Review: The Replacement

May 23, 2011 at 4:00 am (2 stars, review) (, , , , , , , , , , )

The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

Pages: 375, paperback

ISBN: 9780857071385

Publisher:Simon & Schuster

Date Released: October 1st 2010 (first published September 21st 2010)

Genre: YA / paranormal / urban fantasy / faeries / romance

Source: library

Premise:

Mackie Doyle is the Replacement. Thought he lives in the small town of Gentry, Mackie comes from a world of tunnels and black murky water, a world of living dead girls ruled by a little tattooed princess. He is a Replacement – left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. Now, because of fatal allergies to iron, blood, and consecrated ground, Mackie is slowly dying in the human world.

Mackie would give anything to live among us, to practice on his bass guitar or spend time with an oddly intriguing girl called Tate. But when Tate’s baby sister goes missing, Mackie is drawn irrevocably into the underworld of Gentry, known as Mayhem. He must face the dark creatures of the Slag Heaps and find his rightful place – in our world, or theirs.

(Taken from Goodreads)

Buy it from: Book Depository / Amazon

Okay so I was a bit reluctant at trying this story out. On the one hand, the premise sounds awesome. I mean, the main character is a boy AND a changeling, which makes me really curious. On the other, I’ve heard some less than spectacular reviews about this book, and I was worried that the MC wouldn’t sound like a boy–like Ethan from Beautiful Creatures and Sam from Shiver. Thankfully, he doesn’t sound like a girl, but that might be the only good thing about him.
It seems that most of my problems with this book stems from the characters, so expect a lot of ranting about that.

From the very beginning, I found that the writing was awkward. It was purple, it was fragmented at times, and sometimes, it just didn’t make sense at all. It was as if the writer was trying too hard to craft her words. Underneath the awkwardness, I could see bits and pieces that stood out, but they were overwhelmed by the flower-y, tryhard lyrical prose. An example of the awkward prose:

“[Emma was looking] lonely as a lighthouse. Sad as a nun.” -pg 40

Now, I’m not sure that nuns are particularly sad about what they do. In fact, I would think that they’d be happy, since that’s sort of what they’re devoted to.

There were a lot of things to the story that left me confused. For starters, Mackie’s sister, Emma, somehow remembers the event of her brother being replaced. I forget what age she was supposed to be at the time, but it’s still highly unlikely that she would remember it. And on the very unlikely occasion that she were to remember it, why on earth would she believe it to be real, even several years after it happened?When I was her age, I was certain that I was adopted and that my parents were either royalty or faeries. Doesn’t mean that it’s true. It just seems unlikely that she’d believe it so much. It makes this whole issue so unbelievable, and every time Emma mentioned it, I rolled my eyes and scoffed, “yeah, right.”
And why does Mackie believe some random creep that tells him he’s dying? Especially when that creep corners him in a club. If I were Mackie, I’d think the guy was high or drunk, and I’d try to avoid him, not, y’know, believe him.

My biggest problem with Mackie was that he was a loner and a major emo, and blamed other for it. He blames his popular best friend, Roswell, for his awkwardness around people and his inability to effectively communicate. He blames his father for people having expectations of any kind of him, and the list goes on. Everything wrong about him, Mackie points fingers and shifts the blame to someone else. Which is ridiculous and disgraceful. Maybe if he actually tried talking to people instead of actively avoiding them, he’d have more friends and wouldn’t be seen as a freak (but actually, he does seem to be popular, despite what he says. I mean, he made out with the most popular girl in the school. I’d think that one has to be pretty high up in the school’s hierarchy to be able to do that).
And I really really really hate how Mackie constantly whines about the threat of being lynched for being different. Um… what? As far as I can tell, Mackie is not black, nor does he like in the 1940’s. People do not get lynched for having quirks, not in this era. He has nightmares and is told a story of a guy who was lynched for being different… IN GODDAMN 1930! Every time he mentions that, I just want to hit him with the book, and tell him to shut the fuck up and to stop being such a drama queen. I swear, 85% of this book is is Mackie angsting over how he’s different, and 10% about Tate, while the other 5% is actual plot.

Speaking of plot, for the most part, it doesn’t exist because of the ANGSTING. Most of the time, there’s severe angsting for several pages, with maybe a paragraph or two of actual plot developments, and then back to angsting. I wonder if Yovanoff knows that angsting =/= character development?
And because of the lack of plot, there won’t be much in this review on plot.

Now, back to the characters.

