Review: Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

Book: Paranormalcy
Author: Kiersten White
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release date: August 31, 2010
Source: Borrowed ebook from library
Series: Paranormalcy #1

Summary: (from Goodreads) Weird as it is working for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, Evieâ??s always thought of herself as normal. Sure, her best friend is a mermaid, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she’s falling for a shape-shifter, and she’s the only person who can see through paranormals’ glamours, but still. Normal.

Only now paranormals are dying, and Evie’s dreams are filled with haunting voices and mysterious prophecies. She soon realizes that there may be a link between her abilities and the sudden rash of deaths. Not only that, but she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures.

So much for normal.

First impressions: I have to admit that with the number of people hoisting accolades upon Evie, I didn’t want to like her. Or this book. Evie is like the super-popular girl at your new school that everyone says is so nice, but you don’t believe them because anyone that popular, and pretty, and cool, cannot possibly also be nice.

But I can admit when I’m wrong. Evie is amazing.

Lasting impressions: The plot may be forgettable, but Evie and Reth and Lend are not. Or Lish. Or Raquel. Or David. Let’s be real – the characters are what make this one.

Conflicting impressions: What happened in this book? I read it a week ago. This shouldn’t be hard.

*thinks*

Hm. Evie wears pink boots? She meets a boy? A girl is on fire?

That’s all I got.

Overall impressions: Despite the fact that my brain has turned to mush and I can’t recall how this one ended (or, maybe, much of what happened in the middle), I do know that I liked it.

Evie is a force to be reckoned with, but not in the butt-kicking way you would normally associate with strong heroines. No, in Evie’s case, it is entirely based around her strong personality. I dare you to read 5 sentences of this book and NOT be able to tell me everything about her. Trust me when I say that you know who she is immediately, and that is always a great thing.

Kiersten White’s gift is writing strong characters. Each one of them, though colored by Evie’s perceptions, is full and vibrant. In fact, even the ones that Evie likes (Reth) can still be so forceful that I can make independent judgments about them. (RETH.) This may be Evie’s world, but we can still tell who is bad news. (Reth. RETH. RETH!!)

Ahem. So let’s talk about Reth, shall we? It’s not like I have strong feelings about him. Or feel the need to beat him to death with his own shoes.

Okay, I lied. I do have both of those things. I hate Reth, AND I want to beat him with his shoes. He is cocky, obnoxious, creepy, inconsiderate, rude, and a severe violator of Evie’s freedoms and personal space. He carts her off to his house and traps her there, touches and kisses her when she doesn’t want him to do so, and somehow the simple fact that he is an ex-boyfriend is supposed to make this okay? He’s a fairy, which earns him negative bonus points, and I wish he was not in this book.

I hope I’m being clear as to how I feel.

Even with Grossy McStabintheeye, the book is still enjoyable. I’d rather have strong feelings about a book than no feelings at all. Evie is delightful, even with her tacky style (hot pink boots and zebra print, I’m looking at you), and I adored her main love interest, Lend. Their relationship moved at a snail’s pace, which I thought made it that much more authentic. Throw in charming side characters and a unique setting, and this is one cute book.

Rating: 4/5 stars

Click the stars for a description of my rating system


Amazingly beautiful and painstakingly crafted signature courtesy of Small Review

Review: Starstruck by Cyn Balog

Book: Starstruck
Author: Cyn Balog
Publisher: Delacorte
Release date: July 12, 2011
Source: ARC for review from Books with Bite Book Tours

Summary: (from Goodreads) Gwendolyn “Dough” Reilly doesn’t think she has much going for her â?? she carries a few extra pounds, her family struggles with their small bakery in a town full of millionaires, and the other kids at her New Jersey high school don’t seem to know that she exists. Thank the stars for her longtime boyfriend, Philip P. Wishman â?? or “Wish.” He moved away to California three years ago, when they were 13, but then professed his love for her via e-mail, and he’s been her long-distance BF ever since.

