Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Masque of the Red Death (Bethany Griffin)

Title: Masque of the Red Death
Author: Bethany Griffin
Publisher: Greenwillow Books (HarperCollins)
Length: 319 pages
Rating: 3/5

A plague has destroyed most of the world, including Araby’s twin brother. Resolved to never experience anything her brother can’t, Araby attends glittery parties with other wealthy survivors in the hopes of finding oblivion. She finds her vow hard to keep after friending Will, the handsome proprietor of the Debauchery Club, and Elliot, a wealthy aristocrat determined to start a revolution.

I really wanted to like this book and there were several moments that I loved it. But mostly, I loved the idea but didn’t love the follow-through. This book had so much potential because it contained most the things I look for in a good book: a strong female character who is willing to take risks, handsome men vying for the lead’s attention, beautiful costumes, mystery, revolution, and it’s based on Edgar Allan Poe’s short story, “The Mask of the Red Death.”

But it was just so messy. Character’s personalities weren’t clear or changed through the book, the dialogue was unbelievable, and the amount of times the author conveniently brought characters together but didn’t make the most of it was terribly frustrating. There was not enough continuity and I couldn’t get into the story like I wanted to. And then the book ended without a conclusion, only more problems- a bit like the story as a whole.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Pandemonium (Lauren Oliver)

Title: Pandemonium
Author: Lauren Oliver
Publisher: HarperTeen
Length: 375 pages
Rating: 4.5/5

WARNING! Spoilers of the first book ahead.

In the sequel to Delirium, Lena’s world has changed completely. Now outside society, she is forced to figure out who she really is and what she must do to survive. What must she do to change society, and is it worth it?

I loved how this book was set up-alternating between the “now” and “then” timeframes. Since these books are all about self-discovery, this is a perfect way to show how a person can change, and how you must push away your past self to become a better future you. With the two parallel stories, one of which directly led to the next, it also provides twice the story and twice the depth. Plus it was twice as hard to put down, because I wanted to know what would happen in both timeframes, and how the first resulted in the second.

This wasn’t just part two of Delirium either. This book provided its own complete story, including romance and growth on Lena’s part. I might even like this one more than the first. Yes, the plot lines were still a bit predictable (foreshadowing was quite obvious) but overall, I loved it.

Curse the cliff-hanger ending, because I don’t want to wait for book three! Just read some great Goodreads comments, and it appears I’m not alone- GAH!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Abandon (Meg Cabot)

Title: Abandon
Author: Meg Cabot
Publisher: Point (Scholastic)
Length: 304 pages
Rating: 3.5/5

Pierce’s life changes drastically after a near-death experience. She’s kicked out of her elite boarding school in Connecticut and moves to Florida. Even though her therapists say she’s crazy, Pierce can’t forget her trip to the Underworld, and John Hayden, the boy who didn’t want her to leave his realm of death, keeps popping up and causing trouble. Is John real, and does getting close to him mean having to return to the Underworld?

“The myth of Persephone…darkly reimagined.”

I adore Meg Cabot and the idea behind this book of retelling the myth. But the follow-through? Sort of left me like “YEAH…eh…what?” I’m feeling a little snarky today, so let me try to explain:

Things I liked:
The mystery aspect of this book. We’re plopped down in the now, but Pierce is struggling with all the “before” which is slowly revealed to the reader. This is what drove the plot- what in the world happened to this girl to make her so skittish? This, and Pierce figuring out John, our bad boy on a whole new level. I mean, he rules the Underworld and is punished my Furies. This equals hot (double entendre- get it?), and tugging on heart-strings. Meg always gets my vote on her relationship writing (hence the YEAH). These two things kept me reading,

Even though:
What happened in this book? The main part of the Persephone myth has already happened before the book begins. Pierce is just trying to figure it all out, and we’re along for the ride. This meant things were kind of all over the place. Also, Pierce is so confused (and thinks she might be crazy) so I didn’t know if I liked her or not. (Hence the eh…what?).

This is the first in a trilogy, but I’m not dying to read the rest. Maybe someday though- I won’t rule it out entirely. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Scorpio Races (Maggie Stiefvater)

Title: The Scorpio Races
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Publisher: Scholastic
Length: 404 pages
Rating: 4.5/5

Every November, tourists pour into the small island of Thisby to watch the violent Scorpio Races, where it’s far more likely for a racing water horses to kill his rider than it is for him to win. Puck Connely has lived on Thisby her whole life, and it’s desperation that finally drives her to become the first girl to compete in the Scorpio races. Sean Kendrick is the four-time reigning champion of the Races, but this year, he’s also fueled by desperation. As they prepare for a race that could very well take their lives, Puck and Sean’s paths cross and change both their lives forever.

I enjoyed Maggie Stiefvater’s writing in Shiver, and had heard great things about this book. And while the book started off slowly, it definitely lived up to the hype. The writing was gorgeous and descriptive, giving life to the courageous Puck and the unmoving Sean, as well as to the island itself. almost as a third main character in the book. The water horses were a little harder to picture- half regular horse, half part of the ocean, but I liked that the murky way they were portrayed mirrored the way their spirits refused to be tampered down by humans on the island.

I’m beginning to wax a little too poetic in this review, but only because Stiefvater somehow manages to make a story about dangerous killing beasts so beautiful. I grew to love both Puck and Sean as characters and was incredibly sad to let them go at the end of the novel. I can’t give much higher praise than that! A definite must-read.