Tag Archive: 3 star


red cellsRed Cells by Jeffrey Thomas

Published March 18th, 2014 by DarkFuse

Buy this story at: Amazon

 

Synopsis:

Private detective and mutant shapeshifter Jeremy Stake (hero of the novels Deadstock and Blue War) has fallen on hard times in the far-future city of Punktown. When he is offered an opportunity to masquerade as another man to do his prison sentence for him, Stake agrees, but this is a new type of penitentiary—existing in its own pocket universe.

In this isolated prison, a series of gruesome murders have occurred, and the inmates soon force Stake to investigate. Can Stake catch a killer that might not even be human, without becoming just another victim?

 

Rating: 3 star

 

Review:

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this story from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you DarkFuse!

A story that is under 100 pages has no excuse to be boring, this one was boring. But it was also not badly written. In fact, I think if the story was given more time and space to develop then it could have been really good. As a short story, however, it felt rushed and hectic.

The character of Stake was an interesting one. He is a mutant who can assume the physical form of another human. He is normally a private investigator but things are tough and he agrees to do a stint in prison for someone else. Naturally chaos follows and gives him a mystery to solve. I liked him as a character, though he was a tiny bit stereotypical for a private investigator type. However, because the story was so short I felt like I didn’t really learn much about him. Since he is the main character in two novels this is not to be expected, but it would have been a nice addition.

The story was also a good one. A prison that is located in pocket universe and something is killing the prisoners. That is very interesting. But unfortunately, the story was told to me almost exclusively instead of showing me. That was annoying. Don’t tell me! For heaven’s sake do a little bit of creative writing and show me.

It was also pretty predictable. As soon as they described the killer to me, I thought….well of course it’s that X thing/person that they told us about. And it was. This could have been done a lot better. I have no doubt that the author can write better than this, I can see the talent there. But this story did not showcase that talent at all.

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of monsters and madnessOf Monsters and Madness by Jessica Verday

Expected Publication: September 9th, 2014 by EgmontUSA

Pre-Order this book at: Amazon / B&N / Books a Million / Book Depository

 

Synopsis:

A romantic, historical retelling of classic Gothic horror featuring Edgar Allan Poe and his character Annabel Lee, from a New York Times best-selling author.

Summoned to her father’s home in 1820’s Philadelphia, a girl finds herself in the midst of a rash of gruesome murders in which he might be implicated. She is torn romantically between her father’s assistants-one kind and proper, one mysterious and brooding-who share a dark secret and may have more to do with the violent events than they’re letting on.

 

 

Rating: 3 star

 

Review:

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you EgmontUSA!

 

This book left me feeling very lukewarm. And a bit confused. But let me explain….

When I first read the synopsis of this book, I was intrigued. I am a Poe fan, but I wouldn’t call myself a purist. I was promised a “historical retelling of Gothic horror.” I got a lot of gothic, not a lot of horror. And not exactly a retelling of Poe, unless you count random snippets from his works and a story about how he was inspired. I quickly discovered just what kind of retelling we were dealing with…and frankly it would be obvious to anyone with a brain.

The setting of this novel was exactly what I expected. A dark, dank, gothic Philadelphia complete with thunderstorms to set this mood. I loved this way more than I should have. I was all set for a horrific tale of Edgar Allen Poe! That was not exactly what I ended up with.

Annabel was not a bad character, she was just boring. She was infinitely nice and sweet. But that was about all of the substance that she had. She should have been amazing. She had an interest in medicine, she has scars that she is not entirely clear what they are from, she is living in a new country far from home. How did she end up so unbearably dull?

Apart from that, not much happened. And I do mean that literally. There is a serial killer, and we quickly learn who that is. There are murders but there’s really only one or two “graphic” scenes and they really weren’t that good. I got much bigger heebiejeebies from scenes in Unwind or The Madman’s Daughter. This just paled in comparison.

Now for my biggest issue with this book, the ending. Actually I don’t even think I can call it an ending. It was just starting to get exciting! We were approaching the pinnacle of the plot! The climax of the story! And then I was at the last page….I don’t even understand it. What happened to the second half of the story? After the climax there is supposed to be a resolution! I was denied a resolution! Why was I denied a resolution!?

On a side note, kimonos don’t come from Thailand, two seconds on Google told me that. Also  Annabel kept describing her kimono in ways that made me think of a shawl that wrapped around her shoulders, so I am not even sure it was a kimono.

