Friday, June 18, 2010

The only secret people keep is immortality. ~ Week 28

Evermore is the first installment in The Immortals trilogy. It's about Ever, an orphan after a tragic car accident that claimed the life of her parents and sister. Ever is the sole survivor in her family, and ever since her near-death experience she's graced with the ability to sense people. She can see their auras, hear their thoughts, and if she touches someone she can see their whole life's story. Needless to say, Ever is not the most popular girl in school. She spends most of her days hiding beneath a bulky hoodie with her iPod in the pocked and her ear buds wedged into her ears to block out all the noise.

Ever is living a pretty miserable existence until gorgeous Damen comes into her life. He's exotic, mysterious, and rich. Best of all - Ever can't seem to hear his thoughts or sense anything about him. When he's near, the noise is quieted and Ever feels some form of peace. Immediately intrigued, she gets pulled into Damen's mysterious world and finds herself filled with more questions than answers.

The good: I really liked the frustration that I felt mounting between Ever and Damen. Is he interested? Is he not? I know I was biting my nails. Guys like him simply do not exist and you know that your high school experience wasn't anywhere near as interesting as Ever's. Ever's friendship with Miles was also a definite plus - you can't go wrong with a gay, hilarious, best friend. His character was fun and provided some comic relief to the story. All in all, it was entertaining to live vicariously through Ever's "rollercoaster" ride with Damen.

The bad: Nothing was really "bad" about Evermore. The problem was that nothing particularly stood out about it. In a few months, I will have a very hard time describing the story to you, because there was nothing extraordinary about it. I feel like the plot has been used time and time again in young adult books:

Conflicted girl; usually has faced some type of personal tragedy (i.e. parents dying, illness, injury)
Mysterious and really hot guy; he usually comes from another town in the middle of the school year and is really good looking. All the girls fawn over him. Oh, he usually has some type of "secret" that our conflicted girl can't seem to put her finger on...
Supernatural element; one or both characters has a supernatural ability.
Young Adult book that has been written OVER AND OVER AND OVER.

All that being said... this doesn't necessarily make for a bad book. But it definitely doesn't make for a unique one. I would have a hard time telling you something unique about Damen and Ever. They are the love story that YA writers love to rehash because it's fun and it works. I'm okay with that... but it's always nice to have something stand out a bit.

The verdict: If you take this book for what it is, you will enjoy it. That means, don't expect a literary masterpiece. Don't expect to read anything ground-breaking or life-changing. Expect a fun story with lots of steamy scenes that make you daydream about when you were 16. Good times!

Monday, June 14, 2010

The darkest sky is filled with stars, the sun casts it's warmth on the coldest day. ~ Week 27

So during my break from this blog, I read two books that I have yet to write about: Life As We Knew It and The Dead and The Gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer. Since I never wrote about those two, this post is going to serve as a review of the whole trilogy and focus on the last book and how Pfeffer decided to "wrap-up" her series.

The Last Survivor's Trilogy begins with the moon being hit by an asteroid. This throws the moon off it's orbit and basically screws up the gravitational pull between the moon and Earth. What ensues is a whole mess of natural disasters. The weather changes drastically, with snow in June and barely any summer. There are tsunamis, earthquakes, and horrible thunderstorms. Life As We Knew It was a diary of sorts, narrated by 16 year-old Miranda. She takes us through the first days and weeks of the disaster and how her family copes. The Dead and the Gone introduces us to Alex, a 16 year-old living in New York City with his family. Alex loses his parents in the disaster and is left to fend for himself and his two sisters. This World We Live In brings both characters together in rural Pennsylvania as they try to survive, almost a year after the disaster that has changed the world.

The good: Cool idea. There's tons of post-apocalyptic books. There's tons of ways that authors have chosen to imagine the demise of our civilization. I've read books where the culprit is disease, natural disasters, even zombie attacks. I initially picked up Life As We Knew It because Pfeffer's idea was different. It got me thinking about the plausibility of an asteroid hitting the moon (or Earth for that matter).

The bad: One thing that really irked me about this series. It was kinda cool concept. A unique apocalyptic scenario. But I feel like Pfeffer didn't really focus on what was going on in the world enough. Everything was centered around the main characters and their boring day to day existence without the comforts and stability of a "normal life." Pages and pages were expended on the banalities of search for food and keeping their home clean. However, after the initial event, Pfeffer didn't really talk too much about what was going on around the country. Also, our characters rarely ran into other people. It was like they were isolated on another planet. I found it plausible, but highly unlikely. I feel like a real end-of-the-world scenario would be grittier and much scarier.
The verdict: This book is definitely aimed towards a much younger age group than what I usually read for YA literature. If you're prepared for that... it's really an intriguing read. It gets you thinking. Or, if you're like me - planning your post-apocalyptic disaster plan.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

We were out of orbit now, and it felt wrong. ~ Week 26

Bree Tanner is a "newborn" vampire. Newly changed... she has vague memories of her human life. All that she knows is that she has to watch her back, keep quiet, and get home before sunrise. She's under the control of her "creator" - a mysterious redhead that seems to control her every move by manipulating the vampire that keeps watch over her, Riley.

