I'm not really into romance, or meek leading female characters at that, but I don't know what Evernight had that pulled me in with incredible force si...moreI'm not really into romance, or meek leading female characters at that, but I don't know what Evernight had that pulled me in with incredible force since the start. The relationship between Lucas and Bianca was the driving force in the story and the hardships they have to go through to be together squeezed at my heart every time. The plot wasn't really deep or overly complicated, but Gray has an uncanny ability to deliver unexpected, earth-shattering twists and turns that leave you wondering how could you not have seen them coming. While these twists worked perfectly for me on the first two books, and while I understood its purpose, the one on the third installment in the series, Hourglass, left me slightly disappointed. At least I hoped she would somehow fix it in Afterlife, the last book in the series. I was, somehow, even more disappointed.
Somehow, Bianca was even more meek and whiny than normal. What was supposed to be the main focus of the story and the biggest challenge in Lucas and Bianca's relationship, meaning the fact that they were both dead, was somehow mostly ignored. It didn't really become this impenetrable, emotionally-destructive obstacle it should've been. I was really looking forward to, at least, seeing how Lucas would be tortured by the fact that he was now what he hated the most, but he seemed to accept it rather easily and had only problems with his unquenchable thirst for blood. That bothered me slightly, but probably no more than Bianca's, well, doing nothing except being whiny and repetitive. For some reason, she was special to the wraiths. She could help them, except that it takes her, what?, 300 pages to get around that idea. Each time there was a monologue of her excuses and fears, I felt like I was reading the same pages over and over again. If the author had, at least, phrased them differently, I probably wouldn't have felt like I wasted my time reading 200 pages of the same whining, which, subsequently, lead me to feel slightly aversive to Bianca, and even to Lucas. Interestingly enough, though in the past they have been somewhat shallow and flat, it was the secondary characters that really shined in this book. Vic, Ranulf and Balthazar were great in the novel, supplying the few comic moments in the book and, probably, some of the most heartfelt moments too. Patrice, I was desperate for her arrival. I don't really understand the purpose for her absence in the previous books, because I felt Gray could've done amazing things with this incredible character. Her role in this book is a bit small, but there is something about this character that brings strength and depth to the story. I encourage everyone to find Gray's short stories about Patrice's life because they are simply amazing. Other characters, like the newly introduced Skye, were flat and placed there simply because they were convenient. Even Bianca's parents weren't explored and exploited to their whole potential, like the hate Bianca's mom had for wraiths. Dana and Raquel were like, meh. Out of some miraculous divine intervention, Raquel feels bad about betraying Bianca and Dana decided to abandon her life and everything she believes in for Lucas. It was not bad, it just needed to be more developed and explained.
This series needed an ending before they became a House of Night: pointless, senseless and, honestly, just painful. But I feel Gray could've done a better job at tying the loose ends. It all seemed to be done in a rush, desperate to just be over with it. Charity, one of the most amazing antagonists I've seen in young adult in a while, was dealt with easily and without a problem. It just seemed like the author really didn't want to deal with her. I found myself amazed with how much I actually liked Mrs. Bethany in this book, maybe because now she wasn't just the mean headmistress, and her plan with the wraiths was an original plot twist, but there was something missing. What probably bothered me the most was the way the author solved Lucas' problem. That twist only helped make the book too shiny and Disney-like. Honestly, I think I would've preferred if something bad had happened because at least it would've given the story some substance, some drama and heartbreak. In the end, everything is too perfect. I didn't want a completely sad ending, I just wished for, well, more, as I was ready to receive from an author as talented as Gray.(less)
I decided to do my first review on this book because, first, after almost two years since I read it, I still can't get...more ****May contain spoilers ****
I decided to do my first review on this book because, first, after almost two years since I read it, I still can't get rid of the sour taste it left in my mouth and, second, because I was recently notified that a second installment to this series is coming out... on the date of my birthday. Since the universe has decided to make a joke out of me adding insult to injury, I decided to share with the world my views on this book titled Swoon.
