Thursday, January 17, 2013

Review:Choker by Elizabeth Woods

ChokerChoker by Elizabeth Woods
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Here's a funny story. Once upon a time a delightful young girl named pdbkwm was looked up books. She read one called "Living Dead Girl" and was blown away by the novel. She decided that she wanted to read more from the author, so she searched for more books. There was only one problem. She forgot the author’s last name. Instead of searching her library's history, she decided to guess and well, to make a long story short, she stumbled onto Choker and thought, "Hey, this is a different author, but the premise sounds just as delightful. I think I'm going to have to read this."

-~.~-

Moral of the story, sometimes you mess up the author’s name and stumble onto some awesome finds.

Anywho! I mentioned all that because I’m on the fence.

Choker has a lot of good things going for it. It's a fairly well written debut from Elizabeth Woods, it has a plot that is very different from the usual YA novels that I read, and it has a beautiful cover.

But while I found the novel entertaining, I also felt like once you figure out the plot (which happened early on) the book kind of loses its appeal. Many of the reviewers (good and bad) have mentioned that the book is creepy, but I didn't feel the same way. In fact, some things were kind of predictable.

Did I like it? Yes.

Did I get sucked into the mystery? No.

Did I continue reading? Yes.

And that's why I'm torn. Yes, it was predictable, and yes the mystery is incredibly obvious, but I kept reading just to see what Woods would do.

The Good:

This is the debut novel of Elizabeth Woods and I think she has a bright future ahead of her. The writing was well done and I never got bored or felt like the story dragged on. It was face paced where it needed to be and it slowed down when it was on an important scene. There are some problems here and there, but it's easy to look over that. The writing is simple, yet it has an air of tension throughout. I enjoyed it.

This might be because I haven't read many books lately, but I liked that this was different from the other YA novels that I usually read. It’s not original, but it is different and I liked that. It kind of makes me want to go out and find more books like this. Well not exactly like this, but the same sort of genre. We need more YA thrillers out there.

The Okay:

If you don't know what's going to happen, this will be a great book. But if you figured it out, and you might because the clues start dropping early on, then the suspense and creepiness factor really go down. This won't make you stop reading, because you'll want to know what happens next, but it does take away some of the appeal and punch of the novel.

The Bad:

There's a good amount of characters in this novel, and yet, there isn't. The story is mostly about Cara and Zoe's friendship, but I felt like other than those two, everyone was very one note. Alexis and Sydney, Cara's bullies, were the typical clich├ęd popular girls who torment those underneath them. Ethan, Alexis' boyfriend and Cara's crush, was perfect and sweet. There are girls in the track team, but we don't really know much about them and they're kind of interchangeable.

Zoe and Cara, despite their importance in the novel, also suffer from this too. Not as bad as everyone else, but I did want them to be fleshed out some more.

Normally, the third person style wouldn't bother me, but I think if this was written in first person I wouldn’t have felt such a disconnect from Cara. When she would go on about her school and life and Ethan and Zoe and her bullying and whatever, there was a distant between us that never really got solved even after I finished the novel.

I realize that I praised the writing earlier so this might sound like a weird complaint, but regardless of whether this written in first or third person, I just wanted to get a better sense of Cara. And at the end of the day, that is the most important thing.

Overall:

I'm still on the fence. I'm still torn. And I'm still undecided on whether I should give this 4 stars for keeping me entertained or 3 stars because it was predictable and the characters were lacking.

Hmmmm.....

ah....um.....

Let's just give it 3.5 stars. I think that works.

3.5 stars out of 5

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Review: Reached by Ally Condie

Reached (Matched, #3)Reached by Ally Condie
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

While reading Reached, I had one thought in my head the entire time. Xander, you truly are

forever alone

If I didn’t feel bad for him already, I did in this book. He loves Cassia and Cassia loves him, but not as much as she loves Ky. In Crossed, Indie loved him, but here; she’s switched teams and joined in on the Ky love train. Then there was Em, who might have been a possibility if she was ever mentioned. And finally, there is Lei, who loves someone else for most of the novel and spends time talking about him or you know, being sick.

Home boy just can't catch a break. After awhile, I got over this feeling, but all that changed when during one of Cassia's chapters she says this:

“I come back to myself as the song ends, when the string makes a sound like hearts breaking. And then I can’t help but look for Xander.”

