I got a blood test done today which is probably why I feel so groggy and sleepy as I write this. Normally, my weekly reviews would be done on Sunday but yesterday my computer and internet conspired against me (I hate being ganged up on) resulting in the day late reviews. But listening to me ramble isn’t why you’re reading this post (maybe that’s the reason for reading my blog but not this post…). I’ll be providing mini reviews for Wither by Lauren DeStefano, The Forsaken by Lisa M. Stasse, Fearscape by Simon Holt and White Cat by Holly Black.
[Minor Spoilers may be in this Post]
1. WITHER by Lauren DeStefano
By age sixteen, Rhine Ellery has four years left to live. She can thank modern science for this genetic time bomb. A botched effort to create a perfect race has left all males with a lifespan of 25 years, and females with a lifespan of 20 years. Geneticists are seeking a miracle antidote to restore the human race, desperate orphans crowd the population, crime and poverty have skyrocketed, and young girls are being kidnapped and sold as polygamous brides to bear more children. When Rhine is kidnapped and sold as a bride, she vows to do all she can to escape. Her husband, Linden, is hopelessly in love with her, and Rhine can’t bring herself to hate him as much as she’d like to. He opens her to a magical world of wealth and illusion she never thought existed, and it almost makes it possible to ignore the clock ticking away her short life. But Rhine quickly learns that not everything in her new husband’s strange world is what it seems. Her father-in-law, an eccentric doctor bent on finding the antidote, is hoarding corpses in the basement. Her fellow sister wives are to be trusted one day and feared the next, and Rhine is desperate to communicate to her twin brother that she is safe and alive. Will Rhine be able to escape–before her time runs out?
Together with one of Linden’s servants, Gabriel, Rhine attempts to escape just before her seventeenth birthday. But in a world that continues to spiral into anarchy, is there any hope for freedom?
The cover is stunning and even more so in the full version on the right side above (or the one below the first image since my blog likes to screw with my mind through random formatting). The pretty girl slouched as though she’s withering away fits so well with the title and story. The beautiful, electric pink text along with the circles that create connections between images. The relevance of the images to the story which makes this cover MATTER. It’s definitely an A++ cover and my favourite thus far. The plot is really creepy. The idea of being in a forced marriage is horrible coupled with the whole dying-at-20-for-girls-but-25-for-guys. It’s definitely a unique story. The writing is wonderful. What I admire about DeStefano is the constant theme of beauty and danger in the book. I was constantly warring with myself on whether Rhine should run or not since there are reasons for both. Every single character is multi layered and readers get to peel away at those layers the farther into the book they go. I was especially happy on how Rhine and Gabriel’s relationship progressed. They go from friends to love interests flawlessly and naturally which was refreshing.
Memorable/Forgettable?: Forgettable but as a series and not as a stand alone. The book was a satisfying read but it ended in a way that didn’t indicate a second book.
Rating: I give this 4 1/2 June Beans out of 5.
2. THE FORSAKEN by Lisa M. Stasse
As an obedient orphan of the U.N.A. (the super-country that was once Mexico, the U.S., and Canada), Alenna learned at an early age to blend in and be quiet—having your parents taken by the police will do that to a girl. But Alenna can’t help but stand out when she fails a test that all sixteen-year-olds have to take: The test says she has a high capacity for brutal violence, and so she is sent to The Wheel, an island where all would-be criminals end up.
The life expectancy of prisoners on The Wheel is just two years, but with dirty, violent, and chaotic conditions, the time seems a lot longer as Alenna is forced to deal with civil wars for land ownership and machines that snatch kids out of their makeshift homes. Desperate, she and the other prisoners concoct a potentially fatal plan to flee the island. Survival may seem impossible, but Alenna is determined to achieve it anyway.