What the hell is wrong with Tate? Why is she so convinced all of a sudden that Mackie knows something–anything–about her sister? He’s never given her a reason to suspect him of anything, yet she won’t get off his back. She just keeps harassing him, and it makes me want to hit her with a mallet. She is such a disgusting character. She makes rude comments and sarcastic gestures towards girls who act ‘girly’ and not as ‘tough’ as her, as if wearing pink is a sign of weakness. She’s a horrible person, and from the beginning, her attitude made me hate her vehemently. And she constantly goes on to insult Mackie, while at the same time, demanding that he help her. Why should he, when she’s constantly demeaning him? This is a case of abusive relationships, but with the tables turned. And Mackie is weak against her, and is passive whenever she says something insulting.
Being tough doesn’t make a character strong. And I don’t see Tate as strong, just as a person who needs an attitude check.

And then there’s the relationship between Tate and Mackie that seemed to pop up out of nowhere.When Mackie told Tate that he liked her, I was surprised. Up until then, he showed signs of liking Alice–even going so far as to find out that she has a tongue ring, kekeke–, and hating Tate. And why the hell would Tate be such a horrid person to someone she liked? What had changed? They showed no romance, not even any friendship. It felt like Yovanoff suddenly decided that she wanted Mackie and Tate to be together, so she made them both do an about-face concerning their feelings. And um… what’s with the part where she gives him a handjob behind the churchyard, soon after? It didn’t do anything to further the plot, and hardly did anything to develop their relationship and selves. If I were an editor, I would have cut it.

I do have to admit, though, that I really liked the character of Morrigan and the other fairies. They acted so mystical, so all-knowing, yet so cryptic, almost like I imagine fairies would really be like. Their descriptions were fantastic, and I believe that the story greatly improved once they were introduced. In fact, I was almost my wit’s end and was thinking of dropping the book, just as the fairies were introduced.
The fairy lore that Yovanoff had created was fantastic, and it’s a shame that the rest of her story didn’t seem to follow suit.

So, no, I didn’t really like this story. I found it to be a waste of time. Yovanoff needs a better editor, and better beta readers, ones who know what a plot is, and that wangsting is NOT character development. At all. Ever.

Cover Art: 2 (why is there a light shining from his ass?)
Plot: 2
Characters: 2
Writing: 2
Level of Interest: 2

Total Rating: 2/5 stars

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Review: The Body Finder

May 21, 2011 at 10:24 pm (3 stars, review) (, , , , , , )

The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting

Pages: 327, paperback

ISBN: 978075537895

Publisher: Headline

Release Date: November 11th, 2010 (First published March 16th 2010)

Genre: YA / romance / mystery / paranormal

Source: library

Premise:

Violet Ambrose is grappling with two major issues: Jay Heaton and her morbid secret ability. While the sixteen-year-old is confused by her new feelings for her best friend since childhood, she is more disturbed by her “power” to sense dead bodies—or at least those that have been murdered. Since she was a little girl, she has felt the echoes the dead leave behind in the world . . . and the imprints that attach to their killers.

Violet has never considered her strange talent to be a gift; it mostly just led her to find dead birds her cat had tired of playing with. But now that a serial killer has begun terrorizing her small town, and the echoes of the local girls he’s claimed haunt her daily, she realizes she might be the only person who can stop him.

Despite his fierce protectiveness over her, Jay reluctantly agrees to help Violet on her quest to find the murderer—and Violet is unnerved to find herself hoping that Jay’s intentions are much more than friendly. But even as she’s falling intensely in love, Violet is getting closer and closer to discovering a killer . . . and becoming his prey herself.

(Taken from Goodreads)

Buy it from: The Book Depository / Amazon

So, the premise of this book is fairly cool. A girl who can feel the dead. What’s not to love? I’d been eagerly awaiting the Australian release of this book for months, and was rather jealous of everyone who’d read it in the US.

To start with, the writing. It felt awkward at times. For example, “The sound was getting stronger. Not louder, but stronger.” (pg 3). The redundancy makes the writing look dumb, and doesn’t help convey whatever message she’s trying to send across. It just looks silly. What makes it worse is that things like this litter the book, and gets really annoying. Another example, “The large mountain dwarfed the smaller ones that surrounded it.” (pg 40). What else can a large mountain do when it’s surrounded by smaller mountains? No need to state it like that.
In terms of writing, I feel that this book needs to be looked over by an editor a few times. The word “she” is used far too much for my liking. The start of about 80% of each sentence starts with the word “she”. It got to the point where I was close to proclaiming this a DNF.
Also, there were pointless paragraphs of useless bits of information or actions that didn’t add anything to the story. So much needed to be cut out.

There’s a lot of telling, and hardly any showing at all. It’s all “she did this, she felt that, he did something else, and as a result, she felt something.”  It felt weak and barely held my attention.

I’m really glad, though, that Vi’s parents played a part in this book, and have several scenes where they’re there for their daughter. If there’s one thing I hate about YA, it’s that oftentimes, the parents are absent, and the kids are left to their own devices. This was a nice change of pace, and it really helped with developing Vi’s character.

