I don't usually review the second book in a series because pretty much everything in it is a spoiler for those who have not read the first book, but with this one, I found the second book for $2 and couldn't resist, so be aware that after here, pretty much everything is spoilers.
In this book, the secrets of the first have already been revealed, but they are re-explained, I assume for those who have not read the first or because you have to wait about a year between books. Don't worry, the explanations are not too laboured and long drawn out, they are nice and short, and to the point.
I really enjoyed the mythology of the story. In this alternate version of our world, when a child dies before it reaches adulthood, it reanimates, only without its soul. The child then has either 21 or 17 (I cant remember) years to find the person with its soul (I assume the person who is born later on with that soul after the child's death) and steal that soul with a kiss, thereby gaining back their life but killing the other. If they do not, after that time they will die horribly. Monitors are humans with a special gift: they can sense these Undead and if they become dangerous they will bury them alive, thus killing them. For the Undead can also take the soul of anyone living to gain temporary life.
In the first book Renee Winters discovered both that her parents were dead, that she was a monitor, and that she was in love with an Undead. She gave her soul to her love, Dante, but he later gave it back. She has kept the reason behind her miraculous recovery a secret from everyone, even her grandfather.
Interestingly in this book she finds herself moving again to a new place, having to make new friends, even more of an outsider than before. I found this a nice twist, doing away with the usual return to the already established setting, and throwing her once again into the deep end of finding her way in a strange place and trying to make new friends, and try and find a way to see her beloved, who is now on the run, wrongfully accused of murder.
I am a bit of a sucker for the forbidden love thing. Having been in a similar situation (without the dead stuff, obviously) that sort of thing always really gets me. I like books where the emotions are so raw you feel like your heart is being ripped out and your flesh flayed from your body. I love that books can make you feel that intense an emotion, such strong joy and pain. The great and sometimes tragic love stories have always fascinated us throughout the ages.
Some people write off YA romance, but I would never do that. Sure a lot of YA novels have the same tropes- the three way love triangle, raw adolescent emotions, magical or undead true love, but there is a huge difference in writing quality. I have picked some books up where I cringe a few pages in and have to put them down. And then there are books like this with evocative but not overly flowery language, good pacing, and a heroine who goes out there does things for herself instead of relying entirely on the male characters to rule her fate.
One of the things I sometimes prefer about YA novels is there is less sex and more raw emotion. YA is all about longing and misery, a lot more emotional and Gothic. In many adult books people are more upbeat and always jumping into bed with each other, which is really not my sort of thing. Also I HATE perky characters. I can't identify with ass kicking pun a minute heroines. I like moody odd kids who don't fit in, dealing with forbidden romances. After all, they have a lot more in common with me.
Things I loved
Her new friend Anya, she's a bit alternative, believes in magic, charms, and has quirky, dyed red hair, (although I am not sure about the 'clubbing' outfits, she wears), and is a loner with a history of suicide attempts. I always enjoy seeing a more gritty, dark character in YA books, that gives the reader someone else to relate to other than the heroine.
Noah was an interesting other love interest because he opened up the question of what life might have been like if she grew up in the monitoring world, and she could see the idea of how simple and safe life would be like if she could only love someone like him.
Monitors sensing the dead. The stories in the videos. Her dreams. The task of finding the recently dead animals (grim but fascinating). The monitor training, such as building pyres, always having a weapon.
The ending felt very hurried, the last few pages seemed very rushed, and suddenly rather melodramatic. A chase, a death, a kick to the head (those are really, really hard to do). If not for that ending, I might have given the book full marks!
This book was definitely readable and enjoyable without having read the first book in the series which is definitely a point in its favour. Of course, being part of a series, it does have an open end
I can't definitely decide on a score, mostly because of that ending. I have put it as 4/5 on my Goodreads account, but it is really somewhere around 4.5. I would definitely recommend it. ...more
Through love, a witch begins to question all she has known. She has spent her whole life guarding the sea against the ancient god she believes to be eThrough love, a witch begins to question all she has known. She has spent her whole life guarding the sea against the ancient god she believes to be evil, a lonely task passed on through her family. But when she falls for a selkie maiden, she begins to wonder if she could have it all wrong.
This story was wonderfully evocative. I loved the vision of the witch, lonely on her island in the middle of the sea. The idea that we are brought up thinking things that might not necessarily be right is such a great theme, so many people are brought up by their parents to have such bigoted and discriminative views, but sometimes realise the wrongness of it. It is a bit of a lesson about judgement, but wrapped in such a beautiful fairytale that it does not feel preachy.
This tale really touched me, especially the bittersweet ending. This story is a must, not only for lesbian teens, but for everyone to read! An amazing piece of mythic fiction! ...more
This was definitely an interesting book. I felt that it was less about the ghosts, and more about how the people interacted with each other in these sThis was definitely an interesting book. I felt that it was less about the ghosts, and more about how the people interacted with each other in these situations. Their kindness, and, more often, their cruelty.
At the end, I felt like there was something I missed, it feels like there is some secret that you have to get. I felt a little unsatisfied. Maybe because I like my mysteries to be solved. The ghost story itself is never resolved, and even most of the human ones aren't either. I suppose that is a reflection of life. Also perhaps because it was from the point of view of one character, a rather innocent isolated one who didn't really understand the complex machinations of the others.
I did enjoy the juxtaposition of the sunny perfect seeming days, and the nights when everyone was stressed and angry. Everyone's personalities seemed to changeable, kind and childishly happy by day, rather spiteful and mean at night. In the end, it seemed that the people affected each other more than the house ever did. Perhaps that was the secret....more
Funny and dark at the same time, this is a great horror comedy about San Francisco and the end of the world. Starting off with a fascinating story ofFunny and dark at the same time, this is a great horror comedy about San Francisco and the end of the world. Starting off with a fascinating story of my favourite historical figure, Emperor Norton of San Francisco, we are soon introduced to a city where the hospital has a 'body tank' of preserved limbs they trade on the black market, chinese hopping vampires haunt the bus system at night, and to get cheap rent, you have to blackmail a serial killer into being your landlord.
This book is definitely suited to those with a darker, rather macabre sense of humour.
This book was originally published on the Errata Gothic webzine in the early 2000s (I think) and, according to author Poppy Z Brite "City of Apocrypha is one of my favorite novels of all time, a tale with as strong a sense of place as any I've read."
I wasn't there during that time (not having even started high school in the 90s), but I do feel a sense of nostalgia for the idea of it. If anyone was a part of the San Francisco alternative scene during that era, I would love to hear their thoughts....more