If I had to sum this book up in one word it would be inoffensive. I was looking for a quick, fun read and that’s what it delivered. What it didn’t deliver was a world that I wanted to immerse myself in or characters that I wanted to get to know better.
There are two viewpoint characters - Ebony, our lovely young angel, and Jordan, our troubled young human. Ebony doesn’t have much of a personality, which is a trait that all of the angels share. Despite being a major player, we don’t learn much about Thane beyond that he is totally awesome. Duh. And most of the others are nothing more than a name. Jordan and the other humans fare a bit better, with less mystery and more back story. I didn’t actually mind the love triangle in this book, which is unusual, as I generally abhor them. Everyone’s role was clearly set out, and there wasn’t any uncertainty over who Ebony wanted.
I’ve been trying to figure out where the book lost me, and I think it was in the build up. The threat didn’t seem dangerous enough and the good side was so overpowered. The final battle seemed to come out of nowhere, as the main conflict earlier was getting Ebony to realize the truth. It was especially anticlimactic considering the roles that out protagonists played (or lack thereof). I think I would have enjoyed the book more if Ebony had had a chance to learn of her power and her place in this changed world so that she could be something other than a damsel in distress. That would also have given a chance to get more of a feel for the relationships between the angelic characters.
In general I think this book suffers from trilogy-itis. There’s a good concept, but Curley was holding back for the rest of the series, leaving this book to feel like a prologue. We have the players set up, but there wasn’t enough substance to hold it all together.
I love a good historical mystery, and this is one. The sense of place and history was strong - despite the changes to the language it felt like an immersion into the late 1600s. The mystery was great - there wasn’t a clear path from crime to villain, but there were enough clues to get you there.
I really liked Lucy as a protagonist. She’s naive, sheltered, and not very well educated. What she has going for her is just her determination and willingness to throw herself into every possible situation that could bring her more information. She is what she’s frequently called- a sweet girl. She is almost always looking for the best in people - except, maybe Adam.
My only real issue was that towards the end it felt like Calkins was just piling on the historical tragedies. The plague? The great fire? Really? I’m not saying that these wouldn’t have happened at that time, more that they were narratively unnecessary. The climax was dramatic enough on its own.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and look forward to more from this author.
The Smart One revolves around a year in the life of a family, one where much happens: things fall apart, are pieced back together, or completely replaced. It’s a slice of life book - there is no goal, no driving force, and no hope. I found myself involved in their lives, looking forward to a blow up about the various issues they were all hiding. But there was no blow up and no resolution. Life continued on, as it always does.
What did I think of this book? I’m not entirely sure.This isn’t normally a book I’d pick up, and I found myself needing to put it down at times rather than becoming engrossed in it. That said, I felt the reality of it, the feeling that this was a family that had a history behind it. The petty feuds, the sibling rivalry, it all rang true. Jennifer Close does a great job of bringing out the relationships and quirks between the characters. They know each other, but don’t really know each other.
But it was so… dull. I mean that both in terms of not always that interesting and not all that sharp. With all the misfortune happening throughout the book it became monotonous at times to slug my way through the gloominess. Then there’s the fact that, despite the title, none of the characters are particularly smart. They never seem to think outside their little boxes to look at the wider world or try to see each others’ point of views.
So I generally enjoyed reading this book, but it isn’t going to be one I return to.
In order to fall into a book it doesn’t have to be perfect, it needs to have some lure to pull you into a relationship with its characters and world. For the Sea of Tranquility and me, it was grief and loss. The feeling that the world has completely changed for you and that you’ll never find your place again.
Several characters are going through a grieving process in this book, from Josh grieving for his family, Nastya grieving for the girl she used to be and her crushed ambitions, or Drew going through the process of loss we all face when we grow up. They all face these losses in different ways as they learn to grow into their new realities.
There are flaws, of course, mostly questions that I started asking after I was finished. The behaviour of all the adults was ridiculous, yet necessary to get Nastya and Josh where they needed to be. And that is part of the bigger problem - I really enjoyed Millay’s language and the flow of the story, but the plotting could use some work. It was full of coincidences and people happening to be at the right place at the right time. And Nastya seemed to navigate the world very easily for a girl who never talked. It would have been more believable with scenes of her navigating the world and more use of body language.
