Sixteen-year-old Ren is a daredevil mobile racer who will risk everything to survive in the Ward, what remains of a water-logged Manhattan. To save her sister, who is suffering from a deadly illness thought to be caused by years of pollution, Ren accepts a secret mission from the government: to search for a freshwater source in the Ward, with the hope of it leading to a cure.
However, she never expects that her search will lead to dangerous encounters with a passionate young scientist; a web of deceit and lies; and an earth-shattering mystery that’s lurking deep beneath the water’s rippling surface.
Jordana Frankel’s ambitious debut novel and the first in a two-book series, The Ward is arresting, cinematic, and thrilling—perfect for fans of Scott Westerfeld or Ann Aguirre.
3 1/2 stars
Thank you to Edelweiss and Katherine Tegen Books for this eARC! This book is now available.
Can you suspend your disbelief well? If so, then read on. If not … this book may not be for you.
The story starts out with a three years earlier prologue, where a 13 year old Ren is sneaking out of her orphanage to go race in her first mobile race. In this we learn that she is immune to the deadly illness that is ravaging the Ward for one reason or another, and that the Ward is actually what’s left of Manhattan though most of it is underwater. The important points are that she shouldn’t be able to race at 13 (but she’s going to), she is “un-adoptable” because she … doesn’t like people? (I didn’t really understand that; after all she’s IMMUNE, someone’s going to notice she doesn’t get sick and she’d be the prized stallion by that alone.), she hates this girl called Aven who’s always hanging around her and she will never work for the government as a mole, informing on who’s sick in the Ward so the peacekeepers (or Blues) can come and arrest them, since being a contagious carrier of the illness is now a crime.
Cut to three years later, when Ren is now an undefeated mobile racer who was never adopted despite all her fame and fortune who loves Aven, her “sister,” more than anything else in the world, so much so that she became a mole for the Blues to keep her safe and fed. Do you see how some disbelief could be cutting in? Ren is at once everything she said she would be and everything she said she wouldn’t be. She also looses the first and only race we see her in, because the Blues tell her to go searching for freshwater. She ends up almost dying in the attempt, but lo and behold–she finds it. Freshwater. Freshwater with powerful, secret properties.
The world-building throughout this story was rather iffy, but it never really bothered me that much. I tend to be really easy on world building as long as I can’t poke huge holes in it, and I got enough as the story went on to breeze through it really quickly. It’s just better if you don’t think about it too hard. I thought it was a really cool idea, and I just ran with it.
The plot itself was okay as well; not great, but not desperately horrible. The focus is really on Ren and her personal struggles, while connecting to the larger problem of the disease filled Ward. Though it would have been easy to find this annoying, I found that Ren’s debate over saving just Aven or the whole Ward refreshing. I think protagonists too easily accept sometimes that it is their destiny to save the entire world. Ren’s only goal was to save Aven from the sickness, and her zeal to heal the Ward stemmed from that. Her constant flip-flopping about whether it would be safer to just save Aven is also realistic and unique, and I enjoyed the fact that her character explored the possibility of saying to Hell with the rest of the world and just saving what mattered to her.
Besides Aven and Ren, however, the other characters in this story were pretty weak and verged on the stereotype. Very few had their motives explored, and their use and actions were fairly shallow. This was particularly annoying in the love interest, Derek. I much rather enjoyed Ren’s friendship with the scientist Callum, which was more real and at least made sense. Ren even liking Derek at all didn’t seem to have much of a basis. I certainly didn’t.
All in all, I’d recommend this to people looking for an unique dystopian to breeze through. Don’t come to it looking for rock solid writing, but rather for a fast-paced adventure in a unique location that asks real questions in the actions of its characters. This might not be one to buy, but if you see it at your library I strongly suggest that you give it a go.
Anna Whitt, the daughter of a guardian angel and a demon, promised herself she’d never do the work of her father—polluting souls. She’d been naive to make such a vow. She’d been naive about a lot of things.
Haunted by demon whisperers, Anna does whatever she can to survive, even if it means embracing her dark side and earning an unwanted reputation as her school’s party girl. Her life has never looked more bleak. And all the while there’s Kaidan Rowe, son of the Duke of Lust, plaguing her heart and mind.
When an unexpected lost message from the angels surfaces, Anna finds herself traveling the globe with Kopano, son of Wrath, in an attempt to gain support of fellow Nephilim and give them hope for the first time. It soon becomes clear that whatever freedoms Anna and the rest of the Neph are hoping to win will not be gained without a fight. Until then, Anna and Kaidan must put aside the issues between them, overcome the steamiest of temptations yet, and face the ultimate question: is loving someone worth risking their life?
