***WARNING: This is a review of a sequel, so spoilers for the first book may crop up here. Read with caution. :)***
While I didn't like this book quite as much as the first, it's still a very awesome sequel and I'm very glad I picked it up.
The first thing I noticed is how differently this book reads from its predecessor. TNS had a little more tension going on because Stanton and Emily were being pursued through the whole thing, so they were always on the run. In this installment, there's no immediate danger (well, not right away anyway), so it feels a little more leisurely. I have to say that I really liked the fast paced feeling in the first novel, but it wasn't detrimental to this book that it wasn't; it's just felt different. Reading about Emily's obstacles as she tries to fit into high society was really entertaining though.
Also worth noting; if you really loved Stanton in the first one, don't be too upset but his absence in this sequel. He is around of course, but not all the time like he was in the first. I loved seeing him and Emily together in this one. They still bicker a little bit (how could they not?) but their relationship was pretty touching, even when Stanton was a jerk and kept all kinds of secrets from Emily.
And Emily! How I love that lady. If she were real, I would want to be her friend, because she's kind of awesome. Emily doesn't quite fit in society because she can't seem to conform to the standards that is expected of one who is 'high-class'. I think I relate to that because I'm really one of the most ungraceful people I know (not for a lack of trying). Not that Emily is ungraceful herself, but she doesn't fit into the norms of high-class femininity despite her efforts, and I can sympathize with that, to a certain degree. Like TNS, Emily is head-strong, resourceful and is not afraid to stick her neck out to get stuff done.
Stanton, on the other hand, wasn't quite as awesome. After everything that Emily did in TNS, I was frustrated that he didn't want her around more often to help out; he, and pretty much everyone working for him, kept whisking Emily off because she was a 'distraction', when she's proven (especially to him!) that she's quite capable of taking care of herself and helping out. I was frustrated with all the secrets he kept from her as well, but I eased a bit on that later on. I mean, what was he supposed to say, really? "Oh yeah, Emily, by the way, I totally had an affair with a crazy blood-thirsty sangrimancer, thought you should know." Or "I could have been cured from being burned, but I *haven't* because I'm actually this super-ultra weapon person in case of the end of the world." So while he secret-keeping frustrated me a bit at first, I was more than able to forgive him. So he was still kind of awesome, even if he bugged me sometimes.
In TNS, we didn't get to see how magic was used by others all too much. We mostly just got to see Emily and Stanton use animancy and credomancy (and a little bit of sangrimancy on Stanton's part). In THG, we see a lot more of how magic works in society, which was really neat.
The supporting characters were quite strong in this installment as well, especially Ms. Jecsiezka (is that how you spell her name? I can't remember.) At the beginning of the novel, I thought she was going to be a total bore, but she ended up being really sweet and caring towards Emily, and really did want the best for her and Stanton.
One other little thing that bothered me... what was with the whole Dmitri kissing Emily thing? I thought it was totally unnecessary. I am glad that it didn't devolve into some huge misunderstanding, or melodrama though. It happened, but I felt like there was no point to it.