Overall I enjoyed the story, though it was a little dull. And I was set to give it four stars, but then the ending happened and I just can’t forgive that. Still enjoyable but the ending left me feeling cold.

allegiant Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Published October 22nd, 2013 by Katherine Tegen Books

Buy this book at: Amazon / B&N / Books a Million / Book Depository

 

Synopsis:

The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered—fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories.

But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature—and of herself—while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love.

 

Rating: 3 star

 

Review:

SPOILER WARNING!!

I am not entirely sure what to think about this book. I didn’t dislike it but I didn’t think it was great either, it was……decent. That’s the best description I’ve come up with for how I feel about this book.

I was rather dismayed at the dual narration for a few reasons. First because both Tris and Tobias’ voices were nearly indistinguishable. A few times I found myself going back to the beginning of a chapter to figure out who was talking because I honestly couldn’t remember. That annoyed me because I’ve never thought their voices were so similar before, it seems like the author stopped trying to make them different. Second, because I knew what the dual narration meant for the larger story. Tris was the main narrator and replacing part of her story could only mean that she didn’t see the end of the story.

Most of the plot points were done fairly decently. But I didn’t really like the whole idea of striving for genetically pure people. i got sooooo many shades of the civil rights movement there. And it just seemed kind of dumb, an entire society that is supposedly so much more advanced than ours coming to the erroneous decision that our genetics create our personality and actions. Um, I took high school biology (at a public school!) and I know better than that, but these super scientists of the future who can create serums to wipe your memories or make your fears a reality couldn’t figure that one out? I didn’t buy that and it annoyed me.

I really did feel like we saw a lot of character development in this book, and I loved that part. I felt like both the plot and the characters completely stalled in Insurgent so I was pleased to see them get back on track.

The world building was alright, but still lacking a bit for my tastes. I felt like the world outside the city was much too similar to the world inside the city, so what was the point of any of it?

The bad guy was about par for the course. Not as great as Jeanine or Evelyn but a worthy adversary. Although I felt like the larger enemy was the world at large, which is too big of a target for a single book.

The biggest point that I questioned in this book was the ending. Making the choice between two bad options and I am not sure they picked the right one. Who made them the decision makers? Why did they get to choose who to save and who to sacrifice? That didn’t make it right. There were so many other options for how to fix things and none of them were even considered. I don’t really understand why that decision was made either.

I was not thrilled with this conclusion to the series, but it was okay. I enjoyed it, I shed a few tears, and I didn’t feel like I wasted my time. At the end of the day that is a pretty good way to say goodbye to this series. If it was my story I would have done it differently, but it’s not so I must just say that it satisfied me.

 

Defy by Sara B Larson

defy Defy by Sara B. Larson

Published January 7th, 2014 by Scholastic Press

Buy this book at: Books a Million / Book Depository / Amazon / B&N

 

Synopsis:

Alexa Hollen is a fighter. Forced to disguise herself as a boy and serve in the king’s army, Alex uses her quick wit and fierce sword-fighting skills to earn a spot on the elite prince’s guard. But when a powerful sorcerer sneaks into the palace in the dead of night, even Alex, who is virtually unbeatable, can’t prevent him from abducting her, her fellow guard and friend Rylan, and Prince Damian, taking them through the treacherous wilds of the jungle and deep into enemy territory.

The longer Alex is held captive with both Rylan and the prince, the more she realizes that she is not the only one who has been keeping dangerous secrets. And suddenly, after her own secret is revealed, Alex finds herself confronted with two men vying for her heart: the safe and steady Rylan, who has always cared for her, and the dark, intriguing Damian. With hidden foes lurking around every corner, is Alex strong enough to save herself and the kingdom she’s sworn to protect?

 

Rating: 3 star

 

Review:

Disclaimer: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. Thank you Scholastic!

Where oh where did this story go wrong? It had everything that a good story should. Wars being waged, girls being kickass soldiers, sorcerers, loyalty, honor, revenge, and betrayal! And it started off so well, I just don’t understand what happened in the middle.

So let’s start at the beginning. I liked Alexa, she was interesting and brave. I liked everything I saw from her. Okay fine, so she tended to blush and quaver when an attractive male was around. But since that would most likely just make her fellow soldiers think she was gay…well, no big deal in the end I guess. But she was smart and brave and loyal to a fault. The story was also very interesting in the beginning to. The prince was clearly up to something but I had no idea what. I had suspicions but I wasn’t sure exactly where it would go.

