will enjoy this one. Original, exciting, and with slow-cooking romance, a young adult reader will devour Nyhan's novel.(less)
I received a copy from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review
The beginning of May is riddled with a few zombie novels that have opened up the world of zombies for us beyond the usual shambling and insatiable creatures that haunt our dreams. T. Michael Martin's young adult debut, The End Games, plays perfectly into this genre-changing month with its unique take on the undead, and its very emotionally stimulating and raw internal struggle. Brimming with stories untold and an extremely successful use of third person narrative, The End Games is a must-read for any young adult zombie enthusiast.
I've mentioned in various other reviews that I am not a fan of third person narrative, whether it is omniscient or limited. But I will have to put that dislike to the side for this one. I was wary at first, since third person usually feels disconnected and unreliable, but wow, Martin sure knows how to cross the disconnected barrier. Though the narrative is obviously third person, the writing feels so personal and unique, that it made me want more and more.
Michael, our seventeen-year-old protagonist, paints a distressing picture of a past that actually acts as a good opponent against his current predicament. Zombies, or as he and his five-year-old brother, Patrick, call them, Bellows (ingenius, since these creatures repeat whatever they hear), have taken over the world as we know it. They struck, ironically enough, on Halloween and offered both a purpose and salvation for the two lone brothers.
We are pushed from liking Michael, to pitying him, hating him, then finally, having the hope that he is too afraid to have. He is only human and though he acts as more than that for his brother's sake, we are reminded many times of how insecure he is about his decisions. As we continue reading his story, we begin to find it difficult to discern the difference between his fearful reality and what is blissfully imagined.
In fact, the internal struggle Michael experiences (occasionally written in spurts of stream of consciousness) is so powerful that we are often drawn to the darkness of his past, rather than the dangers of his present. And while he creates a somewhat safe world for his emotionally unstable little brother, we forget that Michael himself is a child who also needs to believe in something; who also needs protection from the past the two brothers are running from.
While Patrick's inability to accept his surroundings as something more than just a game may infuriate me, I also understand that he is just a kid stuck in the middle of a zombie apocalypse with only his brother.
Martin starts off the novel with a hook that is electrifying and immediately intriguing. Right off the bat, we want to know: What game is this? Who are these players? What are bellows? Who is this game master?
Of course, aspects of religion are tossed in, as they usually are with post-apocalyptic novels, but I like how they are hinted at and occasionally used, but not to the extent where it is everything the protagonist thinks about. Sure you have your biblical lunatics here and there in The End Games, but let's be honest: aren't they, or any approximations of this genre cliche, in every post-apocalyptic novel?
The tone and prose go hand in hand. Whereas one expects the prose to make up the tone (words, phrases, etc), Martin uses the (extremely cool) technique of letting the prose highlight the tone. Sometimes the text breaks up, or repeats itself, just to create a hyper awareness of Michael's surroundings, or his thoughts and memories. This also plays into making the whole third person narrative aspect of this novel unique. We aren't simply being told what is up, we are being shown how to feel what we are being told.
One last note, and probably one of the more important ones when it comes to books like this one: The End Games is CREEPY. Very extremely, can't look away, block your eyes, look out your window to make sure there are no bellows out there, creepy. Gory, exciting, bloody, frustrating (thanks to humanity's occasional ignorance), and heart-warming (Patrick and Michael are the cutest siblings ever!), The End Games is a must-read.
The End Games baited me with a very original and intelligent concept, hooked me with its twist just after we are introduced to the characters, and reeled me in with the fantastic storytelling. I await Martin's next book eagerly! (less)
I received a copy from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review
In the After by Demitria Lunetta is a young adult post-apocalyptic debut that features one heck of a plot twist and is surprisingly original. With realistic characters, deadly mysteries, and horrific situations, In the After is an explosive ride waiting to be experienced by any reader who wants a creepy, adventurous, and kick-ass story about a girl in a world that is nearly dead and gone.
First off, I'm going to mention Lunetta's use of tense, which I loved. The present tense combined with first person is such a powerful, albeit difficult to write, narrative that I rarely find it in young adult literature. I don't know why, but when I see it in a book, I tend to expect more from the book (since the author has already met my expectation stylistically). I find that Lunetta's novel benefits from this style of writing, especially since there are flashbacks and it helps us separate, as the protagonist, Amy, suggests, "Before and After."
Amy is a force. She is loyal, strong, intelligent, witty, and very protective of what she believes needs protection. I enjoyed her consistency in her actions towards her survival and her love towards "Baby". Her curiosity, and inability to settle for the norm in New Hope's world, marks her as the rebellious protagonist we expect to see in powerful stories such as this. There is no second-guessing, there are no moments full of filler to make the story longer--Amy knows what she wants, she understands that there are secrets, and she knows that at some point, things are going to go beyond her control.
The pacing is a little slower at the beginning, but Lunetta's writing still hooks you in. You want to know why Amy's world is the way it is, what "They" are, and you want to know if Amy will survive another day. The complex world that Amy and Baby live in, with their own language and quiet way of moving, makes the story all that much more interesting.
In the After is also a cautionary tale. Can things be too good to be true? How far can war take us? What will we do to survive? Is humanity more valuable than our own need to survive, or should we put the needs of hundreds, if not thousands, aside for the sake of attaining power?
The romance in In the After is as fleeting as the safety that Amy experiences in New Hope. It is there, but we know that the most important story is what Amy does to survive. Amy's growth as a character is determined by how she reacts to the new world around her and the decisions she makes, despite all the warnings.
The world that Lunetta weaves is disturbing. You know those creepy movies where there are blood splatters on the ground, yet there are either very small bits of a body left, or there isn't a body at all? Lunetta gives you that in her debut, which I found to be powerful. Instead of telling you the horrors that Amy experiences while scavenging, she hints at the brutality and nightmare that once took place in certain areas, as well as the decay of human society in grocery stores, nature's ability to reclaim roads and human inventions, and the dead streets littered with bloody cars.
I recommend In the After to readers who want a creepy adventure set in a post-apocalyptic world full of monsters. If you want a creative and unique portrayal of the end of humanity, then give Lunetta's debut a chance--you won't regret it.(less)
I received a copy in exchange for an honest review
Terra by Gretchen Powell was a fantastic blend of what is popular in today’s Young Adult dystopian genre, but Powell makes it her own by effectively introducing her own twists and originality—not to mention a heck of a conclusion.
As we meet Terra, the protagonist, we are immediately taken into her world where the elite live in domed cities above and the people left on Earth are left to scavenge as a means of survival.
Terra is full of spunk and life and though she’s had to prematurely grow up in order to raise her younger brother, she still has various qualities found in a teenager.
What I like about Terra is that she behaves how I would expect a young adult to behave in a similar situation: she is over-protective, brave, and slightly stubborn—all characteristics that are relatable.
The pacing of the novel is great and the storyline is easy to follow and enjoy. The reader gets seduced by the description and fluid prose. The world Powell has created is original and the reader can never truly be sure of what will happen next.
One of the best aspects of Powell’s writing is that she has a talent for creating unexpected twists and turns.
The character growth was interesting because Terra grows through the many questions she asks and the decisions she makes. Rather than being put into a new world and being challenged by what is unfamiliar to her, Terra is forced to view the world she lives in through new eyes. I loved this concept because Terra challenges the wrong I noted in her world, rather than staying mute.
The romance was nicely built and was a cute side-story in the novel. While the reader is intrigued by the unique storyline, s/he is also rooting for Terra and her love interest—which, by the way, is not the most obvious character, another aspect of Powell’s novel I loved.
I recommend Terra to fans of the dystopian genre and original story-lines that have fun and unexpected conclusions.
Powell is an author to watch and her upcoming sequel offers more than just answers to the questions left in her cliffhanger conclusion, but a chance to see more wonderful work from this fantastic author. (less)
I received a copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
Julie Kagawa's The Eternity Cure was one of my most anticipated reads of 2013, especially since the first in the Blood of Eden series, The Immortal Rules, is one of my favorite books from my 2012 reading list.
