For some reason, I don't read very many gothic novels, even though when I do read them I love them. Is it that there aren't many of them written? Are...moreFor some reason, I don't read very many gothic novels, even though when I do read them I love them. Is it that there aren't many of them written? Are they just not flashy enough to compete with their dystopian brethren? Or do I just not keep them high enough on my radar? This gothic beauty has been languishing on my TBR for a long time, and I'm kicking myself for not getting to it sooner.
Immortal had everything going for it - sweeping romance, eerie moors, haunting ghosts. In the first 100 pages, I was enthralled. Evie arrives at Wyldcliffe, only to be nearly run over by a dark, mysterious, and handsome (naturally) boy on a horse. It was a scene ripped from Jane Eyre, that gothic novel to end all gothic novels. I was anticipating the love story to come and finding the secrets hidden in the passageways of the boarding school.
Around the midpoint of the book I realized that I needed to adjust my expectations. Evie isn't really haunted so much as she experiences visions. She has odd dreams and keeps seeing a girl who looks like her lurking around the school, but she's never really frightened by any of it. This means, of course, that I was never scared as a reader, either. It took a lot of the fun out of Evie's trips down musty passageways and out onto the moor to meet up with Sebastian.
Sebastian, the boy from the horse, runs into her again late one night after Evie has snuck out to get some air. They begin to meet up nightly, and Evie falls in love. I guess. Well, she says she falls in love, but I certainly didn't get swoony over it. This was one romance that just wasn't for me.
You see, the book intersperses Evie's story with excerpts from Lady Agnes Templeton's diary from 1882 to 1884. Agnes, the daughter of the owners of Wyldcliffe manor, writes about her friend "S." who introduces her to the Mysticke Way. "S" is kind of a jerk, and as they unlock their mystical powers (witchcraft, though no one in this book wants to call it that), he gets worse.
SPOILER ALERT! (I think, though it seemed pretty obvious to me.) (view spoiler)[I mean, clearly, "S" is Sebastian, right? So I'm reading all about this douche from the past who treated Lady Agnes like complete garbage...and then I'm supposed to be happy that Evie is falling for him? Nope. Not going to happen. (hide spoiler)] (Carry on.)
The witchcraft bit doesn't really come in to play for Evie's story until late in the book, at which point she has to rush to understand her role in the history of Wyldcliffe much too quickly for my taste.
Once Evie finally starts to put together the pieces of the large and obvious clues in front of her, there are only a few chapters left. She has so much to learn and do, which gets rushed into a couple of scenes, only to build to a climax that is resolved so quickly and lacks so much (or any) confrontation that it feels too easy.
Instead of wrapping things up with a genuine conflict between Evie and some badass witches in this story, it seems like the author left that for the next in the series. What a letdown! I would have liked to have seen more of Evie developing her own powers and working with her friends. I would have liked to have seen her then use those powers in a manner that actually accomplished something instead of seeming to delay the conflict for a bit.
Still, I'm only really complaining because overall I really enjoyed the book. I liked the mystery of Lady Agnes and "S" and how it all tied in with Evie. I loved the setting (boarding school!) and the isolation of this old manor on the moor. I tore through this book - devoured it - to find out what would happen next. It was thoroughly engaging, even if it didn't turn out to be quite the book I wanted it to be.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I'm trying something different today. Instead of straight-up reviewing this book, I want to open it up for discussion. I'd like to try focusing less o...moreI'm trying something different today. Instead of straight-up reviewing this book, I want to open it up for discussion. I'd like to try focusing less on dissecting a book and more on analyzing my experience of reading it. Please join me in the comments!
Let me start by saying this - I liked this book. But I recognize that this book has a capital-H-History, particularly on Goodreads. I was not expecting to like this one because of some of the reviews I read by people who I find to be trustworthy.
Yet. It's YA! It's dystopian! It has a Bachelor-like competition! What could there possibly be not to like? So when I saw it available through the library, I figured I'd go for it.