This isn’t your typical cover which means it’ll pop off the shelves compared to other books. Plus, it’s also relevant to the story. Although the cover may not be typical, I felt the story was. It was dystopic. It involved kids trying to survive and killing one another. It had predictable teen romance (I’ll get into that later). The writing annoyed me. Italics are used in novels for specific reasons: to show readers a change in time (flashbacks/flashforwards), inner thoughts being said by the characters word for word (example: OMG. I did NOT just say that aloud) and etc. In this book however, it came across as the author deciding to just randomly selecting sentences to italicize. The characters were flat. I really liked Rika and Gadya but I can’t say the same for the main character, Alenna, who I couldn’t connect with at all and Liam who was barely in the book. The romance between Alenna and Liam made no sense. This was the perfect example of instant love which I REALLY REALLY HATE. How can you love someone that was barely in the book? Someone that even the readers aren’t in love with (by readers, I mean me). By the end of the story, I can’t imagine reading the second book. I might just to see if it improves but I won’t be running to the library any time soon…
Memorable/Forgettable?: Forgettable. The End.
Rating: I give this 2 1/2 Feelers out of 5.
3. FEARSCAPE by Simon Holt
It’s been a year since Reggie first discovered the Vours, and the winter solstice is approaching once again. It will be another night of unspeakable horror for those unlucky enough to be taken by the Vours, because this time, she won’t be able to stop them. The Vours have imprisoned Reggie in a psychiatric hospital, where she is subjected to a daily routine of unfathomably sadistic experiments. Her life is a living hell, but she won’t give up. They attacked her brother. They killed her friend. And Reggie will never stop fighting back.
I like the cover. The blue eyes really pop against the blue smoke and black background. I’ve been reading this series since high school and was sad to read this last book in the trilogy. If you like Goosebumps, you’ll really like this creepy read. Demon like things called the Vours who inhabit your body and live your life while your stuck in your mind with your worst fears. Yup, creepy. The writing was good and the characters were worthy of our sympathies given the crap they go through (especially Reggie). This book tied everything up nicely so bravo Holt!
Memorable/Forgettable?: Memorable. No one can forget the Vours *shivers*
Rating: I give this 4 Vours out of 5.
4. WHITE CAT by Holly Black
Cassel comes from a family of curse workers — people who have the power to change your emotions, your memories, your luck, by the slightest touch of their hands. And since curse work is illegal, they’re all mobsters, or con artists. Except for Cassel. He hasn’t got the magic touch, so he’s an outsider, the straight kid in a crooked family. You just have to ignore one small detail — he killed his best friend, Lila, three years ago.
Ever since, Cassel has carefully built up a façade of normalcy, blending into the crowd. But his façade starts crumbling when he starts sleepwalking, propelled into the night by terrifying dreams about a white cat that wants to tell him something. He’s noticing other disturbing things, too, including the strange behavior of his two brothers. They are keeping secrets from him, caught up in a mysterious plot. As Cassel begins to suspect he’s part of a huge con game, he also wonders what really happened to Lila. Could she still be alive? To find that out, Cassel will have to out-con the conmen.
The cover is…eh. It’s nice…that’s it. I read this book in one sitting which I haven’t done in a long time (seriously, 6:00pm to Midnight. Done). The story is addictive because of the mystery that surrounds Cassel and Cassel is an intriguing character himself. Someone you really feel bad for and protective of (I intentional avoid going into further detail of the plot since it’ll ruin the story…and the story is really good). The writing was great but…come on…it’s Holly Black for crying out loud. It’s expected. The characters were diverse in personalities from Cassel’s asshole brothers to sweet Sam. Overall, a must read.
Memorable/Forgettable?: Memorable. Did I mention that he has assholes for brothers?
Rating: I give this 4 curse workers out of 5.
Keep on reading,
A. A. Omer
The opinions expressed here are mine and readers are welcome to disagree. In fact, I encourage it! I never believed in putting particular books or authors on some sort of universal pedestal but you’re free to put it on your individualized pedestal because I most certainly will.