Allison, the protagonist, is introduced as a vampire on a mission. Her character continues to grow as she fights her way through terrifying hordes of the undead, faces her past in more ways than one, and is forced to confront the reality of her immortality.
The greatest downfall of this anticipated novel is the pacing in the first third of the novel. It felt sluggish and I will admit that I had to adapt to Allison's world yet again. But once I got over the slow uphill climb to the rising action, the story quickly picks up and I remembered why The Immortal Rules was so addicting.
The concept is pretty neat and original. The "Red Lung" disease in itself is fascinating because of how creepy it makes the victims act. But that's only one of the reasons why the concept is original. One of the things I've always admired about The Immortal Rules is how Kagawa can reach multiple goals within the storyline, yet the reader wants to keep going--and she happily obliges, giving us adventure, after adventure within one novel.
There are so many things going on that it seems every chapter is action-packed, if not emotionally-packed. I guess this is mainly thanks to Allison's growth as a character (i.e. See reference in first book to where her maker tells her that she controls what kind of monster she wants to become).
In The Eternity Cure, there is more focus on Allison, rather than everyone else around her. I understand that the first book explored temptation and the limits behind control, but this installment challenges Allison's acceptance of who she's become and how to maintain it, which promises to be an interesting issue in the rest of the series. Let's just say that the ending of this one (WOW!!!) definitely promises to be life-altering for Allison.
The Eternity Cure does suffer from predictability, but Kagawa does the best she can with what she has. Though we know what's going to happen, or at least what we think will happen, Kagawa still lures us in with great internal struggles and thought-provoking prose.
Despite the predictability factor, Kagawa sure knows how to present a heck of a cliffhanger...various times. Various Times. (Hint: You'll be picking up your jaw from the floor a few times).
The romance is fantastic and a little coquettish on the male love interest's part, which is very cute and sweet compared to the tone of the novel. The romance is definitely the light in the darkened world Allison inhabits. But that's all I'm going to say. I WILL NOT RUIN THIS FOR YOU.
Was this a fantastic sequel? It wasn't fantastic, but it was entertaining and still leaves a lot for the future. Unanswered questions run rampant by the conclusion, but that's what makes this series a must-read. I will admit I originally placed a huge amount of expectations on The Eternity Cure, but I will still say that The Immortal Rules is still my favorite installment in the series.
I recommend the Blood of Eden series to lovers of the vampire genre...not the sparkly kind, but the violent, bloody, and female vampire point-of-view kind.
Allison is a tough young woman finding her place in a world built up on death and destruction. Kagawa's female protagonist is a growing character who promises surprises in the future installments. Plus, she's a much needed powerful female character in a male-dominated genre.(less)
I received a copy in exchange for an honest review
Hysteria by Megan Miranda is a story driven by madness and guilt. The narrative interweaves memories with the present, which helps the reader connect both with the old Mallory, the protagonist, and with the new, broken Mallory. Very spooky moments occur within the pages of Miranda's novel, bringing to light the curious and mysterious nature of boarding school.
Let me start off by saying that I feel really, really bad for Mallory. I feel bad because the things she has to deal and live with I do not wish on anyone, and though her life sucks, I feel like the drama of the novel is necessary to keep the reader's attention. Since Miranda's writing is drenched with drama, I found each new chapter unpredictable.
The paranormal aspect of the novel isn't all that it seems, but what I like is how the echoes of Mallory's experience stays with the reader as the story progresses. Just like Mallory, the reader hears the awful sounds, and feels the terrifying touch of memories forgotten. Miranda is gifted with the ability to create a spooky tone that makes the reader turn the page with just a touch of fearful dread.
The pacing is a bit slower than what I would anticipate for a novel of this calibre. The rising action takes up a good chunk of the novel, before finally reaching the heart of Mallory's issues. That's not to say that the story isn't a quick read, it is just a slow starter.
The mystery behind Mallory's murderous past is intriguing because she doesn't outright say what happened the night that changed her life forever. Instead, she skirts around the parts she does not remember, giving the reader the idea that something is missing--that the story is incomplete. In some instances, this was a great approach to the mystery, but at other times I wanted to yell because I just wanted to know the answers to the very questions Mallory asks of herself.
The setting is awesome. I'm not going to lie, I'm a sucker for novels set in boarding schools. I would say that I love boarding schools because of the mystery and the idea that the novel will revolve around characters that are not only away from their comfort zones, but left to fend for themselves among relative strangers. Hysteria would have been completely different if it was set in a public school, simply because the monotony of going home every day after the events at school would ease the fear within the novel.
Overall, Hysteria is a great, creepy read that had me connecting with Mallory. Her story shows how cruel society can be and how powerful our choices are. Mallory's experiences also hint at how debilitating memories--forgotten, or remembered--can be.
I recommend Hysteria to lovers of boarding school Y/A mystery novels. If you like complex romance, then you might like this one as well. Miranda's novel is a heart racing read that will surely be devoured by future readers.(less)
I received a copy in exchange for an honest review
A Shimmer of Angels by Lisa M. Basso is a young adult novel that begins slowly, but picks up speed near the middle of the story. While the novel is somewhat predictable and a bit cliche, it is an emotional story full of anger and misunderstanding. A fast read with touches of romance here and there, Basso's debut into the world of young adult novels is powerful and dangerous.
Ray has been in and out of a mental institute for a good portion of her life. Why? Because she can see angels, or can she? It isn't until her most recent release that Ray's world starts to make a little more sense and she begins to question whether angels are real, or just a figment of her schizophrenic imagination.
One of the most popular topics in young adult literature today is that of angels, so I was expecting the predictable scenarios that often plague overused topics in literature. Thankfully, Basso adds a bit of originality into her story line with her powerful and independent protagonist, Ray.
Ray's name hints at her power and I think it is something the reader should consider as the series progresses. The name "Ray" depicts a streak of light, most likely from the sun--i.e. a ray of sunlight. I am a sucker for names that hint at the protagonist's purpose, so this was not lost on me.
There is romance beneath the layers of anxiety Ray experiences, but I was glad to see that it didn't take up the whole novel. Whereas other novels love to make the romance between the characters the main focal point of the story, Basso makes it something that occurs along the way in Ray's hectic life.
Ray's character grows from a timid, fearful person to a powerful guardian of sorts. Though I do not agree with some of her choices, she is one tough protagonist. Her family life is fraught with unfairness, but Basso makes the reader consider what her father is experiencing as well.
The male characters that surround Ray kind of irritated me, just because of their inaction. Though they are ridiculously sexy, they have their faults. But in a way, their lack of action turns Ray into a much stronger character. This is where originality comes into play--instead of falling to pieces, Ray accepts her fate, but slowly builds herself up without the help of the men in her life.
Readers who love angels and fierce protagonists will most likely enjoy A Shimmer of Angels. Written in quick and witty prose, Basso's novel is a fun twist on the angel genre that will have the reader yearning for more. (less)
I received a copy from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review
Natalie Whipple's Transparent is a young adult novel that features superpowers, cool characters, and a surprising romance.
I must say that Transparentis a pretty cool novel, especially since we get to see an array of different powers obtained through radiation. It reads like a never-before-seen X-men episode, which made me love the concept even more. Whipple's novel is set during present time, rather than in a post-apocalyptic or dystopian world--which is pretty refreshing. As a result, the reader may often wonder why our world isn't gifted (or in some cases, cursed) with such abilities.
Fiona, the protagonist, is the invisible daughter of a crime boss. Literally. She's lived her life trying to please him through various dangerous criminal acts. We get to see her in action at the beginning, making her appear cool and fearless. What irked me, however, is how her personality, though strengthened by all the things she's seen or experienced, is whiny. To be honest, I don't really know how her new friends accept her so quickly, since she is a jerk from the start.
