Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A Touch Mortal

Eden didn't expect Az.

Not his saunter down the beach toward her. Not his unbelievable pick up line. Not the instant, undeniable connection. And not his wings.


So long happily-ever-after.

Now trapped between life and death, cursed to spread chaos with her every touch, Eden could be the key in the eternal struggle between heaven and hell. All because she gave her heart to one of the Fallen, an angel cast out of heaven.

She may lose everything she ever had. She may be betrayed by those she loves most. But Eden will not be a pawn in anyone else's game. Her heart is her own.

And that's only the beginning of the end.

Beth says 2.5 Stars…

I just couldn’t get into this one. I’d read raves about it and was super excited since it seemed different enough to hold my interest. The premise did hold true to the promise of something a bit off the beaten path, but it never managed to capture my attention. I didn’t find the actual plot highly compelling or particularly well-paced. The book could have used some trimming as far as length, as I found large portions that didn’t move anything forward. It’s not like there was a desperate need for a few more pages because the book’s fairly substantial (over 400 pages). I also believe that the way Clifford disseminated information to readers could use some work. It took me forever to gain my bearings at the beginning of the novel, which then allowed me to get confused later on. I found that quite a few of the details were either unnecessary or never became fully explained. The plot never formed into a cohesive whole that I could lose myself in.

Honestly, the biggest problem I had was with the characters. First of all, I really didn’t like Eden. I know I’ve mentioned my hatred of angst before, which put me at odds with Eden from the beginning of the book. I found the way she handled her relationships with everyone, not just romantic partners, and her trust issues grating. I found the idea of a gay angel delightful and will say that I’m very glad that was a fixture in the story. The other rather large bone I have to pick with the story is the language used. In the dialogue the characters swore… a lot. I’m not morally opposed to cursing in the slightest, but what I do find terrible is using foul language just to do so. It didn’t feel organic to the characters and instead seemed contrived. It was almost as if it were there simply to be there or for shock value. I feel like that cheapens the writing and characters.

I really think this book belongs in the skip-worthy pile. I know that some people adore it, and I can’t argue with them. I just think that the plot lacked anything to compel me, which disappointed the promise shown in the original idea. The gratuitous swearing and less than amazing characters did the book no favors either. All in all, this isn’t a series I’ll be following and I don’t suggest it for you either.

Thursday, August 18, 2011


Vi knows the Rule: Girls don’t walk with boys, and they never even think about kissing them. But no one makes Vi want to break the Rules more than Zenn…and since the Thinkers have chosen him as Vi’s future match, how much trouble can one kiss cause? The Thinkers may have brainwashed the rest of the population, but Vi is determined to think for herself.
But the Thinkers are unusually persuasive, and they’re set on convincing Vi to become one of them….starting by brainwashed Zenn. Vi can’t leave Zenn in the Thinkers’ hands, but she’s wary of joining the rebellion, especially since that means teaming up with Jag. Jag is egotistical, charismatic, and dangerous: everything Zenn’s not. Vi can’t quite trust Jag and can’t quite resist him, but she also can’t give up on Zenn.
This is a game of control or be controlled. And Vi has no choice but to play.

Beth says 4 Stars…

This is another entry into the realm of dystopian fiction, and one that’s more successful than most. The concept seemed somewhat interesting, despite how similar the description sounded to some other recent novels. By the end of the book, however, the initial little blurb proved itself to be less than completely accurate in terms of the tone and content of the novel. The set up for the world has a very incomplete introduction that does improve with time. I thought the plot was interesting enough and it kept me engaged long enough to have things make some sort of sense. Initially the world confused me, with large amounts of information missing. It didn’t make sense well into the book and I just didn’t gain clarity until the end of the novel. I will say that the plot moved at an absolutely breakneck pace, which sucked me in entirely. It also wasn’t predictable although it of course had some familiar elements that I’ll get to later. I never would have predicted the ending, and I found that highly refreshing.

The main thing about Vi that bothered me centered on her romantic relationships. Personality wise Vi didn’t bother me terribly much; in fact I found her internal conflict between her societal conditioning and her own desires fascinating. What really frustrated me was that she immediately became obsessed with a guy. It really got to the point of intense love within an incredibly short amount of time. It’s an example of something that bothers me in YA currently, which is that the female characters become highly wrapped up in a man and lose their identity in the process. Not only that, but they come to the conclusion quite rashly. Literally, within a few weeks in the time of the novel they manage to fall deeply in love and lose all sense of what they need themselves. This book in particular got me because of how Vi changed her romantic loyalties early on, going for the mysterious newcomer while throwing the guy she’d been with for a while under the bus. I did like the interplay between the characters and how you could never really tell where people had their loyalties.

Despite some major flaws, this novel proved to be an interesting debut and start to a series. The end really threw me for a loop in the best possible way and sets up the potential for later books beautifully. I have higher expectations for the forthcoming novels in the series because now I understand the world and the premise significantly better. Instead of being more than a touch confused, in the next book I can focus more on the ethical issues that I’m certain will continue to be raised. I’m optimistic about this one and can’t wait to see where Johnson takes it!

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Dark and Hollow Places

There are many things that Annah would like to forget: the look on her sister's face when she and Elias left her behind in the Forest of Hands and Teeth, her first glimpse of the horde as they found their way to the Dark City, the sear of the barbed wire that would scar her for life. But most of all, Annah would like to forget the morning Elias left her for the Recruiters.
Annah's world stopped that day and she's been waiting for him to come home ever since. Without him, her life doesn't feel much different from that of the dead that roam the wasted city around her. Then she meets Catcher and everything feels alive again.
Except, Catcher has his own secrets—dark, terrifying truths that link him to a past Annah's longed to forget, and to a future too deadly to consider. And now it's up to Annah—can she continue to live in a world drenched in the blood of the living? Or is death the only escape from the Return's destruction?

Beth says 4.5 Stars…

I love this series. I remember when I somewhat skeptically grabbed the first novel, only to get swept up in the story and world. What I really enjoy is how this series keeps it fresh by changing the central character. It shows different facets of how the crisis affected the world. Instead of just seeing one person’s journey you get glimpses inside the lives of several people who have all seem different sides of the catastrophe. The plot in this one didn’t center on any sort of epic journey, differing from the previous two novels in that respect. I feel that the lack of movement made the story even more intense. Instead of giving the release of constant motion to the readers, the lack of forward progression kept me on the edge of my seat. I also found it interesting to finally get a look at the mythical city, which of course had more than a few issues. It somehow managed to not be as bright and shiny as initially thought in previous books.

The one problem I had with the book was how long it took me to connect with Annah. I didn’t find her very likeable in the beginning, and had issues with the barriers she placed around her emotions. However, she opened up after a bit and that allowed me to connect with her. Her emotional problems became fascinating and my respect for her grew as she worked through her issues. You really can take part in her inner journey, which in a way takes the place of a physical trek. I also thought it was great that we could still see what happened to some of the characters we’ve grown to know and love. It allowed for a more satisfying end to their stories. I found the relationships between all of the characters complex, but the one between Annah and Gabry fascinated me the most. As an only child, the interactions between twins are incredibly foreign and interesting.

This series manages to constantly subvert expectations. It’s not just about zombies; it really focuses on what happens when the known world crumbles. The strength and struggles of the remaining humans take center stage, set against the backdrop of a world in chaos. This isn’t really like anything else on the shelves and something you should be reading. If you’ve enjoyed the rest of the series grab this book and if you haven’t read any of the novels, pick them up. They’re worth it.