30 June 2014

Otherbound

Author: Corinne Duyvis
Rating: 2.5 / 5 stars
Verdict: Bury

To sum up my opinion of this novel in one word: "ehhh..."

The premise is definitely unique.  I have read novels about people who can possess other people.  I have read novels where ordinary people get whisked away into a fantasy world.  But I haven't read a novel about a boy in the real world who (uncontrollably) sees through the eyes of a girl who lives in a fantasy world.

I was 50 pages into Otherbound before I even realized why Nolan was even significant to the story, and by then I was already kind of bored with his life as nothing ever happened to him except that he took pills to prevent seizures he didn't even have and he fell down and puked a lot because every time he closed his eyes, he was whisked away into Amara's world.

Now while Amara's world was definitely the more interesting story of the two parallel tales in Otherbound, it got confusing when it kept switching back and forth between her story and Nolan's.  The characters were interesting enough (at least in Amara's world), but the story got lost with the narrative always switching back and forth between Amara and Nolan, and then we would be in one part but paying attention to the other's story (which was denoted by bold font).  Half the time, I wasn't even sure who the heck was in control of whom.

While Amara's story started off interesting enough - she has powers to heal and has to protect the lost princess Cilla - my interest in her story also faded as the novel went on.  I think Duyvis sort of had an idea of what she wanted to do with the plot, but it became entangled as it developed through the novel.  The addition mages and people who lived in one world but could possess others in another realm grew too convoluted to follow, and I am not 100% sure if all of it was even explained (such as how Nolan had this power to possess another, and how he had magic in a non magical world.  Also, the ability to heal still confused me, and Cilla's whole story was still kind of a mystery at the end as well).

I don't know.  My thought is that there are so many novels out there in the young adult genre right now that I would rather read the ones that don't make my head hurt trying to get through them.  Now, don't get me wrong, some authors can pull off the multiple storylines, even when they are overlapping.  But I don't think it was Duyvis's strong point.

29 June 2014

World After

Author: Susan Ee
Series: Penryn & the End of Days #2
Rating: 1.5 / 5 stars
Verdict: Bury

I have to say, I am rather disappointed with myself that I couldn't get through this novel.  I got to page 168 and just couldn't muster the enthusiasm to carry on.  After seeing all the 4 and 5 star reviews on Goodreads, perhaps I am the odd duck out, but I just couldn't do it.  But perhaps it is because I couldn't get through SYLO which I was reading at the same time as World After, and perhaps some of its stink rubbed off on this one through osmosis.  Who knows.

Angelfall didn't blow my mind, but it was a different approach for a young adult novel than was it typical in the state of literature in today's day and age.  Some of its novelty, however, disappeared with World After.  It feels like a lot of the same plot elements of World After (for example. Penryn is worried about her crazy mom again while searching for her younger sister).  She is also still obsessing over the angel Raffe, which is just a little too weird of a romantic angle for me, especially since I am not a big fan of YA romance.

The pacing of World After seemed slow and it doesn't seem like a whole lot of significance has happened from the beginning of the novel to the point where I quit.  And I lost interest rather quickly when I started this novel.  The most interesting part of Angelfall for me was Raffe, and this novel follows mainly Penryn, who really isn't all that significant to me.

Compared to most of the other reviews for this novel however, maybe I should be ignored on this one.  Maybe I will revisit this series again once it is completed to see if I change my mind the second time through when I haven't been reading other bad books simultaneously and when I am not as distracted by life work.  But for now, I think I will part ways with Penryn & gang and continue on with some new series and complete some other ones I am more interested in.

Storm

Author: D.J. MacHale
Series: The SYLO Chronicles #2
Rating: 1.5 / 5 stars
Verdict: Bury

While SYLO was nothing special, it at least ended on an interesting premise that allowed Storm to improve upon which MacHale delivered in the first novel.  Unfortunately, Storm was even worse than SYLO and by the time I reached page 230, I could stomach it no longer.  I hate leaving books unfinished, but I have been battling with Storm for the better part of four days.  I kept waiting for Storm to impress, but instead it continued to go downhill.

