I can find a book to love in any genre -- a beautifully written classic, an interesting mystery or sci-fi, a trashy romance. Bring it!
STORY (YA romance) - I have been anxiously awaiting the release of The One and was pleased to find that Kiera Cass decided to give us something to placate us in the meantime. This book is two separate novellas that give the viewpoints of Maxon and Aspen. If you've been following The Selection series, you will know it's about a competition between 35 young girls wishing to become the wife of Prince Maxon. The main character, America, is in the competition but still has feelings for her old BF Aspen, who is a guard at the palace and watching the competition unfold. It's the ultimate love triangle, not to mention all the tension between the competitors. (Do you watch The Bachelor on TV?)
This book is enjoyable, but there's really nothing new that happens. It's basically the same story as The Selection and The Elite, but it tells where the guys were and what they were doing/thinking when events occurred. You will hear how nervous Maxon was about the competition and how he accidentally met America before it started and liked her immediately. Aspen's perspective is basically about his devotion to "Mare" (nickname for America) and his dislike for Prince Maxon.
If you love this series as I do, you might want to hear these short novellas but, as I said, the story doesn't really progress from the ending of the last book. There's a preview of The One at the end but, again, nothing really new happens.
PERFORMANCE - The stories of Maxon and Aspen each have a different narrator. They both do good jobs, though I think they pronounce the name of the country differently than Amy Rubinate. Amy is back to narrate the preview at the end.
OVERALL - If you are thinking about listening to this series, don't start here. Start with The Selection and then hear The Elite. The series is easy listening, romantic and thoroughly enjoyable. There is no sex and only a little mild violence, so it's recommended for all ages. Not a book for guys.
STORY - As a rule I don't like sad books or movies, but I decided to take a chance on this one for the sake of variety and also the very high ratings. I was not disappointed. The only reason I didn't rate this book a 5 is because it was -- well, predictably sad. The story is about two teenagers, Hazel and Augustus, who both have cancer and fall in love. They are both very smart, mature for their years and have healthy attitudes about their illness. The story doesn't dwell on tear-jerking descriptions of their symptoms and suffering. It is more about how they struggle to just be normal teenagers and try to do what other kids their age do. That is what's so sad, the fact that they just accept amputations, tubes and treatments as normal, often joking about their own shortcomings.
Despite the sadness, it is a beautifully written story and I couldn't stop listening. Hazel and Gus are loveable teenaged characters and their story seems very real. The truth that serious illnesses affect children is something we don't like to think about, but sometimes we need to be reminded.
NARRATION - The reading of this story is good, but there is nothing special about the performance.
OVERALL - If you don't mind a good cry, I would definitely recommend this book.
STORY - (young adult romance/action) Pandemonium is Book 2 in the Delirium Trilogy. Even though this is a young adult series and I'm not a young adult, I am enjoying it very much. The story is interesting and is beautifully written and performed. It takes place in an America where human emotions are deemed dangerous and procedures are done at age 18 to "cure" everyone from their deadly feelings -- except those who escape. The main characters must grow up quickly to survive, and there is lots of mystery, danger, action and, yes, sweet teenage romance.
There is mostly new characters in this book, even though the story picks up immediately where Book 1 left off, and there are two timelines going at once. At first the two timeslines were confusing, but just go with the flow and enjoy. It's easy to keep straight which is which, and it all makes sense in the end. You will want to listen to these books in order, starting with Book 1, but beware of cliffhanger endings in both books -- BIG, FAT cliffhangers!
PERFORMANCE - I can't recall any other narrator who puts as much emotion into a performance as Sara Drew does in these books. As she tells the story through the main character, Layna, you can really feel her joy, fear, strength, pain. Great job.
OVERALL - Highly recommended for young adults and for old people like me who occasionally enjoy a good YA story.
This is the second 'slow burn' YA title I've read/listen to this month. But unlike Matched by Allie Condy, this heroine's langour isn't boring nor does it create a flat character. That's because protagonist Nikki has spent 100 years away from her 17 year old life, trapped in a purgatory. She has to regain emotions lost during that time - and she does over the course of the book. The character development is palpable.
I enjoyed Everneath - there were plenty of mysteries and the 6 month Persephone myth added impetus to the story. As with many YA stories of late, the hero was a bit too good to be true. Although author Brodi Ashton attempted to give him some foibles, they weren't really believable and we didn't get much in the way of his characterization as a result. The same could be said of her best friend, who is almost a cardboard cut out throughout.
But that said, the story flowed smoothly and I enjoyed the ride. I will be purchasing the next title as well.
The audible performance was very good and added to, rather than detracted from, the story.