I bought this book because of its cover, a mistake, I assure you, will never happen again. The cover is mysterious and alluring and it is fortified by an interesting premise that promises a new supernatural concept in a very much abused genre and a compelling, doomed romance. Souls seeking revenge, an exorcism gone wrong, a gutsy protagonist with psychic abilities, and a boy with an evil agenda and no interest in hiding his nefarious intentions. What was not to like? I was hoping this would be the story that would bring a new edge to an over-exploited genre that always ends up being more of the same. Well, I was very disappointed.
This story was executed poorly, the characters were impossible to like or to relate to and there wasn’t anything truly engaging in this book. I practically had to threaten myself to finish it, not because there was nothing going on, trust me, there were a lot of things going on, just the wrong kind of things.
Meet Candice, our protagonist. Since the beginning of the book, she is given a lot of baggage. Her best friend died, she is part of a very dysfunctional family, she has an ability she can’t understand and she is forced to live in a town in the middle of nowhere where she doesn’t fit in and with relatives she can barely stand. Add to that a very complicated first love and you have all the tools to emotionally and psychologically develop a strong protagonist throughout the story. The thing is, Candice doesn’t grow or mature at all in the story. In 400+ pages, she doesn’t even grieve her friend’s death or confront any of her problems head on. She doesn’t take responsibility for any of her actions or learns anything from her horrifying experience. You can’t even hope for her to develop her “special abilities” into something she can control to eventually help in the saving of her own behind, because it just doesn’t happen. In fact, she spends an entire chapter describing her latent abilities, knowing that they are not epileptic seizures as she had been diagnosed, and how she is sure that they are her special power, to later never even mention them again. She is, like any other dense and flat young adult female protagonist out there, just too deeply in love with an undeserving, bipolar douche to care about anything else, not even how despicable he and his actions are. There is even one scene in which she allows him to spank her in front of everyone. While he is in a date with someone else. And enjoys it, like there is nothing wrong with that.
The only redeeming quality this character possessed was her confidence in her average looks, which are usually the source of insecurity and much ranting and complaining in other books. Still, that was shadowed by her immature and infuriating approach at life and her situation.
The other secondary characters were flat and don’t even deserve being mentioned since they have absolutely no importance in the story other than to serve as pawn to Sin’s (love interest) “evil master plan”.
I was really looking forward to the romance in this book and how it would evolve since Sin is, from the get-go, the bad guy of the story. Tired of the too-good-to-be-true, godsend, unrealistically righteous male love interest, I was really interested in how this relationship would bloom. Well, it goes a little something like this: girl meets dead boy through psychic powers, boy possessing the body of another girl tells girl his sad story and his unquenchable thirst for revenge, poof! True,everlasting, pure love. Candice simply decides she loves him. That’s it. For no reason that I can understand because Sin simply used and played with her selfishly, slept with her cousin/new best friend/almost sister turning her into a sex addict, killed elderly people and threw the entire population of teenagers in town into a wave of rampaging hormones willing to throw orgies in any random living room (I'm not kidding, for some reason that was part of his evil master plan). He comes two hundred years after he was accused and hanged for the murder of his own lover and unborn child to a town in which, obviously, the people who once condemned him are nothing but a pile of bones, without a clue on who really killed her, and hellbent on taking revenge upon the descendants of even the lawyer who failed to defend him well. And he is willing to even use and sacrifice Candice to do it. I couldn’t feel sorry for him or his tragic past because the way he was portrayed throughout the book makes him one of the most hateful characters I have ever encountered in my years of reading. He then comes along and declares Candice the only light in his life. And then sleeps with her. And then disappears.