At the beginning of her junior year, though, Wish e-mails that he’s moving back to Jersey. Great, right? Well, except that Dough has gained about 70 pounds since the last time Wish saw her, while Wish â?? according to his Facebook photos â?? has morphed into a blonde god. Convinced that she’ll be headed for Dumpsville the minute Wish lays eyes on her, Dough delays their meeting as long as she possibly can.

But when she sees Wish at school, something amazing happens. He looks at Dough like she’s just as gorgeous as he is. But Wish is acting a little weird, obsessed with the sun and freaked out by rain. And the creepy new guy working at the bakery, Christian, is convinced that there’s more to Wish’s good looks than just healthy eating and lots of sun. He tells Dough that a mark on Wish’s neck marks him as a member of the Luminati â?? an ancient cult of astrologers who can manipulate the stars to improve their lives. Is Wish and Dough’s love meant to be â?? or are they star-crossed?

First impressions: Gwen/Dough is a fantastic narrator. She shows us who she is from the moment we meet her. She’s funny, sarcastic, a bit down on herself, but able to handle anything thrown at her without losing sight of the big picture. There’s no unnecessary drama here.

Lasting impressions: The realistic elements of the story were more meaningful than the paranormal Luminati stuff. I wish the astrology part had been introduced sooner so it didn’t seem like it was tacked on to the back end of an otherwise interesting contemporary.

Conflicting impressions: I don’t have very specific complaints, as the whole story was enjoyable. I think it could have been great, instead of just good, if we’d gotten some more development with Christian and the Luminati lore.

Overall impressions: Overweight and poor, Dough is resigned to a life in the shadows. Her best friend Wish moved away, leaving her to fend for herself in her mom’s bakery, and the pounds added up after snacking on donuts all day every day. Now that Wish is headed back to town to be her in-person boyfriend and not just a long-distance boyfriend, she’s panicky at the thought of him seeing her bloated new body.

It’s a fear that hit home for me, and I understood Dough’s plight. Her oblivious mom keeps buying her shapeless, cheap clothing, and they can’t afford for her to get even a decent, flattering haircut. All the cards are stacked against her.

We spend a good portion of the first part of the book gearing up for the inevitable showdown with Wish…but it amounts to nothing. He’s not horrified (not that we expected him to be, nice guy that he is), and the in-crowd seems to accept her without much thought. This is where I think the conflict could have been turned up to really make things more interesting. We expect Wish to be the nice guy, so why not have him react poorly to her looks? Do we really think the popular crowd would be so into a guy who has been MIA for most of their formative years that they’d gladly accept a loser like Dough? I’m not saying they had to be complete archetypes, but some of the more expected behavior would have made things more interesting for Dough and Wish’s relationship.

Throwing a wrench into things is the new bakery worker, Christian, who seems to have an idea of what’s “off” about Wish. Trouble is, other than a passing comment from Dough, Wish isn’t really all that suspicious with his behavior. When Christian finally spills about the Luminati, it kind of seems ridiculous instead of being dangerous.

The action ramps up in the last part of the book, but suffers from the mistakes of Mockingjay in that Dough winds up unconscious during key points in the final scenes, thus denying the reader the chance to see how she gets out of her perilous situation. This was another big letdown for me.

I did like Dough enough to gobble this book in a few quick hours, and I appreciated the unique and fresh astrology elements. If you’re interested in exploring love and insecurity, with a dash of paranormal, this is the book for you.

Rating: 3/5 stars

Click the stars for a description of my rating system


Amazingly beautiful and painstakingly crafted signature courtesy of Small Review

Review: The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

Book: The Name of the Star
Author: Maureen Johnson
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Release date: September 29, 2011
Source: ARC received from Around the World Tours

Summary: (from Goodreads) The day Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London marks a memorable occasion. For Rory, it’s the start of a new life at a London boarding school. But for many, this will be remembered as the day a series of brutal murders broke out across the city, gruesome crimes mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper events of more than a century ago.

Soon “Rippermania” takes hold of modern-day London, and the police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man police believe to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him. Even her roommate, who was walking with her at the time, didn’t notice the mysterious man. So why can only Rory see him? And more urgently, why has Rory become his next target? In this edge-of-your-seat thriller, full of suspense, humor, and romance, Rory will learn the truth about the secret ghost police of London and discover her own shocking abilities.