While the writing and dialogue in SYLO seemed rather juvenile, Storm was even worse.  There are parts of this novel that felt like a ten-year-old wrote the story.  Perhaps that comes from adults trying to write young adult stories and overcompensating, but the writing degraded so much that it actually became laughable.  The entire fight they have over Boston versus Nevada was absurd as well.  I double checked on a map, but I was pretty sure to start that Boston was north of Nevada anyway (which it is).  This part irritated me to no end, and it was far from the only bone I had to pick.

The characters never developed, Olivia was so obnoxious I was hoping someone was going to pop her in the face.  And the "love triangle" between Olivia, Tori and Tucker was just as annoying.  Kent and Joni were annoying too, which did not really leave one single likable character in the novel.  The entire plot is so far fetched and underdeveloped that it was hard to follow (SYLO, army, navy, air force)... and where the heck are all the people?  Even though they were on an island for all of SYLO, you still would have thought they would have had an inkling of an idea of what had happened.

I tried to enjoy this series, but I couldn't stomach it.  It was definitely written for preteens and not for teenagers and older people who enjoy reading in the young adult genre.

27 June 2014

Days of Blood & Starlight

Author: Laini Taylor
Series: Daughter of Smoke & Bone
Rating: 3.5 / 5 stars
Verdict: Buy

Days of Blood and Starlight in no way suffers from a full sophomore slump, but picking up where we left off with Daught of Smoke & Bone, I was not as mesmerized by this second installment in the series.  While (most) of my favorite characters return, we are introduced to a lot of other characters as well, and the narrative becomes a little convoluted and confusing in a few points.  Now, if I were reading the series over again after completing it in its entirety, I have a feeling this would no longer be an issue as I would be completely familiar with them all.  But the shear mass of plot and characters that Taylor throws our way in Days of Blood & Starlight is a little suffocating.

This novel always doesn't carry that steady, seemingly perfect pace that the first novel did.  It drags on in a few points and I felt it could have been trimmed down in some areas that were not as exciting, suspenseful, or seemingly important as others.

The plot and the number of characters, however, were my only two main issues with the story.  We find Karou and Akiva on opposite sides of this mounting war, each under the command of a terrifying leader.  And then we are introduced to Ziri, who makes Karou and Akiva's relationship even more complicated that it already is by adding another possible love interest for our otherwise preoccupied heroine.

Days of Blood and Starlight felt a bit like a filler, a novel to bridge the gap between Daughter of Smoke & Bone and was preludes to being an action packed, blow your socks off Dreams of Gods & Monsters.  But while the pace seemed to lag in certain areas, it still contained enough rich narrative to stem the tides and carry me through to the next novel, which I assume will be the final book in a trilogy.

25 June 2014

Elsewhere

Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Rating: 3 / 5 stars
Verdict: Borrow

Elsewhere is different than any other novel I have read before.  I've read other books about the afterlife, the most recent that comes to mind is Lauren Oliver's Before I Fall, but they all stem from the same philosophy of ghosts, where it is the spirit or the soul of someone who stays around after they die because they are still tied to the world for one reason or another.  Zevin takes a different spin on what awaits after life and includes reincarnation so beautifully you kind of find yourself hoping that Zevin's world is what awaits for you in the end.

First, you start out on a cruise ship.  Right there, I am hooked (unless this after life cruise ship is on the Carnival cruise line... then perhaps I would not be so excited).  Then, our hit and run heroine, Liz, finds herself greeted by a grandmother she never knew on an island simply called Elsewhere.  Still trying to get used to being dead, Liz spends her days in her pajamas (again, completely sold!) and watching down on her family still alive.

Elsewhere explores Liz's difficulty with letting go of her previous life and adjusting to the after world, especially when she finds out there is a forbidden way to communicate with the world and her family she left behind.  While hardly much happens in Liz's afterlife (after all, she is stuck on an island), it's the emotional journey that matters in Elsewhere.