Concerning Violet, she is really creepily obsessed with her best friend. Even if she does like him, it doesn’t make her behavior alright. She gets mad if other girls like him, as if it’s something he can control.

Even worse, I don’t see what Violet sees in Jay. Jay deliberately tried to make Violet jealous, and was so sure that she liked him. Why?

“Because I did and there was just no way that you didn’t feel it too.” – pg 221.

Yeah, you read that right. Because he fancies her, he assumes that she would automatically feel the same. If only life were like that. And instead of being this nice guy, Jay is controlling, and doesn’t allow Vi any free will. He might have been seen as romantic to some, but I was sat there wondering what Vi saw in this controlling bastard. Sure, he might be doing what he does under the pretense of Vi’s safety, but at the same time, he’s enforcing himself as her protector, as if she needs his big, strong manly manliness to keep her safe. No, just no.

And I couldn’t help but notice that even before they became an item, Jay and Vi’s relationship was a really terrible one. Jay is supposed to be her best friend, yet he ignores her and ditches her on the slightest whim. He causes her internal pain by becoming rather chummy with other girls, and he knows what he’s doing the entire time! What kind of friend does that?

I’m not even sure what to say about her other friends. They tease her, anger her, are horribly bitchy to her and then expect her to laugh when they joke at her expense. Vi really needs to find new friends.

As for some of the positives about this book–fear not, there actually were things that I liked–the plot was really engaging. It was suspenseful and kept me on my toes. I wanted to know more about what was happening, and I wanted to become as immersed in this world as possible. Vi’s gift–or curse?–was really well done, though there were a few issues I had with it–like, what about the bugs that were to die each time someone stepped on grass, small stuff like that–but otherwise, it was planned out perfectly.

I’ll be definitely reading the sequel, and reviewing it too.

Cover Art: 3
Plot: 4
Characters: 2
Writing: 2
Level of Interest: 3

Total Rating: 3/5 stars

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Review: The Gates

May 18, 2011 at 12:00 pm (5 stars, review, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

The Gates by John Connolly

Pages: 272, paperback

ISBN: 9780340995808

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

Date Released: October 1st, 2009

Genre: Middle Grade / fantasy / horror / humor

Source: library

Premise:

A strange novel for strange young people.

Young Samuel Johnson and his dachshund Boswell are trying to show initiative by trick-or-treating a full three days before Hallowe’en. Which is how they come to witness strange goings-on at 666 Crowley Avenue. The Abernathys don’t mean any harm by their flirtation with Satanism. But it just happens to coincide with a malfunction in the Large Hadron Collider that creates a gap in the universe. A gap in which there is a pair of enormous gates. The gates to Hell. And there are some pretty terrifying beings just itching to get out …

Can Samuel persuade anyone to take this seriously? Can he harness the power of science to save the world as we know it? (Taken from Goodreads)

Buy it from: The Book DepositoryAmazon

After reading The Book of Lost Things  by John Connolly, I knew that I needed to get my hands on something else by him, and honestly, this didn’t disappoint. (By the way I totally recommend that you read it).

This book is written in the same vein of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe or Monty Python. Meaning, despite it’s genre, it’s full of that excellent British humour that I so adore. That wit, that sarcasm, oh, it just makes me excited just thinking about it. I just have to show you an example of the wit and hilarity:

“Schwell, the Demon of Uncomfortable Shoes; Ick, the Demon of Unpleasant Things Discovered in Plug Holes During Cleaning; Graham, the Demon of Stale Biscuits and Crackers; Mavis, the Demon of Inappropriate Names for Men; and last, and quite possibly least, Erics’, the Demon of Bad Punctuation. – pg 37

One bother I had with the writing was that there were footnotes, and while they were sometimes funny and often informative, they also distracted me from the text. I often found myself having to reread the previous paragraph, because the footnote sometimes deviated from the text that I forgot what was happening in the story.

What made this story even more awesome was the use of the Large Hadron Collider. I’m not sure if any of you guys remember all that buzz about two years, that it would be the end of the world if they operated it and tried to recreate the Big Bang. I’ve always been fascinated by physics, so the use of this as a main plot hole just rocked my socks.

A major part of this book revolves around the idea that Samuel is trying to get y while his mum is surviving a nasty break-up with his dad. His dad has moved out, and is living with another woman, and his mum is having a hard time dealing with it. It has a fresh and real perceptive on separation and divorce, and the way that it’s described–in the slightly childish voice of the prose–it makes the reader feel just how painful divorce is for the child, not just the parents.

The unlikely friendship between Nord–a demon who isn’t quite so demonic–and Samuel was just lovely. When they first met by an accidental mishap of physics, they really get to know each other, and their friendship grew into something big and believable.

