A Few Reviews (March 2016)

I don’t always have a lot to say about every book I read, so I’ve decided to compile those shorter thoughts on various books into one big post. Not as detailed as a formal review and not as comprehensive as a wrap-up but just a fun peek into my brain about some of my latest reads. Click on the cover of each for a better synopsis on Goodreads and if you ever want to see my thoughts on things as and right after I read them you can follow me on Goodreads while you’re there.

25494343Lady Midnight (The Dark Artifices #1; Shadowhunters #10) by Cassandra Clare

Once again, Cassandra Clare has used her supernatural world to its fullest extent, creating complicated problems with the rules of the world and not sparing her characters the consequences. The cast in this is probably her largest to date; one large sibling group and a few satellite friends and tutors. It reads a lot stronger than her other two series openers, mostly because it doesn’t endeavor to introduce its readers to the Shadowhunter world and instead it jumps right in. Lady Midnight opens five years after her earlier Mortal Instruments series, and focuses primarily on characters who already live in and know the workings of the shadow world and society. Most of these characters already know each other, which makes their relationships more complicated and much more fascinating. We have family members returning home much changed from when they left, younger children growing up and challenging the status quo set by their parental figures, friends navigating their romantic feelings for each other. It’s not the uninitiated damsel rescued by the warrior demon-hunter of series past, it’s something else entirely and I am very excited to see where this series goes.

6569735Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

A dark mystery about a woman haunted by the questionable guilt of her brother in the massacre of her family twenty years previously. As in Flynn’s most popular psychological thriller–Gone Girl (which I reviewed in 2014)–none of the characters in this are particularly likeable, but that makes what they do even more interesting. The plot is constructed intelligently as well; I was certainly kept guessing. Its shorter length made it much more engrossing for me than Gone Girl was and I’m glad I gave this one a shot.

20613761Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankin

A collection of poetry (and other media) about race in America. It’s use of second person perspective puts the reader right in the middle of the scene, for maximum emotional impact. It’s the kind of poetry that makes you stop and reread a passage because the metaphor is unique and fascinating or the language itself is perfectly composed. Even then, it’s a quick read and very much worth your time.

23395680Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1) by Jay Kristoff and Amy Kaufman

The way this book was laid out on the page pushed it past pretty good space-thriller into something really fascinating. White text loops across two facing black pages as a computer contemplates its own consciousness. Fighter pilots’ radio transmissions explode across the pages, emulating the fight itself.  It’s entirely a collection of computer documents, chat conversations and (cleverly) notes on video feed. The characters are full of personality though, even as we see them only through dialogue or totally wordless actions. But at the end of the day this is going for thrilling and the plot reminded me a lot of the show Firefly, just on a larger scale, which made it not totally unique to my eyes, but incredibly entertaining nonetheless.

20443235The Winner’s Kiss (The Winner’s Trilogy #3)

I read the first two books in this series in about three days a year ago, so I had forgotten a lot of things going into this series finale, but I was able to pick up the thread pretty quickly as the characters were also experiencing a big upheaval and change of scene. It was a well handled finale; a little too quick to gloss over the finer political details, but satisfying from a character perspective. Two people learn to fight and handle the consequences of war even as their love for each other and their hope for the future transform them as well. The Winner’s trilogy is spectacular as a whole, very smart, very well written and very underrated.

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April Reviews

Fairest (The Lunar Chronicles #3.5) by Marissa Meyer

I really don’t have very many feelings about this one. It was written well. It was interesting to see Luna and something from Levana’s twisted perspective. But I don’t know that it was a necessary addition to the overall story. It was extra, a behind the scenes peek at events we already knew about and an introduction to the character we meet next. I’m a little bitter, I suppose, because I’d rather just have had Winter on the spring publishing slate, but there’s nothing to be done about that and this was definitely an enjoyable one-afternoon kind of read.

