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review 2018-07-14 18:36
Review: Savage Island
Savage Island (Red Eye) - Bryony Pearce

Review: Savage Island


I received a copy from Netgalley.


This started out pretty good. A fairly interesting premise, it's a UK based horror novel - a group of teens enter a contest where the prize is one million pounds - each. The group will be whisked off to a reclusive billionaire's private island for some sort of survival contest where there will be a number of tasks to complete and other teams to compete against. Last team standing who complete all the tasks win the prize. Sounds pretty good, right?


If however, you're a horror movie fan like me and have seen more horror films than you can count or remember red flags should be going off immediately and the obvious question that should be on anyone's brain - what's the catch here? There has to be something that's going to go hideously wrong very quickly. 


The characters are pretty ordinary teens, told from the point of view of Ben who lives with his younger brother Will and their divorced mum, pretty girl Lizzie, Ben's long time crush, and friends, Lizzie's BFF mouthy Carmen and smart guy Grady. There's something uncomfortable right off with Will, told in flashbacks - he's got some personality problems and is very manipulative, and cruel especially when he doesn't get his way. Ben's a people pleaser. The peace maker. Will manages to convince them to bring him along. He's very smart and resourceful and could be useful. Despite his sociopathic behaviour issues. Or I'm guessing all part of said personality disorder. 


For a horror novel it's not scary in the slightest, (but that could be a personal feeling really as I may be rather jaded from having seen so many movies and read a fair amount of Stephen King which seems to be the yard stick I measure horror against). And while the novel was pretty silly there was something in the narrative that was enough to make me as a reader keep going to want to know what the point of it all was. To be fair it did manage to be pretty tense.


When the kids get to the island there's a list of tasks to complete, a riddle to be solved and a tithe to be paid before getting the instructions to the next point. The first team to clear the checkpoints, pay all the tithes and get to the final checkpoint by a certain time is the winter. The first tithe is a little gross, and if that's the first...how bad are the rest going to be? And what about the other teams competing? How far are they willing to go to win?


It all starts getting pretty despairing as things get more violent and go from bad to worse. It has some pretty eye rolling for fuck's sake moments, the plot manages like I said earlier to at least keep the interest alive. It is quite visually striking - it's very easy to picture what's going on as if it were a movie on the screen. Despite some eye rolling moments, the kids aren't stupid, they're fairly logical regardless of the growing panic and fear the worse the situation gets and the more threats that approach. 


Problem was the kids had in my opinion zero personality to make them remotely memorable or likeable, with the exception of Ben and Will. We get flashbacks of their complicated relationship and unpleasant family history. They are the only ones who seem to get some sort of fleshing out. 


What really let this novel down for me was the end. It was...stupid. The whole reveal of what was going on and the final body count....was like what the fuck did I waste my time on this for and was really disappointing. 


While this is a standalone novel it's part of a group of UK YA horror called Red Eye, and despite the crappy ending, I sort of would recommend it if you like cheesy horror, which is pretty much what I gather the Red Eye series is. Or at least what I'm guessing I will find this series. I have a number of other titles to try in the series. While this title was by no means somethingI I will read again I do look forward to trying the Red Eye series. 


The writing did show promise, so I would probably try something else by this author.


Thank you to Netgalley and Stripes Publishing for approving my request to view the title. 



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review 2016-07-09 00:00
Windrunner's Daughter
Windrunner's Daughter - Bryony Pearce Windrunner's Daughter - Bryony Pearce Earth is dead and has left the last of the humans stranded on Mars and living in colonies. For the most part they are divided between the grounders and the runners. The runners think that they are somewhat better than the grounders because they are the only ones who can or are allowed to take messages and supplies from colony to colony and without the runners the grounder would be or have nothing they would all starve or die without food or medication when they are sick. The runners fly from colony to colony to trade or buy the food, medicine or whatever else it is they made need for their colonies.

It is against the law for a grounder or girl to be a runner. But when the head runner and his sons are away from home for long period of time and his wife becomes then his daughter Wren is left to take care of her mother alone. She needs to find her father and get help for her mother so she knows the only choice she has is to take her brother’s training wings and go in search of her father and her brothers. She knows the consequences of her actions if she is caught but what other choice does she have but to go looking for them.

Right before she is going to walk out the door to with her brother’s wings to go in search of her father and brothers she is caught by a grounder. They argue over the fact that it is against the law for her to fly but Wren won’t listen to him her mother is dying. Wren races out to the runner’s platform before he can stop her and just as just leaps off the end of the platform she turns and sees that he has stolen a pair of wings and is following her. There isn’t much she can do about it now beside she is breaking the law herself. Wren has never flown before but she has listened to her father’s entire lessons when he was teaching her brother’s so she knows what to do. Besides even if it is against the law that doesn’t mean she can’t fly too just because she is a girl.

Wren may only be a fifteen year old girl but she is more mature than most adults and she has heart bigger than all of Mars. Wren would give her own life to save anyone that she cares about.