Now let’s skip to the end. I also really liked the end….mostly.The part where Alexa has to convince the king to allow her near him during the battle, it was a good bit. And then the actual battle was excellently written and I enjoyed it a lot. I didn’t even mind the ending too much, though it fell short after the excellence of the battle scene.

Here is where I hated this book, the entire middle. Alexa was supposed to be this big kick ass fighter and she was…at times. And then as soon as the prince gave her the side eye she got all wussy and pathetic! In that moment she became every pathetic, cliched YA heroine ever. She cried, she quavered, she had a heart that flip flopped around in her chest. I was flummoxed! What happened to the Alexa from the beginning of the book? Where on earth did she go?! She didn’t return until the very end and even then she started slipping back into it a little bit. Her character became an utter disaster.

My other big problem and the biggest reason behind just 3 stars was the constant use of rape as a plot measure. They have breeding houses, aka rape houses, and yes that’s exactly like it sounds. Apparently girls captured in war are repeatedly raped so breed new soldiers. Okay, here the huge logic fail here. The war has only been going on for just longer than 17 years…so maybe 20 years. How exactly are these babies helping the army? You could only have had maybe one generation, how the hell does that even work?! And then the king has a son conceived in rape, and that one served no purpose either. I will not accept author’s using rape just as a device to say “hey look, he’s a bad guy!”. It’s lazy and it’s disgusting.

I was disappointed because this book had so much potential. Some of it was realized and some was not.

 

Mrs. Poe by Lynn Cullen

mrs poe Mrs. Poe by Lynn Cullen

Expected publication October 1st, 2013 by Gallery Books

Pre-order this book at: Books A Million / Book Depository / Amazon / B&N

 

Synopsis:

A vivid and compelling novel about a woman who becomes entangled in an affair with Edgar Allan Poe—at the same time she becomes the unwilling confidante of his much-younger wife.

It is 1845, and Frances Osgood is desperately trying to make a living as a writer in New York; not an easy task for a woman—especially one with two children and a philandering portrait painter as her husband. As Frances tries to sell her work, she finds that editors are only interested in writing similar to that of the new renegade literary sensation Edgar Allan Poe, whose poem, “The Raven” has struck a public nerve.

She meets the handsome and mysterious Poe at a literary party, and the two have an immediate connection. Poe wants Frances to meet with his wife since she claims to be an admirer of her poems, and Frances is curious to see the woman whom Edgar married.

As Frances spends more and more time with the intriguing couple, her intense attraction for Edgar brings her into dangerous territory. And Mrs. Poe, who acts like an innocent child, is actually more manipulative and threatening than she appears. As Frances and Edgar’s passionate affair escalates, Frances must decide whether she can walk away before it’s too late…

Set amidst the fascinating world of New York’s literati, this smart and sexy novel offers a unique view into the life of one of history’s most unforgettable literary figures.

 

Rating: 3 star

 

Review:

This book was an interesting read for me but not entirely what I expected. I expected to find a forbidden love story complicated by a manipulative and conniving wife. What I got was a whole lot of social repartee of the wealthy and elite of early 1900’s New York with a kind of love story and suspicions about the wife that weren’t very well proven with facts. That disappointed me but the story was still ultimately entertaining.

Frances was the main character, despite the title suggesting that Mrs. Poe plays the main role. I felt a lot of sympathy for Frances. Her husband has left her and their children destitute to philander his way across the country, forcing her to try and sell her poetry and live with a family friend. Her first connection to Edgar Poe is round about, she is told that her flowery love poems are not in style since Mr. Poe’s Raven poem but that if she manages to write something more “shivery” to come back and they’ll buy it. After that she begins something of an obsession to be his better until she meets him at a social gathering and….well, I’m not sure exactly when or why she fell in love with him but she does at some point.

Here’s my main problem with the love story in this, it is almost non-existent until the very end of the book. There were a few flirtations here and there and suddenly they’re proclaiming how much they love each other and can’t live without one another. It was strange and I didn’t completely buy into it.