The originality of the plot kept me intrigued as we hoped for a happy ending to Fiona's story. Though we know that the confrontation with her abusive father is inevitable, we still hope that Fiona and her mother find a safe way to live. But since Fiona is wary of so many people around her--her upbringing being more than enough reason for her paranoia--we can't help but find it difficult to get attached to certain characters, at least, not right away.
Though a little predictable, Transparent is still the type of novel that makes you want more. The pacing makes it a quick read, while the suspense of not knowing when or how her father will appear to collect his daughter creates a sense of tension within the reader. We fear what will happen to Fiona because even if she is frustrating at times, we also know that she is much more fragile than she pretends to be.
One of the greatest mysteries Whipple creates is Fiona's appearance. What does she really look like? Will we ever get to know? Will she always be invisible to everyone? Trust me, this will get you going because how refreshing is it to read about a female protagonist who doesn't judge herself based on whether she is beautiful or not? Of course, she does worry about her appearance, but not in the conventional sense.
I recommend Transparent to readers who love contemporary sci-fi fiction in young adult. If you like superpowers, action, romance, and suspense, then you'll like this one. Whipple's novel is pretty cool because rather than having just one extraordinary person, the whole world is gifted with power--ranging from stinky and useless powers, to mega strength.(less)
Unforgiving and raw, The Girl in the Wall by Daphne Benedis-Grab offers readers an uncensored view into what a hostage situation might look like from a young adult’s point of view. This suspenseful young adult novel uses the importance of friendship as the anchor to the story, and successfully captures a terrifying and heartbreaking nightmare within the pages of the book.
The story is morbidly addicting. Death follows the characters in this novel like a stalker and the reader is the sole witness to the deadly situation. Though s/he hopes for a safe outcome, s/he can't help but wonder who will die next.
Ariel and Sera, the two protagonists, ex-best-friends, and interchanging narrators of the novel, successfully grow as characters. The reader is given both points of view so that s/he can decide which character is more reliable. Whereas the story suggests that Sera is the stronger of the two, thanks to her past decisions leading to her social pariah status, the reader might find that it is, in fact, Ariel and her story of redemption and loss that makes her the tougher protagonist.
Quickly paced and without a dull moment, Benedis-Grab manages to write a disturbing, yet entertaining novel that will entrance future readers. Budding young romance adds an extra touch to the already thriving story line, and the will to survive makes this an inspiring read.
The Girl in the Wall can be devoured in less than a day, but the ending may leave the reader wondering if perhaps a better conclusion exists. Though symbolic and sentimental, I found that perhaps after such a heart-stopping story, the ending should have more power behind it.
I recommend The Girl in the Wall to readers addicted to fast-paced storytelling and action, and to those not undeterred by violent descriptions. Benedis-Grab’s novel is a must-read for anyone who is seeking a story that veers from the usual safe and predictable teen read.(less)
Beautifully Broken by Sherry Soule is the first installment in the Spell...moreReview first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
I received a copy for review
Beautifully Broken by Sherry Soule is the first installment in the Spellbound Series. The surprisingly dark story follows the quirky sixteen year-old witchy protagonist, Shiloh, as she sleuths around a dangerously haunted mansion in her quiet, but eerie Californian small town. Full of creepy moments and dark entities, Soule's book was a great read for the month of October.
I am a huge believer of the supernatural, so to have Soule give voice to a paranormal entity, let alone a demon, freaked me out a little. The descriptions were great and they placed me directly into Shiloh's world, having me see the darkness around her through her eyes. It was also neat how Soule offered the readers a few surprises as the story developed, even if one or two were a bit expected.
The one aspect of Soule's novel that had me on the fence was Shiloh. The sixteen year-old character can be viewed in so many ways. On one hand, she may be seen as an annoying and sometimes ridiculously naive character. But on the other hand, she can be taken simply as a young girl trying to deal with an absurd and decidedly adult situation. I'm on the fence because I understand that Shiloh's story is definitely beyond anything a teenager should ever have to go through, but she really drove me nuts at times.
Going off that though, let me just say that she did make me laugh, even at the worst of times. Shiloh could be facing her eminent death, but still be witty and quirky. Rumors circulate around Whispering Pines, the small town, of Shiloh's weirdness, but I like to define it more as quirkiness that jumps off the pages.
The romance, though sweet at times, was a bit off-kilter. Shiloh's quasi-relationship with Trent was, at times, hard to follow. It made me slightly uncomfortable too, not because of his actions, but because of how undefined their romance was. Trent is broken and he shows this through his unsettling actions, but in my honest opinion, he acts more like a trouble seventeen year-old than most troubled teenaged boys I've encountered in recent reads.
Soule's book was entertaining, funny, scary, and addicting until the very end. My fingers itched to reach the last page, simply because I wanted to know all the secrets being kept from Shiloh. Also, the concluding sentences have me eagerly anticipating the sequel.
I recommend Beautifully Broken to those who love a fun, but spooky and witchy tale of a teenager coming of age, even if in an undesirable atmosphere. If you like characters who have spunk and don't care about how the world perceives him/her, then this might be a book for you to check out.(less)
Paul Crilley’s The Lazarus Machine: A Tweed and Nightingale Adventure is a young adult steampunk novel that toys with the morbid topic of death. Crilley’s story is a great introduction to the world of steam engines, curious detectives, and wondrous mysteries. Crilley wastes no time in getting the reader hooked on his fictional world, which also includes mentions of Sherlock Holmes and Professor Moriarty.
One topic that Crilley works well with in his novel is that of genders. This is strongly evident with his two protagonists, Tweed and Octavia. Octavia is a strong female protagonist who speaks her mind and follows her own desires. Tweed is a strong, yet respectable male protagonist that, unlike the other men around him, respects women enough to ask Octavia for help in his mystery-solving adventure.
The dialogue is witty, enlightening, and a successful mix of modern English and historical English, giving the book a unique twist. Crilley’s dialogue gives the novel a fun quality, making the story flow without boring, dated, or drawn out conversations. Plus, it is always a positive when a historical mystery novel adopts a dialect that is easily understandable.
The world Crilley creates in his novel is so imaginative, it is hard not to picture what Tweed and Octavia see every day. The complexities of the gadgets mentioned piqued my interest and had me wondering what our world would be like if our reality was the result of Crilley’s fictional history.
The Lazarus Machine is full of fast-paced action, gripping adventure, and an addicting mystery. The tone is often dark, thanks to the occasional mention of death and soul harvesting, but the characters try to keep it light with banter and determination.
Crilley’s novel is surprising. The reader enters the boundaries of the story expecting one experience, yet leaves with something completely different. The plot twist near the end is enough to change the reader’s perception of the book in its entirety. S/he is left trying to figure out a mystery of his/her own, just as Tweed comes closer to the answers he seeks.
I recommend Crilley’s novel to lovers of the steampunk genre and Sherlock Holmes. Also, if you’re a fan of mystery novels and strong female protagonists, then you should give this one a gander. The Lazarus Machine is a fantastic book for any reader new to the steampunk genre.(less)
Kendra C. Highley's Matt Archer: Monster Hunter is a young adult novel t...moreReview first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
I received a copy for review
Kendra C. Highley's Matt Archer: Monster Hunter is a young adult novel that follows fourteen, soon-to-be fifteen, year-old Matt as he navigates a supernatural world full of monsters and a mysterious life-altering prophecy. With a hint of teenaged angst towards young love, and spine-tingling descriptions, Highley's novel is a book that will make the reader both giggle with anticipation, and squirm with what Matt encounters.
I loved the characters of Will, Matt's best friend, and Matt because they help each other navigate the difficulties of growing up. Will's wit matches well with Matt's increasing strength as the protagonist. Will is the sidekick to the still growing and learning hero, and he fits the description of best friend, confidante, and unrelenting support throughout the whole novel.
