Tuesday, June 28, 2011

H.Y.P.E. Project: Halo by Alexandra Adornetto

Title: Halo
Author: Alexandra Adornetto
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Release Date: August 31, 2010
Pages: 496 pages (hardback)
How I Got the Book: Got it on my Kindle for the H.Y.P.E. Project (details here)

HaloNothing much happens in the sleepy town of Venus Cove. But everything changes when three angels are sent from Heaven to protect the town against the gathering forces of darkness: Gabriel, the warrior; Ivy, the healer; and Bethany, a teenage girl who is the least experienced of the trio. They work hard to conceal their true identity and, most of all, their wings.

But the mission is threatened when the youngest angel, Bethany, is sent to high school and falls in love with the handsome school captain, Xavier Woods. Will she defy the laws of Heaven by loving him? Things come to a head when the angels realize they are not the only supernatural power in Venus Cove. There′s a new kid in town and he′s charming, seductive and deadly. Worst of all, he′s after Beth.

Review:

It is suspected that the town of Venus Cove is under attack by Agents of Darkness, so three angels are sent to the town in order to help the people regain their faith and become closer to God: warrior archangel Gabriel, healer Ivy, and Bethany, an angel only seventeen years old in mortal years. They're not supposed to get too close to the humans while on their mission, but Bethany immediately falls head over heels in love with Xavier Woods. Their relationship is not without its obstacles, including the objection of Bethany's angel siblings and the arrival of a strange new student from Great Britain named Jake Thorn who wants Bethany.

Characters

The characters in this book lack any depth and it would be more accurate to call them caricatures. The angels lack any personality; in-book, Bethany says that angels have no need to develop humans personalities because of what they are, but this excuse doesn't work because characters, angels or no, need personalities to make a good novel. (I would cite this quote exactly, but I am unable to due to reading it on a Kindle.) Xavier and Bethany's relationship is no sort of love anyone would call healthy; at best, it's an unhealthy infatuation between teenagers and at worst, it's obsession.

Every human character besides Xavier is made out to be shallow; boys only want to get in girls' pants and girls talk about nothing but prom. As anyone who knows real teenagers would know, real teens are nowhere near this shallow. It seems like they're all portrayed so shallowly and placed around Bethany to make her look better, but the trick doesn't work. Even Jake Thorn, the antagonist, was just a bunch of cliches thrown together instead of anything halfway memorable or remarkable.

Pacing/Plot

The plot was nonexistent until about the last fourth of the novel, when the antagonist Jake Thorn (whom Adornetto goes through pains to make obvious as the antagonist with passages far too heavy in foreshadowing) stepped up his game. Before then, it had been all about Bethany and Xavier becoming infatuated in one another. Neither of the characters are interesting enough to make the first three-fourths of the novel character-driven and the pacing suffers for it.

Themes/Conflicts

Feminists should stay away from this book at all costs. Many of the themes and messages within Halo carry a heavy antifeminist slant and it's not easy to ignore or avoid while reading. When many of these themes came around, it felt like I was being preached to by the author, and I didn't enjoy that at all. To start with (all of this is according to the book, not me; I don't believe in any of this), Christianity is the only way. The mistakes of a young woman reflect badly on the reputation of her entire family. A young woman is not responsible for her own mistakes because the man of the family takes them on as his own mistakes. You should judge a person by how they look because if they wear Gothic clothes, they are either evil or under the control of evil.

Throughout the entire book, women are very passive and it's always the men that take the first step or fight the big battles. The women are always the ones in need of saving. Even the dog refuses to sit when a female tells him so and then immediately sits when a male tells him so. This book is supposed to take place in the twenty-first century, and all these outdated values and blatant displays of sexism deserve no place here.

Conflict? There was none. Bethany and Xavier's relationship never faced anything I thought was a threat for even a second; I always knew they would just go around it or ignore what they were told to do so they could be together. The battle of good vs. evil didn't happen until the last ten percent of the novel and even that climactic scene lacked any tension or true conflict. To demonstrate, the following song was stuck in my head throughout the climax:

(What can I say? Sailor Moon will always have a special place in my heart, and this song fit the climactic scene too perfectly not to tell the world about it.)
Writing
Halo's writing was amateur at best and at worst...I really don't know what to say about it when it was at its worst. So much description could have been cut from this book without negatively impacting the reading experience--actually, cutting even half of the overly purple prose, unnecessary description, and just plain outlandish description would have made for a significant improvement. I'll just drop a few quotes here that I found while reading. They should say enough. Once again, I'm unable to cite page numbers due to reading it on my Kindle.
"Gabriel turned to look at me, his eyes the color of thunder."
"That was the effect he had on me--an explosion of happiness in my chest, scattering like little beads and making my whole body shiver and tingle."
And finally, the quote that has made many a feminist reader angry, one that definitely shouldn't have made it into the final copy. I take offense to this too and nothing I can say hasn't already been said:
"For the evening at least, feminist philosophy had been abandoned, and the girls, like fairy-tale princesses, allowed themselves to be led up the flight of steps and into the foyer."
Logic Only a select few books have ever made less sense. If my Christian mythology is correct, God has thrown angels out of Heaven and made them fallen angels before for putting anything, from love to their own selves, above God and their duty as angels. Bethany did just this, but she was not and never becomes a fallen angel. Angels are supposed to possess all human knowledge, but Bethany has no idea how to use a tube of lip gloss, and that's human knowledge too, albeit a different kind. It doesn't stop there. Where does a demon from Hell get a British accent from? Who brings a human who can easily get killed to a battle between a warrior angel and a demon? If Xavier is so in love with Bethany, why is he so unwilling to let her give her side of the story about what happened on prom night? Didn't the author know that an inverted pentagram (which is worn around Jake's neck at one point) is a pentacle, which is a symbol of good and white magic instead of black magic like she likely meant it to be? I could still go on. As I said, only a select few books have ever made less sense. Was it worth the hype? Admittedly, all the hype I heard for this book was negative. This is one of the worst books I've ever read, many friends said, and you should never read it if you value your sanity. Can it be helped that I got curious? But now that I've read it, I have to agree with them. It lived up to its negative hype and exceeded it. The one nice thing I heard was the the cover was lovely and in that respect, it also lived up to the hype. Bonus cover section The cover, I admit, is beautiful. The models' poses and the sun shining through creates a striking effect. Such a lovely cover is part of why Halo had so much hype. When beautiful covers like this are made, word gets around and people want to see if what's between the covers is as good. Some say that good covers often hide bad stories; in this case, I agree. Lovely covers do not a good book make. 0 stars! Halo was as bad as I'd heard it was and then some.
What am I reading next?: Chime by Franny Billingsley

Monday, June 27, 2011

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

Title: Beauty QueensAuthor: Libba Bray
Publisher: Scholastic, Inc./Scholastic Press
Release Date: May 24th, 2011
Pages: 400 pages (hardcover)
How I Got the Book: Amazon Vine
The fifty contestants in the Miss Teen Dream pageant thought this was going to be a fun trip to the beach, where they could parade in their state-appropriate costumes and compete in front of the cameras. But sadly, their airplane had another idea crashing on a desert island and leaving the survivors stranded with little food, little water, and practically no eyeliner.