First impressions: Rory is an incredibly friendly and authentic narrator. Her voice really drew me in, though I had a hard time picturing her with a Louisiana accent.

Lasting impressions: Jack the Ripper mystique aside, this is a good old fashioned paranormal murder mystery, and I loved every minute of it.

Conflicting impressions: As much as I liked Rory, she seemed a bit generic at times. I’m not sure I could tell you one unique quality about her, other than that she comes from an eccentric community in Louisiana.

Overall impressions: Oh good Lord did I gobble this one up! No, not just gobbled – devoured. This was no simple “Hmmm, wonder what’s going to happen next?” It was “OHMIGOD I WILL KILL YOU IF YOU MAKE ME STOP READING THIS.” I would count down the minutes on my commute and lunch hour, racing to flip pages as quickly as possible so I could find an appropriate stopping place.

There was no appropriate stopping place. It was too good to stop reading. Ever.

The summary pretty much says it all – girl moves to London for boarding school in the midst of a Jack the Ripper copycat spree and winds up entangled in the investigation while discovering an interesting paranormal element. So we have lots of things I love: 1) boarding school setting; 2)murder investigation; 3) Jack the Ripper history/trivia; and 4) paranormal activity. I fainted from swooning the moment I first read this book’s jacket copy.

Believe me when I tell you it delivers in pretty much all of these categories. Rory’s school is typical – grand buildings, quirky roommates, cute boys, skirted uniforms, and lots of studying. The murder mystery unfolds at a nice pace, with clues that stuck out upon reveal but weren’t too intrusive when introduced (these are the best kind, in my humble opinion). There was lots of good Jack the Ripper information shared as the investigation went on, and when Rory discovers her new powers play a distinct role in catching the killer, I was fully on board.

Whatever unique qualities Rory may have been lacking were more than made up for with Maureen Johnson’s breezy writing and distinct side characters. Everyone and everything seemed so natural and real that I bought in to the world completely without it ever seeming gimmicky. The tension and pacing worked seamlessly to pull me along through the plot, and around every corner there seemed to be something new and interesting to keep my full attention. Add in the Ripper timeframe counting down the days to the next kill and I was hooked.

This book requires a strong will to put it down, but enough entertainment to make you want to prolong the agony. Balancing fun, light characters with dark, terrifying events, this book is pure magic. You need to run out and get your hands on this one.

Now.

Rating: 5/5 stars

Click the stars for a description of my rating system



Amazingly beautiful and painstakingly crafted signature courtesy of Small Review

Review: Firelight by Sophie Jordan

Book: Firelight
Author: Sophie Jordan
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release date: September 7, 2010
Source: Borrowed ebook from library
Series: Firelight #1

Summary: (from Goodreads) A hidden truth.
Mortal enemies.
Doomed love.

Marked as special at an early age, Jacinda knows her every move is watched. But she longs for freedom to make her own choices. When she breaks the most sacred tenet among her kind, she nearly pays with her life. Until a beautiful stranger saves her. A stranger who was sent to hunt those like her. For Jacinda is a draki â?? a descendant of dragons whose greatest defense is her secret ability to shift into human form.

Forced to flee into the mortal world with her family, Jacinda struggles to adapt to her new surroundings. The only bright light is Will. Gorgeous, elusive Will who stirs her inner draki to life. Although she is irresistibly drawn to him, Jacinda knows Will’s dark secret: He and his family are hunters. She should avoid him at all costs. But her inner draki is slowly slipping awayâ??if it dies she will be left as a human forever. She’ll do anything to prevent that. Even if it means getting closer to her most dangerous enemy.

Mythical powers and breathtaking romance ignite in this story of a girl who defies all expectations and whose love crosses an ancient divide.

First impressions: I was so intrigued by dragon shifters! In the first scene, she’s being hunted, and I was completely drawn in to this modern world full of dragon descendents.

Lasting impressions: Jacinda makes a really interesting character, and like a werewolf, she’s not always in control of her shift to draki form, which amped up the tension. I was sold on the concept alone.