When I first started reading Highley's novel, I wrongly assumed that since Matt was only fourteen at the start this would be a naive and slightly adorable story. Let me warn you, however, if you have a weak stomach, perhaps you should steer clear of this one. The story gets increasingly harder to stomach as Matt progresses deeper into his monster hunt, but it is well worth it. Highley doesn't save us from any of the disturbing descriptions and I applaud her for that. Her novel has a certain originality thanks to her fearless attempt at creating a successful horror story for the young adult audience.
Highley also has a great sense of pacing in her novel. Very rarely is there a lull in the story. The only instance where the reader might pause is during the explanation of why the monsters exist and the part Matt plays in the hunt for evil. The rush of information is a bit overwhelming, but is useful for later on in the story. Highley weaves a story that is easy to follow and is hard to put down.
If you're looking for an exciting book with tons of action and a slightly original monster story, then you might like this one. Highley offers the reader an insight into an imperfect protagonist that is growing as the story progresses, metaphorically and physically. He is also someone who isn't emotionally impervious to his surroundings, which makes him very relatable and realistic, despite the fictional situation.(less)
Cold Fury by T.M. Goeglein is a novel that begins in the middle of the action, rather than before it...moreReview first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
Cold Fury by T.M. Goeglein is a novel that begins in the middle of the action, rather than before it or after. The protagonist, Sara Jane, reveals to the reader that this will be an epistolary novel without the dates that usually go with journal entries. The reader is told nearly everything by her, whether important or not, making the story start off much too slowly. A less patient reader will probably lose interest after the first twenty or so pages, but more patient readers will be repaid with a lightning quick and electrifying adventure.
I devoured this novel in less than twenty-four hours. Even with chapters that are a bit on the long side, Goeglein's words flow like rapid bullets as the story progresses.
Of course, Goeglein's greatest downfall is not having a hook right away. In my opinion, his story begins fifty or so pages into the novel. I was wary that Cold Fury would turn into another example of how a promising book can go horribly wrong. Thankfully, once Goeglein reaches the beginning of Sara Jane's adventure, the story speeds up and flows wonderfully until the unexpected conclusion.
For me, Sara Jane is a bit of a brat at the start. What I like about her, however, is how she knows and understands that she isn't perfect. Her character growth is shown through her interactions with her few friends and the people around her. She isn't perfect, but she at least sees her potential.
The open-ended conclusion left me feeling like this might possibly be the best book in the series because the reader gets to learn more about Sara Jane and her family. Also, because we get that unspoiled first glimpse into her world as it comes crashing down on her. I'm wary of the other books, simply because I fear that the next installment will lack that sense of excitement, since we know nearly everything that we need to know now.
I recommend Cold Fury to those seeking a fun adventure that will have you rooting for the characters. I recommend patience with this one, since it does start off a bit tedious.(less)
Little Star is the first book I've read by John Ajvide Lindqvist. I was floored. Not by the prose--which was entertaining, but not the best I've read--but how graphic Lindqvist's writing is. Granted, I've watched the films based on his previous novel, Let the Right One In, but I was not prepared for some of the gut-clenching scenes that I was introduced to.
The story opens on a once-famous family that finds and raises a secret "daughter" that is gifted with a beautiful voice. But this anonymous baby has something wrong with her, not physically, but mentally. The reader is then taken through the years as "Little One," as she is nicknamed, grows and becomes odder and odder. We meet another girl named Teresa and that's where the novel begins to slip away from the storyline that the reader has become acquainted with.
Though disgusting, Lindqvist's descriptions of the murders that do occur in the novel are very well written. The reader is left craving the next violent scene and as a result, Lindqvist promptly opens the door for the reader to step through and enter the minds of the various murderers. I think that's one of the reasons why readers are drawn to his writing: because of his ability to make even the most psychotic characters relatable. Also, he writes on disturbing topics with such ease that I can't help but wonder if he himself has committed a few unspoken crimes.
Though addicting and a very quick read (the chapters are shorter, making you read quicker than usual), the pace lagged on various occasions. At times, I felt that little moments told to us from the point of view of other characters (the narrator is third person, omniscient) were a bit dragged out and could have been told in much shorter spans.
Another point that hit me once I was done with the novel was the unanswered questions. The fate of the girl and her closest friend, Teresa, is pretty clear, but yet, we know nothing of what happens afterwards. I don't know if this is a trend with Lindqvist, but I for one want to know what the consequences will be after the characters' actions.
If you're a fan of Lindqvist, then definitely read Little Star. I'm not familiar with his work, but I do love the occasional Swedish novel. Little Star is one of those novels that will fill your morbid curiosity, then sit there churning, while making your world more unsettling as the conclusion approaches.(less)
I received a copy from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
MILA 2.0 by Debra Driza is one heck of a cool ride. I first read the synopsis months before I received the ARC and the best choice I could have made was to not read the synopsis again before starting the book. My choice was perfect because Driza's surprisingly original storyline is much stronger when you're not anticipating anything.
I've never been a huge fan of science fiction, but Driza's writing is a beautiful blend of contemporary fiction and a popular sci-fi concept.
Mila isn't your conventional teenager, she's much, much more. Though I kept wanting to shake her every time she shied away from her abilities, I understood why she would be so freaked out. Imagine having an idea of what life is like, then being told you have never lived that life; that it was all a lie.
I will admit it takes a few chapters to truly get into the novel, but once we find out what Mila is, the story picks up and it quickly becomes addicting. The internal struggle Mila experiences and the cruelty of her new reality, drives the story forward, leading to inhumane situations and a slightly anticipated conclusion.
Mila's growth as a character is interesting because she becomes more human as the novel progresses. Her apparent goal is to prove that she is worth more than just her parts. Her heart may be artificial, but she can still feel what others around her feel. She is real, and by the end of the novel it's sometimes hard to believe that she is anything but the teenage girl she is portraying.
Driza is also a genius by juxtaposing Mila and a fellow android. The contrast between these two characters allows the reader to comprehend just how different Mila is and why she is our protagonist. We want someone we can connect with, even someone who isn't human. We seek out similarities between us and these protagonists, and Mila, even an artificially created life, is the perfect narrator for us because she is a bit too human for her own good.
The pacing could have been stronger and slightly quicker. I found my attention slipping every once in a while, and though the book is a great debut, it sometimes took me a while to get through a chapter, just because it felt like it was lagging a bit.
Mila's mother, or creator, is a bag of foreshadowing. Every word she utters appears to be a premonition, which made for an interesting read because I knew something would happen, I just didn't know when it would happen.
A few opportunities were missed in MILA 2.0. The storyline could have taken so many interesting turns during the novel, and the fact that they were bypassed was disappointing. I'm hoping the sequel takes more risks and explores a wider setting than that of MILA 2.0.
I recommend MILA 2.0 to readers of young adult fiction and science fiction. If you like a novel that focuses more on the science fiction and action, rather than romance, then you might like this one. (less)
Strength & Justice: Side: Strength is the first installment in a young adult science-fiction series by Adrem Kay. Jeremy Itsubishi, the protagonist, leads readers into the world of Geminate City where danger and magic lurks. Kay touches on the Japanese culture via Jeremy's knowledge of the food and language of the culture. We are also given the opportunity to visualize some of the events in the novel by glancing at the six hand-drawn sketches scattered among the pages.
Jeremy is a 15-year-old smart-mouth with the habit of acting before contemplating the consequences of his actions. Though I liked Jeremy and his loyal personality, he is sometimes wearisome. While he occasionally acts and sounds much older than his age, there are moments when his whining and blatant misunderstanding of situations are a bit over the top. The reader watches as Jeremy's world quickly falls apart as the mysterious Repulsion Illness, a disease that rids a person of his/her magic, spreads. The fast-paced plot causes Jeremy to grow as a character. He does this by surpassing the comical facade that is presented at the beginning of the novel.