Fans of the Twilight Saga know that the mysterious redhead is Victoria. We also know that Bree Tanner played a role in the battle at the end of Eclipse between the Cullens, the werewolves, and the newborn vampire army that Victoria created. Sounds exciting, eh?

The good: I was well overdue for a dose of some Twilight. I read all four books in the span of a week. I was feening for some more Edward, Jacob, and everyone else. While I didn't get exactly what I was expecting... it did "tide me over" until June 30th (please, don't act like you don't know that's when Eclipse comes out!)

The bad: Okay, so I wasn't sure why Stephenie Meyer decided to write The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner. At first I was excited when I heard it was coming out. Mainly because it related to the Twilight Saga and frankly, I was obsessed. But the more I thought about it, the more confused I was. Who the hell was Bree Tanner? I didn't even remember her from Eclipse. Why did Meyer decide to hone in on her minimal character for another book? If Meyer really wanted to make the fans happy, she should publish Midnight Sun already! I figured maybe she had a really exciting background story for Bree Tanner and I was intrigued. But after reading the book, I realized that Meyer was probably just trying to bank a little more cash for the phenomena that is Twilight. (Do you blame her?) She could've written about pretty much any character from the saga and let's face it - people will buy it. Smart lady, if you ask me.

Another problem. Since reading Twilight, I've read about 50 other young adult books. Shiver, the City of Bones Trilogy, The Dark Divine... etc. Excellent books, by excellent writers. That's not to say that Meyer isn't a decent writer. However, I feel like her writing leaves much to be desired. I found myself a little bored with her descriptions and found my mind wandering while reading.

The verdict: Read it if you're obsessed with Twilight, like me. You won't necessarily be disappointed if you go into it with the right expectations. Don't expect to be satisfied with a little dose of Edward (and/or Jacob). Not gonna happen. Also, it's hard to feel anything for Bree. She was such a minimal part of the series, that I wasn't very "invested" in what happened to her. All in all, it's a short book so you won't feel like you wasted your time. If you're a true fan, give it a shot!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Hunger was a very powerful force. But so were humiliation and rage. ~ Week 25

Ahhh finally the next installment in the Gone series. I was a little hesitant to get sucked into another series. It was starting to irk me - every author feels like they need to make a trilogy or series out of their books. What ever happened to one book, standing alone and being good all by itself? Well, I must say that I'm a little less skeptical now. After reading Gone and Hunger, I was hooked.
Lies picks up a few months after Hunger left off. The kids (anyone under age 15) are still stuck inside the "dome" of the FAYZ (Fallout Alley Youth Zone) in Perdido Beach, CA. Still no adults. They've managed to survive hunger, crime, chaos, and evil. Their encounter with the "Darkness" has left them beaten down, exhausted, and pitted against one another. Our hero, Sam, is still reeling from his experience with Drake- which almost killed him. Astrid has formed a town council to oversee the ongoings of the FAYZ. Caine and Diana have retreated to Coates Academy to regroup and lick their wounds. Orsay is seeing "prophecies" and a mysterious girl named Nerezza has appeared in town. On top of all this - kids are starting to come down with the flu. Things are basically a mess. This instability sets the scene for a whole slew of complications...

The good: I must say that I'm quite attached to the characters in Michael Grant's series. Sam, Astrid... even Howard. Three books in and I feel like I know them. I loved how this book built on the story from Lies, but didn't leave you confused. It's been a while since I read Lies, so I was worried that I'd forget the storyline. Grant makes sure to get you back up to tabs without recanting every last detail of the last book. There were also some new characters that you will love - Sanjit and his family, little Justin, Jill the Siren, and evil Nerezza. The book is action-packed... it's one of those where you'll keep saying, "Just a few more pages..." and find yourself reading well into the night.

The bad: I should take this section out of my reviews. I don't read bad books lately. Lies is no exception. Good writing, good characters, good stuff.

The verdict: I can't wait to see where this series goes next. Plague comes out in 2011 and I can't wait to be reunited with the FAYZ once again.