After spending a lot of time together while on their search for her family Wren and Raw begin to see that just because society has taught them that runners and grounders are different they begin to see that they are wrong. When they start to reveal their true selves to each other then their eyes are open to the truth.

Windrunner’s Daughter is a wonderful story it will make you laugh it will make you cry but most of all; hopefully it will open your eyes and heart to the wonderful message that the author is trying to teach us. Windrunner’s Daughter will stay with you long after you have closed the book. If you have not read it then I would like to suggest that you do.
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review 2016-07-03 00:00
Windrunner's Daughter
Windrunner's Daughter - Bryony Pearce Windrunner's Daughter - Bryony Pearce When I received the email from YA Bound Tours for this tour, the cover immediately grabbed my eye. My only hesitate was being run down on post-apocalyptic dystopians with the last several being less than stellar. After reading the blurb, I decided to test myself. If I still thought about the Windrunner’s Daughter days later, I’d sign up to review it.

Good news, this system worked!

The Windrunner’s Daughter starts with a rapid fire prologue that tells the story of the founding trip to Mars. Earth is lost irrevocably, the exact reason matters not but of course, we destroyed it.

However, I’ve had a couple more questions since reading because it doesn’t give details on who started their sexist set up. Was it the Originals, humans agreed to this before coming over, or was it sabotaged along with the physical set up? How far back does this conspiracy go? How deep does the bigotry run?

Ultimately, it’s neither here nor there but it’s another avenue I wish was explored more. The world building is kept tight around what’s relevant for Wren’s journey and bucks the trend of dystopian trilogies. It’s refreshing along with the uniqueness of the setting. Yet…those very things make me want more.

The Good:
+Loved Wren
+Character progression
+Important and intriguing prologue that lays the ground work
+Action & twists I didn’t see
+Personal character conclusion is sweet
+Atmospheric with the wind descriptions and weather.
+Love the world building and setting
+Different and stands out from the pack of other dystopians
+Cover love

The Bad & The Other:
-Slow start
-Didn’t like Raw at first & his beginning actions still sour me a bit…
-Likable romance while reading but remain doubtful afterwards
-Open ending, Don’t find out answers behind the sabotage or how Mars will turn out

We meet Wren after the prologue and how she lives in her Mars colony. It’s a screeching halt after the space action in the prologue. It builds the politics, oppression, environment, and characters until Wren finally takes flight. It’s good. I enjoyed it and it’s necessary but for some reason I wasn’t ensnared yet. Maybe it’s just another world where women are oppressed and that’s depressing? IDK. It was easily put down but wasn’t forgotten, so I stuck around. Then the rush hit and I couldn’t walk away.

Wren isn’t the typical dystopian heroine. She isn’t the chosen one and she doesn’t initially set out to change the world. She’s afraid. She worries and second guesses herself. I love how she’s dependent on her mask and terrified of the creatures. She’s not unique, except she’s the only daughter of a runner we met. I’m sure there’s more, breeding wouldn’t work any other way. She’s not the next Katniss and stronger for it.

“I'm not a broken pot," Wren cried. "You can't just give me away. I’d rather join the damned baby exchange.”

One of the foundations of the story is Raw. He’s an asshole and I don’t mean that in the “oooohh, bad boy” kind of way. I fucking hated him. He’s every douche nozzle boy bully on the playground. He’s legitimately terrifying and I worried for Wren. However, he ends up revealed, developed, and useful. I eventually enjoyed his part of Windrunner’s Daughter.

Even after discovering his backstory and progression, I’m still not sweet on him though. I was swept up while reading but it was soured by the “oh, he’s doing that because he likes you” undertones. I loathed hearing that growing up and even if it is true he’s interested in you, that’s no excuse. The good news is his behavior is corrected instead of condoned. I just have a hard time letting go.

I like how they grew as people and adapted to each other during their adventure. It’s sweet how they started to look at each other differently. While it’s true people bond over experiences and misattribution of arousal leads to stronger couples, I wish they had more in common. They clearly disagree about religion, politics, come from different subpopulations, and we don’t even know about the popular culture of the Dome to know what else they could agree or split on. How will Rawren live together and get along?

While I still appreciate what they’ve been through and think they can work it out, I’m left wondering about their future; their OTP status is up in the air along with the future of humanity on Mars.

But I LOVED the flying and exploring they did. It’s gorgeous with better wind/air descriptions that I’ve run across, even in wind nymph/mage books. The feeling, the freedom of flight is so pure and prominent it elevates the setting and creates atmosphere to sweep you away.

“Light played over silver graphene and the fluttering material sang alongside Wren’s laughter.”

For a long while it’s only these two kids on a dangerous topsy-turvy path. We only learn about Wren’s family through flashbacks until much later. I love how it includes the naturally skewed way we view people close to us and how everyone has different sides.

It was a welcome change to meet more runners and grounders. Their religious fever and witch trial parallels are apparent and it fits their evolution. My only question is how did runners end up immune? Was it just separation or a deliberate decision by the establishment? Fascinating. I love thinking all these things through. It’s not a spoon-fed blue print of failure and preaching, but a snap shot of possibilities while remaining clear in its stand.