So while this story truly called to my emotions, it didn’t to my mind. So the question is, which do you aim for in a book?
I really liked Hysteria, despite some flaws. This is the story of how Mallory starts recovering from the trauma of murdering her boyfriend (in self defence?) and the aftermath of the trial and grief.
To get her away from the anger and gossip of their town Mallory’s parents send her to boarding school - yes, let’s separate the traumatised teen from everything she knows! Mallory arrives at school to find unfriendly classmates and an unfeeling administration. This is one place where the book falls flat to me - a school like Munroe would have some type of counsellor of staff with whom Mallory would be forced to have at least weekly sessions. Instead it’s Reid, her love interest that suggests she has hysteria.
Parts of the story were wonderful: I loved the slow reveals of the events the night of Brian’s murder and the Monroe urban legend. Colleen and Mallory’s friendship was brilliant - they had no illusions about who the other girl was, but they had each other’s backs through everything. Reid was a great support through Mallory’s issues with endless patience and understanding.
What didn’t work were the descriptions of Mallory’s nights. Miranda was trying for a creepy, uncertain tone. We’re not supposed to know what’s going on, just that it’s creepy. In the end, though, they felt too repetitive and vague to be every interesting and I confess, I started skipping them. The mystery in the last part of the book had a very obvious answer; so much so that the suspense relied not on the doubts about Mallory’s sanity that the first half had been building but on a ‘can we catch them’ scenario.
Overall this book was good contemporary YA, but it lacked the power to rise above its potential.
Oh, teen futuristic dystopian love triangle books, how I both love and deplore you. Matched is an acceptable version, neither hideous nor brilliant, making it a not particularly memorable entry into the genre.
Cassia has been raised in an overly repressive society where everything is monitored: from what you write on your computer to the consistence of the garbage. Yes, the consistency of the garbage. It’s a major plot point. Cassia starts as a clueless and loyal member of society, who then goes through the obligatory process of having her eyes opened to to the truths of the world she lives in. How does this happen? Why through a love triangle, of course. One needs to fall for the emo boy on the fringes of society in order to have their eyes opened, right?
The whole triangle would have worked better if it wasn’t so one sided. We’re told that Zander is also a great match for Cassia, but we’re never really shown that. Cassia goes straight into her love for Ky. I think Zander had some great potential as a character, which will hopefully be explored further in the future.
There really isn’t a plot in this book beyond the love triangle and Cassia’s discovery of the corruption in society. I enjoyed the slow reveal of the truth, but well, lets say I’m glad I didn’t buy it. I also read it on a plane, which probably helped me concentrate on it. I’ll be reading the rest of the trilogy, but I’ll be getting them from the library.
I admit, I was expecting a light fantasy/romance to read over the holidays from the blurb, but this story was far more than that. Set in a world where an evil regent controls the land and gypsies are hunted down we’re taken on a journey from Persephone’s life as a farm slave to the glittering high class world of the capital. I quite liked the book in general - the pacing was good as well as the world building.
As a heroine Persephone was… alright. My opinion of her suffers from her passivity. There is no doubt that she is smart and capable, but I cannot think of one situation in the book where she initiates the action. That is not to say that some of her reactions to the situations around her are excellent, however I prefer my heroines to have the ability to think ahead and cause their own trouble. Persephone is more the type that sees trouble coming days in advance but doesn’t make any preparations for when the shit hits the fan.
One thing that hit me throughout the book was that the good guys were all so pretty and the bad guys were all so ugly. This was slightly tempered by the not-evil-but-total-jerks characters, who could be pretty. Fergus seems to take great delight in describing Mordecai’s various ailments and deformities to remind us of how hideous he is, especially compared to utterly gorgeous Azriel. Sometimes during Mordecai’s chapters I felt like I was supposed to hate him for his looks rather than his despicable actions.
Goodreads has this listed as the first in a series, and you can certainly tell. Despite its length it feels like the first half of a book, with a very abrupt ending. Or perhaps what it seems like is the first 3/4 of a tv season, with a bombshell of an end of episode cliffhanger. But instead of being back next week to get our heroes out of peril the last two episodes are cancelled and we have to wait a year for the show to start up again. I’m not sure I’ll still be waiting when that happens.