The prose of this book is nice, almost poetic, but unnecessarily complicated to the point you might need a thesaurus to be able to read it, which is a terrible contrast to the language used for the dialogue. There is a recurrent use of drugs and sexual themes in the book that, despite having a realistic hold since teenagers do speak about those things, eventually crosses the line and becomes overwhelming. The pace is not slow, but the events in the story are boring, uninteresting and just plain ridiculous. I wouldn’t say this is the worst book I’ve read in my life, but I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. It is a shame because this book had the potential to be a truly engaging, powerful and memorable experience for the reader. It should have focused on how the protagonist solved her emotional problems, how she broke with bad habits and bad relationships and survived all the bad things life threw at her and how she stood up powerful and brave even against the guy she loved. I wanted the protagonist to learn something, to grow, to be better, but no dice. Instead, the story is just about a chick following an undeserving, manipulative idiot like a love sick puppy, and the sequel promises to be more of the same. (less)
I'm giving it 2 stars, though I am probably being too generous. The book is not awful and I've certainly read worse by far, but here's the thing: noth...moreI'm giving it 2 stars, though I am probably being too generous. The book is not awful and I've certainly read worse by far, but here's the thing: nothing happens. This book is boring, unexciting and practically uneventful. The characters are incredibly flat and in serious lack of a personality, and the "bad guys" are ridiculously cartoonish and just plain silly. (Seriously? Witchy, religious, exorcising grandmas? A bad, rock star- wannabe boy that can't get over his ex-girlfriend so he obsesses over the new girl? Really?) Of course, the leads fall in love within moments of meeting each other. I'm tired, no, exhausted of the insta-love plot and this book is all about that, which is made all the worse because there is no chemistry between the leads. The author is not a bad writer, but, besides the first lines in the book where I-forgot-her-name-already is detailing her death, there is no beauty in her prose, and, quite frankly, it reads like fan-fiction. The conversations were silly and bland and can our protagonist be any more dense? I lost count of how many times she asked for information she had just been given and how long it took her to realize the obvious. The whole concept of the ghosts and the netherworld was interesting, but, when you really think about it, it went largely underdeveloped and unexplored because the author chose to focus on the romance. Oh, and just out of curiosity, why exactly were the dead characters acting like animals, snarling, growling, crouching and pouncing like they were teenage werewolves instead of ghosts?
I am not even going to consider reading the next one any time soon. (less)
Shattered Souls instantly grabbed my attention because of the gorgeous cover and the interesting blurb about ghosts, reincarnation and exorcisms. The book had a pretty interesting concept and it kicked off right away with lovely writing, a complicated, troubled protagonist and some pretty creepy scenes. Sadly, the effect only lasted for so long. The book ignored key concepts on the story, dragged on the romance and wrapped it up with an unsatisfying ending.
I placed a lot of hope on Lenzi as soon as the book began. She sounded like a real teenager and I believed her fears. I loved the origami scenes because of how nicely they were written and how well the technique was used to allow Lenzi a breather from her crazy life. Also, I began the story very interested in Lenzi's relationship with her boyfriend and I thought it original and actually kind of nice that the story kicked-off with a boy already present who, unlike other YA, was not a jerk the protagonist needed to get rid off in order to make room for the new guy. Sure, the boyfriend was not perfect, and I absolutely hated that he was a pill-pusher and went all big-macho on her when he was jealous, but he didn't judge her, she could trust him with her fears and the weird things that were happening to her and he still loved her and promised to be there for her. And then Alden came along. I'm not saying I prefer one boy over the other, I probably prefer neither of them.
I do not hate this particular character, but I feel he pushed a lot of lines. I buy his tortured, self-sacrifice act because of the emotional distance Lenzi's previous incarnations placed between them, but he took it too far, constantly pushing away Lenzi, despite wanting her, because "she couldn't possibly know what she wanted". It all seemed to me like a poor trick to drag on the drama of the impossibility of their love. You don't kiss a person a second, turn her down because it is wrong and then kiss her again saying that has nothing to do with her request to be together. The whole routine got tiring right away. Alden also claimed to, as a Protector, do solely as the Speaker commanded, but, throughout the book, I was never able to shake the thought that Alden was manipulating her all the time. Whatever affection I had for Alden also evaporated when there came a scene where he told Lenzi to "shut up, don't think and do just what I say." Well, so much for only following the Speaker's instructions. I understand why he needed her to do that in that particular moment, but there's gotta be a hundred better ways to convey the message without sounding so insulting and hostile and like he is talking down to her because she is a silly woman that doesn't know better.
