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review 2017-09-28 08:56
Einfallslos, enttäuschend, langweilig
Mortal Danger - Ann Aguirre

„Mortal Danger“ von Ann Aguirre, der Auftakt der Trilogie „Immortal Game“, schaffte es durch eine Unaufmerksamkeit in mein Bücherregal, die mir erst bewusstwurde, als ich es vom SuB befreite. Auf der Rückseite ist Aguirres „Razorland“-Trilogie abgebildet. Ich erinnerte mich, dass ich vor langer Zeit eine Rezension zum ersten Band „Enclave“ las und angeekelt war, als die Rezensentin von Vergewaltigungsmythen und speziell Opferbeschuldigung als essentiellen Bestandteilen des Buches berichtete. Ich verbannte es auf meine mentale „Niemals-niemals-nie-nicht“-Liste. Wäre mir aufgefallen, dass „Enclave“ und „Mortal Danger“ von derselben Autorin stammen, hätte ich „Mortal Danger“ garantiert nicht gekauft. Jetzt war es aber nun mal da, also beschloss ich, es trotzdem zu lesen.

 

Edie Kramer wollte sterben. Die Demütigungen an der Blackbriar Academy waren einfach zu viel. Das Maß war voll. Sie stand bereits auf der Brücke, als sich eine Hand auf ihre Schulter legte und ihr ein Angebot unterbreitet wurde, das sie nicht ausschlagen konnte. Der gutaussehende Kian offerierte ihr einen Vertrag über drei magische Gefallen mit seiner Firma. Edie erkannte die Vorteile der Vereinbarung sofort. Die Gefallen ermöglichen ihr, sich an all jenen zu rächen, die sie Tag für Tag quälten. Was hatte sie schon zu verlieren? Sie schlug ein. Innerhalb eines kurzen Sommers änderte sich ihr Leben radikal. Als sie nach Blackbriar zurückkehrt, ist sie bereit, Vergeltung zu üben. Sie will die Elite der Schule leiden lassen, sie von innen heraus zerstören. Doch kaum hat sie begonnen, sich ihren Weg in ihre Mitte zu erschleichen, gerät die Situation außer Kontrolle. Aus Streichen und Manipulationen wird tödlicher Ernst. Nun ist Edie in einem Spiel gefangen, dessen Regeln sie nicht versteht. Wird sie gemeinsam mit Kian einen Weg finden, sich aus ihrem Pakt mit dem Übernatürlichen zu befreien?

 