The relationship between Jeremy and his girlfriend Mandy is questionable. An aspect of Jeremy that irks me is how quick he is to place Mandy above every one else, even his mother. I understand the dependency the two teenagers have for each other, considering they are both from less than ideal homes, but I can’t help but wonder if this is a realistic portrayal of a relationship.
The biggest issue I have with Strength & Justice is the apparent plot hole near the beginning of the novel. Ellie, a minor character, barely appears before she is taken out again. Given her role in the memory that Jeremy recounts, I find it unsettling that the characters barely react to Ellie’s disappearance. As a result, this character feels like a last minute addition to the plot.
Putting aside the few flaws found in the characters, Kay has created intriguing and realistic characters. The reader will laugh along with the humor and will relate to the emotions portrayed by the characters. Kay's ability to write a novel that is both character and plot driven is intriguing, since I never know what will happen next.
Strength & Justice is a fun and original adventure that will have its readers guessing until the end of the story. Readers seeking a fast-paced novel that explores a world inhabited by magical abilities and a quirky protagonist will love this debut.(less)
I've been looking forward to Roth's latest installment, Insurgent, in the Divergent series for...moreThis review first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
I've been looking forward to Roth's latest installment, Insurgent, in the Divergent series for almost a year. I was a bit wary because of how some series kind of die out as more books are added, but I put that fear aside when I finally got my hands on a copy.
Needless to say, I devoured Roth's novel.
Not only did I like it more than the first installment, but I found that it was stronger both in writing and character/setting development.
Of course, there were small mistakes here and there, but no book is perfect.
1. The romance between Four and Tris was so tumultuous this time around! Whereas in the first novel Tris's budding romance with the fellow former Abnegation member saved her and helped her develop, I found that the near-destruction of their young romance in the second novel was kind of depressing. I mean, sure, nothing is perfect when you're a teenager, especially when it comes to romance. I was getting a little frustrated when they kept fighting over the smallest things when there were so many more important things going on around them. If I had to pick the weakest part about this novel, it would be that.
2. There were some editing errors, but Roth addresses this on her blog here.
1. The cliffhanger. I know that some may see this as a negative, but the fact that Roth could get such a mass reaction over her ending is impressive. Not only did she write an ending that was not in the least bit cliche, but she made it open to so much interpretation that I commend her. I remember looking at the book when I reached the end and thinking, "That's it?! That's it?!" Yeah, way to go Roth.
2. The character development was brilliant in this installment. Whereas Roth just briefly explains who is who in Divergent, she makes her characters bloom under her pen in Insurgent. Tris specifically had more depth and it was easier to see what she was experiencing and how everything was affecting her. It kind of reminded me of Harry Potter in The Order of the Phoenix because he too had to deal with PTSD, and I felt her pain in her actions and thoughts just like with Harry.
I also loved the fact that Four wasn't perfect and he too was being affected by the conflicts around him, which seeped into his relationship with Tris--it wasn't a lovey-dovey relationship, but one that reflected the environment they were in. I admit it grated on my nerves that these characters couldn't be more romantic like in the previous book, but I also understand that this is realistic considering the context of their situation.
3. The dystopian setting was awesome! The description was brilliant and almost completely different from the previous book, especially since this time around we're taken all over the city rather than just remaining in dauntless (excluding the occasional adventure here and there.)
4. It was like Roth took all the negative criticism about Divergent and improved greatly while writing Insurgent. I was impressed.
5. Though a little predictable, there were a lot of surprises.
Basically, as you can note, I loved this novel. Will I read the next installment in the series? Hell yes. To not do so would be a kind of reading sin for myself. Of course, I'm a little worried and curious to see how she tackles the third book and if it will live up to this successful sequel, but I can only hope. (less)
The Last Echo by Kimberly Derting is the third novel in the Body Finder series, which has anoth...moreThis review first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
The Last Echo by Kimberly Derting is the third novel in the Body Finder series, which has another installment set to release sometime in 2013. If you haven't read the previous two books, I suggest you do so (preferably The Body Finder; the first novel and the namesake of the series), since this book wasn't in the same league as the first book. When I first read The Body Finder, I fell in love with Derting's writing and the story she had to tell, when I read the second book I felt like she'd done it again (though not as strongly), and some say third time's the charm.
Yeah, not so much.
Sorry Derting, but though I did enjoy The Last Echo, it could have been so much better.
"In the end, all that's left is an echo...
Violet kept her morbid ability to sense dead bodies a secret from everyone except her family and her childhood-best-friend-turned-boyfriend, Jay Heaton. That is until forensic psychologist Sara Priest discovered Violet's talent and invited her to use her gift to track down murderers. Now, as she works with an eclectic group of individuals—including mysterious and dangerously attractive Rafe—it's Violet's job to help those who have been murdered by bringing their killers to justice. When Violet discovers the body of a college girl killed by "the girlfriend collector" she is determined to solve the case. But now the serial killer is on the lookout for a new "relationship" and Violet may have caught his eye...."
Okay, ignoring the fact that this synopses basically tells you all the events that happen in the previous two novels (Major Spoilers above), this synopses hints to us that this book is going to be another mystery that Violet tries to solve, while somehow catching the eye of the killer. I have some issues with what this novel promises and with what it actually gives me.
By the way, Derting's first two novels were devoured by me in less than two days, while this one I had to keep putting down because it just wasn't that addicting.
1. If you've read my review for Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi then you know what my biggest (and only) complaint for that novel was. The ending of Derting's novel must be the new offspring of cliches. The whole "mysterious antagonist" threatening the protagonist into pursuing something that is against their will is overkill, and I'm sorry, but for a novel that isn't as strong as its predecessors, this was a weak move. I get the whole wanting to have something to write about in the next installment, but not only was the unfolding of the conclusion predictable, but it was just plain annoying and frankly, I'm iffy about reading the fourth book.
2. Spoiler to those who haven't read the previous installments and want to in the future, The Last Echo BARELY touches on Jay and Violet's romance, which was the cutest thing ever (best friends in love type of deal, which I admit is a cliche as well) in the first two novels. Instead, we have the protagonist frolicking around with her emotions and this new "Rafe" character that registers as a big no-no for Violet. Plus, this whole "electrical shock" thing between the two characters whenever they touch is annoying. I understand that Derting is trying to create tension between her characters, but this is yet another cliche: the love triangle.
3. Violet kind of pissed me off in this one. She was immature and kind of dense. How does she not see what's right in front of her? Of course, she's always been a bit slow when it comes to understanding that she shouldn't throw herself in the way of danger, but Violet was dumber than usual in this installment.
4. This is just a personal question I want to ask to those who have read The Last Echo: Are you excited to read the constant reminder of the jewelry box music in the next installment?
I'll give you a hint: I'm not.
I know it sounds like I hated Derting's novel, but though some things annoyed me, I still fairly enjoyed it.
1. I'll hand it to her: Derting knows how to creep her readers out. Perhaps the strongest aspect of her novel is the murderer's perspective. Dark and delicious; it gave me the willies reading that at night.
2. Though I disliked the character of Rafe, it was cool to learn a little more about him and the rest of the team.
3. Derting may be flirting with cliches, but her writing is still fluid and imaginative, which makes her novel a quick read.
4. I disliked how this novel barely focused on Violet's relationship with Jay, or even Violet herself, but when Derting does bring up scenes with Jay they are just as fantastic and romantic as ever.