What's a beauty queen to do? Continue to practice for the talent portion of the program--or wrestle snakes to the ground? Get a perfect tan--or learn to run wild? And what should happen when the sexy pirates show up?

Welcome to the heart of non-exfoliated darkness. Your tour guide? None other than Libba Bray, the hilarious, sensational, Printz Award-winning author of A Great and Terrible Beauty and Going Bovine. The result is a novel that will make you laugh, make you think, and make you never see beauty the same way again.

Review:

After their Corporation plane crashes on a desert island, the fourteen surviving beauty queens of the Corporation-sponsored Miss Teen Dream beauty pageant must fend for themselves and find a way to either make a home out of the island or be rescued. Between their clashes and practicing for the pageant, they come to rely on one another and discover themselves now that they're away from the pressures put on them by society and even their own families. But just beyond the forest, there is a Corporation compound planning an illegal arms deal with a dictator. These women aren't going down without a fight once they're discovered and plan to save the day, along with get the hell off that island.

When I read this just over a month ago, I loved it. Hell, I was over the MOON for it. After time to think about it, I fell out of love with this book. It isn't as great as I first thought it was and it would be a travesty if I didn't correct myself and make my true opinion known. Looking back at my old review, I'm wondering why I felt the way I did and I'm left without answers. My old review feels kind of... well, forced. Like I was blinded by the hype and forcing myself to say it because I just couldn't imagine not liking it.

There were a few funny points, but this satire wasn't as funny as I thought it was. The characters, starting out as stereotypes, all got their moment of depth but none of the moments were very well. The messages of female empowerment, that women and diversity should be celebrated and people should accept themselves as they are, are awesome, but they're not presented well. It's more like they're preached at me.

Preachy. Yeah, that's the one word I would use to describe this book. All of the values and ideas felt like they were being preached and thrown at me, not smoothly woven into the story. I support and believe in all that stuff already, so there's no need to preach it all to me. The magic of satire is that it makes people think about the subject, right? With Beauty Queens, all the ideas are presented to you and the reader doesn't have to think. The magic of it goes out just like that.

What wins the book for me even a little bit is that I did have soft spots for three of the characters (Adina, Petra, and Shanti) and that I liked most of the footnotes in the book. The ideas are great, but the way they're presented isn't.

In the end, Beauty Queens now leaves me speechless, and not in the way people want to be left speechless. This review itself is an example because this has to be one of the shortest reviews I've ever written. There's not much I can say or go in-depth about. (Also, I'm trying to cut down on my babbling.)

2 stars!

What am I reading next?: Chime by Franny Billingsley

The Iron Thorn by Caitlin Kittredge

Title: The Iron Thorn
Author: Caitlin Kittredge
Publisher: Random House/Delacorte Press
Release Date: February 22, 2011
Pages: 492 pages (hardback)
How I Got the Book: Bought it.

In the city of Lovecraft, the Proctors rule and a great Engine turns below the streets, grinding any resistance to their order to dust. The necrovirus is blamed for Lovecraft's epidemic of madness, for the strange and eldritch creatures that roan the streets after dark, and for everything that the Proctors deem Heretical, or born of the belief in magic and witchcraft. And for Aoife Grayson, time is running shorter by the day.

Aoife's family is unique in the worst way. Her mother and older brother, Conrad, both went mad on their sixteenth birthdays. And now, a ward of the state nearing her own sixteenth birthday, Aoife is trying to pretend that her fate can be different.

Her future seems bleak. Until one day she receives a letter that reads simply:

Find the witch's alphabet.
Save yourself.

Aoife knows the letter is from Conrad, but the last time she saw her brother was the day he lost his mind and attacked her before going on the run from the Proctors. Could it be that he is sane somewhere and warning her to get out while she still can--or is the note simply a message from a rambling madman?

To save herself, Aoife must find her brother. And to do that, she must leave Lovecraft and venture into a world of Heretics and air pirates, night creatures and dark family secrets... before the clock winds down, and she too succumbs to the necrovirus.

Review:

Aoife (pronounced EE-fa) Grayson is a ward of the state and has been so since her mother was committed. Enrolled in the School of Engines so she can become an engineer, she hopes that the necrovirus that drove her mother and brother to insanity won't strike her down too. Weeks before her sixteenth birthday, a letter arrives from her brother Conrad, who ran away when he turned sixteen, asking for help. Accompanied by her friend Cal and a flirtatious guide named Dean, Aoife sets out for her father's home, the only place she can imagine Conrad going. What she learns will expose her to a truth the Proctors have been keeping from the public and force her to make a terrible choice.

I... Quite frankly, I don't know what to think of this book. My head's pounding from trying to make sense of it, so I don't think that's a good thing.

The characters all had their flaws, and none of them ever tried to be anything but perfect. Aoife isn't exactly a sweetheart to the people around her and Cal... I can't even begin to talk about Cal. I'll leave it at "I don't like him." Aoife's fear of insanity felt real to me, and it had me wondering sometimes if she were already insane and being an unreliable narrator. The strongest point overall was the development of Dean and Aoife's relationship. The way their friendship grew into attraction and took its sweet time rocked, and it made sense when I asked why they liked each other! I wish more couples could trust each other the way these two do.

Sometimes, that characterization gets kind of inconsistent, though instances of this are few. For example, Aoife calls herself clumsy when she's been nothing of the sort throughout all the book before it. Then she'll flip-flop between "I'm not a proper girl, so stop trying to make me be one!" and "I'm a proper girl and I can't like him because that's not what proper girls do!" She gets over this quickly, thank goodness.

