The first Michael Vey book was almost too painful to finish. The interesting premise gave way to a cliché after cliché for a majority of the book. I stuck it out though and I was rewarded with a very satisfying ending.
I was so impressed and had such high hopes that the story would continue as it had ended that I bought the Rise of the Elgen immediately.
I was not disappointed with the main story line in book 2. The series definitely skews younger than a lot of YA, so while it was simple I still enjoyed the way Michael and his team interacted, set about and achieved their goals in the story.
The only problem is the villain and Elgen story line. The egomaniacal Dr Hatch is a caricature of every super villain you’ve very seen/read. He’s one of the painful clichés set up in Book 1 that unfortunately had to carry through.
Worse still, the book completely flat lines in act 2 when we switch to omniscient narration following Dr Hatch for about five chapters. I almost gave up the book it dragged so painfully reading half as a boring school tour of the Elgen facility and half as a CIA primer on prisoner of war torture (which gave it a very weird vibe.
As I said the main plot with Michael was pretty simple and the sizeable Elgen diversion felt like it was in there to make up pages.
The story did fortunately revive but the author sacrifices the impact of a powerful concise ending to drag it out for a bit of a cliff-hanger – a personal peeve of mine.
Yes, I enjoyed it, yes, I’ll probably read it again (I still wouldn’t’ read Book 1 again where the good doesn’t outweigh he bad) and yes, I’ll read the next book but Rise of the Elgen is far from perfect so it will never become a favourite.
Fussy readers beware but it’s worth a go.
The only reason I didn’t return Sweet Reckoning was so I could at least have the satisfaction of giving it a one-star review.
After supporting the trilogy from the beginning I am so utterly appalled by this anti-climactic final instalment I urge everyone to not waste their time or money.
Turns out ridding the world of demons is so simple that Anna didn’t even break a sweat!
I estimate the yawn-worthy climax took only 40min of the 10hr+ run time
So what’s Sweet Reckoning actually about?
The author is clearly a Stephanie Meyer type – so religiously repressed about sex she had to write three books establishing her protagonists’ undying love and even marry her off just so she could write sex scenes without feeling guilty.
Higgins actually has an angel come down for a post-coital high-five to make it clear this union was totally cool with god.
Yes, the main action of Sweet Reckoning is, literally, Anna finally getting some action.
How many times?
How many ways?
How many places?
Don’t worry - you’ll get all the details you can stomach!
Sure Anna is supposed to be ridding the world of pure demons but there’s sex to be had so she skims the bible on the way to the final show-down and hopes for the best!
There is no planning, plotting or preparation.
No training, scheming or strategizing.
We’ve spent three books leading up to a complete and total non-event!!
Anyone who has read the first two entries would be better off reading some free fanfiction then paying for this mess.
Winter White wasn’t bad…it was just more of the same.
It felt a little pointless to me. The Belles are still at odds, and still won’t work together. The family is still in turmoil and still can’t manage to get ahead of the agents working against them. There are still more social events that have to be shopped for and both Belles are still having problems finding that perfect dress.
Same old, same old.
I’m sure most readers who loved the first and love the rich girl drama genre will continue happily through Winter White and onto the third book.
But I need change, I need progress, I need some character arcs and some plot development.
I won’t be continuing on with the series but, as I said above, there is clearly an audience for this book and I wish them all the best.
This was an incredibly disappointing follow-up to such a promising first book.
While I found the establishment of the ‘wind-walkers’ lore incredibly fun in the first book, the expanded world seemed to fall apart here. We were introduced to a huge number of ‘wind-bending’ techniques that defy even in-world logic to the point of ridiculousness.
I couldn’t invest at all when I couldn’t tell whether I’m even supposed to take any of it seriously.
And if I’m not, why should I keep reading?
It certainly won’t be for the characters who became dithering and indecisive here after a refreshingly genuine courtship in book one.