Conflicting impressions: I do wish that the draki lore had been expanded a bit, so we knew more about their culture. Jacinda and her family exit that life so quickly that I was a bit confused on how much of the world knew of their existence or what the real consequences would be if that information got out. I mean, sure it would be bad, but how bad? How many hunters are there? How many draki? I had way more questions than answers.

Overall impressions: This was a fun, different read that I enjoyed a lot more than I anticipated. Jacinda is an interesting character – a draki shifter who flees her home because her status as a rebel firebreather has put her in danger, and her mother and sister are not able to shift. They desire a normal life, and haul Jacinda out to the Southwest deserts to kill off her dragon side.

Jacinda doesn’t handle this too well, despite knowing there wasn’t much of a life to look forward to back at the draki camp. She was betrothed to Cassian, a headstrong guy who just doesn’t do much for Jacinda, and would be expected to make little firebreathing babies with him. Because of her penchant for sneaking off and breaking rules, she also had some stiff punishment facing her. Knowing all of this doesn’t make her agree to run for the hills and try to live normally, though. She just wants to fly.

This selfish nature was a bit trying at times, and when she kept digging herself into holes I found it hard to heartily root for her to get out instead of maybe taking a bit of what was coming to her. Not that it was much easier to root for her to kill off an essential part of herself just to appease her whiny sister and depressed mother. I was stuck between a rock and a hard place on who to side with here.

Enter Will. A boy with secrets of his own, he is drawn to Jacinda as much as she is to him. They have an insta-love connection, and Jacinda has total Edward Cullen Syndrome going on – she can’t control her impulse to turn draki around him. This means lots of tentative kisses, followed by the need for restraint when things get too hot and heavy, thus avoiding any kind of physical intimacy the author (or audience) may find uncomfortable.

Give me a break.

Despite my frustrations at times, I did enjoy the setup of the draki world versus the real world, and look forward to reading the next book (Vanish, out now). I want to know more about the draki, and find out whether Will and Jacinda can find a way to be together, or whether Cassian will end up winning us over. It’s a pleasant story with a unique twist, and is a nice read for fantasy fans.

Rating: 3/5 stars

Click the stars for a description of my rating system


Amazingly beautiful and painstakingly crafted signature courtesy of Small Review

Review: Ultraviolet by R. J. Anderson

Book: Ultraviolet
Author: R. J. Anderson
Publisher: Carolrhoda Books
Release date: September 1, 2011
Source: ARC for review from NetGalley

Summary: (from Goodreads) Once upon a time there was a girl who was special.

This is not her story.

Unless you count the part where I killed her.

Sixteen-year-old Alison has been sectioned in a mental institute for teens, having murdered the most perfect and popular girl at school. But the case is a mystery: no body has been found, and Alison’s condition is proving difficult to diagnose. Alison herself can’t explain what happened: one minute she was fighting with Tori — the next she disintegrated. Into nothing. But that’s impossible. Right?

First impressions: Alison has the rare condition of synesthesia. She perceives the world differently than most – tasting emotions, seeing letters in certain colors, and seeing visual representations of sound. Because of this affliction (for lack of a better word), the descriptions from Alison’s point of view are incredibly beautiful. Though she suffers lots of negative consequences from the overstimulation, I still found myself kind of jealous that I don’t see the world the way she does.

Lasting impressions: I was really into this one until the strange new direction the book takes in the last third of the story. I won’t call it a twist, because there were so many unsubtle clues that I could see it coming a mile away, but it definitely was a game-changer for Alison. It didn’t really work for me, and my overall impression of the book suffered as a result.

Conflicting impressions: I wish that Alison’s relationships with her fellow psych ward patients had been developed further. Instead, they get the backseat to the impending drama and so some of the events involving them – roommate changes, some misguided sexual harrassment, and witnessing other breakdowns – seemed misplaced in this story. Either have the story be about the mental ward and give us deeper characterizations for her fellow patients, or don’t develop them at all and leave the focus on Dr. Faraday and the Tori mystery.

Overall impressions: I so wanted to love this book. As it turns out, I did like it, but the ending didn’t gel for me so I ended up with more mixed feelings than anything. Sigh.