This was my first voyage into steampunk and I'm not so sure this was a good place for me to start. No pains are made to explain about aether or dirigibles or anything like that; that's good for previous steampunk readers, but it's confusing for complete newbies like me. Though a lot of the elements are there, the story isn't completely steampunk. I would call it equal parts dystopia, steampunk, and paranormal for the fairies that come in later in the book. Pretty much everything you start with at the beginning of the book has been turned upside-down by the end by progression of the plot and nothing about it--what the right choice is, how to fix what went wrong, figuring out what just happened--is easy.

Sometimes the prose is pretty, sometimes it's not ("My stomach closed like a fist" (p. 2)), but the book itself feels overwritten most of the time. Heavily descriptive and full of metaphors and similes, the scenes get bogged down and slows down the entire book as a result. Description and lovely turns of prose are great, but they stop being great when they come at a cost to the novel as a whole. Multiple descriptions could have been axed altogether and when your character is getting so specific after getting bit by a monster and barely being conscious, you're definitely overwriting it.

But I feel it necessary to warn anyone planning to read this book that there is sexism in it. There are remarks like "You're smart for a girl, but..." (p. 128) and "We won't always be schoolkids, Aoife. What will a husband think of this bookwork habit? (p. 298) thrown around. Women are considered unfit to do certain jobs and go to certain schools, such as an aerodynamics school, just because they're women. Considering that this takes place both in the 1950s and in an alternate universe, some may make an allowance for that despite a dislike of it. On one hand, it would be realistic for the times (though the different universe may offset that). On the other hand, sexism isn't okay period. In the end, I'll just make people aware that it's here in case it's something a reader feels they can't tolerate for any reason in a book.

This isn't the kind of book I would hurry to press on others. If you are absolutely confident that you can take it and you want to read The Iron Thorn, I say go for it. If you have doubts, you might not want to buy it and if you still want to read it, borrow a copy instead. I'm not sure whether or not I'll be staying around for The Nightmare Garden, book two of the trilogy, though I'm interested in whether or not Aoife can fix her mistakes.

3 stars! It's a flawed book, but I still had some fun reading it.


What am I reading next?: Chime by Franny Billingsley

Friday, June 24, 2011

H.Y.P.E. Project: Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

Title: Unearthly
Author: Cynthia Hand
Publisher: HarperCollins/HarperTeen
Release Date: January 4, 2011
Pages: 435 pages (hardback)
How I Got the Book: Found a copy for the H.Y.P.E. Project (details here)

 In the beginning, there's a boy standing in the trees . . .

Clara Gardner has recently learned that she's part angel. Having angel blood run through her veins not only makes her smarter, stronger, and faster than humans (a word, she realizes, that no longer applies to her), but it means she has a purpose, something she was put on this earth to do. Figuring out what that is, though, isn't easy.

Her visions of a raging forest fire and an alluring stranger lead her to a new school in a new town. When she meets Christian, who turns out to be the boy of her dreams (literally), everything seems to fall into place—and out of place at the same time. Because there's another guy, Tucker, who appeals to Clara's less angelic side.

As Clara tries to find her way in a world she no longer understands, she encounters unseen dangers and choices she never thought she'd have to make—between honesty and deceit, love and duty, good and evil. When the fire from her vision finally ignites, will Clara be ready to face her destiny?

Unearthly is a moving tale of love and fate, and the struggle between following the rules and following your heart.

Review:

Clara Gardner is a quarter angel, properly called Quartarius, and she has a special purpose she was put on Earth to do. Disorienting visions of a fire and a dark-haired teenage boy it seems she's supposed to rescue take her from California to Jackson Hole, Wyoming after some investigation. The boy, Christian, barely takes notice of her at first and then there's that stupid Tucker, who has way too much fun teasing her. Clara makes friends, discovers more about angel-bloods, and starts to feel conflicted about what she's supposed to do. When the time comes, will she choose to follow the fated path in front of her or make a path of her own?

For the H.Y.P.E. Project, I'm going to shake up my review format a little bit and see how I like it.

Characters

None of the characters are perfect and no one is trying to pass them off as such. Clara was a likable if sometimes self-centered heroine and she made a good narrator. Her mom Margaret was a different story, but I understood why she acted the way she did and wouldn't tell Clara anything. Making me sympathize with a character I don't like really takes skill. Other supporting characters, like love interest Tucker and close friend Angela, had likable personalities too. Christian was a little plain for me and Kay, though she wasn't anywhere close to being a stock character, had some elements of the "mean girl love rival" cliche in her. (And don't think I didn't notice the puntastic names. I did.)

Pacing/Plot

I'll admit that at times, I had to force myself to keep reading because there wasn't much happening. The pacing was slowed down to make some time for development and that wonderful development is enough to make me forgive that flaw. Occasional visions and tidbits of angel-blood information kept me interested, the climax had me glued to my seat, and I did not see that ending coming. The change of making the girl the supernatural creature was nice and the plot itself was somewhat fresh.

Themes/Conflicts

Fate is one idea I love seeing be played with, but I'm a little picky on which books do it well and which books don't. Unearthly did a great job of it, raising the question of whether or not fate can be defied or changed. The tough choice between doing what you're supposed to do and what you want to do was good too, and Clara's conflict with that was played out well. Most of the time, books are overdramatic about it, but not this time. Love triangles are usually really obvious in who the girl is going to get with in the end and have little to no tension. Unearthly delivers here too; the reader can easily understand why she's torn.

Writing

Oh, the writing was lovely! I'm not a fan of present tense (but that's just a minor pet peeve), but it worked here. Descriptions managed to be rich without verging into the territory of purple prose. It even made me laugh! I may get silly and sometimes emotional when reviewing books, but it rarely happens when I'm still reading them. Not only was it good, nonrepetitive writing, but it was enjoyable storytelling too.

Logic

For the most part, the characters' decisions and reactions are perfectly logical and on-target. There wasn't a moment where I wanted to scream at them that they were being an idiot and should have chosen to do this, not that. And I appreciate that someone finally realized that unless they do something unusual, no one cares about new students. The mythology seemed to make sense too, but there was one little thing that bothered me. Why did the angel-bloods have only one purpose? Wouldn't it make more sense and be more efficient for angel-bloods to be given multiple purposes over their lifetime instead of just having one and being done? It seems so inefficient to have to bring another angel-blood into existence just to do one thing.

Was it worth the hype?

I'm glad to say that yes, Unearthly is worth its hype. The angel/fallen angel subgenre is notorious for offering some of the worst paranormal books I've ever seen published, but Unearthly has honestly earned its reputation it has as the best of the angel books. Coming from me, someone who ardently hates almost all books that have to do with angels and fallen angels, I hope my word means something. Now I actually have some hope for the subgenre--not much hope, but a little is better than none.