Lenzi, on the other hand, also stepped over lines of her own. She plays innocent the whole book and is genuinely shocked with Zak's (the boyfriend) angry, jealous behavior when she was actually cheating on him. That was extremely hypocritical of her and how much I liked her decreased considerably as the book reached its climax.
One good thing about the book, though, its the fact that the author has obvious talent when it comes to writing creepy scenes. The ghostly apparitions were all incredibly well-written and enjoyable, and perhaps, if the book had solely focused on that, I would've probably enjoyed it more. Sadly, there were some blast-to-the-past scenes that, while nicely orchestrated, particularly when it came to the historical background, they didn't feel real and I believe that is largely due to the author's inability to truly capture the language.
The resolution of the book is, perhaps, what ended up completely ruining the book for me. The bad guy was cartoonish in its completely evil nature and Lenzi, of course, tried to pull the martyr card towards the end. There was little to no information concerning the big, powerful organization calling the shots among Speakers and Protectors and the conflict with them was done with ridiculously easy. Also, the way the author chose to deal with the love triangle felt like a slap in the face to the reader. It was all to convenient and that considerably lowered the rating of a nice ghost book that actually managed to be spooky through good writing.
The book its not awful and both the concept and the pace are actually very enjoyable. If you can deal with all the aforementioned, I have no doubt you will probably like this book.(less)
I've been craving for a good, terrifying, smart and complicated YA horror book for years. And. This. Is. It. I'm not saying Anna Dressed in Blood is perfection made book, but, among so much YA crap that aspires for much and promises far more than it can deliver, I can say with certainty that this book gives the readers exactly what they want. There is gore, as well as vividly detailed violence and gruesome sights that are sure to make you, at least, shudder. The thing is, that while being heavily gory, this book is not gross and that can only be achieved by terrific writing. Anna Dressed in Blood has magnificent writing and a gorgeous prose that easily transmits the images into the reader's head like a movie. The plot flows smoothly scene after scene and the climax builds up to a satisfying, but desperation-inducing cliffhanger.
I won't say there aren't clichés in the characters, I mean, a football player that's a possessive bully? The outcast with telepathic abilities that's pinning after the blond popular chick? The free-spirited, super cool witch mom? The innocent girl that was terribly wronged? But Blake goes beyond that and presents a pretty decent and definitely likable cast in her story - even if the group dynamic is not as smooth as I would've proffered - , specially Cas. He's snarky, smart and a little on the self-destructive side, making him one of the best male-voice representations I've read of in a YA novel. Oh, and Anna. I freaking loved her because she is not the squeaky clean love interest we are used to read about and she is, for lack of a better word, kind of complicated. Sure, there's the sob backstory to her, but she is a much a victim as she is, well, let's just say her hands are not clean. As a matter of fact, there is no such thing as an entirely good guy or bad guy in this novel, there is no black and white, there is a whole spectrum of colors in our character's personalities and in their natures. The real bad guy in the story might seem a little typical, but even this character has a lot to him.
The relationship between Anna and Cas is just awesome. There is actual development in that romance. Again, I'm not saying the relationship didn't progress without a little help from the insta-love monster, but at least it was believable. And really complicated. How do you love someone you have to kill because she will otherwise keep on murdering everyone around?
So there were things I didn't like. I felt like many aspects of the story needed more development or, at least, a little more explanation, particularly Anna's past. There were also some wasted scenes, some attempts at humor that fell a bit flat and rushed final chapters that rendered the overall feeling of doom concerning the bad guy pointless, but overall, I think this novel is excellent. If you like horror, gore and some romance thrown into the mix, this is the book for you.(less)
This one was a roller coaster ride for me. One minute I liked it, then I hated it, then it was tolerable, then I loved it, then I despised it and then...moreThis one was a roller coaster ride for me. One minute I liked it, then I hated it, then it was tolerable, then I loved it, then I despised it and then I had to admit I enjoyed it. So that's why I gave it a four. Jana is still annoying. She is one crazy chick. I loved Mars, though.