3 1/2 stars
Full disclosure: I was up until 2 AM reading this book because I have finally accepted that this is a guilty pleasure I’m just going to have to live with. I have also realized that the only reason I’m still reading this book is because of Kaidan.
Sweet Peril starts off at a party. Anna is working like a boss. She hasn’t talked to any of her friends since the summit, because she’s kinda still in trouble. She’s moody because Kaidan has moved to L. A. and basically fallen off the face of the planet. She gets the chance to see him at a record store signing, but he blows her off hardcore and goes off with a much older woman. When Anna shows up at home all depressed, Patti tries to have a movie night until the spirit of Sister Ruth, who died in the first book, comes to visit Anna and tell her of a prophecy of a Neph who could set everything right with the fallen angels and the Neph. That’s Anna, and that’s what the sword is for.
The whole premise of this book is iffy to begin with. Anna’s dad seems to think that Anna needs an army, and the best way to get one is to … travel around the world once every season to get one person at a time? This book covers a HUGE span of time, given that. Her first stops aren’t even to her friends either, but rather to some alcoholic daughter of Hate in Israel. Despite the huge span of time taken in the book, besides Kai, Blake, Marna, Ginger and Kope, Anna makes only two other friends. Um. That’s not an army.
The whole love triangle thing with Kope also turned me sour on Anna and Kope’s characters. It is so freaking clear that Anna is still in love with Kaidan, and she knows it. But I guess Kope’s just … there? I mean, I get that she’s hurting and everything but Anna KNOWS she loves Kaidan and Kope KNOWS Kaidan loves her and Anna does pretty much guesses that Kaidan isn’t over her. Nothing that happens between Anna and Kope makes any sense at all.
But Kaidan. Oh God Kaidan. When he was first introduced in Sweet Evil, I thought he was the epitome of the bad boy stereotype/cliche. But by this book, I’m completely buying him as a person. He’s scared and he’s trying and he’s sweet and under all that cliche there is an actual person. Though he is absent for much of the first part of the book, when he is there he redeems every part of the book for me. I don’t completely buy Anna as a character, but Kaidan? I admit it, I’m in love.
All in all, I’d say that this book is once again a victim of “middle book syndrome.” A lot of it felt like filler and character development. I zoomed through it simply to find Kai. I will say, however, that the ending certainly raised the stakes quadruple the amount they ever were in this book. Because of Kai, I put this at about par with the first one. I’m really excited for the second one for sure, though. That’s more than I ever thought this series would hook me after Sweet Evil.
Finally, the secret is out! I am one of four members of the new Google+ Hangout book club “Bibliomancy for Beginners.” This week, our book was John Connolly’s The Book of Lost Things. Below you’ll find my review, and after that the YouTube video of our hangout. Next week we’ll be doing The Innocent Mage by Karen Miller, and you should totally come hang with us! I’ll announce when the next chat is right here on the blog.
High in his attic bedroom, twelve-year-old David mourns the death of his mother, with only the books on his shelf for company. But those books have begun to whisper to him in the darkness. Angry and alone, he takes refuge in his imagination and soon finds that reality and fantasy have begun to meld. While his family falls apart around him, David is violently propelled into a world that is a strange reflection of his own — populated by heroes and monsters and ruled by a faded king who keeps his secrets in a mysterious book, The Book of Lost Things.
Taking readers on a vivid journey through the loss of innocence into adulthood and beyond, New York Times bestselling author John Connolly tells a dark and compelling tale that reminds us of the enduring power of stories in our lives.
This book was not something I’d usually read, but thus is the purpose of our book club. I thought the blurb was interesting, but was a little unsure of what would happen from there. What I found was a pleasant surprise.
Twelve-year-old David is fairly believably written for his age, despite the fact that this book isn’t meant for middle grade or ya readers. His relationship with his mother and his reaction to her death tore at my heart. When his father remarries, to a woman with whom he fights all the time, and David gets a new step-brother, the way he deals with it never comes across as trite or overblown, as is sometimes the case with the way younger characters are written.
I’m still not quite sure how David ends up in what I’ll call “fairy tale land” for lack of a better phrase. I honestly can’t remember if it has a name in the book. Anyways, all of the sudden David is popping out a tree knot in a forest and there’s human-wolf hybrids after him. Thank goodness there’s the Woodsman there to save him. The villain of the story, the Crooked Man, hides the tree that has the portal in it from David, however, so he can’t go back, and the Woodsman says that only the dying king of the land can help him get back home now, so they set off on a quest to find the king and get David home.
For a while, it really did seem like the plot was relying on the questing motif way too much. David was on a journey and obstacles popped up around it, but he never really deviated from his goal. Each obstacle was present as unrelated to the other, so at times they felt quite disconnected and in some places unnecessary y. I will say, though, that of all these the Communist seven dwarfs and the fat, mean Snow White were the best part–of the quest and of the entire book. I don’t want to spoil anything, but seriously guys. Just mull that over. Fat and mean Snow White and the Communist Seven Dwarfs.