LtSB hyped up the generic drama and took the characters utterly nowhere. Scene after scene of the couple pondering whether the other one loves them as much as they love the other? Talk about cliché.
To be fair, though, they weren’t given much to work with story wise.
Mind spoiler for the first book here but it ends with Audra leaving Vane…for some reason.
Honestly, I didn’t understand her rationale at the time and it became clear here it was simply so they could begin this book separated. The setup, designed just so Audra would have cause to COINCIDENTLY meet a character with critical information, rang insultingly false.
Worse, it happened time and time again through the story – the plot relied on convenient contrivances to keep the story moving right through to a double cross even the characters saw coming.
Predictably, there was no resolution as is the norm for middle books in a trilogy. The problem is, I can’t think of a single reason to continue to the third book.
Usually, I just give a resigned shrug after a so-so second book in a trilogy. I almost always continue onto the final entry out of some masochistic urge to see a series out and I figure anyone who liked the first will read the second regardless of what I say.
I will just tell anyone only lukewarm on the first book, not to bothering continuing and caution anyone hoping for a great new series not to get your hopes up.
Sketchy is a study in dichotomy so I guess it’s only fitting I’m of two minds about it as I write this review.
Bea is a recovering alcoholic and drug addict…who has a physic ability to sketch people’s thoughts when she draws them.
There are two very different stories at play here and I’m not exactly sold on how well they fit together.
On the one hand, Beas substance abuse problem seems like it could fill out a story all of its own. The fact that is shared page time with a high-concept premise really undercut the severity and sincerity of the heady subject matter.
Meanwhile, the ability to ‘sketch the truth’ side of the narrative didn’t really live up to its promise and wasn’t particularly fulfilling in a mystery sense.
Don’t get me wrong, this genre-clash had some serious potential given how her using is at odds with her ability but nothing came of it.
I could just call Sketchy a zero-sum and leave potential readers to make up their own minds but Sketchy had one, I think, unforgivable flaw.
Bea is painted as a victim because of the lack of trust parents, teachers and police have in her given her substance abuse history.
And the author clearly tells us it is the authority figures in the wrong here.
Yes Bea is cleaning up her act but after literally JUST getting out of rehab the author takes the position that it is unfair that her parents don’t trust her… while she lies about where she is going, puts herself in the path of temptation and has trouble managing to resist using again.
Even when her parents find drugs on her, we are supposed to be outraged they don’t “believe” she’s still clean. Likewise, we're supposed to agree it's unfair that her parents want to her get a part-time job to support her vintage clothing obsession.
I'm really not sure what the author was going for with this approach to the main character. If she was trying to make her more realistic with her self-centred teen approach to life it backfired to make her simply unlikeable.
I have no interest in reading about Bea further, whether or not the stories improve and I can’t think of a particular group or age I’d want to recommend Sketchy too.
I loved The List – a story of eight teenage girls, four named the prettiest in their school and four named the ugliest who have to come to terms with both how they see themselves and how others see them.
The List manages to follow not one but EIGHT different characters all with more depth, poignancy and intricacy then most YA books with a single bland heroine manage.
Every girl has her own unique story and every one somehow manages to get their due in what is a pretty succinct book.
The outcast who wears the UGLY label as a badge of honour for all the wrong reasons.
The popular girl whose attempts to overcome an eating disorder are put into jeopardy when the PRETTY label validates her negative behaviour.
The beautiful cheerleader labelled UGLY, not for what is on her outside but on her inside.
The quiet home-schooled girl suddenly in the spotlight now that she is PRETTY.
I’m amazed she managed to fit so many well-done stories into a single narrative!
I would have liked a little more wrap-up and I’ve have happily read even more from the girls but it was a rare satisfying stand-alone read!
I think this is would be a stellar teenage read but I’ve seen some parents complain about the sex, alcohol and language in other reviews. I personally think it was all handled incredibly well – not preachy, nor exploitive just eerily relatable. Maybe a little too accurate for some?