You know whose heart broke during this scene. Mine did. Sure he’s not jealous anymore, but it’s still incredibly sad.

But Xander being forever alone wasn’t the only thing that happened in Reached; there was an uprising, the pilot showed up, a plague killed people, poems were read, and, we get the added bonus of not having just one, or two, but three different narrators in this novel. All of these are great things, especially for the final book in the trilogy. And while I felt like Reached was the strongest book in this series, it still didn’t wow me.

The Good:

I feel like such a fan girl for mentioning him again, but Xander was my favourite thing in this novel. Yes, I felt sad for him. But I loved how his chapters, for the most part, were never about how he lost Cassia or how much he loved her. It was about helping people or finding a cure to the Plague. He learned some shocking truths about the things that he believed in and yet he kept going. He never gave up, never ran away, he just did what he felt was the right thing. I admire that. Out of all the characters, he was also the one who showed the most growth.

I do like the poetry that is used throughout the series, but sometimes I just want to know what happens and not have a poem stop things. So it was nice that Xander didn’t know any poems and didn’t read any. He just kept being awesome.

Another thing I liked was the Rising, mainly because; they were just like the Society, but in better clothing. The way both sides used one another is quite complex and I wish we spent more time on it. They both did shady things and for their own interests, instead of the interests of the people, and that made both sides look scary. With the Society, you live a peaceful life as long as you don’t overstep the boundaries, but the Rising, you’ll get to do things you’ve always wanted to do, as long as you don’t overstep the boundaries. With the Society, they give the citizens some form or strain of the plague with the blue pills. With the Rising, they give everyone the Plague. What if both are not even at odds with each other and were working together from the very beginning?

Who would you go with then?

I really liked that Condie didn’t make the Rising seem perfect, they were just as horrible as the Society. Granted, we still didn’t get to see a lot of it, but it was good for the most part.

I also liked Lei and felt like she was a great new addition to the cast of characters.

The Okay:

Cassia and Ky and Ky and Cassia, I don’t know what happened to you two crazy kids, but I found myself disappointed with them. I don’t know if it was just me, but once Cassia and Ky declared their love for each other in Matched I wanted them to not be with anyone else after that. So when Cassia kissed Xander in Crossed, I wasn’t okay with that. In Reached, Ky kisses Indie and Cassia is fine with it.

...

I don’t understand. If someone I loved kissed someone while we were doing a long distance thing, I’d be hurt. Cassia just says, “Well, you can never stop Indie, so if she kisses Ky it’s okay.” [not exact words] Indie has done a lot of horrible things to Cassia, this might be the worst thing in fact, and there was nothing to indicate that this was wrong or in bad taste.

I get that they love each other, but I wish they at least discussed things or Cassia didn’t act like “Oh, it’s just that Indie. A hoi hoi hoi!” I felt like after three novels, we’d finally see a growth in their relationship, but we didn’t. I don’t even think we’ve gone further than just scratching the surface with these two.

When their chapters came up, they spent most of it talking about how much they loved the other. However, I still don’t think it was enough to show how strong or deep their love was. I’m fine with them being a couple and I got that they were a couple, but I just wanted more from both of them.

The Bad:

Reached had some great things in it, but it was long and dragged on and on. I also felt like almost every big moment that happened never had an effect on me, because I knew things would work out, especially if it happened to one of the main three. If one of them got the Plague, you knew that they’d survive. There was no suspense. Even when their chapter came round and instead of writing, there was just a blank page, I felt nothing. I even said to myself, “Meh, the next time (said character) shows up, they’ll be cured so why worry about it.” And then I flipped the page and sure enough, they were cured.

(view spoiler)[ The only thing that shocked me was when Lei didn’t die. I thought she would, which would add to Xander’s Bermuda Triangle of love and misery, but she didn’t. This was the only thing that actually made me feel something. (hide spoiler)]

There were a few deaths, some of pretty important people, but they were glossed over. For a group of people who grew up in a world where people live till they’re 80, I would think that death would affect them a bit more strongly. These are people they knew and loved and the death is mentioned and they move on to the next scene. To me, I didn’t feel like this made much sense. We’ve seen how much Cassia’s grandfather’s death affected her, so why didn’t she behave in the same manner here?