Meine Leseerfahrung mit „Mortal Danger“ von Ann Aguirre war von Anfang an zum Scheitern verurteilt. Nicht, weil ich aufgrund meines Wissens über „Enclave“ voreingenommen gewesen wäre – ich bin sicher, dass ich dem Buch eine faire Chance eingeräumt habe. Nein, für mich begann es damit, dass ich eine völlig andere Geschichte erwartet hatte. Im originalen Klappentext wird nämlich nicht erwähnt, dass übernatürliche Elemente eine Rolle spielen, weshalb es mir sehr wichtig war, diesen Fakt in meiner Inhaltsangabe zu betonen. Ich dachte, es handele sich um den vollkommen menschlichen Rachefeldzug eines gehänselten, nerdigen Mauerblümchens gegen die beliebten Kids ihrer Schule, der außer Kontrolle gerät, weil sie sich im Zuge ihrer Pläne auf einen gefährlichen, zwielichtigen Kerl einlässt. Ich habe nicht mit Sagengestalten, Göttern oder Magie gerechnet. Als sich herausstellte, dass Edies Vertrag mit Kians Firma ein paranormaler Teufelspakt ist, war ich demzufolge ziemlich verdattert. Ich musste meine Erwartungshaltung anpassen und habe mich wirklich angestrengt, diesen Richtungswechsel zu verdauen, aber es wollte mir einfach nicht gelingen, weil der ganze übernatürliche Kram in „Mortal Danger“ unzureichend umgesetzt ist. Das einfallslose ewige Spiel der unoriginellen Unsterblichen, in das sich Edie blindlings hineinziehen lässt, erschien mir wirr, chaotisch und vage; ich habe nicht einmal begriffen, wer da gegen wen um was spielt und wieso. Edie, deren Rachemission ebenfalls unklar bleibt, ist mittendrin, interessiert sich allerdings frustrierend wenig für den größeren Rahmen ihrer eigenen Situation. Sie reagiert maximal auf akute Probleme und half mir überhaupt nicht, zu verstehen. Ich hatte das Gefühl, das Spiel, das der Trilogie immerhin ihren Namen gibt, dient Ann Aguirre lediglich als Bühne für die Inszenierung ihrer Protagonistin. Dadurch mangelt es der Geschichte an Atmosphäre und Ordnung, an einem roten Faden, an dem sich die Leser_innen orientieren können. Vielleicht sollte Edie die Rolle des roten Fadens ausfüllen, für mich konnte sie diese Aufgabe jedoch nicht übernehmen, weil ich sie nicht ausstehen kann. Sie ist in abstoßendem Maße egozentrisch. All die Eigenschaften, die sie ihren Peinigern an der Blackbriar Academy vorwirft, besitzt sie selbst im Übermaß: Egoismus, Falschheit, Oberflächlichkeit, Eitelkeit. Wer im Glashaus sitzt. Es dreht sich alles immer nur um sie, um ihre Empfindungen und ihren eigenen extrem begrenzten Horizont. Ihre ichbezogenen Scheuklappen hindern sie daran, die richtigen Fragen zu stellen und brandmarken sie als schales Püppchen ohne Tiefgang, IQ hin oder her. Außerdem trieb es mich beinahe in den Wahnsinn, wie sie sich von Kian behandelt lässt und wie sehr sie sich auf ihn verlässt, obwohl sie im Grunde nichts von ihm weiß und er ihr Vertrauen nicht verdient. Der Typ ist mit seiner besitzergreifenden, klammernden, obsessiven Art dermaßen unheimlich, dass ich darauf hoffte, dass er Edie verrät, damit sein Verhalten einen höheren Sinn ergibt. Pustekuchen. Stattdessen entwickelt sich zwischen ihnen – natürlich – eine Beziehung, die mir alle Haare zu Berge stehen ließ und die dank Ann Aguirres triefend kitschigen Formulierungen an meinem Brechreiz zerrte.

 

„Mortal Danger“ hat meiner Ansicht nach wenig zu bieten außer einer komplett vorhersehbaren Lektion über Oberflächlichkeit und Vorurteile, einer kaum zu ertragenden Protagonistin und einem farblosen, verwirrenden Konstrukt übernatürlicher Verwicklungen. Die Lektüre war enttäuschend und langweilig. Ich habe natürlich schon schlechteres gelesen, aber die Folgebände des „Immortal Game“ kommen für mich nicht in Frage. Ich habe Ann Aguirre die Möglichkeit gegeben, mir zu beweisen, dass sie trotz der heftigen Kritik an „Enclave“ eine talentierte Autorin ist – sie konnte mich nicht überzeugen, daher bezweifle ich, dass ich es noch einmal mit ihr versuche. Vielleicht hätte ich es doch gleich lassen sollen. Eine solche Unaufmerksamkeit wird sich nicht wiederholen.

Source: wortmagieblog.wordpress.com/2017/09/27/ann-aguirre-mortal-danger
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text 2014-05-09 16:51
Reading progress update: I've read 100%.
Mortal Danger - Ann Aguirre

It was okay...

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review 2014-05-05 05:24
A letdown
Mortal Danger - Ann Aguirre
“I read a novel where this hit man is supposed to assassinate a woman, but he ends up falling in love with her instead, just from watching her.”

Well, way to fall into your own cliché, book.