To my knowledge, The Native Star was meant to be a duology, and I really got that sense from the ending presented here as well. This saddens me a bit because I really like these books. They're not DEEP or anything, but they're so much fun and I really enjoy them. I really hope that Hobson writes other books in this universe or something. Even if she doesn't though, I'll more than likely check out whatever she puts out next. :)
Final Verdict: This is a really great sequel. It's quite a bit of a different feel to it than The Native Star because there's no running from constant danger, but it's still a lot of fun watching Emily navigate in high class society. Emily is an extremely likable heroine, which makes her following her journey all the more enjoyable. Stanton is a lot less present in this installment than the first, and he did a lot of things that irked me, but by the end he completely redeemed himself. Watching him and Emily be in a loving relationship (but still remaining true to themselves) was really sweet. The minor characters were well done, especially Ms. Jecsieka, who I especially liked. :) We get to learn all about Emily's past in this installment, as well as her relationship with the Sina Mira, which was only touched on briefly in the first novel. The way the book ends and from what I've heard around the web tells me that this is the last book in the Native Star series, which makes me sad because I've really enjoyed these. I can just hope that Ms. Hobson comes out with more books in this alternate history universe. However, I'll take a look at whatever she comes out with next. :) ...more
**spoiler alert** I actually had no intention of ever reading this book. Yeah, I thought it had a (very) pretty cover, but I really dislike Paranormal**spoiler alert** I actually had no intention of ever reading this book. Yeah, I thought it had a (very) pretty cover, but I really dislike Paranormal Romance, for the most part. Especially of the YA variety. I've read all the Twilight books, and I honest to god despise those books (why I read them all is still a mystery to me actually) and it feels like any other paranormal romance I've TRIED to read just follows in Twilight's footsteps. The only reason I picked this up is because the publishing company Random House came to the bookstore I work at to present their fall-line up books back in October and very generously gave all the employees at the store free finished books. One of the books I got was Torment, and I wasn't going to read it without having read the first book beforehand. So, when I was at the library last, I picked this up. I'm not going to say I was disappointed, because honestly I expecting much. No, I got pretty much what I thought I had coming, and that was a very mediocre PR that manages to be a little better than Twilight, but honestly... that's not saying much.
The first thing that stuck out for me was the setting: Sword and Cross Academy seemed like it was supposed to be this gothic and spooky kind of place, but I found the whole set-up incredibly unrealistic. It didn't seem like a very strict penitentiary, or juvenile detention center if you ask me. The students/interns there had waayyy too much freedom. Very little of it rang true for me.
"Oh Michelle, just get past the silly unrealistic setting and just dive into the story!" Okay okayyy, but there was very little for me there too. I found the characters incredibly dull. Luce was so boring and bland and had very little personality. Her personality actually seems to be defined by Daniel. All she does is pine after him. Her friend Ariane had a little spunk, but I didn't find her particularly likable. She was too hung up on acting "weird" and "crazy" and it just kind of irked me. I found Daniel ridiculous. I know he was being super mean to Luce because of the curse and all that jazz, but it all reminded me too much of Twilight, how Edward was rude to Bella at first. Cam came off to much as looking like the "good guy" and the "right" choice for Luce, so his devolution in a bad guy felt a little jarring for me.
The pacing of the story also felt tedious. There's all this build-up to the mystery surrounding Daniel (which was all very obvious from the get-go, with the whole reincarnation stuff) but it took soo long for anything to REALLY start happening. All the action was packed into the climax, at the very end of the novel, which all felt very rushed. Also, the big reveal about the nature of Luce and Daniel's relationship was really underwhelming, but as I mentioned above, all this was really obvious to me from the get-go, so it was more a case of plodding through the plot, waiting to get to this big reveal than actually in anticipation for it. It's just unfortunate that the journey there was so blah for me.
This is just a bit of nitpick, but I also had a problem with all these angels hanging around a juvenile detention school. I get that Daniel was trying to find a place where Luce would NEVER find him, but what is everyone else doing there? Are they there because of Daniel? Also, of ALLLL the places you could be (the possibilities are endless!!) WHY would you want to spend time there? It just didn't make sense to me. I get that there wouldn't be a story if things didn't happen that way, but I hate that excuse for things like this. I know I know, I'm just being picky and naggy, but these were serious thoughts I had while reading this book.
Now, it's a little unfair for me to be even reviewing this book I think, because seriously, this is just not my genre. I know it's not my thing, and I always go in with a bit of trepidation. However, I am always open to books surprising me and maybe showing me something I might like, and I tried to have this kind of open mind for this book, but alas, it didn't really help it much. Something kept me going though, and I did make it to the end; it's a very quick read despite its page count. Am I going to read the sequel? Yes, but only because I already own it. I would've never seek this one out myself. I already own it though, and I got it for free, so eh, why not? Also, I read a review at calico_reaction and apparently Luce questions things a little more in the second installment, which is something I think I might appreciate.