Bonus cover section

I'm not over-the-moon in love with the cover, but whoever put it together did a fantastic job. I would steal that model's dress in a heartbeat and her pose is perfect. The choice to make the background purple really makes the beautiful white font stand out, and it all blends together so well!

4 stars! What a wonderful way to start off what I'm sure will be a hellish project for me! This was the book I had the highest expectations for and it delivered.

What am I reading next?: Halo by Alexandra Adornetto (This is not going to be fun.)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Fury by Elizabeth Miles

This review contains spoilers for the entirety of Fury. If you don't want to ruin the book for yourself, skip this review.

Title: Fury
Author: Elizabeth Miles
Publisher: Simon & Schuster/Simon Pulse
Release Date: August 30, 2011
Pages: 352 pages (hardback)
How I Got the Book: Simon & Schuster Galley Grab

The first book in a paranormal teen trilogy featuring three beautiful, mysterious girls wreaking havoc on a small New England town.

Sometimes sorry isn't enough....

It’s winter break in Ascension, Maine. The snow is falling and everything looks pristine and peaceful. But not all is as it seems...

Between cozy traditions and parties with her friends, Emily loves the holidays. And this year’s even better--the guy she’s been into for months is finally noticing her. But Em knows if she starts things with him, there’s no turning back. Because his girlfriend is Em’s best friend.

On the other side of town, Chase is having problems of his own. The stress of his home life is starting to take its toll, and his social life is unraveling. But that’s nothing compared to what’s really haunting him. Chase has done something cruel...something the perfect guy he pretends to be would never do. And it’s only a matter of time before he’s exposed.

In Ascension, mistakes can be deadly. And three girls—three beautiful, mysterious girls—are here to choose who will pay.

Em and Chase have been chosen.

Review:

It's winter in Ascension, Maine and a girl named Sasha has just attempted to kill herself. Right after this is when strange things start happening to Emily and Chase. Emily is lusting after her best friend's boyfriend and shortly after they start having an affair, three strange girls keep showing up. Chase is the star quarterback of the football team and had a connection with Sasha he doesn't want to talk or think about. Then he meets a beautiful redheaded girl named Ty and he can't stop thinking about her. Red orchids mark them as targets and they will be punished for their crimes.

Oh, Fury... Where do I begin? By saying you made me furious? No, too much of a pun. How about we get right to it and talk about why I didn't think you were a good book at all.

Chase, the male protagonist, was a jerk. If that had been a character trait he outgrew as he developed, grew up, and took responsibility for his own actions, that would have been fine. It wasn't, and he never did any of that. Ty comes along and acts very suspiciously, later doing things that humiliate him. He just forgives and forgets it all. When he admits he's never felt so strongly about someone before after just one meeting, why doesn't it occur to him to stop and think about how abnormal this is and think about the blatantly suspicious things Ty does? I played with the thought of some glamour or spell that kept him from thinking clearly, but there was no evidence of one existing and no one else was affected.

Our female protagonist Emily is no better. She is so naive that it could kill someone. Zach's intentions with her were obvious from what he said and did, but Emily is so sure he'll break up with Gabby for her. According to Emily, Gabby will totally forgive her for going behind her back with her boyfriend and won't be mad at all, and they'll still be best friends. Apologizing to the girl who tried to kill herself will make the Furies leave and make everything perfect again, also according to Emily. Even when all of this is proven wrong, Emily never sheds her infuriating naivete. I don't feel Emily ever really took responsibility for what she did and doing that much would have made me like her character much more.

Was the reader supposed to know from the beginning that Ty, Meg, and Ali were Furies? Between the title, their actions upon introduction, and how they're written, it's too obvious. It just has to be intentional. If it's not and the reveal at the very end of the book is supposed to be a Big Reveal, someone has seriously failed. It's still a serious fail even it if was supposed to be obvious. Anyone that reads this and figures it out early will have to endure "Who are they? How are they able to do that?" from the main characters for almost the entire book, and enduring a character's cluelessness when you figured it out a long time ago makes for a frustrating reading experience.

Not only do I want to know why the Greek Furies are in Maine, but I also want to know why they're wasting their time on Emily and Chase. Emily made out with her best friend's boyfriend and Chase humiliated a girl, which doubtlessly factored into her suicide attempt. Their actions weren't okay, but don't the Furies have better targets to go after than these kids? There are millions of murderers and animal abusers out there, but the Furies feel these kids committed crimes more worth their time than murder and animal abuse?

Slut shaming is not okay, okay? It was not at all okay for Emily to be called a slut for kissing Zach. I hate seeing slut thrown around so easily. Homophobia is also not okay. Calling Chase a faggot after his poetry (really Emily's, but everyone thinks it's Chase's) and naked pictures of him and are posted around the school is about fifty kinds of wrong and makes me want to scream. Not all guys that write poetry are gay, thinking about how your actions make other people feel is not gay, and it's not a bad thing to be gay. This book could use a lesson in that.

Besides entertainment value, Fury also lacks logic. A girl becomes a social pariah in part because she let two boys kiss her at the same party? I call bull. What does Chase decide is a good idea the day a photo of him begging on his knees is spread around school, making it look like he's begging for money when he's really begging for Ty to get off a bridge ledge before she falls in a river? Letting Ty take pictures of him completely naked, and those eventually end up posted around school too. Then Emily refuses to tell JD that she thinks she's being followed because she's afraid he'll think he's crazy. What people think of your mental capacity stops being important when you think you're being stalked.

Here are some questions for you: If Zach cheated on Gabby multiple times before cheating on her with Emily, and if Emily is targeted by the Furies immediately after making out with Zach for betraying her best friend, why wasn't Zach targeted at the same time for cheating on his girlfriend? Why didn't the Furies target him back when he first cheated on Gabby or any of the many times after that? And why is Zach not targeted by the Furies until the final two pages of the book? Now add in that Gabby blames Emily for what happened and not Zach, and Gabby gives Zach no trouble until she catches him cheating on her herself. All of this stinks of something disgusting.

On the bright side, the writing wasn't atrocious; it was easy to read and unless I skipped over them, I didn't find anything that gave me reason to nitpick over grammar, sentence structure, metaphors, similes, and other such details. It could have been much better, but it could have been much worse too. Then there was a moment where I cheered because JD called Emily out for being a naive, spoiled little girl in regards to the situation with Zach and Gabby. That was probably motivated out of jealousy more than anything and it only happened once, but I was happy to see that it happened at all.