For some reason I feel like Derting's Body Finder series is going downhill. The series started so strongly, producing a similarly powerful sequel, but this third installment made me pause. I'm almost wary of what the fourth book will be like because I can kind of predict it as I write this review. The ending says it all: this author is running out of ideas. Of course, the one certain constant is the creepy factor of her antagonists, and if I could I would just read the excerpts from the points of view of the murderers in the future novels.(less)
When I jumped into Evan Fuller's Mutt I wasn't sure what I was getting myself into. I have read...moreThis review first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
When I jumped into Evan Fuller's Mutt I wasn't sure what I was getting myself into. I have read independent authors' novels before that have left me confused, angry, and even tired, so I won't lie, I was a bit weary. But Fuller's debut into the world of writing is an exciting and fluently written story that delves into the politics of humanity if the world were to experience catastrophic events (I'd like to even say that the points raised in the novel can be used to compare the different powers that countries in the present global economy hold).
The cover is intriguing and it forces the reader to look for any hints of what is offered within the pages. The magic can be seen in the wisps of smoke coming off Green, the central magical character in the novel, and the rough life of the Wastelands can be noted in the wear and tear of his clothing. The colour of the background might indicate the "wasteful" atmosphere that the characters explore.
The following synopsis is from smashwords:
"Centuries after most of humanity died out, a new civilization is slowly constructed upon the remnants of the old.
Emery, a young man living in the walled city of Rittenhouse, has taken it upon himself to rescue "mutts," as the citizens of Rittenhouse call the impoverished masses outside. When Timothy, a boy afflicted with a fatal illness, seeks Emery's help, the two embark on a deadly errand to secure the medicine Timothy needs. This mission takes them from the safety of Rittenhouse into the wasteland outside it, where ancient superstitions are reborn and humanity struggles to survive amidst the ruins of a fallen American metropolis."
To be honest, I have become a fan of Fuller's writing and only really had two complaints while reading the novel.
1. Editing. Though not to such an extent that it distracted me from the story, the editing could have been a bit more thorough. Some of the errors include: a few missing quotation marks, extra words, oddly phrased sentences, and missing words. The problems with editing weren't so huge that it completely killed the novel because the writing was still beautiful. Don't let this deter you though: a) because I am a stickler for these things in novels, and b) the story is brilliant and thought-provoking.
2. There is one moment where a professor is called out of a classroom and I never get to find out what happened... I would love to see an answer in the sequel!
1. Fuller's writing is effortless. When I first began reading Mutt, I found myself lost in the world of Rittenhouse and the Wastelands (which immediately brought my thoughts to T.S. Eliot, but I digress). The writing is fast-paced and this is mainly why I finished so quickly!
2. There is a scene that terrified the hell out of me. Why is this a positive? Because I rarely find novels that legitimately have sections that scare me to the point were I feel uncomfortable. For example, there's a point where Emery, the protagonist, is attacked and his thoughts become erratic. How does Fuller present the mental change of his character? By writing one long run-on sentence, which is an excellent technique when done purposefully with the intention of disturbing the reader and making him/her wonder why the author has written such a sentence.
3. The emotions that the characters experience are well written and I found myself empathizing with them. Let me tell you, some moments in this book will break your heart, while others will make you just as angry as the characters themselves.
4. The characters all varied for me. Lydia was a bit of a nag, but I understand why. (view spoiler)[That wholeromance in the novel was a bit unexpected, but I hope that it is explored further in the next novel since it left me feeling a bit confused. (hide spoiler)] The people in and from the Wastelands had a great dialect, which Fuller continuously used. He varied it slightly as the social status of the characters either rose or fell. Emery is of a higher class, so his dialogue was rich and intelligent.
5. The description of things that survived after the extinction of the world as we know it and how the world rebuilt itself is brilliant. It was fascinating to see how things would be in such a world and how our actions now would be viewed later.
Mutt is a great debut novel and I urge you to read it if you enjoy dystopian novels that not only explore magic, but also the political issues behind the changes that the world undergoes when it is trying to fix itself.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Lisa Unger’s novel Beautiful Lies, the first installment in the two-book Ridley Jones series, is a thriller/mystery.
The story follows Ridley Jones through a maze of lies she has recently uncovered about her life. She faces dangerous obstacles and is nearly killed on various occasions. Action-packed and for the most part fast-paced, Unger has written an exciting novel for lovers of the genre.
Ridley's narrative tends to go on tangents about her ideas on philosophical issues. For example: how the choices we make affect our lives. These moments in the novel are often long-winded and unsettling for the reader, since it distracts him/her from the flow of the story.
Unger does make Ridley extremely realistic, however, by having her question not just herself, but the reader as well. By utilizing this technique, Unger is adding to the air of mystery, confusion, and lack of trust that the protagonist feels in her altered world. If Ridley can't trust anyone around her anymore, should the reader trust what s/he is being told? We are guided by an imperfect, untrusting protagonist who wants us to partake, and perhaps, aid in her search for the truth.
Though very passionate and informative at times with anecdotes about Ridley’s past memories sneaking up on her, or the use of Carl Jung to emphasize a point, Unger sometimes takes too long to get to her point. I understand that this is a thriller and it is necessary for the reader to be reeled in, but on occasion the story feels long and tedious. This is especially true of the first half of the novel. Unger attempts to build anticipation with her dragged on introduction, but instead makes it feel drawn out.
The good news is that the second half of the novel is exactly what the reader hopes for in a thriller. The action and passion that Ridley and her male love interest experience is riveting. Whatever fleeting thoughts the reader had of abandoning the book are quickly forgotten as the suspenseful story takes him/her to an intense finale.
Of course, questions are left unanswered and will most likely appear as motivation for Ridley in the second installment.
Beautiful Lies is a novel full of deception, surprises, and is action-heavy as the conclusion nears. Those who love a descriptive storyline and an engaging protagonist will most likely enjoy Lisa Unger's novel.(less)
Sometimes I get a strange urge to read novels that freak me out, so a good zombie novel is a pl...moreThis review first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
Sometimes I get a strange urge to read novels that freak me out, so a good zombie novel is a pleasant way of sating this strange craving. Jonathan Maberry's Dead of Night is a creepy novel set in a quiet town in the United States that experiences a zombie invasion during a stormy night. Though a bit slow at the beginning, when the action begins it hits the reader like an infected bite.
I caution you, however, if you have a weak stomach then Maberry's work may not be for you.
"A prison doctor injects a condemned serial killer with a formula designed to keep his consciousness awake while his body rots in the grave. But all drugs have unforeseen side-effects. Before he could be buried, the killer wakes up. Hungry. Infected. Contagious. This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang…but a bite."
Though this was a fun read that took me a bit longer to read than normal, it had some issues that bugged me at times.
1. There are some moments where more editing is needed. Words missing, awkward sentences, misspelled words, and grammatical errors appear throughout the novel. These errors distracted me because they were so obvious.
2. Some of the characters drove me nuts, like the protagonist. She was so intense at times that I wanted to slap her and tell her to stop being such a b%^&. I know she has a huge chip on her shoulder, but it still annoyed me.
3. Though relatively fast-paced, there were moments where the story just slowed down. Not just that, but there's a point where some characters find out what is actually happening and they keep asking the most obvious questions. I wanted to yell at them because Maberry was dragging on the chapter and slowing down the pace. I can't stand it when authors feel the need to over-explain something instead of trusting their readers.
1. This novel was scary as hell when it got going. It made me think there were things moving around my house at night and sometimes I had to put the book down and recollect my emotions.
2. Though this is your typical zombie novel, Maberry still explores the issues of Government and what would happen in the face of the apocalypse. I know that this is a cliche in all apocalyptic novels, but it was still powerful.
3. Though this novel was predictable, I liked the ending! It made me think, "Oh crap, they're so screwed!"
4. I did dislike the protagonist at times, but when she started fighting for her life, it was awesome! There's a cool scene with a lot of fighting and a lot of creepy zombies, where she kicks ass.
