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.
The setting of World War II was almost incidental to the story. The real focus was on the women and girls and their experiences - shaped by the war, but not a war story.
What I loved about this book was the way it showcased how much our perspective on life changes based on where we are in life. One woman’s hero can be seen from another angle as a money grubbing jerk. We see the events of the war through Marie-Angèle’s eyes first, so we know what the general shape of the war will be. But she is absorbed in her own story, and doesn’t question her views of class, religion, or society. Seeing Jeanne’s story for herself was so different a story they seem to be living in different realities.
The part that didn’t work for me was the vagueness of it all. The narrative doesn’t run on story logic but on real life; not everything that is brought up is important, major stories are only hinted at under the surface. It makes for fascinating reading, but can be very frustrating. It also mirrored reality in the ending. Nothing is tied up, there is just suggestions of the direction the future might take. This works with Roberts’ writing - it flows and moves in and out of the characters minds and their reality. It flows a little too well - I confess I kept finding my reading flowing with the words and not processing them into a narrative.
Overall this was a beautiful read.
I started this book expecting another dire story of a heroine’s survival when the world was against her. Then there was a pig. Then a Fred. And it ended up being a fun romp through a world where chemistry is magic and magic (other than potions) is, well, dull.
The tonal switch is rather strange, admittedly. The story starts with Kyra on the run after attempting to kill the future ruler of her land while planning another attempt. There are flashbacks to the event, agony over being pitted against her best friend, and terror from close calls. Then the side characters happen. Kyra is the ‘lone sane woman’ in a way - no one else seems to be taking anything seriously and it’s hilarious at times, though it drains the tension from the book.
Some of the plot twists are obvious, some are not. One that I liked at the time has convinced me this is not a book I’ll be rereading. Knowing all the secrets completely changed the feel of the story and undermine Kyra’s awesomeness. My main disappointment, though, was that Kyra’s abilities were mostly told rather than shown. We never see her brewing a potion, just using what she has on hand. We barely see her fighting, though we’re assured that she has expert aim and never misses. Except that once…
Overall it was an enjoyable light read that I’d recommend for the 10-13 crowd.
This book is fabulous for people who are interested in history, alchemy, and mystery. There is a strong sense of place and history both within the story’s time period (Victorian) and their past going back to the Revolution. Deputy Lean and Grey’s relationship was an obvious homage to Holmes and Watson but also characters in their own right.
There are series that you can read out of order, and series where the story builds and it is difficult to appreciate without the whole story. This book is definitely the latter - Shields refers back to previous events enough for the plot to make sense, but I had the constant feeling that I was missing the foundations of the characters and relationships.
Despite my lost circumstances I still enjoyed the book. The pacing seemed uneven at times, since there were so many mysteries and minor points to be investigated. A few of the side trips Grey took out of the city could have been done differently - both to keep him in the middle of the action and to leave more time to more fully flesh out the Webster family.
In the end, I’m unsure of whether I’ll be picking up and other books in this series, but I will recommend them to others.