Overall, I don't feel like Fury was worth the time I spent reading it. Reading isn't supposed to give me a headache born out of anger and frustration like this, is it? I was supposed to be entertained, and entertainment never happened. If any of what I've discussed is something you don't want to read about in books, then Fury is not the book for you.

1 star!



What am I reading next?: Unearthly by Cynthia Hand--the first book of the H.Y.P.E. Project!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Special Post: the H.Y.P.E. Project

Lately, I've been hearing so much hype for certain books in the young adult genre. Maybe their author got a $1 million advance from their publisher for a trilogy. Maybe they got a movie deal before they were even published. It might just be that they're something good and different in a genre that's starting to get a little monotonous and samey.

Checking out these hyped books and seeing if they're worth all the hype is the purpose of the H.Y.P.E. Project. What is H.Y.P.E. an acronym for? Absolutely nothing! The plan is to review the book just like any other book and divide each review into specific categories: characters, plot/pacing, setting, themes, writing, logic (because a surprising number of books lack logic nowadays), and then a section talking about why it was hyped and whether or not it was worth the hype.

These are the books that are definite parts of the H.Y.P.E. Project:

(All novels struck through and with links attached were already read and reviewed, and the links will take you to the review.)

Matched by Ally Condie
Divergent by Veronica Roth
Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini
Across the Universe by Beth Revis
Die For Me by Amy Plum
Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
Nightshade by Andrea Cremer
Unearthly by Cynthia Hand
Halo by Alexandra Adornetto
Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Are there any books you've heard a lot of hype about that I forgot to put on the list? Comment and tell me what I missed! I'm always open to more books as long as I feel they fit the proper criteria. I'd like them to be published in 2009 or later and have a good reason for the hype such as:

  • being different or a "good" book of its not-so-wonderful subgenre (like Die For Me and Unearthly, respectively),
  • getting a movie deal and a huge advance (like Divergent),
  • being "this popular book meets this popular book" (like Matched),
  • having a really pretty cover (like Hush, Hush),
  • or just being so God awful that word of how awful it is gets around (like Halo and Hush, Hush).

So cast your vote in a comment for whichever book you want me to read ASAP. There's one book I'm going to read first (The Iron Thorn by Caitlin Kittredge, which I've been waiting half a year to read), but then I'll get started. Let's hope at least one of these books is worth my time; two of them are confirmed wrecks, one because I've read it before (I'm including it in this project for the sake of GLORIOUSLY ripping it a new one) and the other because I've read thorough reviews of it and content of the book dictates I will hate it no matter what.

This project will not be done speedily; I'll probably rotate between H.Y.P.E. books and books I've got waiting for me at home. But they will be read and I will try to find out which books are worth their hype and which ones don't deserve a word of it. My brain might be mush by the end of this project.

Rhymes With Cupid by Anna Humphrey

Title: Rhymes With Cupid
Author: Anna Humphrey
Publisher: HarperCollins/HarperTeen
Release Date: December 21, 2010
Pages: 234 pages (paperback)
How I Got the Book: Bought it

Rhymes with Cupid

Summary:


Goodman's Gifts & Stationery Store
February 14
Cashier: Elyse
3 boxes of heart-shaped chocolate . . . $12.00
Chocolate is the only good thing about this nauseating holiday.

4 containers of candy hearts . . . $5.00
Ever since my ex cheated on me, I've sworn off love. Too bad my new neighbor Patrick didn't get the memo.

1 Valentine's Day card . . . $4.50
I'm not interested. Although, he is pretty cute. And sweet. And funny.

1 singing Cupid doll (promotional item) . . . $0.00
Stupid Cupid! Point your arrows at someone else. . . .

Subtotal . . . $21.50
It's going to be a complicated Valentine's Day.

Why I Didn't Finish This Book

I had no expectations of Rhymes With Cupid beyond it being a fluff book to enjoy during summer and give myself a break with, but it was unable to succeed even in that respect.

The main reason I'm putting down Rhymes With Cupid for good is its main character and narrator Elyse Phillips. I like reading about characters who, for one reason or another, are cynical about love. I really do. It seemed like she had some sense, but she was so over-the-top in her dislike of love that it was painful to read, like how it seemed more like she was forcing herself to stay single and not move on rather than her choice not to date being natural. And her bad saleswomanship when Patrick was looking for a Valentine's Day card and she badmouthed all the cards. And her completely serious plans for Valentine's day to buy a bunch of chocolate and devour them all. She also spends her time lying to her co-worker Dina about Patrick having an interest in Dina.

In general, she's a drama queen and hard-to-like narrator. She constantly whines about "oh, I'm such an awful driver, I'll kill people if I get on the road!" I'm a horrible driver too. Once, I forgot where the brake was and I nearly hit a man and a mailbox because of it. I make jokes about how I shouldn't be on the road because of that, but she's dead serious all the time. And she's really not that bad of a driver. When Patrick takes an interest of Elyse's to teach her how to parallel park, Elyse flips the hell out. He chose to make her park between two very expensive cars, yeah, but how about rejoicing that you did it without damaging either car instead of freaking out over what didn't happen?

I will give it to Elyse that she is flawed, deeply flawed, but she had no redeeming traits whatsoever. There is not one thing I like about her personality and since the entire book is about her romantic dilemmas, it's best I stop here and save myself another 160 pages.

All that made this book interesting for me at all was a quick alternative character interpretation I did. Here goes: Her ex cheating on her with her best friend messed with Elyse's mind and made her both cynical and hateful of love. When Dina shows herself to be vulnerable and Patrick walks into the shop, Elyse sees an opportunity. She manipulates Dina, feeding her lie after lie about Patrick thinking she's cute, and gets Dina's hopes up. Then Dina will discover that Patrick doesn't like her and be heartbroken. Possibly mad at Elyse first, but Elyse will lie more and convince her Patrick lied, not her. Then Dina will be heartbroken and manipulate others the way Elyse does. An endless cycle of screwing with your head.

I'm sure that if I read further, my alternative character interpretation would fall apart, but I don't mind.  It was just something to entertain myself (and hopefully you) with for a few minutes.

Normally, I only mark a book a DNF if it's so awful that finishing it and ripping it apart with my review wouldn't be worth my pain. I really do try to finish every book I read. There are ten books in my room still waiting to be read and now I have the H.Y.P.E. Project on my agenda, which includes a dozen or more books. Rhymes With Cupid is not bad, but it's not interesting to me and I ultimately don't have the time to waste on it right now. If there's nothing that clicks with me, I'm not going to stick with it.