The narrative of the novel was rather juvenile compared to the content of the story (while Liz dreams of growing old, getting married and having kids and spies her parents having sex, she also have a fight with Owen where they both sound like 10 year old kids, and they make up irrationally fast after that).  Some of the elements were hard to believe (the fact that every dead person passes through Elsewhere, and most stay for quite a while, but Liz really only meets a handful of people through her sixteen year stint there), and others were conveniently ignored (if everyone just works doing what they love, then who manufactures things such as cars and diving gear - and where do the materials come from - and how is gasoline provided for boats and cars, and what about the issue of bowels, since they still eat (and where is food grown and processed)?  The little details urked me, but I tried not to read into them too much as I realize this novel is written for a younger crowd.

Despite all this misgivings I had with Elsewhere, I still enjoyed the novel.  For a young adult novel written with a middle school vocabulary, it still have rather deep roots and I pulled some rather elegant quotes from the story.  One I will not likely add to my private library, but one I would not be opposed to reading again if I ever ran out of new material to try.

22 June 2014

SYLO

Author: D.J. MacHale
Series: The SYLO Chronicles #1
Rating: 3 / 5 stars
Verdict: Borrow

I never finished the Pendragon series by MacHale, but it was a series that I started a few years back and wish to revisit.  MacHale writes more on a pre-teen level than a young adult novel, so I reminded myself of that when I started into SYLO.

SYLO is an interesting, if not a bit confusing, of a novel.  It starts off following a young man sitting on the bench in his high school football game, terrified he will be called into action, when suddenly one of the players on the field drops dead without a warning.  This kid may be the first to die on this little island town, but he won't be the last.  The novel then follows as our main character Tucker tries to discover just what happened to his teammate.  Enter Ruby, and things become even more complicated, especially as the military/government agency of SYLO takes up residence on the island and quarantines it due to the deaths piling up.

While the plot of SYLO itself is a bit sloppy and the novel was a little difficult to muster the strength to get through, the ending is certainly promising and the reason I am ready to start Storm, the next novel in the series.  SYLO opens itself up to a rather radical dystopian/post apocalyptic world and MacHale introduces a lot of unexplored and unanswered questions at the end of the novel that promise excitement and adventure for our rag tag team of heroes.  SYLO felt like one long, over extensive build up for Storm, without a lot of the character development you typically expect from slow first novels in series.  Now, if Storm ends up subpar as well, I will not waste my time further with the series, but SYLO at least shows promise at the end if you can tolerate the plot and the dumbed down narratives for the younger crowd until then.

21 June 2014

Moon Called

Author: Patricia Briggs
Series: Mercy Thompson #1
Rating: 2.5 / 5 stars
Verdict: Borrow

Moon Called is Twilight for grown ups, without the horrible dialogue and love triangles.  It's Sookie Stackhouse without the sex and love triangles.  It is vampires and werewolves and coyotes, oh my!  And for the first part of the novel, it is genuinely intriguing and interesting, a gripping main character that sucks you into the story with a fresh and perhaps a bit saucy narrative.

Unfortunately, as the new character shine wears off Mercy, the plot is not there to pick up the slack.  The characters and character relationships are a little convuluted with the introduction of different clans of werewolves and clans, and the kidnapping of Adam's daughter is not a plot with enough suspense and mystery to carry the novel that otherwise just finds these characters traveling about talking to different paranormal people.  While these vampires and werewolves are interesting enough, they are not enough to sustain the book, and thus the further I got into the novel, the less interested I became.  By the end of the novel, when we solved the disappearance of the young girl, I had no emotion over the result, where in a good novel I most certainly would have.

It's hard to put a finger on the point where this novel headed south, but it had more to do with plot development than anything else.  Briggs developed the characters as a foundation for a fantastic series, but the choice of story and conflict was weak in comparison and could not hold up my expectations through the novel.   A series I do not think I will continue, but fans of the paranormal, especially vampire/werewolf series, may enjoy as I have learned that most of these types of novels are weak in plot but people enjoy them nonetheless.