The message in this book? Beauty is everything! Want a better life? Become beautiful. You will instantly have everything you will ever want. With the exceptions of a few Evil People wanting to possess you because you have a Special Destiny, but, whatever, right?

- A hot boyfriend (or two)? Check! He's been watching you afar (without your knowledge) for years (Cullen ain't got nothing on Kian), and he's liked you when you were ugly, but it's just so awesome that you're beautiful now, just as he decides to declare his feelings for you! A miraculous coincidence, for sure!

- A miraculous change in personality? Check! Who cares that you were a shy, quiet, bullied wallflower for your the previous years of your life. With your newfound beauty, you will instantly develop the kind of breath-taking confidence that's been ingrained in all beautiful people throughout their lives! Who needs time to adjust?!

- A newfound relationship with your parents? Check! Your brilliant mother, your absolutely amazing physicist mother, the one whose discoveries are on the edge of changing the scientific world? Why, she's just been waiting her whole life for a beautiful newly transformed daughter to make her realize that all she needs in her life is a trip to the gym and a new color of lipstick!

- Revenge on everyone who's ever wronged you? Check! Who knew that all it took was beauty for the people who's been making you miserable for the past three years of high school to accept you into the super-popular inner circle of school. Whoever thought that the person they've been tormenting for the past years could ever plot against them? Not the beautiful people themselves, no!

In all seriousness, This book was a disappointment. It contained two elements that I should have loved:

- Revenge
- A Faustian deal with the devil

It didn't work for me. This book was filled with a tremendous amount of insta-love, a lot of romance with a boy who has been stalking her for years, it is extremely light on the revenge plot, and the paranormal aspects were tremendously bogged down and confusing.

The Summary:

"I’m authorized to offer you three favors now in return for three favors later.”
“I don’t understand. What kind of...favors?”
“Anything you want,” he said.

Edie is on the verge of killing herself. She has been bullied relentlessly at school for the past three years, and she can't take it anymore. She is about to throw herself into a river, when a mysterious and stunningly beautiful young man named Kian appears...

He had the kind of face you saw in magazines, sculpted and airbrushed to perfection. Sharp cheekbones eased into a strong jaw and a kissable mouth. He had a long, aquiline nose and jade eyes with a feline slant.

...to offer her a deal she can't resist. He will give her three wishes, in return, she will give the people he works for three of their own wishes later.

Deal. Edie takes it. Her first wish?

“I want to be beautiful without losing any aptitude I have. No time limits, no melting face, no surprises.”

Edie wants to be beautiful. To be stunning. To get revenge on the Mean Girls (and guys) "Teflon crew" who has been making her life miserable for years. She also wants something else, it's not a wish, but Kian grants it anyway.

“Then there’s one more thing before you go.” I couldn’t believe I was doing this, but the words wouldn’t stop. They came from a place of complete certainty.
“What?”
“Kiss me.”

He does, and he fulfils his promise to turn Edie beautiful. She becomes a newly Photoshopped version of herself with a "slim hourglass figure." To explain away the change, she gives the excuse of going away to summer camp. Three months later, she comes back to school, ready for revenge.

It was time to shift from planning and preparation to payback and penance. By the time I was done at Blackbriar, there would be blood in the water.

But this whole Faustian wishes doesn't come without consequences (duh). It seems that Edie is special.

“Wait, what’s a catalyst?”
“You’re one. It’s somebody destined for great things.”

Oh, god, here we go again. So Edie has a special destiny, and people are out to get her for it.

It's simple enough, a revenge plot, and danger from people out to get her. So where did this book go wrong?

The Insta-Change:

Belatedly, I realized I hadn’t stuttered once. Apparently the behavioral psychologist had been right; I had a psychogenic stutter, exacerbated by stress, mental anguish, and anxiety. Right then, I felt no fear of ridicule, and it was easy to talk.

In the beginning of the book, the main character is shy, overweight, ugly, and a social outcast. She has no friends, she stutters, she doesn't know how to act in public.