And I liked it. Really liked it, in fact. The writing was breezy, the characters were interesting, the competition was heating up...so I started to wonder what the big deal was with this book. I texted my sister, who also loves a good YA dystopian, and asked if she could read it if I bought her a copy. She could, and she did. Hooray for discussion! We texted about it for a while (much like we had with Divergent), and I started to realize that though I recognized many of the book's flaws, I still liked the book. Thus the need for a discussion post.
The love story
Putting aside the bad names, I found America and Maxon to have good chemistry. A good love interest will carry me pretty far through a series (Twilight, I'm looking at you, kid), and I found the scenes with America and Prince Maxon to be delightful and full of the intense awkwardness of teen love. It's that kind of realism that I connect with as an avid YA reader, and it took me back to thoughts of my own first kisses and first dates.
My sister didn't find the America and Maxon love story believable, however. It irritated her that America could act like the horrible wench that undoubtedly makes it on The Bachelor every year, and yet we (and Maxon) were expected to not want her to get kicked off. She treats Maxon like dirt, is still in love with Aspen back home, and is staying in the competition for the food and money. She's in it for all the wrong reasons, but Maxon agrees to keep her around. In my sister's view, this makes America unlikeable and Maxon a fool.
I, however, appreciated that America was up front with Maxon. On The Bachelor, we only ever despise the girls keeping secrets about former boyfriends or illicit affairs with producers or who are in it for the wrong reasons but keep playing the game. America's not hiding anything - she admits she has feelings for an old boyfriend at home, and that she needs to stay to help out her starving family. That Maxon lets her stay, while also hoping to win her heart anyway, is a nice gesture. America is more real with him than any of the other contestants, so why not let her stay? In my view, Maxon was simply grasping at anything that had substance over superficiality. Does that really make him a fool?
Root, root, root for the...
My two major complaints with the book were that A) the world history didn't make a lot of sense and was thrown in without much context; and B) that there was no conclusion to the story. I would have liked more information on the growing conflict outside the palace walls (and sometimes within the palace walls). What do the rebels want? Who do we, as readers, want to win? I needed a cause to root for, other than just hoping that the poorer castes get a better life. I also really, really wanted to see (view spoiler)[the competition through to the end (hide spoiler)]. I felt the ending of this book did not have a natural or satisfying conclusion.
So yes, there were some problems, but I still found America and her situation to be a cool way to explore young love. It's fun to watch these strangers try to navigate their forced camaraderie, and discover that they both care about their country and doing what's right. I want to see what happens next, and how America deals with her feelings for Aspen and her growing feelings for Maxon.
Have you read this book? Did you find the love story believable? If you haven't read it, do you plan to? Let's talk!["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I didn't really know what to rate this book. On the one hand, I appreciated the journey these characters had to travel. The world was interesting, wit...moreI didn't really know what to rate this book. On the one hand, I appreciated the journey these characters had to travel. The world was interesting, with its rich history and mysterious curse. There was a lot of action. All good things.
On the other hand, I didn't really care about the characters as much as I cared about what would happen. I actively hated at least two characters - Evanjalin and Froi. Evanjalin (whose identity I guessed early on) was just awful, and treated everyone like little chess pieces she could move around at will to do her bidding without ever just giving them the benefit of the doubt. Both she and Froi do despicable things, and sorry, but I don't buy the "But I was abused and abandoned!" excuse. It's a terrible message for young readers, and a terrible message in general. We are all responsible for our own choices, so spare me the pity party.
Finnikin didn't seem to have much personality. Trevanion and Sir Topher were way more interesting to me. If this book had been about their stories, I may have liked it more.
The biggest reason I didn't give it more stars was that I just didn't get it. Ultimately, it's a love story, but between two people who never had much chemistry in my eyes. Parts of the plot were way more confusing than they needed to be, and the entire last quarter of the book is one long-winded wrap-up session where various characters tell us what had been happening in Lumatere. Great information - but I hated getting it all at once, when I'm trying to get to the end of the book. Couldn't this have been sprinkled in throughout somehow? It slowed the pace too much for me.