My main concern was at the end of the book, when Samuel is confronted by a demonic personification of his worst fear: spiders. It would only have made sense in his growth as a character if he had killed the demon himself and conquered his inner fear. Instead, his friends kill it, while he’s just standing there, frightened. Apart from that, his character grew well.

The story was filled with action, and the kind of things that children and adults alike would enjoy reading. Each chapter is more interesting than the one preceding it, and you’ll find yourself unable to put this book down.

Cover Art: 4
Plot: 5
Characters: 4
Writing: 4
Level of Interest: 5

Total Rating: 5/5 stars

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Review: Preludes & Nocturnes

May 16, 2011 at 12:20 pm (4 stars, review) (, , , , , , , , )

The Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman

Pages: 280, paperback

ISBN: 9781563890116

Publisher: Vertigo

Date Released: December 7th, 1993 (first published 1989)

Genre: Adult / graphic novel / fantasy / horror/ mystery

Source: library

Premise:

A wizard attempting to capture Death to bargain for eternal life traps her younger brother Dream instead. Fearful for his safety, the wizard kept him imprisoned in a glass bottle for decades. After his escape, Dream, also known as Morpheus, goes on a quest for his lost objects of power. On the way, Morpheus encounters Lucifer and demons from Hell, the Justice League, and John Constantine, the Hellblazer. This book also includes the story “The Sound of Her Wings” which introduces us to the pragmatic and perky goth girl, Death. (Taken from Goodreads)

Buy it from: The Book Depository / Amazon

I had a love/hate relationship with this volume. It was more love than hate, but the hate parts were more of a slight annoyance, and will hardly hinder my decision to buy the entire series in the near future.

In this graphic novel, Gaiman beautifully crafts out the story and characterisation of the tormented Dream, a Sandman captured and imprisoned by a wizard for decades in a desperate attempt to call Dream’s sister, Death. This particular volume basically chronicles Dream’s search for his 3 tools that he lost to the hands of humanity during his imprisonment, and while not having much more plot than that, it held a lot of substance.

I found it amazing that Gaiman could have created such a story without using many words. I’m not really a fan of comics and graphic novels–I’m more of a word person than a picture person; I hate watching films, and if I end up finally watching one, it has to have subtitles, else I won’t have much fun–but this totally blew me away. I just couldn’t fathom the amazingness.

The artwork wasn’t too great, but then again, it was done in the ’80s. The art for comics has greatly improved since then. But I’d grown a sort of liking towards the artwork. It kind of fit the mood for the story.

On his quest to encounter his lost tools, Dream encounters various characters from the DC world, which perplexed me. I hadn’t realised at the time that Vertigo was an imprint of DC. And you know what? The inclusion of these DC characters hindered the story for me. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m a DC gal all the way, but it took the realism and originality of the Sandman world away. The only DC character that I enjoyed is one I shall not name so as to not ruin the surprise for you (plus, I’ve forgotten his name, heh). He had this amazing character development, and his inclusion was fairly amazing–though fairly gory.

I loved the inclusion of the last issue, “The Sound of Her Wings”, which features a cameo of Dream’s sister, Death. It shows this lovely brother/sister relationship, whilst being oddly philosophical.

Needless to say, I need to get my hands on the rest of the series, and so should you, fellow reader. Though, there are some fairly disturbing scenes, one of which is extremely graphic, featuring violence,  sexual violence and mind control, so approach with caution.

Art: 3
Plot: 4
Characters: 3
Writing: 4
Level of Interest: 5

Total Rating: 4/5 stars

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Review: Mercy

May 14, 2011 at 1:00 pm (4 stars, review) (, , , , , , , , , )

Mercy by Rebecca Lim

Pages: 280, paperback

ISBN: 9780732291990

Publisher: HarperCollins

Date Released: November 1st, 2010

Genre: YA / romance / angels / mystery

Source: library

Premise:

Mercy ′wakes′ on a school bus bound for Paradise, a small town where everyone knows everyone else′s business… or thinks they do. But Mercy has a secret life. She is an angel, doomed to return repeatedly to Earth, taking on a new ′persona′ each time she does, in an effort to resolve a cataclysmic rift between heavenly beings.

The first of a brilliant new series sees Mercy meeting Ryan, an eighteen-year-old whose sister was kidnapped two years ago and is presumed dead. When another girl is also kidnapped, Mercy knows she has to act quickly and use extraordinary powers to rescue her, even if it means exposing her true identity. (Taken from Goodreads)

Buy it from: The Book Depository / Amazon

The opening paragraph was interesting enough. It showed that the writing was clear and concise, but sadly, it was followed by this massive info-dump on what the main character looks like, and it turns out that she’s one of those “I’m pretty but I don’t notice it” characters, which makes me groan, since 90% of YA is filled with these characters. Then, she goes on to describe who I can only assume is a potential love interest, because he has far too many far-fetched descriptions like:

“He is tall, broad-shouldered, snake-hipped, flawless as only dreams can be. Like a sun god when he walks.” – pg 4.