Maybe I'll review it properly later. We'll see. (less)
Racially-mixed, Catholic-school student Bridget Liu is just trying to deal with the fact that her father is dead, never mind the strange circumstances of his murder. So the last thing she needs is to become entangled in a supernatural world because of the bizarre, otherworldly abilities to develop in her after her father's death. As if Bridget wasn't enough of a misfit already, with her combat boots, military jacket and with one gay friend and another that is just bordering on stalker, the fifteen year old now can talk to demons and banish them. Even worse, she enjoys it.
Under the tutelage of Monsignor Renault, Bridget is learning to control her abilities and put them to good use, but after an unprecedented increase in demonic activity and a murder suspiciously like her father's that bears the marks of a satanic ritual, Bridget is thrown into a war thousands of years in the making that, if not stopped in time, could lead to the awakening of a terrible, evil force. Throw into the mix a cute boy that makes Bridget's head a mess, a twitchy, flat-out weird new priest lurking and snooping around, her mom's decision to move on with her romantic life and creepy demonic dolls and Bridget just has about everything she can take. She wishes she could be rid of her abilities, but what she doesn't know is that her role in this war is more important than she thinks.
As soon as I read about this book, I knew I needed to own it. Possess is a great addition to YA horror. The writing is great, the characters are very likable, the plot moves swiftly and smoothly and the overall mood of the book was constructed fantastically. The horror is there, every step of the way and I think the author did a magnificent job with the possession scenes. For about 2/3 of the book the book was well on its way to be one of my favorites, and then the momentum was lost.
Bridget is a very interesting character, and it goes beyond her racially-mixed background. She is spunky and stubborn and kickass, but, despite the terrifying and challenging events that revolve around her and her strange abilities, there is a surprisingly small amount of character growth. Sure, she stands proudly and strong at the end, but there was nothing leading up to it. As far as the other characters go, they were okay, even if many of them were a bit clichéd and somewhat flat; I mean, of course, there is the incredibly, beautiful mean girl that holds a personal grudge against Bridget, the gorgeous, kind guy that for some reason likes our little misfit protagonist, the gay, supporting and hilarious friend and, of course, the friend that wants to be more that just that. But overall, I think the cast was okay, even the priests, even if they did bother me a bit.
There were many shocking developments in the story, but what was supposed to be most shocking of all ended up being incredibly predictable, unsurprising and rolling-my-eyes cheesy. After reading half of the book, pin-pointing the bad guy was as easy as blinking, and the whole plot revolving around that bad guy sounded somewhat silly. The angelic addition to the story felt a little far-fetched for me, but it was interesting, original and it deserves more exploring. In the end, though there were some steamy, intense scenes between Matt and Bridget, I also felt their relationship was a bit rushed, specially when it leads to the I love you so soon. There was something missing in the development of their relationship and I felt there wasn't enough chemistry between them either.
Despite all that, I really enjoyed Possess. It is a nicely-written novel, a decent horror story, a great debut novel and it definitely deserves to be read.
This novel is an exquisitely written and wonderfully constructed story with a chilling atmosphere, an original premise, a fantastic setting and a self...moreThis novel is an exquisitely written and wonderfully constructed story with a chilling atmosphere, an original premise, a fantastic setting and a self-destructive and achingly realistic protagonist and a very believable and likeable love interest. My only problem with the novel was the pace, and not for lack of things going on. I just didn't get suck into the story from the get-go and that's why it took me so long to get through it. But, as a whole, this novel is simply marvelous. I look forward to the companion novels. (less)
I read A Certain Slant of Light back when it came out in 2005. That would have made me about fifteen and probably in no adequate psychological or emot...moreI read A Certain Slant of Light back when it came out in 2005. That would have made me about fifteen and probably in no adequate psychological or emotional to understand and appreciate this novel. I was very disturbed by what happens in that particular novel, and that made it really hard for me to look past it and enjoy the beauty of the writing and the heartbreaking story. Now, a good 8 years later, I like to think that I am because I really enjoyed Under the Light. Same breathtakingly gorgeous writing, same aching emotion to every aspect of the plot, but now a lot more emphasis on the character development than on the romance, which was still beautiful anyway. I am really glad I decided to give this story a second try and I'll probably be re-reading A Certain Slant of Light soon to give it the appreciation it deserves. (less)