Here’s the deal. Alison’s a cool girl. She has a deliciously complicated relationship with her parents. There’s something freaky going on with her classmate, Tori, that is unraveling her life in such a way that when the story opens she’s in a psych ward, uncertain as to whether her memories of killing Tori are correct. The problem is that she remembers disintegrating Tori, which couldn’t be possible. So what really happened?

If this had been the entire focus of the book (which I guess in a way, it is, but not in the way I expected), I would have been happy. We do get resolution as to what happened to Tori and the role Alison played in it, but man did that explanation come out of left field.

As I mentioned above, the explanation isn’t entirely unexpected given the enormous planet-sized hints R. J. Anderson drops throughout the text. I did find myself hoping, however, that the explanation would turn out to be the opposite of my assumptions – with no luck. This made the ending something of a disappointment for me, and because it was so strikingly different in tone and content from the first two-thirds of the book it plummeted my enjoyment of the story.

Alison’s synesthesia is engrossing, and as she starts working with the mysterious researcher Dr. Faraday, we find out more information on how her brain functions. The former psych major in me was completely hooked on the barrage of tests Alison undergoes, and her relationship with Faraday gives her some needed warmth in the midst of the cold and sterile hospital setting.

If you are looking for an unusual paranormal story with a definitely non-formulaic plot, I recommend picking this one up. It’s a worthwhile read, particularly for fans of psychology, or anyone looking for a story a little bit “out there.”

Rating: 3/5 stars

Click the stars for a description of my rating system


Amazingly beautiful and painstakingly crafted signature courtesy of Small Review

Review: Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

Book: Anna Dressed in Blood
Author: Kendare Blake
Publisher: Tor Teen
Release date: August 30, 2011
Source: ARC for review from I Read Banned Books Tour

Summary: (from Goodreads) Just your average boy-meets-girl, girl-kills-people story. . .

Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.

So did his father before him, until his gruesome murder by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father’s mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. Together they follow legends and local lore, trying to keep up with the murderous deadâ??keeping pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

When they arrive in a new town in search of a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas doesn’t expect anything outside of the ordinary: move, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he’s never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, but now stained red and dripping blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.

And she, for whatever reason, spares his life.

First impressions: Male POV! Yes! Not only is Cas a great male protagonist, he’s funny. Swoon!

Lasting impressions: Great little horror book for the ghost hunting set.

Conflicting impressions: Can we have a new rule where nobody falls in love with ghosts?

Overall impressions: This book was so much fun, which feels weird to say about a sometimes gruesome, often scary tale about a demonic ghost. Kendare Blake sets the tone with our fearless narrator, Cas. He’s witty, funny, quirky, and has an interesting occupation: ghost killer.

Cas has inherited a knife and an ability from his father that allows him to put murderous rampaging ghosts to rest. He grew up traipsing around the world after his dad, who followed leads on where to find the worst ghosts. His mother, a witch, sells candles and other Wiccan supplies online, thus supporting the ghost killer habit. When Cas’s dad dies at the hand of a particularly brutal ghost, Cas takes over.

Now following tips of his own, he pursues a lead on a ghost in Canada known locally as Anna Dressed in Blood. Murdered in the 50s on her way to a school dance, she now haunts her old house, taking out anyone who dares enter. She proves this in epic fashion on Cas’s first visit to the house, when a bully from school locks him in the house and Anna unleashes her wrath upon the bully.

There is plenty of violence and a smattering of foul language (f-bombs flying!), so this is one for the older set. I, for one, did not mind the language, but a few times it seemed to pop up so suddenly that it took me out of the world for a second. Maybe it’s because I’ve been reading so clean lately?

Anna is as wonderful a character as is Cas. She’s bold, confused, and full of hideous secrets she tries desperately to hide. I don’t want to give too much away, because the joy of the novel is discovering Anna’s story as well as Cas’s. The two of them have to explore their histories and destinies in ways that make them uncomfortable, but it must be done in order to set things right.