19 June 2014

Elixir

Author: Hilary Duff
Series: Elixir #1
Rating: 2 / 5 stars
Verdict: Bury

Elixir is your run of the mill, generic young adult paranormal romance novel.  The story is told from the first person POV of a teenage female, so no surprise there.  Her best friend is pining over her, but she choices instead to fall for the mystery guy that is hiding in her closet after breaking into her house.  Sound familiar, fans of Twilight?

The writing, while no bad, is definitely sub par.  There is nothing exciting or intriguing about Clea, except perhaps for her rather unique name.  She is a spoiled, rich girl of two rather important people and has some serious daddy issues after her father mysteriously dies in Brazil.  At seventeen, she is already making money as a photojournalist under an alias, even though she does not seem to have any formal education or proper training.

Elixir follows Clea as she reincarnates life after life, while the man of her life is immortal and watches her die over and over again as different people through different generations.  The plot is nothing unique, and the delivery of the story does nothing to make it stand out against the thousands of other young adult novels in its genre.

While not annoying enough for constant eye rolling, i.e. I was able to finish the novel without vomiting uncontrollably, Elixir was more of a speed read, gloss over story while I worked out on my spin bike or watched TV.  The plot was anything but engrossing, and when I reached the conclusion, I honestly could not have cared less what happened.

Elixir is the first in a series, but it is not one I will continue.  Fans of Twilight, Evermore, and Fallen will probably enjoy this "literature", but for fans that like more substance and plot than light romance, go ahead and skip right over this one.  Sorry, Lizzie Maguire, but I tried.

18 June 2014

Salvage

Author: Alexandra Duncan
Rating: 2 / 5 stars
Verdict: Bury

This novel is neither thought provoking, thrilling or surprising as the synopsis boosts.  I have racked my brain and the best word I can find to summarize this book is boring.  Salvage is also pushed as a feminist sci-fi novel, but I hardly found Ava as a strong female lead character.  If anything, I found her naive and too trusting of strangers.  In both worlds - both on her ship and then later on Earth, she quickly becomes entangled with teenage males.  And while I would not exactly call Salvage a romantically strong novel, it certainly has the ties to the genre.

I feel like all the elements were there for Duncan to deliver an astounding novel, but all we got was a book of blah.  The novel is a whooping 520 pages long, but at the conclusion of the novel, I am hard pressed to tell you what exactly, if anything, really happened during those pages.  There is no action, there is no suspense, there is just a lot of awkward language (so sister, so so so so so), a lot of confusion on Ava's behalf, and a lot of moving around trying to fix things.

It is difficult to really dive into this novel during a review since there did not seem much of a plot to dive in to.  When Ava lands on Earth, she is searching for her aunt.  Then, she decides to search out for Luck as well.  Ava is never happy with what she has, but she never really does much about it either.  Salvage is a classic example of where I was drawn to a novel by its lush cover and its space opera ties, and was deeply disappointed by the lack of the content.  Given that it is young adult sci fi, however, I guess I should not be surprised by this face anymore.

15 June 2014

Rise

Author: Anna Carey
Series: Eve #3
Rating: 2 / 5 stars
Verdict: Bury

I tried to give this series the benefit of the doubt, and as Once showed potential over Eve, I even dare to say I had high(ish) hopes for Rise.  Unfortunately, Rise was the worst novel in the trilogy.  Ironically, I finished this novel about the princess determined to undermine her father on, yes, Father's Day.

One of the fundamental problems I have with Rise is that Carey never really went into character development throughout the series.  Instead, she chose to focus on the love/young romance element between Caleb and Eve for the most part.  While I have gotten used to this in recent young adult novels, it hinders Rise greatly as a lot of the events in this novel should have been highly emotional, but fell completely flat.  I never connected with any of the characters in the series, so as Rise deals with trials and tribulations for a lot of them, I found myself skimming over most of that part of the plot since it had no effect on me.  Unfortunately, that didn't leave much if any of the plot remaining.  Add to that fact that Eve showed little to no of her own emotion through the narration, and you were left with a very disconnected narrative and plot.