To which I can only respond with WTF? what is with that? Why are all possible love interests described so weirdly. I don’t know. Personally, I find it off-putting, especially with odd descriptions like ‘snake-hipped’ and ‘sun god’. I don’t even know how to imagine snake-hipped. Anyone know?
Lim seems to have an interesting and poor way of describing people visually. They only seem to be described as beautiful and stunning, or disgusting and ugly and flawed. There is no middle ground, which makes me feel uneasy, a bit.
Also, the sentence structure was often repeated in a way that made Lim over-describe something. A couple of times per page, you can expect to see something like “Something COMMA synonym COMMA another synonym COMMA continue with sentence as normal.” It’s constantly used and feels unedited. It blocks the otherwise clear writing that could have made this book even more amazing, I think.

There are some parts I’m not so fond about. Pretty, popular girls are sluts and enemies, and the main character often describes other females with some fairly derogatory terms, such as bitch and slut. For the most part, Mercy is at the mercy (hehe) of a pretty, popular bitch who is a bitch just because she can. It’s fairly annoying and overused.

Now, those are the bad things. Onto the good.

The story is fairly fantastic. The premise holds so much promise, and it delivers. There are two major plot points: 1) that Mercy constantly finds herself in the body of a human, not knowing what she needs to do to be finally free and able to find the man she loves, Luc (or at least, she thinks she does) and 2) a girl had gone missing 2 years ago, and the girl’s brother is still out looking for her.

Both plot points intertwine, and at the same time, they feel completely independent of each other. The first is one that isn’t even close to resolution at the end of the book, whilst the second ends on a cheerful note. Both are executed quite well, in an engaging and exciting way. The story is the strongest part of the book, and it really shows and makes up for the writing.

This is a book that I really love, and I can’t wait to get my hands on the sequel, Exile, which comes out in early June, and the third book, Muse, which comes out late October. Isn’t that great? You won’t have to wait long for the next installment! This makes me giddy!

Cover Art: 4
Plot: 5
Characters: 3
Writing: 3
Level of Interest: 4

Total Rating: 4/5 stars


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Review: Bumped

May 6, 2011 at 10:30 am (2 stars, review) (, , , , , , , , )

Bumped by Megan McCafferty
Pages: 336, hardcover

ISBN: 9780061962745

Publisher: Balzer & Bray

Release Date: April 26th, 2011

Genre: YA / romance / dystopian / satire

Source: galley from the publisher

Premise:

When a virus makes everyone over the age of eighteen infertile, would-be parents are forced to pay teen girls to conceive and give birth to their children, making teens the most prized members of society.

Sixteen-year-old identical twins Melody and Harmony were separated at birth and had never met until the day Harmony shows up on Melody’s doorstep. Until now, the twins have followed completely opposite paths. Melody has scored an enviable conception contract with a couple called the Jaydens. While they are searching for the perfect partner for Melody to bump with, she is fighting her attraction to her best friend Zen, who is way too short for the job.

Harmony has spent her whole life in religious Goodside, preparing to be a wife and mother. She believes her calling is to bring Melody back to Goodside and convince her that “pregging” for profit is a sin. But Harmony has secrets of her own that she is running from.

When Melody is finally matched with the world-famous, genetically flawless Jondoe, both girls’ lives are changed forever. A case of mistaken identity takes them on a journey neither could have ever imagined, one that makes Melody and Harmony realize they have so much more than just DNA in common. (Taken from Goodreads)

Buy it from: The Book Depository / Amazon

So, this is supposed to be a satirical piece regarding teen sexuality, where teens are both encouraged (for example, Teen Mom, 16 & Pregnant) or chstised for having sex in the first place. This is the first thing that interests me. I’m a fan of satirical pieces regarding modern society.

I’d heard that the biggest problem that most people had with this book was the slang. And now I see what they meant. This book is almost impossible to understand at the beginning, and it hardly gets any easier from there. There are all these made up words, and abstract definitions of preexisting words.
There is a part where Harmony says “I’m able to understand approximately one in every five or so words that came out of Zach’s mouth.” I laughed so hard, and had to agree with that, but I’m so thankful that there were a few explanations for some of the terms–even if they come several pages after the word is first used.

The differing viewpoints of the sisters was annoying at the beginning. The changed constantly, were so short that sometimes they were even a page long at times. While they had very unique and differing voices, it was still hard to keep up with.
Harmony, I felt, sounded forced. She overused saying the same religious phrases, such as “Oh my grace!”, and the repetition didn’t sound realistic, just fake and overused. Melody, on the other hand, actually felt fairly realistic, even with the overabundance of slang. Her intentions and actions just felt right for someone in her position.