I also didn’t buy into the fact that Mrs. Poe was as manipulative and conniving as Frances would have had me believe. Again, for most of the book NOTHING shady happened at all. As far as I could see Mrs. Poe was only rightly betrayed and jealous that she was so ill and some other woman is making a move on her husband. I have a feeling I’d be a little cold and pissed off too! I just couldn’t ascribe these negative intentions to her no matter how hard I tried.

The ending was interesting and not what I expected but ultimately was something of a let down too. I was hoping that either there would be dire consequences for their actions or their lives would somehow be better for having had their elicit romance. But there were no consequences at all and still their lives sucked about the same as they had before. I tried really hard to love this book because I liked the main character and it was well written and put together. But by the end I was apathetic about it, which disappointed me.

The Farm by Emily McKay

the farmThe Farm by Emily McKay

Published December 4th, 2012 by Berkley Trade

Buy this book at: Book Depository / Books A Million / Amazon / B&N

Synopsis:

Life was different in the Before: before vampires began devouring humans in a swarm across America; before the surviving young people were rounded up and quarantined. These days, we know what those quarantines are—holding pens where human blood is turned into more food for the undead monsters, known as Ticks. Surrounded by electrical fences, most kids try to survive the Farms by turning on each other…

And when trust is a thing of the past, escape is nearly impossible.

Lily and her twin sister Mel have a plan. Though Mel can barely communicate, her autism helps her notice things no one else notices—like the portion of electrical fence that gets turned off every night. Getting across won’t be easy, but as Lily gathers what they need to escape, a familiar face appears out of nowhere, offering to help…

Carter was a schoolmate of Lily’s in the Before. Managing to evade capture until now, he has valuable knowledge of the outside world. But like everyone on the Farm, Carter has his own agenda, and he knows that behind the Ticks is an even more dangerous threat to the human race…

Rating: 3 star

Review:

I’m not so sure what happened with this book. The premise is great, the characters are great, I’d heard such great things, but it just didn’t do much for me. Maybe it was me. Maybe it was my mood. I honestly don’t know. By the end of this book I didn’t feel passionately about it in either a good or bad way. Let’s talk about the things I can actually say I did or didn’t like.

Lily was a good character. There have been far too many shrinking violet women in YA books lately. I appreciated that Lily was fairly kick ass and willing to do whatever it took to protect Mel, her autistic sister. I also really loved the brief glimpses we get from Mel’s POV. On the negative side, it was precisely Mel’s POV chapters that allowed me to easily guess one of the “big reveals”. So in the end it was a double edged sword. Conner got on my nerves in the beginning but slowly he grew on me.  By the end I had a teensy crush on him, he’s adorable!

I really liked that we had two different kinds of vampires. On the one hand you have the Ticks, which were everything that vampires have been missing for a long time. They are monsters and I loved them. Then you have the more refined vampires that have retained their humanity…a little. Still monsters and still awesome.

I even really liked the plot, although at times it seemed a bit simplistic to me. The plan was this, escape the farm, run to Canada, hope that Canada is any safer than the U.S.  Hmm, doesn’t sound very brilliant to me. I didn’t mind it as long as what happened on the way to that plan was good and most of it was. But here’s where it fell off the rails for me, the “big reveals.” Big reveal one was not even a reveal since I had suspected as much for most of the book. Big reveal two actually surprised me but I am not sure what it actually has to do with anything about the larger plot. The second big reveal seemed to shoot the larger plot in the foot honestly.

Right now I am unsure if I’ll read the next book. I am leaning toward yes I will read it to see if the plot can recover from the nuke the author threw in it at the end of this one.

Parasite by Mira Grant

parasite Parasite by Mira Grant

Expected publication October 29th, 2013 by Orbit

Preorder this book at: Amazon / B&N / Book Depository / Books A Million

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author and Orbit!

 

Synopsis:

A decade in the future, humanity thrives in the absence of sickness and disease.

We owe our good health to a humble parasite – a genetically engineered tapeworm developed by the pioneering SymboGen Corporation. When implanted, the tapeworm protects us from illness, boosts our immune system – even secretes designer drugs. It’s been successful beyond the scientists’ wildest dreams. Now, years on, almost every human being has a SymboGen tapeworm living within them.

But these parasites are getting restless. They want their own lives…and will do anything to get them.