I think the biggest problem was that there were things that are mentioned and then never brought up again. These things were never resolved, which was a bit of a letdown.

Overall:

Like I said before, Reached is the best one in the series, but this is still a series that is just okay. It’s not great. It’s not bad. It’s just okay. I liked Xander, he really came into his own in this book and the dynamic between the Society and the Rising was refreshing to read. But, we still are at the surface of Cassia and Ky’s love story. And the book is plagued (hahaha...) by too many pages and not enough of the story to move the plot at a faster pace.

Would I recommend this series to someone? Maybe, I think? But not before recommending other things to them first.

3 stars out of 5

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Review: Matched by Ally Condie

Matched (Matched, #1)Matched by Ally Condie
My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars

When I first heard about this book, I was immediately drawn to it because of its awesome cover. Then I heard all of the raving reviews for this and knew that I had to read it sooner or later. Then Reached came out and I realized that I needed to buckle down and finally start this series.

So I did.

And um, I'm kind of mixed about Matched. There were things I liked, but things that I didn't. It's hard to explain so I've been putting this review off, because I wasn't sure how to convey what I what I felt.

The Good:

I really like the world that Ally Condie created. The Society is a place where Officials governs and dictates everything from what you eat, where you work, who you’ll be married with, and when you’ll die. From the outside looking in, it seems restrictive and scary. To those who are in the place, it seems ideal. No one gets sick, you know when you’ll die, and for the most part, everyone is happy.

Only, it seems like there are people who are frustrated and annoyed with the Society, but they remain silent, because if you cross the Society then you put yourself and your family at risk.

From this, you know that the Society isn’t as great a place as it originally seemed. Plus this is a YA novel, a dystopian at that, so you know that the Society will be shady and that the main characters will try to take it down. In any case, I did like hearing about the Society.

I did like all the poetry that

The Okay

Remember how I said that I liked hearing about the Society? That’s still true, only we never really learn a lot about them. We do know a few things, but not enough to show how scary or wrong this way of live is. There were a lot of things that never made sense either. The poems and stories of the old are illegal, but you never really understand why. Is it because if you read them, you’ll stop wanting to follow the Society? If that’s the case, why does it seem so easy to find them? Also, I don’t understand the reason behind making sure no one writes anything. Since the Society allows people to read, how would this stop people from writing things?

I was a bit disappointed that we never really learned too much about the Society, but this isn’t the main story of Matched so I could forgive it.

The Bad:

The main plotline in this novel is the love story between Cassia and Ky. Cassia was matched with her best friend Xander, while Ky wasn’t matched due to his status with the Society. One day, while Cassia looks at her microchip to see Xander’s picture, she sees Ky’s picture instead. The Society tells her that this is a glitch and to ignore it, but it only makes Cassia want Ky now.

I get that their relationship is meant to be free, but it didn’t feel like it was. Cassia isn’t meant to be with Ky, but she’s drawn to him. True love and all that. The only problem is, the reason why Cassia wants Ky instead of Xander. It’s not free pure love, as it’s meant to be depicted, it’s the forbidden kind where you’re told not to touch something, but it only makes you want to touch it more. The fact that Ky was also told about the screw up, means that he pursued her after this as well.

There is a line near the end where Cassia says she chose to love Ky and that the Society didn’t make the choice for her, but I kept thinking that she wouldn’t even care about Ky if this whole thing didn’t happen. (view spoiler)[Plus, it’s later revealed that the Society knew that she was going to go after Ky anyways so they purposely told her things to mess with her. (hide spoiler)]

The whole thing didn’t make sense to me and it only made me feel horrible for Xander. He was in the friend-zone, got out of it, only to be placed back in it because Cassia found something better. Forever Alone.

Overall:

I wanted to like this book, but the love story is really contrived and depressing for the other guy. This book reminds me a lot of Delirium. In both stories, the main character is matched with someone that the society picks out for them, but they soon discover another kind of love which makes them question everything. The only difference between the two is that I felt like Delirium was executed a bit better.

There are good things in the novel, but there are a lot of annoying things as well.