I just talked myself out of 3 stars. I don't think I liked this as much as I thought I did.(less)
This was a really fun and exciting dystopian. Callie is willing, in order to keep her brother alive and healthy, to rent her physical self to a high-t...moreThis was a really fun and exciting dystopian. Callie is willing, in order to keep her brother alive and healthy, to rent her physical self to a high-tech (and high paying) company that allows someone else to take over her body. She thinks she's signed up for a simple transaction - but things are never what they seem. She's quickly stumbling onto conspiracies and being dragged into illegal activities, as well as falling in love.
The action is fast-paced and electrifying. The world is well thought out, and I appreciate that Price explains just enough for us to get some history without having to ramble on at inappropriate moments or interrupt the narrative. The book flows nicely and I'm really looking forward to the sequel, out later this year.(less)
I read the first three books in this classic children’s series last week, both for Bout of Books 6.0 and my book club meeting over the weekend. It was...moreI read the first three books in this classic children’s series last week, both for Bout of Books 6.0 and my book club meeting over the weekend. It was refreshing to visit some books that people treasure from their childhood (I hadn’t read them before). I’ve been so caught up in reading the latest new releases that I was neglecting the classics!
This first book was so much fun. The Drew kids are sucked into a mystery while on vacation in Cornwall, England – searching for the grail of King Arthur! Does it get any cooler than that? I loved the battle of these three kids against several shady adults from the Dark trying to get their greedy hands on the grail, which will tell them how to defeat the rising of ancient and perceived lost King Arthur.
Helping them along the way is their great-uncle Merriman Lyon, who functions in a mentor type role. He guides them and encourages them as they discover a secret map and go in search of the deciphering tricks that will help them interpret it to find the treasure. The action ramps up nicely, leading to a final showdown that truly delivers and leaves us with plenty to look forward to in the sequels.(less)
The second book in the series is a marked departure from the first one. With the exception of Merriman Lyon, there are no common characters, and even...moreThe second book in the series is a marked departure from the first one. With the exception of Merriman Lyon, there are no common characters, and even takes place in a different town (and later, magical world). Given how much I loved the Drew kids in the first book, this was a bit disappointing.
This book I found to be confusing, with many jumps through time that left me uncertain from paragraph to paragraph where we were at any given moment. Will is on a quest to find six magical medallions, and he has to move through time and space to get them, often without requiring a whole lot of foresight or planning. Instead, he seems to just stumble upon them in overly convenient ways. There wasn’t a lot of tension as a result, since we just assume that the next part of the plot will deal with him getting the next medallion, and that he will do so with some ease.
The good thing to note is that the first two books do not need to be read in order, since they are so different, but they both provide vital plot elements for the third book so must be read before moving on in the series. The other good thing is that the third book was much more entertaining than this one.(less)
The third book in the series combines the Drew children with Will Stanton, and they are tasked to return to Cornwall to retrieve the scroll lost in bo...moreThe third book in the series combines the Drew children with Will Stanton, and they are tasked to return to Cornwall to retrieve the scroll lost in book one and the grail that has newly been stolen by the Dark forces. I was very happy to see the Drew kids back in the story, as they are light, comical characters that are a joy to read.
This book zips along in pace, and is the shortest of these three books at only 144 pages. The kids are again battling the Dark, trying to uncover the mystery of who stole the grail, where it went, and how they can get back the scroll that disappeared into the sea the last time they were in town. The magic of the second book comes alive in this book, with eerie scenes playing out in the streets and lots of mysterious interactions with undersea creatures and the strange Greenwitch.
I absolutely intend to finish the last two books in this series, as overall it was a lot of fun to read. Though I found Will boring, the Drew kids are so cute and clever! I want to see where the grail takes them next and whether the Light can succeed in bringing King Arthur back to life. (less)
It was great to come back to this series after so much time passed since I read book 2. I thought Lauren Oliver did a great job of tying up loose ends...moreIt was great to come back to this series after so much time passed since I read book 2. I thought Lauren Oliver did a great job of tying up loose ends and bringing the story to a natural and authentic conclusion. I loved that there is room for this story to live on - we can imagine lots of different scenarios in which these characters continued to move forward - but we still got an ending that should satisfy most readers. (less)