I didn’t like Harmony at all. For someone who tried to do so good in the eyes of God, she really turned into this massive contradiction. People with beliefs that ingrained into their mind don’t just change in an instant. In fact, even the average person doesn’t change so drastically. Harmony was the cause of all the conflict, and I couldn’t understand her actions, nor could I understand why Melody was so calm about it.

I found it bad that the entire basis of the story centered around the mistrust and secrets between two twin sisters. As a result, I had a hard time feeling the relationship between the two sisters grow, and, I couldn’t see much individual character growth. I suppose most of that came from the lack of sympathy I had for them, I simply couldn’t relate to them in any way.

Overall, this story didn’t stand out much to me. It felt bland and really fell short for me. I was rather disappointed, and think I might not bother with this growing trend of dystopians. The biggest disappointment was the language. How is anyone supposed to enjoy a book if they can’t understand it?

Cover Art: 4
Plot: 2
Characters: 2
Writing: 2
Level of Interest: 3

Total Rating: 2/5 stars

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Review: Blue Bloods

May 4, 2011 at 12:22 pm (3 stars, review) (, , , , , , , , , )

Blue Bloods by Melissa de la Cruz

Pages: 320, paperback

ISBN: 9781905654741

Publisher: Atom

Date Released: May 1st, 2010 (first published May 1st, 2006)

Genre: YA / romance / paranormal / vampires

Source: bought

Premise:

When the Mayflower set sail in 1620, it carried on board the men and women who would shape America: Miles Standish; John Alden; Constance Hopkins. But some among the Pilgrims were not pure of heart; they were not escaping religious persecution. Indeed, they were not even human. They were vampires.The vampires assimilated quickly into the New World. Rising to levels of enormous power, wealth, and influence, they were the celebrated blue bloods of American society.

The Blue Bloods vowed that their immortal status would remain a closely guarded secret. And they kept that secret for centuries. But now, in New York City, the secret is seeping out. Schuyler Van Alen is a sophomore at a prestigious private school. Suddenly, when she turns fifteen, there is a visible mosaic of blue veins on her arm. She starts to crave raw food and she is having flashbacks to ancient times. Then a girl from her school is found dead… drained of all her blood. Schuyler doesn’t know what to think.

Could those vampire legends really be true? Steeped in vampire lore and set against the heady backdrop of the rich, young, and powerful in the heart of New York City, Blue Bloods will be devoured by Melissa de la Cruz’s legion fans. (Taken from Goodreads)

Buy it from: The Book DepositoryAmazon

I’ll let you guys in on a secret. I love this cover. A few of my IRL friends have commented that it looks bad, and that it looks so typical of a YA book, but I don’t care. There’s something about it that just draws me to it. It was the main reason I bought this book (as opposed to the US version of this series) despite the frightening model on the cover of Keys to the Repoository. Go on, have a look. (For some reason, the model just looks creepy and sort of like a drug addict, thanks to bad photoshopping. A real shame, but enough about that. That’s for another post.)

The story and the vampire mythology in this book is actually pretty great. Melissa de la Cruz has managed to tie in the mythology of her creatures with actual historical events (mainly the lost Colony of Roanoke, which is just fascinating). I thought that the story was full of surprises, and it kept me on my toes for the most part. Each big reveal (yes, this actually has a plot! Hurrah!) was a massive omg moment tgat I totally didn’t see coming.

The characters were interesting. The way they interacted at some times felt genuine, but also, at the same time, the relationships and personalities seemed weak. Also, for the most part, they were walking cliches, which made me groan. The slutty, popular girl is evil; the hot jock is a potential love interest, as is the loyal best friend; and the odd girl out is the special girl who suddenly finds that all the guys like her.

The writing itself was interesting. Fast paced, mysterious and fun to read. But on the other hand, the amount of name dropping was ridiculous. Half the brands that were not-so-casually mentioned went right over my head. It was unnecessary and made the reading experience an uncomfortable one because I couldn’t recognise most of the terms used. I mean, I don’t care if a person shopped at Prada, carrying a Gucci bag and wearing Jimmy Choo shoes while smelling like Chanel #5. And I promise you, that out of the dozens of names dropped, those are the only ones that I recognised.
Also, it was written in 3rd person, so it skips between POVs of most of all the characters. Jumping from POV to POV is a massive pet peeve of mine, and feels a bit sloppy.

The last 50 pages or so were all over the place. Each character knew–or thought they knew–certain things, and it got to the point where things were getting annoying trying to separate truth from lies.
And what I hated most about this book: it ended completely unresolved. I was actually really disappointed. Though, I will definitely continue to read the rest of the series.

So, all in all, if you’re a fan of vamps or Gossip Girl, you’ll probably love this book. I really enjoyed this book, it was great for a light read.