What am I reading next?: The Iron Thorn by Caitlin Kittredge

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Sister Mischief by Laura Goode

Title: Sister Mischief
Author: Laura Goode
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Release Date: July 12, 2011
Pages: 264 pages (hardback)
How I Got the Book: From the publisher via NetGalley.

Listen up: You’re about to get rocked by the fiercest, baddest all-girl hip-hop crew in the Twin Cities - or at least in the wealthy, white, Bible-thumping suburb of Holyhill, Minnesota. Our heroine, Esme Rockett (aka MC Ferocious) is a Jewish lesbian lyricist. In her crew, Esme’s got her BFFs Marcy (aka DJ SheStorm, the butchest straight girl in town) and Tess (aka The ConTessa, the pretty, popular powerhouse of a vocalist). But Esme’s feelings for her co-MC, Rowie (MC Rohini), a beautiful, brilliant, beguiling desi chick, are bound to get complicated. And before they know it, the queer hip-hop revolution Esme and her girls have exploded in Holyhill is on the line. Exciting new talent Laura Goode lays down a snappy, provocative, and heartfelt novel about discovering the rhythm of your own truth.

Rating:

Esme and her BFFs Marcy, Tess, and Rowie make up Sister Mischief, the fiercest undiscovered all-girl hip-hop group in the area. When not working on rhymes and practicing, they hang out and bug the crap out of each other the way only best friends can. When the principal of their school in wealthy SWASP suburb Holyhill makes a rule against hip-hop at school because it "incites violence," the girls start 4H, a combination gay-straight alliance and club for discussing hip-hop and rap. Well, they try to. Principal Nordling won't give them approval unless they prove the club is worth something. Meanwhile, Esme is experiencing first love with another girl--and maybe first heartbreak.

Hip-hop and rap are not my favorite genres. Actually, they're two of my lest favorite genres, saved from the bottom spot only because I dislike heavy metal more (that is entirely too much noise for me to handle). The slang and the dated name-dropping was confusing at times, but I expected to love this book when I finally read it. Did I? Yes, I did. So much so that when these girls performed, I rapped the lyrics to myself.

Esme, Marcy, Tess, and Rowie are all trying to find and define themselves just like any teenager girl would, and their search for identity, along with the trials of growing up, is what this book is about. I can remember having the same struggles and even now, I'm still struggling with finding who I am. Readers will identify well with these girls even if the reader has nothing in common with them.

The cast is strikingly diverse in ethnicity and sexual orientation. The conflict of how difficult it can be to be different in a town that thinks different (such as not being straight or white) gets the spotlight for a while too. If that issue had been left out of a book where the main character is a lesbian, her love interest is an Indian who feels out-of-place and doesn't want to disappoint her traditional family any further, and other supporting characters are equally diverse, the rating would have been much lower. I was nearly shaking in anger at some points because of how Esme is treated for being different, but it's real and ignoring that even in fiction would be wrong. Hate crimes and bullying happen.

And these girls actually act like best friends too! It's not just a claim that they're best friends and then they treat each other badly or hardly talk and spend time together; no, Esme and co. are rarely ever apart, they stand by each other, and they have their fights and tough times like most friends do. Their banter reminds me of the kind I have with my two BFFS (except my friends and I spend way more time quoting A Very Potter Musical/Sequel at each other and freaking out over books and cats). their friendly camaraderie and the multiple conflicts combined and made this a difficult book to stop reading.

And may I say I admire their manipulative genius? Not everyone can take a prank completely unrelated to them and turn it into a way to get the word out about 4H, point out how the administration lets pranks like that happen and won't let an educational club have approval, and give a little "take that!" to Principal Nordling?

I thought my favorite would be Tess at first, who forced herself to endure Mary Ashley's company so 4H would be given credibility (considering Mary Ashley, this is a true feat), but by the time I turned the last page, my favorite character turned out to be Rowie. She sometimes grated on me, but so was so complex and presented so sympathetically that I couldn't just say "I loved her" or "I hated her." Some of the things she did and the way she treated her relationship with Esme grated on my nerves, but I understood why she acted the way she did.

What kept Sister Mischief from near-perfection was Mary Ashley Baumgarten, aka MashBaum. She was a cardboard cut-out cartoon Christian if you've ever seen one. Maybe this is just my useless hope for humanity, but I think even the people that originated the negative stereotype would have better insults than "feminist lesbian vegetarian baby killers" to throw at someone. She is not portrayed as the average Christian or average Christian, thank goodness; she's mostly there to drum up conflict and be a contrast to Tess, a very open-minded Christian. Such flat characterization when in a novel with complex characters is a minus.

Sister Mischief was a truly amazing book and I can't wait to get my hands on my own copy so I can hug it and keep it on my shelf and reread it until it falls apart. Then I'll buy another copy and start all over again.

4 stars for being an awesome LGBT book and giving me complex characters the likes of which are hard to find nowadays, but also throwing in a cartoon Christian with baffling insults. Check this out when it comes out July 12th.


What am I reading next?: Rhymes With Cupid by Anna Humphrey

Friday, June 10, 2011

Misfit by Jon Skovron

Title: Misfit
Author: Jon Skovron
Publisher: ABRAMS/Amulet
Release Date: August 1st, 2011
Pages: 384 pages (hardback)
How I Got the Book: From the publisher via NetGalley.

Jael Thompson has never really fit in. She’s changed schools too many times to count. The only family she’s ever known is her father, a bitter ex-priest who never lets her date and insists she attend the strictest Catholic school in Seattle. And her mother—well, she was a five thousand year old demon. That doesn’t exactly help.
But on her sixteenth birthday, her father gives her a present that brings about some unexpected changes. Some of the changes, like strange and wonderful powers and the cute skater boy with a knack for science, are awesome. But others, like the homicidal demon seeking revenge on her family? Not so much.

Steeped in mythology, this is an epic tale of a heroine who balances old world with new, science with magic, and the terrifying depths of the underworld with the ordinary halls of high school.

Review:

Jael Thompson as spent most of her life moving around with her cold ex-priest father. She finally feels at home in Seattle with her best friend Britt and her crush Rob, but she's scared her father will want to pick up and move again soon. On her sixteenth birthday, Jael gets a necklace left for her by her mother and learns the big secret: her mother was a demon, making Jael half demon. Now that she has her powers to use, Jael is a threat to Hell and they want her dead. A very powerful demon who wants revenge is hot on her tail and he'll use anything to hurt her, including her friends and family.