Even if I could get past the emotional disconnect, the plot could not carry the novel either.  Eve spends the entire novel obsessing over Caleb's death, and shows her naivity in so many ways through the story that she becomes rather annoying and hard to read.  Then the remainder of the plot left much to be desired, as it felt like sloppy seconds of the same retelling once again.  It is difficult to say that Rise really had a plot; my interest level in the novel dropped so low that I hardly paid much attention even by a third of the way in, and by the end I was just glad I finally finished (the happy ending note that Carey added at the very end must have been a last ditch effort, but it was just an insult at that point).

While Once showed a little bit of promise for the series, overall the entire trilogy is not really worth your time unless you have absolutely nothing else to read.  I have a feeling the copy of Eve I bought on clearance will be graciously donated to the library before the end of the year.

11 June 2014

Once

Author: Anna Carey
Series: Eve #2
Rating: 3 / 5 stars
Verdict: Borrow

When I finished reading Eve, I was not sold on the series and entirely sure I would continue with the next novel.  While I cannot say that I'm glad I decided to continue the Eve series, Once was definitely a step up from the first novel in the series.  Granted, it wasn't anything spectacular and nothing truly worth writing home about (there wasn't a single quote from the novel that smacked me in the face as impactful or elegant).  But it was definitely better than Eve.  Carey took the elements that worked in Eve and focused on them in Once, letting the other main elements from the first novel play second string.


Eve is still very much focused on Caleb, but now that she is in the all female society, while her thoughts may revolve around him 24/7, not all her actions do, which was a nice repretive from the vast majority of Once.  Eve gets to branch out a little and re-explore who she actually is without completely defining herself by her love for Caleb.

Similar to the start of Eve where she leaves the all girl school to risk it out on her own, Eve once again leaves the all women's society (I guess she is just too damn boy crazy to know any better) in hopes of finding Caleb safe and alive.  She winds up where she feared in Eve, stuck in the City of Sand at the mercy of the king, but the truth behind why he really wants her there throws her entire world for a spin.  The plot towards the end began to drag a little, and I found myself skim reading more and more, but it was still more exciting than the first installment in the series, and the ending was interesting enough that I am willing to read the next installment.

Similar to another sophomore novel in a series, I felt that in a lot of ways, Once was the same basic elements/fundamental plot lines that Carey told in Eve, even following the same pattern on a lower level.  Yet, I feel like Once was a do over of Eve, and that Carey managed to improve of what she had to start.  While I have a feeling Rise will feature the same basic elements once again, I can only hope that I will enjoy the next installment even more, just as I did here.

08 June 2014

Daughter of Smoke & Bone

Author: Laini Taylor
Series: Daughter of Smoke & Bone #1
Rating: 4 / 5 stars
Verdict: Buy

Wow, what a twisted, unique and fantastical world Taylor made.  Karou manages her life between two very different worlds.  In one life, she goes to private school with best friend Zuzana in Prague.  In the other, she runs errands for Brimstone, collecting teeth from people and animals, and using Brimstone's doorway to travel across the global for said errands.  Not only does Brimstone repay her with a small flat in Prague, but she gets paid in magic beads as well, which she uses to seek revenge on her cheating ex-boyfriend.

Then strange things start to occur around the globe, and sightings of creatures seemingly like angels are spotted marking doorways with hand prints, including Brimstone's.  Add to the fact the secret hiding behind the door with creatures Brimstone has always refused to reveal for her, and Karou's life becomes more and more complicated.  Then the inconceivable happens, and her life is thrown upside down with her two worlds split apart.

Enter Akiva, who is somehow linked to these mysterious hand prints, and Karou gets more than she bargained for on her quest for answers and to reconnect the two halves of her lives.  As Akiva's story unfolds, Karou finds out they may have more in common than she ever would have guessed.