And when she suddenly turns beautiful, it seems like her personality changed 180 degrees as well.

[The beautiful people] considered their ability to control other people an accessory, like a great purse or a cute pair of shoes.
“I can’t believe that worked!”
“I wasn’t sure it would.” Especially since I had no experience with manipulation. But I’d watched it happen often enough. Mimicry wasn’t tough, apparently.

Edie learns immediately to manipulate, to smile seductively, to flirt, to lie. This is not realistic. A person does not immediately change from a social outcast, one who is almost incapable of talking to another person without fear, without stuttering, into a butterfly overnight, no matter the change in appearance.

“I was wondering if I could room with my friend, Vi,” I said, trying the persuasive smile for a second time.
Life can’t be this easy for the beautiful people.

I was cripplingly shy in high school, I was tremendously afraid of public speaking, I never had a single boy ask me out. I also wasn't ugly.

Confidence takes more than beauty on the surface, it is a slow, painful process, if you do not have it inside you. It took YEARS during college, of constantly being forced to do presentations, of having my insecurities soothed over by friends, of gradually gaining confidence in myself in order for me to become a person who appears to be confident in public. I can tell you from personal experience that a change in appearance does very little to give you the inner confidence that a person lacks and I found Edie's change to be completely unconvincing.

The Revenge: What revenge? This is nowhere as satisfying as Burn for Burn. The "Teflon crew" in the book did a wrecking job on Edie, and she wants to get back at them. It is not realistic:

- She immediately gets befriended by her former nemesis because she is beautiful
- She gets lifelong friends to hate each other by spreading a few rumors

“What the hell, you told Cam what I said?”
“I didn’t. I asked Jen what she thought of Cam, and I think Allison was ahead of us in line, but I would never—”
“Bet it was Allison.” His frown cleared. “She’s always trying to make Cam like her. She’s got this weird rivalry with Brittany. They’re supposed to be BFFs, but I get the feeling Allison would giggle if Brit fell down the stairs.”

And BAM. They believe her. They trust her. Magical bad things happen out of nowhere to them, without Edie's knowledge.This book doesn't have much of a sense of revenge at all. And trust me, I LIKE MY REVENGE PLOTS.

The Clichéd Romance:

I came up on my knees and hugged him; sometimes it felt like we were two halves of the same soul, and that was so stupid it made me feel like I lost IQ points just for thinking it.

Kian is struck by insta-love, he is a stalker, he is someone who is a double agent who should not be trusted. Really, this can't be any worse unless there was a love triangle.

Edie is madly in love/lust/whatever with Kian. She cannot think about him, for such a shy girl, she immediately demands a kiss, and then they conveniently become "pretend" boyfriends and girlfriends, which, naturally, leads to the real freaking EMOOOOOOTIONS. And there is a whole lot of emotions in this book; it addresses the clichés of YA romance while falling prey to it 100%.

Kian has been watching her secretly, for years.

“You already know I’ve spent a long damn time watching you. From the outside.”

He has reached a level of stalkerishness Edward Cullen could only aspire to. He knows her likes, her dislikes. What food she wants. He knows what happened to that bunny that bit her in 4th grade.

“You hate rabbits,” Kian said gently.
“Yeah.” I did—since one bit me in the fourth grade—but how weird that he knew.

FOURTH GRADE, MAN. And furthermore, he could be working against her!

“Sort of like a double bluff. You tell me enough of the truth to make me think you’re on my side while you’re manipulating me for your own ends.”

Does Edie listen to her instincts?! Hell no! He could be responsible for a girl's death. Who cares. It's KIIIIIIIIIIAN. Gorgeous Kian. Please.

The Plot: I do not understand the paranormal agency plot at all, and I have no idea what's going on. There are all sorts of weird creatures that appear in the book completely senselessly, without any connection, completely disjointed from each other. We have an emotional vampire, a Bloody Mary, a Bag Man, a Greek Oracle, and I can't make any sense of it whatsoever. Then I finished the book, I read the "Author's Note"...and it all came together.