Still I think the messages of empowerment and acceptance makes The List more than worth a read for teen girls. Older reads though, can definitely enjoy the incredibly well drawn characters too so I highly recommend the list to everyone!
I love Time Travel.
In fact, I have a theory that any story with time travel in it is better than almost any story that doesn't. The time travel might not always be well done. In fact, more often than not, the time travel doesn't even make sense in most tales. But all I need is a cleverly presented paradox, or cute quantum quirk and I can be completely sold on otherwise average story.
All Our Yesterdays is not hard-core sci-fi and it's time travel rules will NOT stand up to serious scrutiny but it does prove my theory whole-heartedly.
The time travel core instantly elevates the YA dypostian love-triangle story which is a genre as overdone as sexy vampires at this point! The time travel is critical for establishing great conflict and genuine stakes as past, present and future collide for our three main characters.
All I can say is that I wanted more, more, more!
The book opens with a notes from 14 past Em's detailing the 14 different ways they've tried to prevent time travel from being invented.
I would have happily read ALL 14 STORIES! And I'd have happy read them again with even more POVs, especially from the antagonists who I really wanted to know more about.
This is one case where the novel moving swiftly through the story was almost a let down - I just wanted more!
I'm thrilled that a sequel is currently being penned and I'm already giddy with possibilities despite the fact that All Our Yesterdays could be 100% self contained - no annoying cliff-hangers here!
Authors, this is how to start a series - write a great first book and make us actually WANT more!
I whole-heartedly recommend this to ANYONE who loves a good YA tale with a sci-fi lean.
Most importantly I recommend it to any YA romance readers to see a great example of a well handled and not-annoying love triangle!
Exposure is the most lacking entry in the so far stellar Virals series.
I guess every series is bound to have, or maybe even be entitled to have, a slightly weaker entry but it was still a little disappointing.
Exposure clearly sets up a really interesting conflict for Book 5 but it came at the expense of a polished book 4.
The mystery in Exposure just wasn’t juicy enough. It felt like a scavenger hunt – clues were collected, assembled and the mystery was all wrapped up in a neat little package promptly.
I’ve come to expect far more from the Virals team but I hope this doesn’t mean that characters have reached the point where they’re too smart for the writers to keep up with.
But if anyone can work a long-running forensic mystery series, it is Kathy Reichs.
You’d think a high-concept series about genius, well-connected, SUPER-POWERED teens would stretch credibility beyond breaking point at the best of time but I’ve always found the series to be grounded by the day-to-day drama that complicates their clandestine sleuthing (and vice-versa).
In Exposure though, all the drama subplots were unceremoniously dumped and after they were bought to such a tantalising simmer in the previous book. This disappointing and added to the uneven and unsatisfying book.
Finally, I have to express a bit of concern about the new series co-writer, Kathy’s son Brendan. I praised book 3, the first shared novel, for staying true to voice but there was some clunkiness here. The pop-culture references came thick and fast, standing out like big neon thumbs by the end. Is this a sign the younger Reich’s is taking more of the helm? I don’t know but it needs to be dialled back before it becomes a problem.
It’s always weird to review books deep into an ongoing series – no one is going to pick up this one out of order to read no matter how glowing my review and no one who has read and loved the previous books are going to not continue no matter what I say.
To those who haven’t started Virals yet – I say do it immediately. The series as a whole is excellent even is Exposure is wobble.
Likewise, to those who are perhaps on the fence about the last three, Exposure won’t win you over but it should be read. It is essential to continue on in the series that I still have much love and high hopes for.
I cannot believe how taken I am with Belles!
This is not a genre I enjoy at all - there is nothing more painful or vapid to me then pretty rich girls going to pretty rich girl parties and wallowing in pretty rich girl drama.
So why did I buy this book? I honestly have no idea! I think it was an expiring-credits impulse-purchase and it sat in my library for well over a year before I gave it a chance.
Then why the hell did I love it so much?!?! I think that all comes down to the characters.