 

Rating: 3 star

 

Review:

I am not sure where this book went wrong for me but I went into it with high expectations. I am a fan of Mira Grant, I find her to be a very good writer and I have enjoyed what I’ve read from her in the past. And I started off enjoying this too, but somewhere along the line it just lost its appeal and I ended up bored.

The idea behind this book is a good one although I have to admit I was skeptical about the idea that science had engineered tapeworms to treat our medical ills. These things can secrete medication, adjust metabolism, mend some injuries, and a whole host of other things. But I have a hard time believing that just in a decade from now 99% of society will be totally cool with intentionally ingesting a parasite. I didn’t really buy that but then I had to remind myself that there are people out there who buy tapeworms off the internet to lose weight so maybe it’s more possible than this wouldn’t be as hard of a sell as I believe.

The main character was interesting but she got a bit old after awhile. I liked Sal ultimately. She was in a horrible accident that left her clinically brain dead and on life support. Her family was about to end life support when she woke up against all medical odds. The company that manufactures these tapeworms suspect that her “implant” played a role in her recovery and so offer to pay all her expenses in exchange for studying how that is possible.  Unfortunately this is when I began to suspect that I knew what was going on, I looked at the synopsis and looked at Sal and thought “I hope I’m wrong about this!”

The story moved a bit slower than I would have liked but the information was interesting so I didn’t get bored. We met some new characters that I liked and I enjoyed the people we met at first. I hated Sal’s family. They were bossy, secretive and pains in the ass. More than once I found myself cringing when they said something to Sal and I thought, how could you SAY that to your daughter! I didn’t like the people at SymboGen because they were just all creepy and narcissistic. The secretive people that are determined to give Sal answers weren’t much better since they were clearly using her for their own means. By the end the only characters I liked were Sal, her boyfriend, and Tansy.

The big reveals were equally great and disappointing. The first big reveal floored me. I didn’t see it coming a mile away and I felt as betrayed as Sal did. But I recovered quickly since technically we didn’t know the character all that terribly well. But the second big reveal was awful. Remember that moment in the very beginning when I thought “I hope I’m wrong”? Yeah, I wasn’t wrong. It shouldn’t be that blatantly obvious.

At the end of the day I enjoyed it but the ending took away from my enjoyment a little bit. I am interested enough in the second book that I will definitely read it but once again I suspect I know what the plot is going to be and I pray, please let me be wrong!

hollowlandHollowland by Amanda Hocking

Published October 6th, 2010 by the author

Buy this book at: Amazon / B&N

 

Synopsis:

“This is the way the world ends – not with a bang or a whimper, but with zombies breaking down the back door.”

Nineteen-year-old Remy King is on a mission to get across the wasteland left of America, and nothing will stand in her way – not violent marauders, a spoiled rock star, or an army of flesh-eating zombies.

 

Rating: 3 star

 

Review:

I don’t know about this book, I really just don’t know.  Obviously I have heard the rumblings about the author, you would think she was the literary Second Coming of Christ.  But I had never read any of her books.  This one intrigued me, I like zombie books.  But lately I have been frustrated with zombie books since they all turn out exactly the same.  Immediately I could tell, these zombies would be different.  The origination of the zombies is interesting and not something I remember reading before.  The beginning sequence of the book was also truly fantastic.  The book starts off with a huge burst of energy and I was sucked in right away.  These two things made me think, wow I am really going to love this book.  Well, now I’m at the end.  I didn’t love it but I didn’t hate it either.  Overall, I liked it but the problems with the book were so bad I just couldn’t ignore them.

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!!

As well as this book started, it quickly landed in the realm of the absurd.  Remy meets up with some other survivors at the beginning of her quest to find her baby brother.  That was not unexpected, it happens in every post-apocalypse book there is.  But certain things I just couldn’t get over.  For example, they find a lion chained to a truck who’s as gentle as a newborn kitten.  Yeah, sorry I’m not buying it.  Even lions that have been raised by humans since birth still have a wild streak that cannot be tamed.  Then there was this passage that made me scream:

“Over 200 pounds of jungle cat sat on my chest…”

AAAHHH!!  OMG, Google is your friend!  How on earth did that sentence ever get published?  Let’s just point out the two biggest problems with it.   First, lions live in the savanna of Africa, that is most certainly not a jungle.  Tigers or even panthers would be a jungle cat, but most definitely not lions.  Second, a two second Google search will tell you that an adult lioness generally weighs between 300 and 400 pounds.  That’s a hell of a lot more than 200 don’t ya think?