Final Verdict: This book just wasn't for me, but I knew that going in. The setting just didn't ring true and none of the characters did anything for me. I'm just not invested in Luce's and Daniel's relationship, but that's mostly because I am so tried and tired of the love triangle, and the star-crossed lovers trope. So really, a lot of this is a case of "it's not you, it's me", but this book really could be a lot of light and fluffy fun. It's just not my cup of tea. I think this book will really appeal to fans of PR, as it pulls all the stops. I will be reading the sequel, but only because I already have it and because, based upon reviews I've read, I think it'll do some things that I'll like. I I guess we'll see. :) ...more
I picked up this book because back in 2008 I read one of Block's novellas (I really don't consider them novels -- they're really short), Psyche in a Dress, and I ended up really liking it. Since then, I've read Block's famous Weetzie Bat books and Waters and the Wild, both of which were fantastic little gems, despite their short lengths. Block is really good at making little books pack a big punch. When I saw Pretty Dead at the bookstore for a mere $4.99 (for the hardcover!), I just had to have it. However, while this book is definitely written in Block's distinctive style, it didn't quite hit the mark with me. It has some charm to it, but it didn't win me over like the other stuff from Block that I've read thus far.
I do have to give points for the book's writing though. Block has a very lyrical (I know that adjective is overused when commenting on writing style, but for Block's case, it really is -- it reads like free-verse poetry a lot of the time) that has some kind of magical quality to it. At times, I think she tries a little too hard to be hip and whimsy (ie. mentioning really obscure bands), it's still very enjoyable to read and has a nice rhythm to it, if that makes sense.
Her main character, Charlotte, is also very sympathetic. The 'tormented vampire' isn't exactly a new concept, but I did actually feel kind of sorry for the girl. She also really did seem to love her friend Emily, and I do love strong female friendships. Because of the length of this book, we don't get to delve deep into the relationship between the two, but I did really buy that Charlotte loved her, even though she does end up sleeping with Emily's boyfriend (which DID bother me, but more on that later.)
The other characters didn't do much for me. I relate to Emily a little bit, because what girl doesn't feel plain and wants to achieve the beauty and wealth that Charlotte seems to represent for Emily? Jared bored me, as well as the 'villain'.
While I really enjoyed the writing of the novel, and found myself liking the two female leads enough, what really made this book 'meh' for me was the plot. I'm sorry, but I can't root for a couple like Jared and Charlotte -- I do NOT think it's cool to sleep with your best friend's boyfriend, even if she is dead. I also got the impression that Jared and Charlotte didn't really talk, even when Emily was alive, so their sudden romance just didn't ring true to me, at all. Also, the 'Forrest Gump' sequence of the novel, where Charlotte goes over all the historic moments that her and the dude who changed her (can't remember his name) experience together, was really boring. Oh, I also didn't buy that Charlotte doesn't recall killing Emily. Just.. what? I get that you might want to forget killing your best friend, but that whole aspect of the novel seemed forced and tacked on for the sake of the plot; it just didn't make sense. And how was Charlotte transformed back into a human? Maybe I just read too fast, but that also didn't make much sense to me.
Final Verdict: This novel (novella?) has Block's signature writing style, which is really lyrical and whimsical and fun to read (though I find it a bit too 'hipster' at times), which is always a plus, but almost everything else felt lacking for me. The main protagonist was sympathetic, but everyone else was quite boring and just didn't do anything for me. Also, the plot felt really... lacking. I didn't buy into the major plot twists of the story. Now, usually with Block's novels, it's all about the characters. But because they fell so flat for me, I turned to the plot for redemption, so it's unfortunate it didn't deliver on that front either.
Overall, this novel was a miss for me, which is too bad, because I really do like the other stuff by Block that I've read. Because I love her so much, I'm still glad I read this, but I wouldn't recommend this for Block newbies; read the Weetzie Bat books instead....more