ARC Review: “The Shadow Society” by Marie Rutkoski

The Shadow Society by Marie Rutkoski

Goodreads | Amazon

Darcy Jones doesn’t remember anything before the day she was abandoned as a child outside a Chicago firehouse. She has never really belonged anywhere—but she couldn’t have guessed that she comes from an alternate world where the Great Chicago Fire didn’t happen and deadly creatures called Shades terrorize the human population.

Memories begin to haunt Darcy when a new boy arrives at her high school, and he makes her feel both desire and desired in a way she hadn’t thought possible. But Conn’s interest in her is confusing. It doesn’t line up with the way he first looked at her.

As if she were his enemy.

When Conn betrays Darcy, she realizes that she can’t rely on anything—not herself, not the laws of nature, and certainly not him. Darcy decides to infiltrate the Shadow Society and uncover the Shades’ latest terrorist plot. What she finds out will change her world forever . . .

In this smart, compulsively readable novel, master storyteller Marie Rutkoski has crafted an utterly original world, characters you won’t soon forget, and a tale full of intrigue and suspense.

3 stars

Thanks to Macmillan Publishing and NetGalley for this eARC! You can get a copy for yourself on October 16th!

Lately, I’ve been very lucky to get my hands on books that started out mediocre but redeemed themselves in the end.

This is not one of those books.

In fact, the first part of this book was hankering for a higher rating. I’ll admit, there was nothing entirely compelling about the characters from the get go, but the world and the plot was engrossing despite myself. I was sucked in and had a hard time finding stopping points for when I had to do things like school and work. This is always a very, very good sign.

I’ve mentioned that I dislike when books start at this really crucial point, only to back up at the beginning of the real first chapter–and that’s what happened here. Still, I soldiered on and was rewarded. I’m an English major (well, that’s half a double major, but I digress), so the whole theme of T. S. Eliot’s The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock caused serious love from me. That was a touch I totally wasn’t expecting from this paranormal romance. I was actually really surprised by the plot and the way that twisted, too, but … well, I have a confession:

I totally forgot to reread the blurb before I read it. So, yeah. The whole Shade thing? BLEW MY MIND. (Remind me to never, ever get this backed up on reviews again.)

I did find the concepts of the two different Chicagos difficult to understand, and yeah that was after I figured out what was going on. I felt like I needed a little bit more explanation there. However, the Shade v. humans thing was really well established–as was the Shades themselves–so I didn’t really mind as much because man Shades are COOL.

Given the clarity of the whole Shade thing, I was really invested in the plot, even if the characters were fairly one-dimensional. The romance wasn’t overly terrible or overly exciting, but it fit into the plot nicely and didn’t overpower it. I was humming along, ready to give this sucker about four stars or so.

Then some things right before the ending happened. And my suspension of disbelief was broken and I was tossed from the story, quite rudely.

The problem is, I can’t tell you what happened.

The point of the matter is, though, that some fairly improbable things occurred towards then end, and then things fell together far too easily. The ending was confusing and entirely unrealistic. There is no WAY Darcy and Co could have what happened to them after all the tension and fighting in the rest of the book. There is just NO. WAY. After the seamless run of the rest of the book, I was greatly disappointed and the rating of the book dropped an entire star. I don’t even understand if the ending was setting up for a sequel or not. Goodreads certainly doesn’t have any information on such a thing, though that certainly isn’t gospel. All in all, the ending turned an enjoyable book into a confusing one and left me with a very different impression than the one I had for most of the book.

ARC Review: “Eve and Adam” by Katherine Applegate and Michael Grant

Eve and Adam by Katherine Applegate and Michael Grant

Goodreads | Amazon

In the beginning, there was an apple—

And then there was a car crash, a horrible injury, and a hospital. But before Evening Spiker’s head clears a strange boy named Solo is rushing her to her mother’s research facility. There, under the best care available, Eve is left alone to heal.

Just when Eve thinks she will die—not from her injuries, but from boredom—her mother gives her a special project: Create the perfect boy.

Using an amazingly detailed simulation, Eve starts building a boy from the ground up. Eve is creating Adam. And he will be just perfect… won’t he?

3 1/2 stars

Thank you to NetGalley and Feiwel and Friends for this eARC! You can get a copy for yourself on October 2nd, 2012!

To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t sure at all how Eve and Adam was going to turn out. I was only lukewarm about the concept, but requested it in a slew of requests from Macmillan publishing (which owns F&F). I then proceeded to read the entire book in two days.

Actually, the entire first half of the book didn’t sell me too strongly. The apple thing–which is, in fact, in the beginning–doesn’t seem to have a point except for being thrown in there as an obvious allusion (she also loses a rib for no reason except for this, I’m guessing). It seemed to detract from the fact that Evening is being HIT by a VEHICLE and having her LEG RIPPED OFF. (Graphic imagery not included.)

I was, entirely through the book, lukewarm about the characters of Evening and Solo. I honestly did not understand why the for the life of me Evening and Solo were splitting the narrating, besides the fact that this is written by a male-female team. Evening does most of the narrating because even the authors seem to subconsciously know that this is Evening’s story and Solo is just kind of there. Evening’s mother is just kind of there and stereotypically evil, but PROPS for the character of Evening’s best friend. Now SHE was fun.

You know what? For the first half of the book I was just entirely lukewarm about everything.

And then the second half happened.

The action? Kicked up SEVERAL notches. All of the sudden we went from not much happening to EVERYTHING HAPPENING. Upon rereading the Goodreads synopsis, I can’t help be realize how much of the story isn’t in it. But you wouldn’t know it until the second half of the book.

Alright, I still wasn’t in love with the characters, but FINALLY the multiple points of view had purpose. The romance was particularly awkward and I didn’t find it that believable or real, but the way it’s handled was really sweet. I honestly have to be that vague because otherwise I’d reveal a MAJOR plot point, so … don’t hurt me. Trying to be non-spoiler here. 😛

The plot also never hit a point of entire believability with me, especially the plot twist at the end. The character in the plot twist was far too one-dimensional for the entire book, and there were absolutely no hints that this was coming. All of the sudden there’s just this HAHAHA, GOTCHA moment that I still honestly don’t believe.

All and all, the three and half star rating is perfect for me and this book. I liked it a lot, but I certainly didn’t love it. Though the end did a great deal to redeem the first half, I was just never really engaged with the characters or the plot. The action was great, and so was the subplots, but the overarching concepts just didn’t fit for me.