“I write these acknowledgements with my own message - never give up on your dreams, dear reader. Because somebody, somewhere is waiting for you to get it right.”

The dystopian craze may be over but The Windrunner’s Daughter shows there’s still plenty to enjoy and explore, even if it doesn’t break all the molds.

For dystopian fans that want a different setting and a different type of heroine. If you’re burnt out on the oppression of women or want a diverse cast, you might want to skip it. If you love hate-love relationships and redemption, you’ll love Rawren.

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review 2015-02-09 07:18
Mini Review: The Weight of Souls by Bryony Pearce
The Weight of Souls - Bryony Pearce

A copy of this novel was provided for review via Net Galley on behalf of the publisher.

A good book! Hallelujah, hallelujah, halleeeeeelllluuuujjjaaaahhhhh.

I had been looking forward to The Weight of Souls ever since I saw a review for it on Tammy's blog Books, Bones & Buffy (like a year ago - I know SHAME ON ME for reading things so late but hey ... better late than never, right? RIGHT?). I trust her opinions on books, so I knew that I was probably going to like The Weight of Souls. Which I did. Very much so.

Pearce's writing style is very, very good. I slipped right into the story and into Taylor's POV extremely easy. It was also the kind of style that just begs you to keep reading. I mean, I read this book in a few hours because it was so engrossing. Beyond that, the storyline was flipping fantastic and completely unique in the fact that Taylor has to ... murder murderers. SO AWESOME.

I wasn't entirely enthused about the ~secret society~ aspect of the book, but it wasn't enough to deter my enjoyment of the book. There's little to no romance, and it certainly isn't instalove so I appreciated that wholeheartedly. I actually love Taylor for all the shit she gave Justin after he died. I laughed.

I must warn you, though: there is a lot of potential for a book #2, but so far no word on that. So if you aren't keen on a book that has a few unanswered questions and room for a sequel but no news so far ... still read it because it was awesome.

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review 2013-09-14 23:21
The Weight of Souls - Bryony Pearce

There isn't really much going for this book other than the premise. Dude, how awesome is the idea of a girl cursed by ghosts to hunt murderers? For some reason though, Pearce thought it a better idea to make Taylor's social life the main point of the book instead of I don't know, her curse. 

Brilliant, just brilliant. Yes, that's a perfect idea. Focus on high school, because obviously that's going to attract more YA readers who can't read books without a huge focus on high school.

While, sure we do get some time focusing on the curse, most of the book doesn't pay much attention to it. I really only read the book because of the awesome sounding plot and Pearce does a very poor job of keeping it the center of attention. Instead it gets piled under loads of unnecessary bits and pieces that detract from the overall book. I don't get it. Why would you bog down your murder mystery with an boring drama and angst? 

It honestly seemed like, that even though there was a lot resting on this, Taylor really didn't care too much about finding Justin's murderer. She seemed more interested in his pretty body to be honest. It was more of something she had to do at some point but it didn't really matter when. If it took a while, she would basically shrug her shoulders and say "c'est la vie". 

Taylor, gurl, you do realise you, the main character, don't even care about your own plot? At all? I don't think that's how it usually works but okaaay...

Like I said, Pearce focuses so much of her efforts into building drama and angst that the curse is largely underdeveloped. We are given the bare bones to work with and are basically left to speculate about the rest. There is some backstory but it's presented in such a way that it makes it a chore to read through and I, like many others, really just skimmed or skipped these parts. 

The Weight of Souls isn't an entirely bad book. The main character, Taylor, is actually pretty cool. She's one of those fun narrators that aren't really amazing but just keep the book going and you reading. Taylor is pretty level headed and actually, fairly intelligent.

Before I end this review, I have to mention two things: Justin the asshole and the 'illusive super secret organisation' that is part of the mystery for a long time. 

Justin the asshole is this guy who's died and now he's a ghost who refuses to acknowledge this. He's also, *gasp*, the love interest. You're so surprised, I know. Who would have guessed right? Well, he's also the guy who bullied Taylor for years. You know, the guy who sent his goons after her. The goons harassed her and called her horrible things all under the blessing of this Justin guy.

Yeah, really romantic backstory.

Somehow, when someone bullies you, it means that they have a crush on you. Yes, friends, every bully that will ever bully you is actually someone who has a huuuge crush on you and you'll end up living happily ever after.

What? No. That's not how it works. Bullying ≠ Crush nor will it ever. Romanticizing bullying is absolutely horrible and should not be accepted. 

The second thing is much less atrocious, and more humourous. 

I'm going to try and not spoil anything but basically this extremely powerful club is a bunch of kids doing dares and having sleep overs. But not just any dares, *whispers* bad boy dares. Oh yeah, they're doing big kid dares. So. Scary.

There is a lot of unexplored potential in this book that really just went to waste. The Weight of Souls could have been so much more if certain aspects were fleshed out a bit more and others given a more minor role. Overall, The Weight of Souls was a huge disappointment. While it wasn't completely unenjoyable, it wasn't very good either. I don't really recommend this book to anyone.

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