Quinn (The Travelers #1) by Marie Evergreen

So Marie Evergreen is actually the Municipal leader for the NaNoWriMo group I’ve worked with the last two years and I was excited to see someone from the little consortium of  “weirdos who sit and the corner on their laptops and don’t talk to each other” (as we’re known at the local coffee shop) publish a book. She wrote this long before I knew her, but she was working on book 3 this year and the time travel premise sounded fascinating so I knew I wanted to buy it and check it out. This has a bit of a vignette style that I never like, and I didn’t like it here, jumping from time to time and place to place without a deep exploration of any character anywhere, but at the end of the day this was a fun read. Very creative with a strong and unpredictable action-packed conclusion. I look forward to later books in the series and watching Marie grow more as a writer.

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

I’d had this on my TBR for almost two years, wanting to read it before diving into the popular new television series, but during the Xfinity Watchathon week earlier this month I caved and decided to just watch the show… all 10 episodes in 48 hours and I freaking loved every minute of it. The book is also excellent. It’s just a really weird mix of things: famously historical and romantic with a little portal-fantasy twist, it’s also thoughtful and political and written strikingly well. I had some iffy feelings about the ending, but overall I’m loving this series so far.

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

I found I had a lot to say about this, so expect to see a full review soon. The short version is I didn’t care for it mich at all; found it to be quite generic, predictable and underdeveloped. It was done well enough that I see why people love it, but it was way too overhyped for me to feel anything but disappointed about it.

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

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Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins Published August 14, 2014 by Dutton 339 Pages (Hardcover)

Isla and the Happily Ever After is the newly-released third installment in Stephanie Perkins’ Anna and the French Kiss YA romance pseudo-series (following Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door). While this probably isn’t the series’ strongest installment, it delivers another dose of Perkins’ sweet, modern fairy-tale style romance, and gives fans of Lola and Anna another peak at characters they’ve come to love.

Summary

Isla Martin’s had a crush on the brooding cartoonist Josh since they were both freshman. A chance meeting in Manhattan in the summer before their senior year begins to finally bring them together, but once back at school they face the challenges that every couple at the end of high school faces from maintaining friendships to facing time apart.

Review

Stephanie Perkins’ books are just too much fun to miss. Her characters are bright and memorable; quirky and flawed too. Isla’s a bit of a classic basket-case bookworm; with her unrequited romance, distinct middle-child syndrome, and the dichotomy of her fear of the unknown and love of adventure stories. Josh is a well-constructed character as well, if a bit more of a stereotype. Brooding, artistic, and rebellious, redeemed by his deep instrospective thinking and love and respect for Isla. He’s not completely without personality, and I enjoyed reading him, but he did fall a bit flat to me. The supporting cast: Kurt, Isla’s strictly platonic, socially awkward friend, Isla’s sisters Hattie and Gen, were all delightful individuals, both supporting and complicating the central romantic relationship in realistically complex ways. Kurt and Isla’s relationship was a highlight as a boy-girl friendship with absolutely zero romantic tension, and an accurate portrayal of the strain a romance can put on a close friendship.

Isla and Josh fall in love over the course of a belivable set of events that take up nearly half of the book, which is nice. We get introduced to them this way, and as such we get to see what attracts them to each other. The timeline within the story for this falling-in-love arc did feel a bit squished, however, happening within just a month. The push and pull of external and internal pressure on the relationship was realistic, though it was also a bit rushed and compressed at the end as well. The story did all flow well together, and was easy to get immersed in, it just felt a touch too short in certain areas.