Some heroines are intelligent. Some make a few short-sighted mistakes but are otherwise smart. Some are dim bulbs. Jael is special; she's TSTL, so utterly moronic that the stupidity of her actions should have led to her death. She uses her demonic powers in public multiple times (once, she lights a fireball when someone is calling her name and following her; she would have been screwed if it had been anyone but Rob), continues to use them despite knowing it will lead the antagonist to her, and never thinks about what her actions mean for others. When Belial does eventually get to her, she won't even tell her dad what happened.

I won't say that Jael isn't a flawed character--she is flawed in how she is rebellious and does stupid things to try and have a stable life--but she is quite likely one of the most moronic protagonists I've ever read about. Two of the supporting characters, Britt and Belial, were especially weak. Britt was selfish, irritating, vain, and what eventually happened to her was a very predictable twist. The antagonist Belial needs a copy of the Evil Overlord List. His evil villain monologues about he is SO TOTALLY AWESOME and Jael will never defeat him blatantly foreshadowed his defeat. And then he lets her go because he thinks she can't beat him.

Speaking of blatant foreshadowing, the segment where Britt had a chat conversation with her mystery guy was completely unnecessary and insulting to my intelligence. I was pretty sure of who her mystery guy was at that point and that scene confirmed it. Did someone think the readers would be so stupid that they needed that scene to figure out who it was, or that they wouldn't figure it out after such a bold, barely disguised hint?

And for reference, giving a heroine the power to see inside someone's soul and understand every part of them is a bad idea. It's a cheap, unsatisfying cop-out to keep from giving characters development the old-fashioned way. Magic isn't the solution to everything.

At one point, Jael uses the power of spirit, which she had never used at that point, on her love interest Rob. Not only was this a huge danger to Rob's life and very stupid to do in public, but it made me discredit all romantic interactions the two had after that point. If what she did to his spirit felt so utterly orgasmic that he asked her to marry him in all seriousness when she was done, how can I trust that his feelings for her after that are genuine? There is nothing that makes me think his feelings for her are more about who she is than how she can make him feel with her powers.

It takes something extraordinary to break my suspension of disbelief, especially in an urban fantasy or anything with supernatural elements, but Misfit did it twice. Jael hasn't had her powers for very long or used them very much, but she's powerful enough to defeat a Grand Duke of Hell, a powerful demon close to Lucifer himself. Yeah, I call bull. It happened again when her mother Astarte's love and kindness was so overwhelming that it made Asmodeus, demon of lust characterized in this novel as "master of gamblers and whores, corrupter and despoiler of life (ARC p. 86)," change and choose to watch over Jael.

There was even a cute little instance of description fail: "His breath smells like static electricity (ARC p. 293)." Since when did static electricity have a smell? Someone suggested to me that it meant the demon's breath smelled like ozone, a sharp smell like metal and bleach associated with electricity, but that intent didn't come across clearly if that were the case. There had to be a better way to describe his breath than that.

What made this book even slightly worthwhile was reading about was Jael's father Paul. I preferred to read about him, how he fell in love with his demon wife, how they fought demons together, and how Paul struggled with raising his daughter when he didn't know how to be a parent than read about his rebellious daughter who lacked the brains to think about repercussions and have self-preservation. If the book's focus had been Paul and Astarte instead of  Jael, the book would have been much better.

Considering how the book ends, I'm almost completely sure this will turn into a series. There will be plenty that jump on board for the series once Misfit comes out in August 2011, but I'm not one of them. It was wonderful to have a POC heroine (her mother was Arabic) because it's so hard to find POC heroines in the genre, but she and her story could use a lot of improvement on their weaknesses.

2 stars!

What am I reading next?: Sister Mischief by Laura Goode

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Nevermore by Kelly Creagh

Title: Nevermore
Author: Kelly Creagh
Publisher: Simon &Schuster/Atheneum
Release Date: August 31st, 2010
Pages: 543 pages (hardback)
How I Got the Book: Bought it.

Cheerleader Isobel Lanley is horrified when she is paired with Varen Nethers for an English project, which is due—so unfair—on the day of the rival game. Cold and aloof, sardonic and sharp-tongued, Varen makes it clear he’d rather not have anything to do with her either. But when Isobel discovers strange writing in his journal, she can’t help but give this enigmatic boy with the piercing eyes another look.

Soon, Isobel finds herself making excuses to be with Varen. Steadily pulled away from her friends and her possessive boyfriend, Isobel ventures deeper and deeper into the dream world Varen has created through the pages of his notebook, a realm where the terrifying stories of Edgar Allan Poe come to life.

As her world begins to unravel around her, Isobel discovers that dreams, like words, hold more power than she ever imagined, and that the most frightening realities are those of the mind. Now she must find a way to reach Varen before he is consumed by the shadows of his own nightmares.

His life depends on it.

Review:

The project Mr. Swanson has due on Halloween, the night of the big game, is bad enough, but what makes it worse for Isobel Lanley is that she's paired with resident Goth kid Varen Nethers, who's got a sharp tongue and feels just as unhappy about working with her. It sucks at first, but then it starts... well, not sucking. She doesn't see her boyfriend and friends the same way anymore and Isobel starts to pull away from them and finds herself pulled to Varen. Then strange things start happening, like hearing voices whisper her name and seeing people where there shouldn't be anyone. It all has to do with Varen and to save herself, she's got to save him too.

I really don't know where to begin. There are those books that are so wonderful you can babble about them for hours and then there are the books so good you don't know what to say. Nevermore was the latter. I don't know why it took me so long to pick up this book!

The "cheerleader/prep falls for Goth" storyline usually induces eyerolls, but it works well here. Isobel's snotty attitude is quickly grown out of and she loses most traces of being the cheerleader stereotype. Better yet, she's likable! This is one girl that doesn't deal with bull, even--especially--when it's her boyfriend Brad throwing it around. If other YA paranormal heroines like Luce of Fallen and Bella of Twilight had as much of a backbone as Isobel, this genre would be a better place. Neither Isobel nor Varen are perfect fits for their stereotype or perfect people--they're flawed human beings that don't necessarily match their cheerleader or Goth status in every way. Just like any real human being.

And I've got to say, I had a small soft spot for some of the minor characters too. Certainly not Brad, who shares a name and attitude with my brother and should step on some Legos barefoot and fall in a hole, but Gwen's direct manner won me over. Her character felt like she existed for the convenience of Isobel and the plot sometimes, but I still liked her. And is it bad I liked the Nocs too? Characters like Pinfeathers always get to me.