5. The reason why the zombie attack begins is proof of how curiosity and hatred can be deadly.
I liked this novel and I'll probably read more of Maberry's novels in the future. If you're going to read this, don't go in expecting something mind-blowing, but a fun ride full of spooks and nightmare worthy moments.(less)
Eileen Cook's most recent novel, Unraveling Isobel, is spooky and has a spunky female protagonist who isn't...moreFirst appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
Eileen Cook's most recent novel, Unraveling Isobel, is spooky and has a spunky female protagonist who isn't afraid to speak her mind. The novel opens on a very pissed off Isobel as her mother relocates her to an island where her new step-father lives before the start of her Senior year. There, she learns the importance of not caring what others think, she finds love, and has a creepy and life-threatening experience.
Full of humour, suspense, and mystery, Cook's novel is a surprisingly quick read that will pull its reader in and doesn't let him/her go until the end. There are some unanswered questions which may annoy the reader at the end, but for the most part this is a great summer read.
I have to admit that Cook's best talent is her dialogue. I couldn't stop laughing on more than one occasion as her characters' personalities flowed out through their manners of speech.
If you're looking for a fast, fun, creepy, and addicting read that's also on the romantic side, then I would recommend Unraveling Isobel--it's worth the read. (less)
The Immortal Rules, the first installment in the Blood of Eden series, by Julie Kagawa took me...moreThis review first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
The Immortal Rules, the first installment in the Blood of Eden series, by Julie Kagawa took me by surprise from the beginning to the very end. I am fairly new to Kagawa's writing style and I was very pleased at the story that she created in her tome of a novel.
Kagawa manages to take the used and (sometimes) abused vampire genre and makes it her own with a quick-witted protagonist who is, for once, the vampire instead of the damsel in distress. Fast-paced and unputdownable, The Immortal Rules is a sign that there is still hope for what once made Bram Stoker so great: an unforgettable vampire story.
Despite the albeit cheesy cover, Kagawa's story is an intriguing look into the mind of a vampire that is in some parts cynical and all parts tough.
1. The only real issue I have with this one is the predictability. Then again, it is getting increasingly hard to create unpredictable pieces of literature when so much has already been done. I just wish that the protagonist's actions weren't so transparent, though I won't lie, I was still hooked.
1. The writing style, in my opinion, is superb. I am a fan of writers who choose brisk sentences, as opposed to artsy, over-dramatic sentences that explain everything in detail. Kagawa has the ability to reel her reader into the story using words to her advantage--therefore employing the tactic of saying less to show more.
2. The adventure never ebbs. When a part of the story starts to come to a conclusion, another adventure immediately takes over, pulling the reader through yet another trip through the forest in Kagawa's novel, or into dangerous territory. Each adventure is fresh and exhilarating. Best of all, not only is the action non-stop, but the story is neither messy nor choppy, it instead flows to one heart-stopping finale.
3. The pacing is quick, clean, and epic. See number 2.
4. Okay, I won't lie, Kagawa creeped me out. Especially near the beginning.
5. The characters are well developed, even the ones that don't make it through to the end. Allison, the protagonist, is a realistic blend of strong and weak, so that her humanity still shows through her obvious undead status. Not only did Kagawa manage to make a realistic protagonist, she gave Allison depth and made her relatable (except for the whole undead thing.)
6. Whereas in other books a reader is left waiting for the action to begin, in Kagawa's novel we are immediately brought into the heart of the conflict. There are monsters, there's hardly any food, people starve and die--that's life for Allison. There's no sugar coating, there's no pretending that her life is any different for the benefit of the reader. We are brought in and boom, we learn the gritty truth about life in The Immortal Rules, and all with a single, powerful scene.
I highly enjoyed Kagawa's novel. It was fun, exciting, and I don't know how I ever felt wary of reading it. The size is disconcerting, I'll be honest, but it is well worth it. (less)
I bought Marie Lu’s Legend (the first book in the Legend series) on a whim. I’d read good things abo...more This review first appeared here: Book Addict 24-7
I bought Marie Lu’s Legend (the first book in the Legend series) on a whim. I’d read good things about Lu’s work, as well as bad on Goodreads and decided to check it out for myself.
Simplistic and bold, the cover of Legend, I assume, is meant to catch the attention of adventure seekers who are sick of the pretty girls in impossible dresses looking distraught on book cover after book cover. I know that talking about the cover of the book isn’t really reviewing it, but I think it is important to note the simplicity of it because Lu is already showing the defiant nature of her novel. If the popular choice for a novel is that of a woman crying, then you’ll see an impossible amount of weeping women in your local bookstore, but then imagine eyeing among all of the sad faces, Lu’s novel in all it’s silver and gold glory (nice colour scheme, by the way).
What was once the United States has becoming a feuding war zone. The Republic (where our protagonists reside) is at war with their neighbors, the Colonies. Much like other dystopian worlds, The Republic takes its children at the ripe age of ten and tests them so as to ascertain who are the weak, the passable, and the exceptional future citizens. June and Day, the protagonists, are as different as can be. While June is an intelligent, rich, and promising girl, Day is a poor felon on the run from The Republic. When June’s brother is murdered and all signs point to Day, she must decide what’s real and what is just a fabrication of The Republic.
What ensues is a crazy adventure full of suspense, fun, and of course, romance (you seriously didn’t think that there would be no romance, did you?) While there are some awesome aspects of Lu’s novel, there are some weaker points as well.
1. I know it isn’t fair to say that Legend is predictable because it is from two perspectives, but it doesn’t stop it from being true. While it wasn’t a huge deal like in some other novels I’ve recently read, it still bugged me. I wish that I could for once play detective with a book and be wrong at the end. In a good way.
2. This is a minor point that I hope Lu works on for her sequel: the speed of the novel. The action and events that are described in the inside flap fully begin to take place about halfway through the novel. I know that the author is building up suspense, but while her novel is beautifully written, it dragged a bit. Don’t get me wrong, I agree with the creation of the background information for the reader. I also agree with Lu giving the reader time to fall in love with the characters by giving us more time with them before all hell breaks loose, but she could have moved it a little faster. I really loved this book, but this was an annoying aspect of Lu’s writing. Though I’m sure others would disagree.
3. Day can be kind of arrogant and I still don’t know how to respond to that. I remember reading what he thinks of pretty girls and what he’d do to them (at fifteen!) and thinking wow, that must be one advanced community! (And in fact, it probably is considering that they get tested at 10). I’m on the fence about his character.
1. The concept of this story appears unoriginal and overused, but Lu adds a special touch of something that gives the novel a bit of a push out of the usual dystopian novels. The rise of the political “we won’t take your crap” novels shows that some writers are playing with fiction in order to comment about society without adding magic, vampires, or werewolves into the mix.
2. Lu uses different coloured text for when speaking from Day or June’s perspective. Not only is this fun and helpful, but the effect acts as a way of showing more profoundly the differences between June and Day. Like with the cover, the artistic decision with the coloured text is genius.
3. I loved the characters. Not just June and Day, but the minor characters who end up affecting the protagonists’ lives. I liked that Lu didn’t overdo the thirst for blood that some characters have (not vampiric thirst, just crazy killer thirst) and that her true villains appear calculated and intelligent, rather than angry and vengeful. The side characters that work for The Republic are creepy as hell in their stoic appearances and I loved it.
4. I mentioned the problem of predictability, but let me tell you that Lu played with my mind. I am not going to write this spoiler down, but just remember that not everything is as it seems (this however is one instance, hence the negative side of this stays up-top).
5. I’m on the fence about the relationship of the two protagonists. I’ll have to wait for the sequel to decide whether I like it or not.
6. June’s character is a bit naive, but she’s powerful. She plans and eventually finds the truths that she needs to learn and she’s a good character to follow in this series.
If you like dystopian novels with a kick or young adult novels that can be devoured in one sitting then I recommend you read Legend.
I have a separate list for books that I am weary of reading, usually because of the great revie...moreThis review first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
I have a separate list for books that I am weary of reading, usually because of the great reviews and hype about them. Anyone else would say: "Hey, if they're popular and have great reviews, why wouldn't you want to check the book out?" But in past experiences I've gone into books solely based on the recommendations and five-star ratings on book sites, and more often than not, I was left sorely disappointed.