The main characters of the other two books, Anna, Etienne, Lola, and Cricket, make cameo appearances in the climactic scenes of this book. It was fun to see the series tie together, to wrap everything up with big, bright, shiny bow. This book, like those, is all feel-good, lovey-dovey fun. I wouldn’t miss it, unless you don’t like being happy or something

Proxy by Alex London

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Proxy by Alex London Published June 2013 by Philomel Books 379 Pages (Paperback)

Proxy is the first book in a dystopian sci-fi series by Alex London. It follows Sydney Carton, orphan and proxy to wealthy and reckless Knox. When Knox crashes a car and kills his date, it’s Syd who must pay for the crime. One daring escape and unlikely meeting later, the two boys are running across the country toward a secret rebel society, neither one knowing who to trust or what to believe in. It ultimately was a story with huge potential that it didn’t quite live up to: 3/5 stars.

The bones of this story were quite good. Syd and Knox are both complicated characters. They faced difficult situations and decisions and made believable missteps. Syd is bitter and Knox is lonely and they’re both highly selfish and that all makes them each genuinely imperfect. They don’t have token faults simply to make them endearing. They’re memorable characters, not stand-ins for a reader, or soulless, stereotypical action heroes. 

This is still ultimately an action book, though, and most of the action was excellent. London’s writing style lends itself to action scenes quite well and the plot held many unpredictable twists and turns. It also had that delightful sense of constant suspense, the feeling that any character could die at any time. This is a quality so often found in a first series installment, because we really have no idea which characters will become the most important. And the shock value in some of the scenes in this is sky-high because of that.

I found a lot to enjoy in most of the plot, but I didn’t like a lot of things about the ending. As a capstone of character development, it was awesome, but when I stepped back and looked at the set-up, it made no sense. Hard to explain it without actually explaining it, but suffice it to say that the climax was compelling, but the reasons why the situation happened as it did were nonexistent. Bad science is my biggest pet peeve in any dystopian novel and this book had it, or, at least, did not pause long enough to explain itself in any way.

I also found myself rolling my eyes several times over some of the writing. The exposition lacked subtlety. Metaphors were forced, and then explained, which defeats the purpose. Take this line, which is slipped in moments after every animal in a zoo escapes its cage and Syd and Co. have just saved a kid from being mauled by a polar bear

“Knox was mesmerized by the madness. The zoo had unraveled like everything else in his life” (228).

I already understood that Knox’s life has been turned upside down at this point, just from events alone. The zoo madness clearly highlights that upheaval, without the dot to dot connection. There were lots of little goofy lines like that that bothered me, each pointing out connections and realizations that any halfway intelligent reader is going to make just fine on their own.

I couldn’t hate this, but I had rather high expectations and they weren’t met. But I did enjoy myself while reading it, I don’t regret starting it, and I will probably pick up the sequel at some point. I think Alex London is a writer with a lot of potential who’s built a pretty fascinating world that serves up a good action story while making striking, thought-provoking social commentary about debt and wealth and privilege. 

There are like a bajillion teen dystopias out there these days, though, and this isn’t the best of them. But if you’ve read all the best and you’re looking for a quick thrill ride with some fun to-read characters, then I don’t discourage you from picking this up, it’s not awful, just not my favorite.

Review: The Archived series by Victoria Schwab

 

The Archived
The Archived by Victoria Schwab Published January 2013 by Hyperion 328 Pages (Hardcover)

The Archived had been on and off my radar for awhile, but I finally picked it up last month and I was so glad I did. It’s a very well written blend of fantasy and contemporary, with a concept I found very intriguing. I give both it and its sequel, The Unbound, a 4/5 stars. And I eagerly anticipate the third book, which I hope will come out next year at the latest, though no word on any upcoming release just yet.

Summary

The Archived follows Mackenzie Bishop, who took over her grandfather’s position as a Keeper for the Archive when she was only 12. Now, at 16, Mackenzie has been hunting Histories through the Narrows and returning them to the Archive before they can reach the outside world for four tumultuous years. It’s a solitary, secret job, keeping the sort-of living records of the dead in line, but Mackenzie has learned how to carefully manage it all. Her life is in upheaval, however, as her family moves in the wake of her younger brother’s tragic death. Before she can even begin to settle in the old hotel that is her new apartment complex, with its dark memories and mystery plain for her to see, Mackenzie is bombarded with an upswing in the number and strength of the Histories on her list as the unshakable Archive is attacked from within. Mackenzie then must piece everything together in a fight that threatens the whole of the Archive, and every living memory that resides in it.