Cover Art: 4
Plot: 4
Characters: 2
Writing: 2
Level of Interest: 4

Total Rating: 3/5

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Review: Pegasus

April 25, 2011 at 2:33 pm (3 stars, review) (, , , , , , )

Pegasus by Robin McKinley

Pages: 404, hardcover

ISBN: 9780399246777

Publisher: Putnam Juvenile

Date Released: November 2nd, 2010

Genre: YA / fantasy

Source: library

Premise:

Because of a thousand-year-old alliance between humans and pagasi, Princess Sylviianel is ceremonially bound to Ebon, her own Pegasus, on her twelfth birthday. The two species coexist peacefully, despite the language barriers separating them. Humans and pegasi both rely on specially-trained Speaker magicians as the only means of real communication.

But its different for Sylvi and Ebon. They can understand each other. They quickly grow close-so close that their bond becomes a threat to the status quo-and possibly to the future safety of their two nations. (Taken from Goodreads)

Buy it now from The Book Depository

There is just one thing I hate about McKinley’s books: they’re usually very very long and read like a text book for the first 100 pages or so. Even in this book, there were actual excerpts from fictional texts, info dumping everything about this fantastical world, making it a chore to read.
The text excerpts also had an odd feel to it, and awkward wording, In an attempt to sound old, the word “the” was spelled as “thee”, which was fairly annoying and grammatically wrong. Even if it was done like that on purpose (which, I’d rather it was, since I refuse to believe that any editor wouldn’t catch something as glaringly obvious as that), it was done in a really tacky and there was no reason for it whatsoever.

It was hard for me to properly visualise the pegasi in my minds. They were described as having hands on the end of their wings, which kind of killed my vision of pegasi for the remainder of the story. She made a completely new creature and used it here, it was hardly a pegasi anymore. But still, I enjoyed how she developed them and made this world a part of who they are.

The names bothered me a bit. A lot of them were so typical in a fantasy setting, like Fthoom, Glarfin, Lrrianay and Fgeelaa (how the heck do you even pronounce them?). It made it really difficult to remember the characters and their roles. Because there were so many characters with these sort of names, I kept getting them mixed up.

And finally, the ending was completely rushed. Everything happened in the last dozen or so pages, which was a frightening change of pace, considering the incredibly slow writing style. Plus, that there will be a sequel annoys me a bit. I didn’t honestly think that there needs to be a sequel. Everything could have been compressed into one book, if only those pages and pages of backstory and lengthy descriptions were edited out.

Now, onto the good parts.

If you don’t mind reading a long, almost plotless story, then you’ll be blown away by the amazing world-building. If there’s one thing I admire about McKinley, it’s her astounding ability to create this magical, perfect world. Everything about this world is so perfectly crafted. From the backstory (which, I admit was delivered in a slightly sloppy manner) to the landscape, everything was carefully thought out.

Now, while there is next to no plot in this story, there is a great deal of character growth instead. The whole story revolves around the friendship of a young princess and her pegasus, and over the years, they mature, they grow. It’s actually quite a lovely journey. You can actually learn a lot from this friendship.

So, I’m not sure if I hated this book or loved it. I suppose I’ll let the rating decide for me:

Cover Art: 5
Plot: 1
Characters: 3
Writing: 2
Level of Interest: 3

Total Rating: 3/5 stars

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Review: Briar Rose

April 7, 2011 at 12:31 pm (4 stars, review) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Briar Rose by Jane Yolen

Pages: 239, paperback

ISBN: 9780765342300

Publisher: Tor Teen

Date Released: March 15th, 2002 (first published 1989)

Genre: YA / historical / speculative fiction / fairytale retelling

Source: library

Premise:

Ever since she was a child, Rebecca has been enchanted by her grandmother Gemma’s stories about Briar Rose. But a promise Rebecca makes to her dying grandmother will lead her on a remarkable journey to uncover the truth of Gemma’s astonishing claim: I am Briar Rose. A journey that will lead her to unspeakable brutality and horror. But also to redemption and hope. A Tor Teen edition of the modern classic by critically-acclaimed author Jane Yolen. (Taken from Goodreads).

Buy it now from The Book Depository

This book is a very loose retelling of Sleeping Beauty. Like, very loose. A young woman must find out why her grandmother’s life revolved around the tale of Sleeping Beauty, and her research takes her to Poland, where she finds the truth.

To start off with, the pacing of this story was really hard to follow. At times, it was easy to get into, and then it would abruptly change into something dull and tedious, and I’d feel compelled to skip past it. Until the second half of the book or so, when we get the perceptive of Josef. It seemed as if Yolen had added in those unnecessary tidbits to lengthen her already short novel.
The writing itself is nothing impressive, was sometimes slow and unclear. It distracted me from the story sometimes, which is obviously not a good thing. It only started to get better–more fast-paced and intriguing– when it started following from the perspective of osef, instead of Becca.