This is a magical, dark, funny novel full of interesting characters. I loved the story, and its twists and turns kept me guessing. There were a few elements that could have been developed a little further, and I’m not a fan of the fact that this turned into a paranormal romance when it could have been a great standard horror book, so four stars from me. It’s still a great read, however, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a great male protagonist.

Marry me, Cas!

Rating: 4/5 stars

Click the stars for a description of my rating system



Amazingly beautiful and painstakingly crafted signature courtesy of Small Review

Review: The Cellar by A. J. Whitten

Click the cover to purchase at Amazon

Book: The Cellar
Author: A. J. Whitten
Publisher: Graphia Books
Release date: May 2, 2011
Source: ARC from NetGalley

Summary: (from Goodreads) Meredith Willis is suspicious of Adrien, the new guy next door. When she dares to sneak a look into the windows of his house, she sees something in the cellar that makes her believe that Adrien might be more than just a creep – he may be an actual monster.

But her sister, Heather, doesn’t share Meredith’s repulsion. Heather believes Adrien is the only guy who really understands her. In fact, she may be falling in love with him. When Adrien and Heather are cast as the leads in the school production of Romeo and Juliet, to Heather, it feels like fate. To Meredith, it feels like a bad omen. But if she tries to tear the couple apart, she could end up in the last place she’d ever want to be: the cellar. Can Meredith convince her sister that she’s dating the living dead before it’s too late for both of them?

First impressions: The book opens with a tense scene where Meredith’s sister, Heather, blurts that she wishes she had died instead of their father. This family is falling apart after a car accident that killed their patriarch, and this bombshell of a statement sets up a very complicated relationship between the sisters that really sucked me in.

Lasting impressions: Unfortunately, there were not enough likable elements in this book for me to recommend it.

Conflicting impressions: For me, the book was overly graphic with characters I didn’t like or didn’t care about. I didn’t understand who I was supposed to be rooting for or against, particularly in light of the misleading tag line from the cover.

Overall impressions: Okay, deep breath. This is the first one star review I’ve given out on the blog. Usually if I dislike a book enough to give it one star, I’ve stopped reading, at which point I consider it a DNF, delete it from Goodreads, and don’t write a review. So what makes this book different?

For one, I actually wanted to finish it. As stated above, the opening has a good hook, and by the time I got to the midpoint I decided I just had to see how it was all going to tie up. I can’t say I regret reading the book, but I would certainly not recommend it to others – thus the one star.

Let me try to break down my feelings. First and foremost, I was really excited about this book because A) it’s a horror tale, which I love, and B) it’s based on Romeo and Juliet. Or so the cover, and to a lesser degree, the blurb, would have you think. I quickly discovered that the R & J link is not really there, other than the fact that Heather and Adrien take part in the school’s production.

The first point of confusion for me was whether I was supposed to be focused on Meredith or Heather. The story alternates between their perspectives, as well as Adrien’s. Meredith is told in first person, Heather and Adrien in a close third person. Adrien is the boy who moves in next door, and is some kind of zombie looking for eternal love. His primary motivation to find love is his loneliness, and so he can get rid of his fellow zombie/maternal figure, Marie. He decides he wants Heather, so he starts using his magical effects to make her fall in love with him.

The only problem is Heather’s sister, Meredith. She sees right through his charms. They don’t have an effect on her. This isn’t really discussed, just mentioned. Meredith spends most of the book getting more and more suspicious of the creepy guy who never takes off his sunglasses, seems to be brainwashing her entire family as well as the town, and who she sees burying things in the back yard.

It felt like that old Tom Hanks movie, The Burbs. In that way, I kind of liked it. However, while that movie was scary and suspenseful and creepy, this book quickly became just plain gross. Chapter 7 takes us inside Adrien’s house, where we witness him and Marie torturing a man they kidnapped for food. It’s very graphic, very disturbing, and almost made me physically ill while reading it on the train to work. I ended up skimming those pages because I couldn’t get through them.

The thing is, I’m not against violence or disturbing imagery in books. I read and have read a lot of crime and horror books. I like things scary and dark and eerie and yes, even sometimes gory. Here there was a lot of violence that seemed to pop up out of nowhere, and then beat you over the head with it. There was a lot of flesh-eating, a LOT of bugs, and most of it was truly grotesque. This book is not for the faint-hearted, I promise you. That said, it seems like the kind of gross-out material that would be really popular with adolescent boys.