Review

So one thing I really, really admire about The Archived, especially after attempting to write a decent summary of it, is the way it manages to weave exposition into plot. I never felt overly confused, but I was also never bored or bogged down in some detail rich explanation of something. It came together quickly, for a concept that I just discovered is difficult to explain (though a book never has to worry about spoiling itself!)

Mackenzie was a very good character. She’s strong. Strong to a fault, really, which was even more interesting. I really enjoyed the dynamic with her family as well, her parents are an integral part of her life and her story, for all that they stand entirely outside the more fantastic elements of it. The stress and strain of tragedy on a family was handled quite realistically, in my (un-experienced) opinion. Wes, fellow Keeper and Mackenzie’s eventual love interest, was such a great character as well. A bit angsty, to be sure, but sarcastic without being biting and good-natured without seeming impossibly perfect. Their romance developed quite nicely over the course of both books. No starry-eyed, fate-induced babbling, just two people with a lot in common and a lot to figure out slowly growing closer. I loved it.

The Unbound
The Unbound by Victoria Schwab Published January 2014 by Hyperion 368 pages (Hardcover)

The only negative thing I can say is that book 2, The Unbound, was a bit of downer after all the fascinating intensity of the first. It was lighter on the action, pushing that aside to deal with some more internal struggles that came in the wake of the events of The Archived. It was good, and I definitely loved where it went in the end, but it was just a little less easy to get sucked into. And it was a tad frustrating, watching Mackenzie struggle while knowing what is was she should probably be doing. The whodunnit bit was predictable to me in both books as well, but especially so in The Unbound.

Wrap-Up

Overall, the story operates on so many levels giving it a complexity that I would never have suspected such a short couple of books to have. Mackenzie’s dealing with the mundane and the fantastic and the two interweave in a way that makes both more interesting. The more mundane idea of coping with the sudden and unexpected death of a sibling is complicated by the fact that a version of that sibling is technically within reach, though he can never really be alive again. Underneath everything is this constant undercurrent of suspicion against the Archive itself. No one can really be trusted. Ever. So it’s fascinating to watch Mackenzie figure out who to trust, who to fight for, and determine what it is she really wants. It does what so few YA fantasies endeavor to do and weaves the mundane aspects of it’s characters normal teenage lives into the plot, enriching the story even more. I definitely recommend it and look forward to getting my hands on the conclusion one of these months!

 

Review: Heaven is Paved with Oreos by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

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Heaven is Paved with Oreos by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
Published September 2013 by HMH Books for Young Readers
208 Pages (Hardcover)

If the ridiculous (and creative!) title doesn’t catch your eye as you’re perusing the new arrivals section at the library, than I don’t know what does. It’s certainly what I noticed first, then the spotted suitcase on the cover and then its author. I grabbed it up, remembering how much I loved Gilbert-Murdock’s Dairy Queen trilogy when I was in high school and, lo and behold, this book is a companion to it. You can read this book without first reading that trilogy, but it does take place after it and thus spoils a few things. It was  a quick read for me, and I quite enjoyed it, though I struggled with Sarah’s voice a bit and didn’t think it packed as much emotional punch as it could have. 3.5/5 stars

Summary

Heaven is Paved with Oreos takes place in the summer after the end of Front and Center and follows Sarah Zorn, (That’s DJ’s little brother Curtis’s “girlfriend”/science fair partner if you remember from The Off Season). Sarah and Curtis have been fake dating to stave off the teasing that comes along with being boy/girl just-friends, but things are starting to get complicated. Sarah’s just trying to figure out her life as she gets ready to go to high school in the fall when her youthful, free-spirited grandmother invites her on a week-long trip to Rome to finish the seven church pilgrimage she started, but didn’t finish with friends years before. It’s a major learning and growing experience for Sarah as she experiences the foreign country and copes with some startling secrets about her family history.