Daughter of Smoke and Bones is unique and full of intrigue as we navigate two worlds full of magic, mythical creatures, and monsters.  Taylor does an excellent job of developing the characters, even the characters introduced long into the novel.  I never could have guessed where Taylor was taking the plot, but it wasn't a surprise twist right at the end that was so far out of left field that it was difficult to swallow.  The progression of the plot works well and plays out with increasing pace and suspense.  By the end, while a large number of the mysteries are revealed, Karou still has a long mission ahead, and I am eagerly ready to dive into the next installment of the series.

Angelfall

Author: Susan Ee
Series: Penryn & the End of Days #1
Rating: 3.5 / 5 stars
Verdict: Borrow

Angelfall certainly carries a unique plot for today's state of literature in the young adult genre.  While following the dystopian - or rather, post apocalyptic to be more precise - trend of current series, Ee approaches the genre from a very different angle with roots that remind me of Supernatural.  Just weeks prior to the introduction to the novel, angels descended from the skies and wiped out the majority of humankind, bringing about a biblical styled apocalyse.  None of the humans know why (and maybe not even the angels themselves), but one thing remains certain - humankind now lives in fear not of each other but from future attacks from the angels.

Enter Penryn, our narrator and main character.  With a crippled younger sister and a mother who was only mentally there half the time even before the end of the world started, Penryn has to navigate the gang run remains of her town to help provide food and shelter for her family.

Enter Raffe, an angel who Penryn enters an unlikely alliance with when the angels take her sister.  Determined to find her sister and return her to safety, Penryn sets off to the angel stronghold on Earth with Raffe when he tells her that this is where her sister will be held.

As a young female, Penryn is, of course, hit with thoughts of attraction to this angel, though it is hard to tell if he is her guardian angel or the likely demise for her in the end.  The romance in this novel is flimsy at best and rather creepy, but it remains on the back burner for the majority of the novel so it is not too overwhelming.  The plot suffers a bit from pace in the middle, and it was difficult to maintain interest for a bulk of the center of the novel, but Ee makes up for it with action and suspense towards the end of the novel, which left me wondering where Ee would take the story in the next novel in the series.

Ee creates a creepy and rather terrifying world where angels are evil and even agnostic.  Human's only hope is to band together to fight back against supernatural beings, which makes humankind an underdog at best.  Add the gangs that fight for control of remaining supplies and Ee's post apocalyptic world makes you pray that the apocalypse never comes.

Stolen

Author: Erin Bowman
Series: Taken #0.5
Rating: 3.5 / 5 stars
Verdict: Borrow

Stolen is set before the events in Taken and follows Bree in her time still in her home community.  Even though the story is a novella, Bowman still finds time to throw in angst with some young adult romance, which rather irritated me.  If you take out this factor, however, it is still an entertaining read, and something to add to your list for sure if you are a devoted fan of the Taken series.  While the romance with a bit much for me, the remainder of the plot and the development of Bree's character were well done, and I managed to feel connected to the newly introduced characters even in the short amount of pages in the novella.  The plot is both heartbreaking but somewhat element, and the back story into Bree's character helps clarify her actions and her relationship with Gray in both Taken and Frozen.

While not a must read for the series, I will admit I rather enjoyed it more than I enjoyed Frozen.

05 June 2014

Frozen

Author: Erin Bowman
Series: Taken #2
Rating: 3 / 5 stars
Verdict: Borrow

Gray and gang head north to the original test city in hopes of finding the forgotten citizens and forming an alliance to combat against the ruthless leadership of the Laicos Project.

Frozen adds new scenery, new cities, and new characters to the world of Taken while also expanding on the elements Bowman introduced in the first novel.  Gray is still torn between his childhood love of Emma, but he contends with his feelings for Bree as well.  I have to admit, of all the resolutions at the end of the novel, the verdict for this love triangle at the end of the novel is perhaps the one that shocked me the most, as it speaks not just about the teen angst and romance drama but about the characters as well.  The love triangle that centers around Gray didn't bother me as much as I suspected it would in this novel, which was a pleasant surprise.

Like Taken, Frozen is not a fast paced ride from beginning to ending, but it does have its moments of excitement and when they arrive, for the most part they are delivered well.  There are parts where I thought a lot more emotion could have gone into the writing and the narration, especially since it is told in the first person point of view and not third person.