Once we become aware that Adrien is a Bad Man, the story focuses on his quest to steal away Heather, and Meredith’s half-assed attempts to stop him. Heather refuses to think this guy could be bad and thinks that Meredith just doesn’t want her to be happy, so bats away Meredith’s attempts to reason with her. Meredith, despite being convinced Heather is in real danger, never does anything other than try to talk her out of it. I found this ingenuine, as I can guarantee that if my sister were hanging around with a suspected serial killer, I’d physically restrain her if need be. On top of everything, the horrifying things Meredith sees (that spellbound Heather can’t) are explained away by an eye disease. Silly old Meredith, just seeing things again. It didn’t quite work for me.

At times it felt like we were supposed to think Adrien was really in love with Heather, whether because he was truly lonely or used to be a good person/zombie, I don’t know. He never seemed motivated by love until the last few chapters, but his insistence on being with her throughout most of the book wasn’t written as purely psychotic or obsessed. Adrien, more than anyone, could really have benefited by some fleshing out. In my mind, you can’t have it both ways. Adrien is either a good guy who wants to find love and happiness, or he’s really as awful as he is depicted here, in which case he shouldn’t care at all about Heather’s fate. When he pulled a complete 180 in the final scenes, it felt contrived and contrary to his character.

In the end, it seemed like the point of the book was for Meredith to stop Heather and Adrien, but the climax of the book involves intervention by a third party that, while leading to some resolution for the girls, ultimately deprives our heroine of the chance to tie up the story for herself. It confused the plot more than enhanced it, and it disappointed me as a reader.

Thank you to NetGalley and Graphia/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, but this just wasn’t for me.

Rating: 1/5 stars

Click the stars for a description of my rating system

Want a different perspective? Check out this four star review by Palm Books Journal.

Review: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

 

Book: City of Bones
Author: Cassandra Clare
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
Release date: February 19, 2008
Source: Local library

Summary: (from Goodreads) When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder – much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It’s hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing – not even a smear of blood – to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?

This is Clary’s first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It’s also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace’s world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know….

Exotic and gritty, exhilarating and utterly gripping, Cassandra Clare’s ferociously entertaining fantasy takes readers on a wild ride that they will never want to end.

First impressions: The opening nightclub scene in NYC was fun and intriguing, so I got hooked in right away. I have to admit, however, that the large Stephenie Meyer quote on the front cover of this edition was distracting. I was not a fan of this cover. It doesn’t have anything to do with my experience with the book matter, but…duly noted.

Lasting impressions: I was not a big fan of the twist at the end. **SPOILER AHEAD** I didn’t want Jace and Clary to be brother/sister. I wanted them to fall in love! It was Luke and Leia disappointment all over again. Sigh.

Negative impressions: I didn’t have major issues with this book. Other than the twist ending and cover, I have no real complaints.

Overall impressions: I really liked this book. From the moment Clary’s mom went missing, I was invested in how Clary was going to get her back. Clare does a good job of setting up some tension in the relationship between Clary, her mother and Luke. From the first scene, we know something is up in this world of the Shadowhunters, and with enough tidbits and clues thrown in along the way, we start to piece together the truth about Clary’s family. I thought the pacing and flow of information to the reader were handled well.

**SPOILER AHEAD**There is also a nice dose of unrequited love thrown in between Clary and Simon, her best friend. Normally this situation is bungled by writers who can’t seem to quite work out how those feelings are discussed among teenagers. Here, I felt Clare had a perfect grasp on what a boy says to his best friend who he happens to love. The scene where this is revealed had spot on dialogue that hit all the right emotions square on the head.

This was a solid book from start to finish, with lots of promise for the rest of the series. I thought Clary was a great protagonist, and her dialogue with Simon and Jace seemed honest and warm. The plot had enough mystery to keep me hooked until the end, and the final battles were well paced. I’m looking forward to the next installment.

Rating: 4/5 stars

4stars
Steampunkery & Book Reviews