When David finally reaches the castle and finds the king, however, things really start to get rolling. All of the questions are answered, and more broader ones that make you think are asked. I didn’t think that this was going to tug at my heart strings as much as it did. In the end, I just wanted to hug David and hug the king and … basically hug everyone but the Crooked Man, who I wanted to stab repeatedly for putting the kid through everything. This is a stand alone, so the end wrapped everything up neatly–some might say too much so, but I don’t agree. Usually I like messy endings myself, but it was the epilogue that really did me in so no complaints there.
I’d really recommend this one if you’re looking for a fairy tale that isn’t for children. This really isn’t for people the age of the protagonist, trust me. Its themes and its messages ring much truer to the adult ear, and the prose is meant for that. It was a great bridge for me between the children’s stories I love and the adult novels I should really read more of.
Curious what me and my friends had to say? Want to laugh at the fools that we make of ourselves? Well, watch the video! (The first 9:20 of this is technical difficulties and giggles. For the actual book club part, skip right to about the 9:20 mark.)
So you all may have heard about these super secret thing I’ve been teasing about. Well, it’s happening TONIGHT. What is, you ask?
A Google+ hangout with my new book club, Bibliomancy for Beginners!
That’s right! If you want to see me and three friends make fools out of ourselves talking about books – this week it’s John Connolly’s The Book of Lost Things – then clear your calendar at 8:30 PM tonight. If you can’t, no worries, because I’ll be posting the recording here on the blog with my actual review of the book later on.
You should really come hang out, though. It’s going to be awesome. I’ll be updating this post with the link around 8 PM!
And now excuse us as we have some technical difficulties…
NOW. HERE WE GO!
Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish!
See, this is where my ya lit obsession starts to let me down. I mean, c’mon guys. Very few of you have figured out that it’s really boring to see ANOTHER girl in a dress on a cover. So these are my top ten choices from all around the board! (If you give any picture a click, you’ll head to the Goodreads page!)
Allison Sekemoto has vowed to rescue her creator, Kanin, who is being held hostage and tortured by the psychotic vampire Sarren. The call of blood leads her back to the beginning—New Covington and the Fringe, and a vampire prince who wants her dead yet may become her wary ally.
Even as Allie faces shocking revelations and heartbreak like she’s never known, a new strain of the Red Lung virus that decimated humanity is rising to threaten human and vampire alike.
3 1/2 stars
Thanks to NetGalley and HarlequinTeen for this eARC! This title is now available.
WARNING: There WILL be spoilers for the first book! Check out my review of The Immortal Rules if you’re interested!
I went into this book knowing that nothing could be as good as the first book in this series. This is because, a, I went into a complete flail attack over The Immortal Rules and, b, second book syndrome is so rampant lately that I just couldn’t get my hopes up. So I guess, in that way, I got exactly what I expected.
The book picks up with Allie having just been kicked out of Eden, on her way to finding Kanin. It takes a little while for it to get started, what with her just roaming the countryside and all that. Her nighttime visions of Kanin are seriously creepy, and keep the stakes up while Allie attacks dingy bars and skulks around “Old D.C.” Instead of finding Kanin, however, she first finds her old nemesis, Jackal. He has a proposition of friendship for her–and if she doesn’t accept, he’ll kill her.
Again, this book takes a little while to get started, but once the character of Jackal is introduced all is forgiven. I don’t understand how I can love him so much after what he did in the first book, but his comic relief and sarcastic personality is just the greatest thing ever. At the same time, though, he acts as a great foil for Allie’s continuing struggle with what it means to be a monster. I thought Jackal was the funniest thing ever and loved him, but I never totally trusted him not to go killing everything, and I was very impressed on how Kagawa wrote that balance.
I think my real problem with this book is that it seemed to be going backwards, both in terms of location and characters. At the end of The Immortal Rules, Allie had made it from New Covington to Eden, and the book ended with a fight with Jackal. This book starts with her leaving Eden, meeting Jackal, and then travelling with him to New Covington. The final showdown even takes place in the lab where Allie learned how to be a vampire in the first book.