Veronica Rossi's Under the Never Sky, thankfully, did not fall into the disappointment pile. This book was really, really good. Perhaps one of the top ten for me this year. Though the synopses of her book made me pause and contemplate if this was a book to read or pass, I'm glad I jumped the gun and read it anyway.
Let me just say that there are about four different covers for this novel, the one I've posted on this review (on my blog) is my favourite one because it shows BOTH of the characters, rather than just the female protagonist (since both her and the male protagonist have a say in the story). Rossi is a stunning writer and, cliches aside, I can see her making splashes in the YA literary world.
"WORLDS KEPT THEM APART.
DESTINY BROUGHT THEM TOGETHER.
Aria has lived her whole life in the protected dome of Reverie. Her entire world confined to its spaces, she's never thought to dream of what lies beyond its doors. So when her mother goes missing, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland long enough to find her are slim.
Then Aria meets an outsider named Perry. He's searching for someone too. He's also wild - a savage - but might be her best hope at staying alive.
If they can survive, they are each other's best hope for finding answers."
I only have one negative point about this novel:
I can't fathom how such a great book can have such a cliched and annoying ending. I've seen awesome novels greatly affected (negatively) by bad endings. I know Rossi is just building up tension for the sequel and such, but I personally think she could have taken a different route.
Also, this is such a copout for the next installment. It gives me the impression that the authors who do this (Kimberly Derting did something similar with her latest Body Finder novel, ugh) have no other way of attracting the reader's attention for the next novel because they may be running out of ideas.
Rossi's use of (view spoiler)[ending the novel with another character (usually in power) threatening one (or more) protagonist to create tension in the second book had the opposite effect on me. Her choice to have her character be manipulated by the antagonist made me wary of the next installment in the series. (hide spoiler)] I've seen it done before and it isn't always a success.
The positives, of course, are much greater in number.
1. I loved the world that Rossi creates in her debut novel. It's elaborate and creative.
2. Rossi's writing is fluid and beautiful, allowing the reader to effectively see into her imagination.
3. The character development was superb. At the beginning, Aria describes Perry as only a secluded person can describe someone new to her. Her fear and distate is so clearly stated that I felt bad for Perry, but he doesn't describe her any better. What I liked though is how slowly the two begin to see each other differently, until the point that they realize they're both just humans, whether one has special powers or not. This is powerful to me because it shows great character development and it teaches the reader an important lesson: we are all human, despite where we are raised or how we are taught. Though Aria's character at the beginning frustrates me, but her actions were plausible because of how she was raised.
4. Though it is nearly impossible to write a completely unpredictable novel, Rossi kept me at the edge of my proverbial seat. She didn't stop all the way through the novel... until the ending, but for that you'll have to reread my negative point about this novel.
Will I read the sequel to this, even though I obviously loved Under the Never Sky? I'm not sure. Again, the ending has me cringing with uncertainty as to where Rossi is going to take this monster of a cliche ending. Will I read any future works by Rossi outside of this series? Most definitely. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Possess by Gretchen McNeil is a creepy story of a girl with psychic abilities that help her rid...moreThis review first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
Possess by Gretchen McNeil is a creepy story of a girl with psychic abilities that help her rid people of demonic possessions. At first I was a bit skeptic of this novel, especially since it dealt with demons, exorcisms, and religion (I laughed when I watched the exorcist, so please try to understand my skepticism). But I was pleasantly surprised.
"Rule #1: Do not show fear.
Rule #2: Do not show pity. Rule #3: Do not engage. Rule #4: Do not let your guard down. Rule #5: They lie.
Fifteen-year-old Bridget Liu just wants to be left alone: by her mom, by the cute son of a local police sergeant, and by the eerie voices she can suddenly and inexplicably hear. Unfortunately for Bridget, it turns out the voices are demons – and Bridget has the rare ability to banish them back to whatever hell they came from.
Terrified to tell people about her new power, Bridget confides in a local priest who enlists her help in increasingly dangerous cases of demonic possession. But just as she is starting to come to terms with her new power, Bridget receives a startling message from one of the demons. Now Bridget must unlock the secret to the demons' plan before someone close to her winds up dead – or worse, the human vessel of a demon king."
McNeil's novel was a quick paced, fun read, though of course it had only a few flaws.
1. The protagonist, Bridget, was a bit stubborn and annoying. Characters would tell her that she needed to do something but she would protest instead of acting. Even near the end when she needs to pay attention, she still stubbornly fights against the facts. This annoyed me because of how naive and ignorant she was acting. This occurred several times.
2. Okay, sorry for this spoiler, but it's a pretty obvious thing: Bridget's mother and her love interest's father are in love. I'm not really disturbed with this, but others might not be so accepting of the fact that Bridget's soon-to-be boyfriend's father will be her step-father if her mother decides to marry him.
3. Though it isn't so obvious that it disrupts the story, there are some editing mishaps. Every once in a while I ran into awkward sentences that made me re-read the sentence twice to understand what was intended.
4. A bit predictable, but still a fun read.
1. The eerie tone was awesome. It was consistent and expertly done.
2. Ignoring the protagonist's annoying behavior, the other characters were intriguing.
3. The world created by McNeil is interesting because of how effectively she uses diction to create fear and intrigue for the reader.
4. McNeil's story is creepy as hell, which is incredibly hard to do effectively in a novel. But she uses a simple thing like an animal haunting a home and makes it a scary experience for the reader.
5. This isn't the first book in a series! Do you know how refreshing that is?
This was definitely one of those novels that was a surprise. If you want to get spooked, while enjoying an interesting story, then you should check this one out. I will definitely be looking forward to McNeil's work in the future.(less)
Ah, Patrick Ness, you have made a new fan over here in Ontario.
The Knife of Never Letting Go, the first installment of the Chaos Walking trilogy, ...moreAh, Patrick Ness, you have made a new fan over here in Ontario.
The Knife of Never Letting Go, the first installment of the Chaos Walking trilogy, tells the story of a young boy who lives on a planet that the characters refer to as "New World", as opposed to Earth being "Old World" (though in fact, we are never quite sure if "Old World" is in fact Earth, but that's a different matter). The boy's name is Todd Hewitt and he is a citizen of Prentisstown, a devilish place plagued with men who harbor horrible thoughts. The bigger problem with this town? Everyone can hear everyone else's thoughts, which is kind of creepy and disconcerting when one reads the scribbles that Ness offers as a window into the characters' minds. Todd and his talking dog, Manchee, set off on an adventure throughout New World so that they can escape the horrors that await Todd when he turns fourteen and effectively becomes a man.
This novel took me for a ride, at first I found the writing hard to follow, not because of the storyline, but because of the intentional spelling errors. However, once you get wrapped up in the seductive story you soon begin to grow accustomed to the writing, almost becoming a member of Todd's little group.
Kim Harrison weaves a story full of sensuality, humour, and tough girl attitude and sets it in a curious place called the Hollows in her novel Dead Wi...moreKim Harrison weaves a story full of sensuality, humour, and tough girl attitude and sets it in a curious place called the Hollows in her novel Dead Witch Walking. In a way, I see this story as a dystopian tale trying to pass off as supernatural (though it is both). Needless to say, if I had read this in the summer it would have been devoured quite quickly (since it was a fun story and would have been a relatively quick read). Though I am not going to, for the time being (due to my list of books to read), read the sequel, I am still looking forward to when I do get a chance to check out the rest of Rachel’s story. Rachel is a sassy woman with a mind set on being free of any restraints… even if this includes a death threat from the I.S. which is a supernatural police force determined to right the wrongs of Inderlanders (supernatural creatures) around the Hollows (the supernatural ghetto) even if it is just tax evasion. When she decides to quit the I.S., Rachel has no idea of the chain of events that she is about to set off.