Ravenous Biblioworm's Reviews > Amber House

Amber House by Kelly  Moore
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's review
Jul 01, 2012

really liked it

Rating 3.5/5
I went into this book kind of nervous, expecting I wasn’t going to like it. It was completely different from what I though it was going to be. Absolutely different. This is a very good thing. In the book, it says the daughters of the author found the manuscript and they proceeded to work together to get this thing published. It’s a good thing they did cause this one does deserve a reading.

The beginning started out slow. Slow enough that I almost dropped the book to begin another, but I persisted thinking it would get better and it did much to my surprise. I expect this novel to be about the Amber House and what it can do or what is associated with it. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. It was about the women who has inhabited the house, but this wasn’t a bad thing. It was just different from I expected. The secrets of house began to paint the individuals in the book – from an actual memory or a character’s reaction to what they saw. Midway through I thought the book was well planned and thought it was a lot to place into a book. Well, it was done well. I’m kinda sad that this is part of a trilogy because I thought this one book was done well. Having other books may bog down the excellent pacing of this story, but we shall see. The climax of the story happened quickly and ended very rapidly. The tension (mentioned at the end of the synopsis and that tied to the overall plot of the story) was weak, almost not present until the very end… but there was tension elsewhere in the story from the relations between the characters.

Majority of the book dealt with Sarah and her relationships with the people around her: her family, the people she meets: Jackson, Rose, Richard… We go through the motions of Sarah meeting everyone and the motions of her dealing with her mother. Her mother is, in not pleasant words, a cold-hearted bitch. Even now, I’m trying to figure out why she is that way. There is a reason given but it was not presented in such a way that I completely bought it and then the ending comes and completely revamp the story that it seems irrelevant when in fact, I thought and believed that Sarah and her relation to her mother and her mother’s tie to Sarah and house was very much so important. Sarah’s relation to her brother, Sam, was cute. I did have an issue with Sam though. He’s supposed to be autistic and he doesn’t seem like it. He seemed like a spoiled child, not in an annoying way though. He doesn’t have any quirks that makes him stand out as autistic. I’m not an expert at autism but I have worked and been around autistic folks enough to know that their behavior is much more apparent and goes beyond the feigned tantrums and screaming. Sam was stereotyped into the archetype of autistic children. He could have just been an annoying spoiled kid and the story would have worked the same. There were a moment or two where the authors came close to depicting a real life Sam but it falters and the next paragraphed moved onto something else as if the authors didn’t know what else to do to make Sam any more real, make his autism more real, beyond the generalizations.

Jackson and Richard… the triangle. Before you roll your eyes, this was one book I didn’t scream in rage at the triangle. I did squirm at times and a few hisses did escape my lips, but overall, I felt the triangle wasn’t so bad. Maybe it was because of the words Sarah’s mother said to Sarah, that the boys weren’t initially nice to her because they liked her… why was she special when there were tons of other girls around? … why should she stand out? … and her mother proceeds to tell her that they (the boys) want something from her, which was true to extent. Okay before you say I’m just a bitter single guy, I’m not. But love is not a self less act. Love is very selfish. But that’s a different discussion. I could see the efforts the authors made to not make the relationship insta-love. They tried to build relations. The effort was there; it wasn’t perfect but they made an effort, much more so than most other YA books out there which puts this book above others. By the end, the almost crying boy whose heart is smashed (which I chuckled in mean glee) felt relevant and believable.

Even with all this, I felt that I didn’t understand Sarah well. I knew what made her tweak but I didn’t truely see her. She felt almost like a person who did things because she was cornered to do so. Basically, she doesn’t come off strong and independent. She isn’t someone who made decisions that altered events but reacted to things that happened to her. She only reacted to things and never proceeded to make a change herself with her own will and decisions. Which to me, made her a bit plain.

The plot was done well. I mean really well. I’m impressed with the details in chronology. Many things happened and at different times… making for an easily confusing story, but the authors do well enough to keep everything straight. Could it been better? Yes. Some flashbacks seemed irrelevant… I’m still grasping the point to some of them. Others were well done, which at first seemed pointless, but by the end of the story the linkage was there and apparent. The whole ordeal near the end made sense and sealed the deal for the plot, tying a nice bow for the story. It wasn’t ribbons and glam but enough to tie up all the loose ends. Which was okay because there is supposedly two other books in the series. The linking scenes were scattered throughout the book and I wished they were more poignant – more apparent - made with more emphasis in a real subtle way to punch me in the gut to think, wow, that was very good; they were presented randomly and at the end they seemed kind of weak and not as strong as they should/could of been. But I must reiterate the way everything came together was done very well. It was a lot of details and scenes to be put well together, especially when they dealt with time.

The prose was on the weaker side. There were descriptions throughout the pages but they were plain and sometimes irrelevant, or they just described what Sarah and others were doing. Details seemed to be placed into the story to make a certain person or point more interesting but had no ties to the story. After the first three chapters, majority of the story is told in dialogue and the descriptions tend to go on the vague. For example, Sarah is in love with a boat. Yet, I have no idea how that boat really looks like other than it’s made out of wood and really old. If she really cared about the boat I would expect some sort of details from Sarah, making it special for her and thus making readers know and understand just how special it is to Sarah.

Overall, I thought the book was an enjoyable read. Not what I expected but intricately built and entertaining. The prose was a bit on the weak side but it does the job well enough to get the plot moving along. The romance was done surprisingly well and I hope for the best in the next books. I will continue to keep an eye out for the next books.

Verdict: Most other people will enjoy and love this book. It’s a good read, but for me, not enough to put on my personal shelf.

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Ravenous Biblioworm Kelly wrote: "..."

I never got a message for your comment and just now stumbled upon it by accident. I will check out the sequel for sure. I'm intrigued and very much so impressed by the time stuff, one of the better (which I mean is very high up there) that deals with time and such.

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