Calontia has crafted related characters despite the over-the-top uber-wealthy prep-school world they inhabit.
They are all character you've seen before like the rags-to-riches girl out of her depth on a red carpet, the popular girl who feels out of place in the mean girl clique and begins to fancy the artsy scholarship student over her QB BF or the rich boy who doesn't want his parents lavish lifestyle and hides his love of surfing.
But Calonita has written them with all with real heart so I actually CARED about their otherwise 'champagne problems'.
She made them sympathetic and believable so I was completely invested in the story despite knowing exactly where it was going (including the 'twist' ending) from chapter one.
I loved it so much I have immediately purchased the next two books in the series and can't wait to spend more time in the characters lives!
I highly recommend this to YA readers who like luxe worlds and character dramas as it easily the best and most relatable I've ever read.
Breathe avoided many of the pitfalls I dislike in YA dystopian fiction but also never managed to hit any of the powerful high-notes I expect either.
The effect therefore was fairly middling novel.
Breathe establishes the clichéd uber-government that allows the rich to crush the poor version of the future. But the idea that it is the very air we breathe being controlled and unfairly distributed was fascinating.
The characters were interesting, each having a unique point of view on either side of the rich/poor divide and the rebel/government conflict. But I didn't get a satisfying sense of development or growth from their stories, possibly due to what felt like a rather brief amount of time with each of them.
The book doesn't draw out the conflict to establish a trilogy which was very refreshing. But the climax felt rushed and was ultimately unaffecting because it their wasn't enough set-up to pay-off.
See what I mean about middling?
It all just kind of averaged out to be a good, basically well-down book but not a particularly satisfying read.
There is a sequel available now but I am still undecided on whether I'll bother continuing - not because Breathe was 'bad' but because I'm not sufficiently driven or invested enough.
As far as the played-out genre of YA dystopian lit goes, I think even fans might be a little disappointed by the romance that doesn't spark, the action that is flat and the story that isn't particularly engaging.
Still something must be said for the premise of a oxygen starved future which was undoubtedly unique and possibly worth checking out in spite of everything.
Finally, since I am reviewing an audiobook I have to address the horrendous British narration. The Cockney accents were almost unbearable particularly when 'street urchin-esque' characters were introduced.
Besides being grating on the ears, the performance was so over-the top it was unbelievable. Anytime a particularly offensive character was 'speaking', I was completely taken out of the book. And I mean that literally because I actually stopped to hand over my ear buds to a friend a few times so we could laugh about it!
Breathe is one instance where the poor audio unfortunately overshadows the narrative and even if I do choose to read the follow-up I'll probably grab a hard-copy!
Crazy Dangerous was easily the most surprisingly enjoyable read I've had it a long time.
It was a fresh, clever and exciting adventure that dealt with the risky topics of religion and mental illness in a compassionate and relatable way.
The story is so brisk it felt far shorter then it full-length run time. It never wallowed in melodrama, subplots or backstory and I went though the whole book in one go.
I was hooked immediately and stayed engaged right through the action-packed climax that I couldn't have put down if I wanted to.
What I loved most about Crazy Dangerous was it's approach to the Christian faith.
I am a non-Christian and I almost always hate books with a religious leanings. They are usually either too preachy to be enjoyed or too flippant to be taken seriously.
Kalvan's down-to-Earth approach to religious belief was refreshing and framed the story perfectly. Sam is a good kid driven to do the right thing. His honest and decent nature was clearly informed by the moral teachings of his preacher father but the bible doesn't rigidly dictate his actions.
Sam seems to have many chances to take the 'easy' way out of the tangled web he finds himself in. The more we understand Sam though, the more we realise that when it comes to him doing the right thing, whatever the consequences, there is no choice about it at all.
Being so completely invested in Sam as a character and just cheering for him to overcome the violent malevolent forces seeking to hurt others made Crazy Dangerous utterly compelling reading.
I cannot recommend this book enough to anyone wants a powerful YA read.
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