But anyway, once we move on from my annoyance with that badly crafted and factually incorrect sentence, we move on to finding out that one of Remy’s new companions is a world famous rock star.  Yes, I know, my eyes almost rolled out of my head too.  And he’s oh so hot, and immediately smitten with Remy.  Of course he is.

Then we travel to the now deserted Las Vegas.  I mean, what happened to the ingenuity of the first chapter?  EVERY post apocalypse novel features Las Vegas.  At this point I was so tired of this book that I wanted to give up, but I persevered to the end.

Remy bothered me.  The book was told from her point of view, and she is an emotionless, obsessive girl.  I don’t think she expressed a single emotion until the last handful of pages.  For a first person POV, this was awful.  If she didn’t care about what was happening then how could I?  The character played it off as being stoic and “doing what needed to be done” but it was boring.  Doing what needs to be done doesn’t mean you have no emotion about it.  It means you have emotion about it and quell it to get the job done.

Then we had the ending, it was actually pretty good.  It felt hurried and rushed, but I liked what we were left with in the end.  It was interesting and got me re-invested in the book and wondering just what the hell had gone wrong for the entire middle portion.  The only reason I am considering reading the next book is because the excerpt I got for it at the end of this book was better than anything I read in this entire thing.  It was alright, but only because the beginning and ending saved it.

 

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

gone girlGone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Published June 5th, 2012 by Crown

Buy this book at: Books A Million / Book Depository / Amazon / B&N

 

Synopsis:

Marriage can be a real killer.

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?

As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?

With her razor-sharp writing and trademark psychological insight, Gillian Flynn delivers a fast-paced, devilishly dark, and ingeniously plotted thriller that confirms her status as one of the hottest writers around.

 

Rating: 3 star

 

Review:

Small disclaimer, I am a huge Gillian Flynn fan.  I am the type of Flynn fan who keeps multiple copies of her books around the house just in case I need to loan a few copies out to friends.  Sharp Objects is easily one of my all time favorite books, I’ve read it more times than I can count.  Dark Places was not as amazing as Sharp Objects but I still loved it to pieces and have re-read it a thousand times.  I was so excited to get into this book that I was practically salivating on it.  Unfortunately, while I enjoyed this book, it was a slight disappointment for me.  It is with much sadness that I have to proclaim Gone Girl as my least favorite Flynn book to date.

The premise of this book is interesting because how many times have we seen this in the last few decades?  It seems like at least once a year a beautiful woman goes missing, the husband makes himself look oh so guilty, then it comes to light the husband is a no good cheater, then he’s a wife beater, then it comes out the woman was pregnant and he didn’t want it.  Oh the horror!  Everyone watching the television coverage sits back in satisfaction when the husband is finally carted off to jail for murdering his wife.  So to write a book about this very topic, I thought, would be fascinating.  What if it really wasn’t quite that simple?  And once you add in a Gillian Flynn twist, it can only be fantastic.

The characters in this book weren’t very likeable.  Which is common with this author, so I expected it.  Although, I will admit that while I didn’t like Nick my main emotion for him was sadness.  I felt bad for him.  I felt like we were only getting the side of the story that made him look like a shitty excuse for a man and a sugar coated version of everything else.  It wasn’t fair and I saw right through it.  I didn’t really like Amy from the start, I found her voice and character to be disingenuous at best.  Unfortunately that meant that most of the shocking twists in plot, I had already figured out well ahead of time.

The plot was tight and well put together, but it did drag in certain places.  I really liked the layout of the story and characters and it was clear that this was very well thought out.  But every now and then I caught myself thinking, okay I get it stop pounding the point home!

Up until the ending, I was really enjoying the book.  It definitely wasn’t my favorite of this author’s books, but I was still having a great time reading it.  But then the ending.  I don’t even know what to say about the ending because that’s how lukewarm I am about it.  It was a perfect ending from a character perspective.  It fit all of the character’s personalities perfectly and was exactly what those kind of people would do.  But it was also painfully predictable for me.  I suspected that’s how it would end starting around the middle of the book, and that disappointed me.  I am used to getting a huge and unexpected twist at the end from Flynn, and I didn’t get even a little bit of a surprise.  Maybe I just know the author’s style too well and so I got too good at predicting her plot.  I am not sure where the problem happened, but it left me feeling underwhelmed about the book in general.

the holdersThe Holders by Julianna Scott (Book 1 of the the Holders series)

Expected publication date: March 5th, 2013 by Strange Chemistry

Cover image and synopsis provided by the publisher.