Nevermore requires some patience due to the slow pacing for the first two-thirds of the book, but the plot really works overtime once it gets going. The slow pacing for most of the book could have frustrated me, but it didn't. Instead of feeling like useless fluff, all of what came before the plot's magnificent entrance felt like necessary development for Isobel, Varen, and their relationship. This is one of a select few relationships I can point at and say that this was well developed. There's never any trouble believing by the end of the book that these two love one another. Not lust, not infatuation, but love. I wasn't baffled at what these two do for one another later in the book because I believed they loved each other enough to do that.

The writing was a little wordier than needed sometimes, but it was versatile enough to perfectly describe  scenes like cheerleading practice and running through the nightmare world with ease. The integration of Poe's stories into the plot was a unique touch. I'm not the biggest Poe reader in the world (I've only read "The Cask of Amontillado" and liked it--speaking of which, I saw what she did), but you don't have to be to enjoy this book. If there's something Poe you need to know for the sake of the plot, you get filled in. Imagine rereading this once I know his stories better! There's going to be a little whiplash in going from "high school life tinged with supernatural" to "full-out supernatural" because it switches with the snap of a finger.

I am completely and utterly sold on Nevermore and will now wait impatiently in line with everyone else for its sequel Enshadowed, which doesn't come out until... January 2012, I think? Well, I know what I'll be asking for as a birthday gift. If the summary interests you at all, give it a try. This is the kind of book where the wait is so, so worth it.

5 stars for being so awesome and having something seemingly rare in YA paranormal: a romance with proper development. This book is safe from the imaginary swing of a ukulele.


What am I reading next?: Misfit by Jon Skovron

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Stay by Deb Caletti

Title: Stay
Author: Deb Caletti
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: April 5th, 2011
Pages: 320 pages (hardback)
How I Got the Book: Bought it.

Clara's relationship with Christian is intense from the start, and like nothing she's ever experienced before. But what starts as devotion quickly becomes obsession, and it's almost too late before Clara realizes how far gone Christian is--and what he's willing to do to make her stay.

Now Clara has left the city--and Christian--behind. No one back home knows where she is, but she still struggles to shake off her fear. She knows Christian won't let her go that easily, and that no matter how far she runs, it may not be far enough...

Review:

It began at a basketball game and went downhill from there. Clara and Christian's relationship seemed like a dream at the start and maybe even a love that was meant to be, but it soon revealed itself to be a nightmare. Christian's obsession with Clara forces her and her father to flee to Bishop Rock for a summer to get away from him and keep the two apart. Clara, still dealing with all the guilt and fear that her relationship left her with, starts to like Bishop Rock, her snappy boss Sylvie (who's taking a liking to Clara's father), and a sailor boy named Finn. But Christian isn't going away that easily and secrets--not just Clara's secrets, but the secrets of many people--will drown you if you don't let them go.

Books about obsession or obsessive love portrayed as such are my ultimate drug. I rarely read them so that I can keep the magic (and also because I have some trouble finding them; I would love recommendations, if you could be so kind), but I love them so much. Caletti took my favorite subject and wrote a phenomenal book I know will join my list of favorites and be reread in the future.

For all the ideas out there that getting out of an unhealthy relationship is as easy as saying it's over, it's not that easy. Many times, as in Clara's case, the ex refuses to let it lie and will beg for another chance, sometimes putting themselves and others in danger in the process. The guilt Clara feels, how she had to tiptoe around and be careful about what she said so Christian wouldn't get mad or jealous, that feeling that you have to fix what's wrong because it's your fault they feel that way or it's your job as their loved one--it matches everything I've ever learned from independent research and even what a friend who was once in that sort of relationship told me.

Sometimes, it was downright frustrating to see Clara do the things she did for Christian, but that's how it is. She didn't know any better or what she could have done at the time. Stay often reads like a memoir, one woman's tale of her past experiences, and she reflects deeply on what she's been through and what she could have done differently. Lyrical prose with similes, metaphors, and ruminations on subjects like words themselves give Stay depth, though it often goes overboard and has multiple deep musings in just a few pages.

This book had me gripped the entire time, especially in chapters and scenes where we go back to when Clara and Christian were dating and what happened shortly after their breakup. Scenes where Christian demonstrated just how deeply obsessed he was left me bug-eyed; my hands shook as they held the book and I read like that was all that kept me alive. Another frustration was the way flashbacks and the present were alternated between for most of the book because I wanted all of the story now, damn it, but it kept me reading exactly like it was supposed to.

And the story isn't completely about Clara's secrets and the aftermath of her relationship. We get subplots about her father too! Clara and her father had a special, close relationship the likes of which are rarely seen in young adult books anymore, and he was just as enjoyable and flawed of a character as Clara was. Going along with the theme of how secrets can harm you, he had a few of his own revealed slowly throughout the book. Initially, he is just Clara's dad the famous mystery writer; by the end of the novel, he is Bobby Oates to both Clara and the reader and not just the dad anymore. How many books can you name that take the parent and turn them into more than a parent?

If I loved it so much, what keeps me from giving it the best rating possible? Two things. This was supposed to be the final copy, but I saw multiple areas where further editing was needed, even when considering Clara's love of sentences that aren't always right grammatically, or blatant mistakes were made. Mistakes like "moving" where "movie" should be, occasional moments of stilted writing, and the misspelling of one character's name. Sentences like "My school was playing his, and I was there with my friend Shakti, who was watching her boyfriend Luke, number sixteen, who was at that moment sitting on the bench and drumming his fingers on his knee like he did when he was nervous (p.2)" make me cringe.

Then Clara does something stupid halfway through the book: call her friend and tell her where she is. When it comes to events that push the plot, there are ones that feel like they fall into the natural sequence of events and then there are unnatural ones that feel like they were written in solely to move the plot along. Clara's call felt like the latter. She didn't seem like the kind of character to ignore the advice of a seasoned law enforcement officer who knew what he was talking about when it came to stalkers and obsessive exes.

I would love to see a companion novel to Stay from Christian's point of view so we could get his perspective on his relationship with Clara and see just how deep his obsession runs. If there's anything that fascinates me more than seeing obsession through the eyes of the object of obsession, it's seeing the same thing through the eyes of the one with the obsession. I won't hold my breath on that book, but that would no doubt be just as awesome a book as Stay was.

4 stars!


What am I reading next?: Nevermore by Kelly Creagh