Closer to the end, the characterization starts to get a little weird as well. Kanin, Allie and Jackal are extremely well done, but some other characters that crop back up seem to come back as weirdly different people. One of these people is Zeke, of course, though he is absent for the first part of the book as per the “middle book syndrome” formula. He’s similar to the Zeke from the first book, but also different, in ways that are weird since he spent time being primped and pampered in Eden. Also, some of the plot twists later made with his character pop up as “haha gotcha” half jokes clearly just shoehorned in for the sake of the plot. The character of Stick also pops back up, and his transformation is even more severe. Half of it I get, half of it I don’t, but either way his character leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
I guess I’m just frustrated with how much of this seemed like filler. In the end, I’m not sure how much was accomplished besides making Sarren even angrier and establishing Jackal as a character. Granted, I enjoy Jackal very much, but still. And then there is the matter of the ending, which…grr. I don’t understand the point of making us think someone is dead if you’re going to reverse that in the next chapter, and make THAT the last chapter of the book. Where’s the cliffhanger there? It makes the next book a little more predictable, and I’m not entirely a fan of where I think it’s going.
All in all, I demoted this one a full star from what I rated it’s predecessor, but I still really think these books are worth a read. Despite my plot problems, Jackal made this book for me, and it was still an enjoyable read. I also have complete faith that Kagawa is going to get back to her blowing-me-away style in the next and last book. I know vampires are getting a bit passe, but these are still definitely on my recommendation list.
Thirty-five girls came to the palace to compete in the Selection. All but six have been sent home. And only one will get to marry Prince Maxon and be crowned princess of Illea.
America still isn’t sure where her heart lies. When she’s with Maxon, she’s swept up in their new and breathless romance, and can’t dream of being with anyone else. But whenever she sees Aspen standing guard around the palace, and is overcome with memories of the life they planned to share. With the group narrowed down to the Elite, the other girls are even more determined to win Maxon over—and time is running out for America to decide.
Just when America is sure she’s made her choice, a devastating loss makes her question everything again. And while she’s struggling to imagine her future, the violent rebels that are determined to overthrow the monarchy are growing stronger and their plans could destroy her chance at any kind of happy ending.
3 1/2 stars
Alright, I’ll be totally honest. I read this book in 3 hours while my parents left me stranded in a two stories B&N, and I couldn’t afford to pile anymore books. After The Selection, I was really iffy on this book. I liked the first one, but I was really conflicted about the characters. This was more of the same.
To quote an internet meme, things escalate quickly when The Elite gets started. As far as I can tell, this escalation comes about strictly to create tension between Maxon and America, since she seems to be leaning pretty heavily towards him instead of Aspen. The character that instigates this tension is forcibly introduced in the first chapter, and there seems to be no basis for anything that happens besides it moving the love triangle along (and eventually making it a love quadrangle). This was a frustrating starting point that basically continued throughout the rest of the novel.
I love the character of America, I really do. When she’s on her own, she is a fiercely independent woman who fights for what she thinks is right and has real considerations for the consequences of her actions. As far as I can tell, the things that keep screwing up her character are Maxon and Aspen. When her decisions involve either of them, she becomes a simpering, indecisive Mary Sue who’s emotional reactions are the most poignant when she expresses jealousy. When she’s alone, she has serious debates about the two of them and makes up her mind which one to choose multiple times. But then she gets back together with the other one and her mind gets scrambled by their maleness.
At this point, I don’t like either Maxon or Aspen. Aspen, for most of this book, was once again a background character. I have a hard time remembering why she cares about him, simply because none of his qualities are ever given a chance to shine, negative or positive. Maxon, on the other hand, I can’t keep straight. The attempt to give his character more depth in this novel just made him seem completely bipolar. One minute he cares, one minute he doesn’t (or does he?). He’s so wishy-washy I want to wring him out like a dish towel. I liked him the best after The Selection, but I’ve pulled away from that a lot now.
And his character wasn’t the only one that turned bipolar, either. There were several major players who seem to have woken up at random moments with no idea of who they were previously for the sake of the plot.
Except, that is, America’s maids. Can I get a whole book just with them, please?
There’s also the fact that I still understand nothing about the rebels everyone keeps talking about. This book also reminded me there’s supposed to be some kind of a war going on with New Asia as well. America herself blows off any attempt at getting any information about any of these conflicts, so we can’t learn anything through her. Anything outside the walls of the palace is shakily world built at best, and it leaves me feeling like the wars going on outside the palace and the attacks by the rebels really aren’t important or dangerous at all.
I am really just so torn about this book. On the one hand, America without Maxon or Aspen around is a great character, the kind I want as a best friend. Every time I get annoyed with the rest of the novel, I get a scene with her and it just makes everything better. But then Maxon or Aspen show up and she becomes this different person that just annoys me, and I just want to smack her. Every time she talks about how she loves them both equally I just want to hit my head on the desk, especially because at times she seems so sure about making a decision, but then backtracks on it just as fast. The characterization in these novels just keeps throwing me off, and that makes me really upset. Can these rebels that I still know nothing about just off Maxon and Aspen and leave America to lead the country on her own? Because that would be the best book ever.