Review

This was sweet and cute. I was predisposed to like this, after loving the Schwenk family all throughout the Dairy Queen series, especially the side-plot nerd love between Curtis and Sarah. This book explores that of course, but it’s a romance in the middle grade sense, focusing more on the nervousness around the start of a relationship than anything truly physical.

I would be remiss if I made this sound like just a romance, however. At it’s heart, this book is all about Sarah’s journey of self discovery as she experiences a foreign country, gains some self sufficiency and independence, and reckons with the secrets within her family. I enjoyed reading the trip more than I thought I would, it’s clear CGM did her research, and Sarah’s journey was, overall, pretty compelling.

The book is written as though we’re reading Sarah’s journal, which is mostly effective, as it gives an easy way to portray Sarah’s thoughts and feelings, though I did find her to be a bit juvenile sounding for her age (she’s 14 and she won’t even say “Oh my God” instead of “Oh my gosh” and the “boy-liker” thing sounded dumb to me as well). It was pretty believable, especially since it allowed the book to be longer and more descriptive at its exciting points (the trip) and skip days between notable events back home. There was even a little bit of a tense mystery for a few pages as Sarah is interrupted in her writing by a traumatic event and then only hints at it for a little while before it gets explained. It gave a unique, present-tense twist to a largely past-tense format and I enjoyed it a lot.

For me, this was a fun, one-evening read. It wasn’t ground-breaking and it had a few flaws, but I thoroughly enjoyed spending more time in Red Bend and beyond with Gilbert-Murdoch and her characters. In the week or so since I finished this, I’ve found that the characters have stuck around in my head, making me hope she’s planning a sequel to this one; though I have no clue if she is or not, but I keep imagining more romance and a return trip! Definitely check it out if you liked the whole Dairy Queen series. I would also recommend it to a younger reader (or any middle grade fan!) looking for some strong-girl travel adventure/feel-good family drama.

So I Finished Percy Jackson…

I Eat My Words

So it turns out I have to put my foot in my mouth here…

If any of you reading this read my review of The Titan’s Curse, you’ll know I closed by saying that I was a little off-put by the fact that I wasn’t addicted to the series. I was ok with this because it meant I got to savor it a bit longer and now, only a week later, I’ve devoured the last two books.

Somehow addiction  sneaked up on me. I don’t know exactly what triggered it. Maybe it’s because I love the complexity and seriousness of Percy’s story as he ages. It’s developed in the same way the Harry Potter story developed: keeping its whimsy and humor while continuing to up the stakes for the characters. Plus I had jumped on the Percy/Annabeth ship by the end of Titan’s curse and waiting for them to freaking get over themselves and just be together already was a driving factor as well.

Babbling On On Goodreads

I originally planned to post reviews here, but I find it difficult to keep reviewing books in this series without constantly repeating myself. I did post a few short ramblings about my thoughts immediately after finishing each book, which are up on Goodreads, so I’ll just link those here, if you’re interested in reading more, and I’m sure you’ll be seeing a review of The Lost Hero from me soon enough. I already have that one and the next two books in the companion series in my possession. Thank you, library!

The Battle of The Labyrinth Goodreads Review

The Last Olympian Goodreads Review

Review: Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King

Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King Published October 2011 by Little, Brown 279 Pages (Hardcover)
Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King
Published October 2011 by Little, Brown
279 Pages (Hardcover)

This is a very quiet, understated ode to solitude and pain. Beautiful in the complexity it expresses quite simply. I have a personal soft spot for magical realism and this executes it very well, making for a wholly unique and compelling story. 4.5/5 stars

Summary

There’s not too much good about Lucky Linderman’s life. He’s bullied relentlessly and yet his school counselor focuses on other things. His parents don’t know how to handle it either, both escaping into their own pursuits. But Lucky has dreams that are more than dreams. Dreams where he is brave and strong, where he fights every night to save his grandfather, who never returned home from Vietnam.