2.5 stars out of 5

Review: Fathomless by Jackson Pearce

Fathomless (Fairytale Retellings, #3)Fathomless by Jackson Pearce
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In Sister's Red, we learned about the Fenris. The Big Bad wolves who love to kill and eat people. In Sweetly, we learned that Fenris need some love. But their love is a bit too dangerous, so they need dark ones. Dark ones are created to be the lover of Fenris. They’re girls who lost their twin, either naturally or by Fenris, and are then thrown into the sea. There, they’ll become mermaids and eventually become the dark ones.

So, can you guess what this book is about?

The Good:

After I finished Sweetly, I really wanted a book that didn’t have the Fenris as the main villains. I understood it in Sister’s Red, but I felt like it was a bit of a stretch in Sweetly. So imagine my surprise, where the Fenris hardly show up in this book. Are they still the main villains, yes. I think at this point that’s just how it’s going to be so I might as well deal with that, but I did like that the story didn’t focus on them.

I liked that the huntsmen were not huntsmen here. Instead, we get Silas’ and Samuel’ little sisters. Granted, they’re not much of hunters, but they do have powers that seem to be unique to them. I do wonder if they got it because they’re girls in a family of huntsman, or because they’re triplets. Sadly, we never really get the answer to this, but I did like that the guy wasn’t a huntsman.

Lo and Nadia’s personalities felt very different, but still the same which I liked. I might be bias though, since I quite liked Lo. She felt real to me, so her struggling to keep Nadia, but still stay with her sisters in the sea was a dynamic I enjoyed reading about.

The Okay:

If you haven’t read Sweetly, then the ending with the Fenris might come from nowhere, but if you did, then you might feel slightly disappointed. The moment we’re introduced to Lo and she tells us that an ’angel’ brought her to the sea, you pretty much knew what was going to happen. The longer the girls let go of their humanity, the faster they’ll become dark ones. The faster they become dark ones, the faster they’ll get some lovin’ from the Fenris.

So when Lo/Nadia is trying to figure out what happened and Molly tells her the awful truth, it was kind of a letdown because Sweetly already told us this.

Celia, along with her sisters Anne and Jane, have special powers. Anne can see the future, Jane can see the present, while Celia can only see the past. Celia feels left out from this group, because her power isn’t as awesome as her sisters. Her sisters....there wasn’t much about them, so her feelings of being left out didn’t really grab me.

With Sister’s Red, the dynamic of the sisters were done better, then again, the sisters were the main characters of that novel. Here, it’s just Celia and Lo, so her sisters never really did much other than say that they should stick together and get some guy to buy them fondue.

The Bad:

I don’t know what it is about this series, but I can never seem to get into the romance. Granted, this one was pushed to the back burner, but still it never felt authentic. Celia and Lo both love Jude, but I never understood why. He hardly even shows up, so where did this love happen? I know it was there to the Little Mermaid retelling full circle, but I kind of wish this was developed a bit more.

Whenever Lo surfaced and walked on the beach, there would be a trail of blood. Not sure why no one noticed this trail. Sure, the beach my sweep some of it away, but if she’s sitting down and walking to a church then wouldn’t people start getting suspicious?

This book did tend to drag on and didn’t feel as real as Sister’s Red and Sweetly. I really like how Pearce creates these settings making you feel like you’re actually there, but for some reason that magic didn’t really happen here.

Considering the fact that Celia, Jane, and Anne are from the huntsman family, why is it that they seem to know nothing about the Fenris. Plus, Celia saw her father’s past, so wouldn’t there be Fenris memories there that she could see or pick up on? Why didn’t her brothers ever tell her who she really was? Why does Celia, Jane, and Anne feel like they only have each other? Do they even know that they have brothers?

Overall:

I didn’t like this book as much as I liked the other two. I’m not sure what happened here to be honest. The writing is still great and the retellings are interesting, but this book felt a bit flat. That being said, I did still enjoy it and liked Celia and Lo enough to not get bored. I just feel like there was something missing with this story.

I think the main problem is that if you read Sweetly, you already know the mystery surrounding the ocean girls. So when Lo/Nadia is searching for the truth, you already know it.

The series is still fun to read though, so this won't stop me from reading Cold Spell.

3 stars out of 5