The plot takes us on a journey far further that we reached in Taken, and Bowman expands it well.  Even with all the new characters that are added with each new leg of the novel, they were all developed enough that I could continue to distinguish between all of the characters and did not get confused.  Bowman expanded on her creation of Forgeries, and I loved one of the routes that she took.  The character of Jackson was fascinating and unexpectedly grew on me, and I thought she handled these Forgeries well as she incorporated them into the novel.

Frozen isn't a novel to write home about; it doesn't blow my socks off and it didn't keep me up under the covers at night with a flashlight dying to know what happens.  It didn't feel quite as strong as Taken, but that's perhaps because some of the original elements Bowman created in Taken lost a bit of their novelty as the story continues on.  But the series is still entertaining, and Bowman leaves enough potential with the ending to hold my interest in borrowing the next installment when it comes out.

04 June 2014

The 100

Author: Kass Morgan
Series: The 100
Rating: 2 / 5 stars
Verdict: Bury

The 100 had all the elements to be a great space opera novel for the young adult genre.  Even the synopsis had me itching to read it, and when I saw it on display at the library and saw that it had already been turned into a television show, I just had to give it a go.  After all, the front book sleeve totes:

"Confronted with a savage land and haunted by secrets from their pasts, the hundred must fight to survive.  There were never meant to be heroes, but they may be mankind's last hope."

Well, holy heck, batman, bring on the danger, action and suspense!

Unfortunately, Morgan decided to take a completely different path with The 100, and focused only on the ridiculous teen drama and romance between the four main characters of the novel.  The novel held no action or suspense at all, and the "crimes" that these juvenile delinquents committed are barely even, if at all, crimes by today's standards.  Instead of diving into character development and the building of this unique and strange world, Morgan instead spent the prose having the teenagers fight and make up and kiss.  There was a lot of kissing in this novel.  And perhaps if the stories of the relationships between the characters were interesting, it might have at least held my attention, but Morgan didn't even manage that feat.  Instead, The 100 reads like a teen targeted soap opera, and all the exciting elements that the book promises are simply back drops in an attempt to give the novel some premise of a plot.

The 100 ends on a cliffhanger, which no doubt is supposed to intrigue you into devouring the next novel.  But while I quickly made my way through this novel, it wasn't because I was absorbed by the story and couldn't put it down.  Instead, I was able to so quickly finish The 100 because it had little substance to its words at all.  The cliffhanger at the end did not cause me to cry out in disappointment that the conclusion of the novel was not present.  It made me roll my eyes at the audacity of Morgan to throw a highly unlikely plot twist in at the end when the plot had no feet to stand on in the first place.

03 June 2014

The Treatment

Author: Suzanne Young
Series: The Program #2
Rating: 3 / 5 stars
Verdict: Buy

While The Program was refresh because it took a rather unique spin on some common young adult themes, The Treatment looses some of that charm as it seems for the most part to be just a repetition of the same novel Young delivered in The Program, except with an added dose of a young adult love triangle for good measure.

The beginning of The Treatment finds Sloane an James weary of the Program once again as they find themselves on the run with a group of rebels, similar to the beginning of The Program except instead of Sloane sitting in a classroom waiting for the men in white coats to show up, she's on the run waiting for them to catch up with her at any given moment.

During this relatively relaxed time in the first part of the novel, Sloane finds herself playing house with James, and wondering if she should take The Treatment - the magical pill Realm promises will restore all of her lost memories, even if it might drive her crazy in the process.  The love triangle between Sloane, James and Realm becomes a central theme in the first portion of this novel, which caused it to drag by for me, especially since dialogue was favored over action in the beginning part.

But then, following the same path in the first novel, The Program is brought back into play, and the intensity and excitement, and thus my interest, perked back up.  And as Sloane maneuvers through the corruption in the program as she and her band of rebels try to take down the Program, the novel does suck you back in like The Program did, though the pace still seems to lag a bit in The Treatment.  To be fair, however, the ending comes at you like a propel through a roller coaster.