Review

I still can’t get over how slow and quiet this book was. It’s not action-packed or romance-loaded tangle of crazy emotion. Instead, it’s exactly the opposite, a patient unraveling of common human feeling through characters who are perfectly imperfect. Lucky has been failed by his parents, yet (even) when told from his perspective, it’s almost impossible to hate them. Each character is struggling with his or her own loneliness, pain, or insecurity and each has a redeeming quality as well. With, perhaps, the exception of Nader, Lucky’s bully, but we are limited to Lucky’s perspective. Lucky is the center of his story, and his journey is compelling, but every other character woven in has their own story, one that reflects and expands on the theme that fear and pain are a prison cell, one that can sometimes be broken.

I, weirdly, don’t have a lot of experience reading magical realism, considering what I have read I’ve adored. Garcia-Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude is probably my second favorite book that I’ve had to read for school (after To Kill a Mockingbird, which is probably my favorite book, period.)  Sarah Addison Allen can be placed in the genre as well, and between the two books of hers I’ve read and Solitude, this is my fourth foray into magical realism. And I’m still loving it. Everybody Sees the Ants is particularly successful at using its magical elements to add layers that otherwise would not exist to a story. Along with being a necessary and welcome bit of comic relief, the ants are a glimpse into Lucky’s deepest consciousness, a different perspective than even the thoughts we get directly from him.  His dreams weave in his insecurities, the things that immediately worry him, and, of course, are the major component relating Lucky’s life to his grandfather’s. This magical element weaves two otherwise largely disparate stories into one, making both much more relate-able and real. It’s excellently executed and the writing and flashback/flashforward style serve to make the story extraordinary as well.

Wrap-Up

Definitely recommended, for pretty much everyone. It is relatively uneventful, if, like me, you are used to massive battles and epic romances and invading aliens and other assorted insane happenings. It is a quite short book, though, and the beautiful writing, style, and message make it easily readable. I’m so glad I found this, and I’ll definitely be seeking out more from Ms. King.

Review: The Titan’s Curse by Rick Riordan

The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan Published May 2007 by Puffin Books 304 Pages (Paperback)
The Titan’s Curse by Rick Riordan
Published May 2007 by Puffin Books
304 Pages (Paperback)

At A Glance

The Titan’s Curse is the third book in Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians series about modern pre-teen demigod Percy and his many adventures. The review will spoil the first two books, though no major spoilers for this book appear in the review.

I have really been enjoying the series so far, and this book was no exception. Riordan continues to do an amazing amount within each book. The characters are vibrant and the world is constructed well and fun to live in. New conflicts and plot lines emerge with each installment, changing as much as Percy does as he grows older and more experienced. I do think it’s brilliant, but I do feel a little disappointed that I’m not as rabidly addicted to this the way many people seem to be. I don’t know that I can explain why. I like it, I’m just not crazy excited about it. I still highly recommend it though, no matter what age you are. 4/5 Stars

Summary

When demigods Percy, Annabeth, and Thalia go to assist their satyr friend Grover on mission to locate and rescue two newly discovered demigods, nothing (as usual) goes according to plan. Annabeth is captured by a monster and the goddess Artemis is soon captured as well. Percy, Grover, Thalia and the maiden members of Artemis’s Hunt return to Camp Half-Blood where the Oracle predicts the terms of Artemis’s rescue:  Five will go and two will not return.

Review

I loved the new characters. Each one emerges so vibrantly, it’s hard to believe that they haven’t been around the whole time. Zoe has such strong convictions and her stubbornness, combined with her distrust of men, make for some fun semi-antagonistic moments with Percy. It’s hard to believe that Thalia is a newcomer as well. Her struggle to find the right action is poignant, in part because it has been (and still is) Percy’s struggle as well. I enjoyed reading her, and I liked where her story went.