That being said, the characters were quite flat and annoying, except for Gemma, when she was still alive. The dialogue of all the other characters was frustrating and made me groan. I really disliked Becca, she seemed like the worst, most boring protagonist ever. I couldn’t understand her thoughts most of the time, which was incredibly annoying.
I found the romance between her and Stan to be non-existent. It was disappointing, slow and lacked that special something, that spark that made it work. It just seemed like some boring, awkward friendship between two very awkward people who didn’t want a relationship. When they finally kissed at the end, I was bored and unimpressed, taking no interest in the event due to the very poor build up of their relationship.
The only character that I found to be tolerable was Josef, during the second half of the book. It was also the time that the story started picking up, when I finally found myself unable to put the book down. When Josef tells Becca and Magda his story and his survival in Poland during the war, and the story of Gemma, Becca’s grandmother, it was touching, and really played on my emotions. It was then that I really started to care for this book and for the characters. That was one of the two things that redeemed this book for me.

The other redeeming quality was the story in itself. It is a really sweet Sleeping Beauty retelling. That, combined with the Holocaust made it a really strong and emotional story that really hit close to home. Both my parents are from Poland, so I know so many stories about the war. Holocaust stories are something very special to me, I just love them. Stories like Night by Elie Weisel and The Book Thief by Markus Zusak really make me emotionally attatched to them, simply because I understand them. I’ve had grandparents and uncles and parents and family friends tell me every memory of the war that they have.
So, that made it a really good book for me.

If the story hadn’t have started so late in the book,  then I would have given this novel a rating of 5. But alas, it doesn’t get that.
I’d definitely recommend this story. Slow or not, it is a brilliant retelling.

Cover Art: 3
Plot: 5
Characters: 3 (would have been 1 if not for Josef)
Writing: 3
Level of Interest: 4

Total Rating: 4/5 stars

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Review: Lost in a River of Grass

March 27, 2011 at 12:00 pm (3 stars, review) (, , , , )

Courtesy of Carolrhoda Books

Lost in a River of Grass by Ginny Rorby

Pages: 264, hardcover

ISBN: 9780761356851

Publisher: Carolrhoda Lab

Date Released: March 1st, 2011

Genre/themes: YA / adventure / survival

Source: Galley from the publisher

Premise:

A science-class field trip to the Everglades is supposed to be fun, but Sarah’s new at Glades Academy, and her fellow freshmen aren’t exactly making her feel welcome. When an opportunity for an unauthorized side trip on an airboat presents itself, it seems like a perfect escape—an afternoon without feeling like a sore thumb. But one simple oversight turns a joyride into a race for survival across the river of grass. Sarah will have to count on her instincts—and a guy she barely knows—if they have any hope of making it back alive.

Lost in the River of Grass takes on the classic survival genre using one of the country’s most unique wild places as a backdrop. In this tense, character-driven thriller, Sarah must overcome prejudice and the unforgiving wilderness in a struggle to survive. (Taken from Goodreads)

Okay, so the first thing I noticed about this book was that it was written in first person present. Now, it’s really hard to pull off, mainly only if the story is very plot driven and filled to the brim with action, which, unfortunately, this book has neither. It starts off slow, which makes the first person present writing feel awkward and sluggy. Thankfully, though, it picks up a bit, but only several chapters later.

Personally, I’m questioning Sarah’s sanity and intelligence for ditching the safety of her field trip and going on a date with a strange, persistant guy she just met. Especially when he wants to take her out on a boat… in the middle of nowhere. Now, that just feels creepy, no matter how hot he may be or whatever.

I love the contrast between Andy and Sarah. They’re just so different from each other. He’s this cool, laid back country bumpkin who handles snakes and she’s scareed of all things creepy and crawly.

Sarah becomes incredibly annoying once they depart on their journey back, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as Andy’s frustration towards her gives just the right amount of comedic relief to lighten the mood of this otherwise serious story.

Their story of survival is really quite interesting. I’ve never really heard much about the Everglades and what goes on in there, but this reveals a lot of scary truths about nature.

Teapot, despite being just a duck, became my favourite character. The scenes where she’s described are vivid and provide enough detail to start to think of her as one of the main characters. Plus, because she’s such a sweet and innocent baby duckie, I had grown emotionally attatched to her. Everytime she was in danger, I was afraid for her safety.

Overall, an interesting story with great character development, but with a slow beginning.

Cover Art: 4 (do you guys see the gator hiding in the water? I didn’t see it until after I read it. It was awesome)
Plot: 3
Characters: 4
Writing: 3
Level of Interest: 4

Total: 3/5

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