Pre-order this book at: Amazon / B&N / Book Depository / Indie Bound

 

Synopsis:

17-year-old Becca has spent her whole life protecting her brother – from their father leaving and from the people who say the voices in his head are unnatural. When two strangers appear with apparent answers to Ryland’s “problem” and details about a school in Ireland where Ryland will not only fit in, but prosper, Becca is up in arms.
She reluctantly agrees to join Ryland on his journey and what they find at St. Brigid’s is a world beyond their imagination. Little by little they piece together information about their family’s heritage and the legend of the Holder race that decrees Ryland is the one they’ve been waiting for… but, they are all, especially Becca, in for a surprise that will change what they thought they knew about themselves and their kind.

 

Rating: 3 star

 

Review:

If any of you are like me, you are sick and tired of all these books which are basically a re-branded version of X-Men.  I have read many of them in the last year and frankly, they all sucked.  When I saw this book start to go down the X-Men route my apprehension grew, would this one suck too?  I am happy to say it did not suck!  It was not an amazing book or a book that I will remember forever, but it was enjoyable and satisfying.

Let’s first turn to the basic plot for analysis.  Yes, in case you hadn’t already guessed, it is very reminiscent of X-Men.  I won’t elaborate into a lot of detail because that might spoil some things.  Basically you have a school where they bring kids who have special abilities.  Here they are taught to control and use their abilities to fight against the bad guy and protect us poor, hapless normal humans along the way.  This is where we find Becca.  Her brother is one of these kids with special abilities and she insists on accompanying him to the school to make sure it’s not a loony bin or something.  One place where this differed from X-Men is that these kids get their abilities based on genetics.  The abilities were originally granted to a bunch of people by the Irish gods and it is passed down through their lines.  I am not sure why it was only Irish people who were given these abilites, it was never really addressed in any detail.  I appreciated that the author appeared to have done at least a little homework on the Gaelic language and the old Irish Gods.  Overall, the plot was not anything that overly surprised me and was a bit predictable but it was done well and so it is less annoying than it could have been.

The world-building was decent but lacking in certain areas.  We get the very basic details about the world and how it works but nothing beyond that.  Part of that is because we are learning these things through Becca’s POV.  Becca, overall, is a good narrator but since she is new to all this, she is only given the most base level details and by association that’s all we are given as well.  I wanted to hear more about it.  I wanted more detail and was slightly disappointed that I didn’t get it.  For example, there is an item that they KNOW is very powerful and they can’t let the bad guys have it.  Why not?  Well I dunno because the bad guys can’t even use it.  But the good guys can’t use it either.  So why did it matter?  I found out later, but initially it was very confusing.  Or, another example, we are told that rarely do women inherit these abilities and when they do their power level is very low.  Why?  It was never explained.  Even the characters copped out with, “We don’t know, that’s just how it’s always been.”  The world building that we did get was decent and fairly solid in my opinion but needs more work on the details in future books.

Now let us discuss the romance in this book between Becca and Alex.  It was like a breath of fresh area.  I’ve been reading so much YA recently and the romances are always so annoying in many ways.  This was fantastic!  Becca is a smart and intelligent girl who is not dependent on the approval of a boyfriend for her identity, which I appreciate.  Alex is smart, funny, considerate, a gentlemen, and thoughtful.  And, he blushes, I mean how cute is that!  I found myself falling for Alex right along with Becca because he was just so adorable.  I was mildly concerned that I might get weirded out with the romance since Becca is 17 and Alex is 23, but there was no reason to fear.  The romance is sweet, gradual, and innocent so I didn’t have any pervy signals going off in my head.  We didn’t even have insta love!  It was gradual and based on real things like behavior, personality, and how that person is treating them.  I was so pleased with this romance that it restored my faith in YA romances a little bit.

At the end of the day, I am happy that I read this book and persevered through my initial apprehensions.  It had some flaws which led to the 3 star rating, but overall I enjoyed myself.  I was a good book that served its purpose very well.  I recommend this book to sci-fi fans and fans of YA that are tired of the cliched romances they offer.

A special thank you to Strange Chemistry who provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.