It’s extremely fun to watch the old characters grow up from learning how to handle demigod powers and sticking close to camp to moving out in the world and forging identities rooted in who their parents are yet finding independence enough to make their own decisions about where they will stand and who they will stand with. It’s a subtle, but really cool thing about the series. I can’t wait to see what new directions Percy and the rest of the old gang will go in the remaining books.

I really don’t have anything bad to add about this. I had issues with the pacing of The Lightning Thief  being too lightning-quick, but that’s either gotten better or I’ve gotten used to it. I did kind of expect to be more addicted to the series by now, after hearing and seeing so many people fall head over heels for it, and I kind of find the fact that I’m not irrationally disappointing. I’m content to just keep reading one or two a month, and that’s ok. Why not draw out the fun?

Review: Obsidian (Lux #1) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

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Obsidian (Lux #1) by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Published May 2012 by Entangled Teen
335 Pages (Paperback)

Quick Review

I liked this much more than I thought I would. Katy is a lead with some personality, and the small-town setting and interesting paranormal concept made for a very interesting read. The romance is a strange combination of lightning fast attraction and slow burn, but it works well, making this a paranormal romance that I might not start hating after book 2, and, though that remains to be seen, I have high hopes. 4/5 stars.

Summary

Solitary Katy moves the summer before her senior year, grudgingly ready to accept starting over if it means more time with her mother. She soon finds that some of the people in this one-stoplight town are not what they appear to be, and at the center of it all is her impossibly good looking yet incredibly irritating neighbor, Daemon Black.

Annoying as he is, Daemon has his uses. When Katy finds herself in danger, Daemon is there, using his out-of-this-world powers to save her, and in dong so, marks her. With the mark acting as a beacon for enemies of Daemon’s race who would steal his ability and kill anyone in their path, Katy must stick close to him if she wants to live.

Thoughts

I enjoyed that this was a paranormal romance with outer-space aliens. I usually don’t/haven’t read much alien stuff, but it was fun. The Luxen are extremely cool and between their enemies in space and the constant faceless threat of the US government doing anything to maintain secrecy, there is opportunity for tension and action all over the place. Romantic tension abounds as well, and it is definitely a romance that will be fun to watch grow for another book or two.

I enjoy Katy as a character for the most part. She’s smart and tough and brave. She doesn’t let the fact that she’s not a crazy alien with super speed and powers make her weak or stop her from fighting back. Weirdly though, I didn’t love that she loves books. I kinda get annoyed when authors make all their characters in love with books in a transparent effort to get their readers to like them. They know it’s the one thing we can all find in common with the character by default and so it breaks the fourth wall for me and it just feels lazy. [conclude: mini-rant]

As much as I had fun with this, I feel a little nervous about the next books in the series. In a lot of ways, this book felt like a set up, focusing mostly on introducing the setting, major characters and revealing all the secrets about the alien world. At the same time, however, I don’t get where the plot is going with the Arum. They’re evil, got it. Now what? They just keep attacking? And what’s the deal with the bond stuff at the end? These are questions that make me want to read the next one desperately, yet I’m not convinced the set-up was strong enough, nor will the characters be focused enough on the non-romantic conflicts to answer them adequately. I’ll just have to check out Onyx and see, I suppose, but, overall, the non-romance plot set-up was a little lacking for me.

Wrap-Up

I don’t have a ton to say about this, I guess. Mostly it was just a lot of fun to read something a little different (aliens) while still staying firmly in my comfort zone (smoldering eyes and hidden worlds). I’ll be continuing on with the series for certain, and I’ll be sure to let you know if the rest of the series is as good or better! Definitely recommended for romantic fantasy fans. There’s a lot to like here and I hope the rest of the series is strong too.