Overall, I didn't enjoy The Treatment as much as I enjoyed The Program simply because I felt like I was reading pretty much the same story over again, except with a few different elements and a different ending.  I still think The Treatment is worth a buy, however, to complete my collection, and the ending of the Treatment leaves me to believe the series has ended as it wrapped up nicely in the end.

01 June 2014

Afterworlds

Author: Scott Westerfeld
Rating: 3 / 5 stars
Verdict: Borrow

I received an advanced reading copy of this novel from the publisher for the purpose of an honest review.

I hold the Uglies "trilogy" dear to my heart, as it was my introduction to the dystopian young adult genre well before I even realized what the genre really was.  I expanded my knowledge of Westerfeld's work then into the Midnighters series and beyond, and he has since become my favorite young adult author.  When I heard he had a new novel coming out later this year, I metaphorically peed my pants in excitement.

I fear, perhaps, I put the novel on too high a pedestal as I was disappointed as I made my way through it.  Afterworlds is different than anything that Westerfeld has written before that I have read, and he is rather broad in his writing genres.  We explored sci-fi dystopian with the Uglies series, then magic with the Midnighters.  With Leviathan, we took an interesting steam punk fantasy route.  With Peeps we went epidemic/viral, and with So Yesterday we went mystery/real world.  But Afterworlds is in a new genre of its own again.

Afterworlds is a bit like Inception, where it is a story within a story.  On the surface, we deal with a eighteen-year-old that has hit the jackpot - she's gotten a six figure advance for her first novel, and decided to blow most of it to move to New York City to live her dream while we works on the rewrites for her novel and its sequel.  This story alternates, chapter by chapter, with the novel Darcy wrote titled Afterworlds.  In Afterworlds, we deal with paranormal where her main character, Lizzie, can transport herself to the Afterworld, can see ghosts and has a crush on a paranormal creature.

Like the publisher of Darcy's novel, the first chapter of Afterworlds sucked me in immediately as Lizzie finds herself the sole survivor of a terrorist attack at an airport.  The scene was raw and intense and suspenseful, and the rest of the novel could not hold up to this opening impression.  In fact, as the stories unfolded, I actually enjoyed Darcy's story more than Lizzie's.

While Afterworlds tended to drag on and had little suspense for a "paranormal romance" young adult novel, the way the stories play out certainly was interesting.  While we make our way through Afterworlds, we see how the changes came to be in Darcy's rewrites and how her her life impacted her story, from the first draft to the final novel, which cemented in my mind the saying "Write what you know."  And while the story within the story was hardly captivating, it was still interesting enough in conjunction with Darcy's story to hold my attention to the end.

Without Scott Westerfeld's name on the cover, I doubt this would have been a novel I would have taken a chance on as the plot is a little bit off the beaten path.  And under someone else's pen, I doubt the novel would have worked.  As it was, the novel still is probably my least favorite under Westerfeld's name that I have read to date and is one I will probably not be adding to my personal collection.  While Darcy's story, Afterworlds, didn't live up to the hype that the publishers and her blurbers gave it, Darcy's backstory was interesting enough to get me through the novel.

Imogen says it best when she points out to Darcy that she is still just a kid - a lucky, sheltered kid that is still smart at the same time.  I saw this in the way that Darcy let her younger sister do her budget for her, and how she blew through 300K in record time on impulses and with optimism.  She dives headfirst into a relationship with an older person, and becomes so involved in this first relationship of hers that she's lucky she finishes her rewrites at all.

Buy Darcy represents my dream, which is why even with her naivety and sometimes self absorption I found myself rooting for her throughout the novel.  I was the university freshman that wrote a draft of a novel over the summer and wanted to get it published.  I dreamed of the day where I could get a call from a publisher - or even figure out how to get an agent - and get a six figure signing bonus, plus a two book deal.  I still write in my spare time and aspire to be able to quit my job and work on writing full time as a career.  Darcy got to live out that dream of mine, and I enjoyed reading about my fantasy written in words, even if it is lived out by a fictional character instead.