Ann Aguirre: "I found so many creepy things that they wouldn’t all fit in one book, so there are many shocks and gasps yet to come. The Immortal Game is messy and convoluted, full of monsters and magic, science and sacrifice."

So there's just a jumble of nightmarish creatures thrown in for the sake of creepiness and not for the sake of sense? I'm supposed to be confused because this book is supposed to be "messy and convoluted?"

Why would you do this to us? ;_;

Final notes: To further add to the trope, we have parents who are there, but who pretty much let the wonderful student that is Edie do whatever she freaking wants. And her mother, her brilliant mother...she just needed a makeover from her newly beautiful daughter...

“I want us to have a better relationship, a closer one. We have science in common, at least. I don’t know much about your new interests, but I could stand to be more physically fit. Maybe we could work out together? There’s a nice facility at the university…”

Why? Why?

I appreciate the message that Ann Aguirre is trying to send in this book: Don't let the bullies get to you. Don't commit suicide, there is hope in life. Unfortunately, the execution of this book did not work to my liking.

All quotes were taken from an uncorrected galley proof subject to change in the final edition.

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review 2014-04-22 09:47
Mortal Danger (Immortal Game, #1) by Ann Aguirre
Mortal Danger (Immortal Game #1) - Ann Aguirre

There are two kinds of scary in this one- there's the second and more obvious bit that combines terrifying visuals of clowns, left-over hand prints, and entities like Thin Man, Frost and other 'Immortals'; but there's the first kind, predicated on being alone and being judged. It's with the latter as starting ground, that we have a girl who's been broken, only to find herself handed an unexpected opportunity--- revenge, (that's apparently best served after the mother of all makeovers at the hands of the Uber Hot man/boy of her dreams.) So, I loved some aspects of this, liked some others, and was meh over one specific thing.

I loved the imagery and how what's terrifyingly familiar has been used in this one. Lot's of the scares here feel like they'd been culled from my nightmares- that a Pennywise-like figure makes an appearance; that thing with a glass surface with the disappearing hand prints; those scary out of place (time) looking folk- who, for some reason, had me thinking of fields of corn *shudder*. And believe you me, there's more.

Less enamored was I, with the push-pull-push going on between the two leads; don't get me wrong, I love the fact that she doubted and questioned the attraction, but there's that issue of things being 'inevitabale,' as in "Obviously, we know how this is going to turn out."

Thankfully, other aspects made up for it: the Game, in particular. While it's not completely laid out in terms of the what, who, how or why; the bits that have been revealed make it clear- this is more than gussied up smart girl getting her revenge; There's so much possibility here.

thank you, eb!

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review 2014-04-18 17:09
Steeping in the World of Mortal Danger
Mortal Danger - Ann Aguirre

This book came to me as a free, uncorrected proof from NetGalley.  This does not hinder my ability to provide an honest review.

 

I finished this book last night, just before going to sleep.  I definitely was not ready to let go of this book's world, and I am anxious to read the next installment.  I wish I could get my hands on it right  now!

 

Edith Kramer, a junior at an exclusive Boston prep school, the Blackbriar Academy, is on the verge of suicide, after extreme bullying from the "Teflon crew"--the powerful, popular clique in her grade at school--pushes her to her limit.  She is on a bridge, right on the verge of jumping, when a handsome, mysterious stranger places his hand on her shoulder to stop her.  He convinces her to accompany him to a diner, where he makes her an offer:  she can have three favors, of any kind.  The first must be fulfilled within one year, while she has five years to select the other two.  Once she has cashed in her three favors, she in turn will be asked to perform three requests, all of which will be in her power to complete.  If this strikes you as awfully close to various wish-granting stories that always go awry, you are not alone.  Edie (as she prefers to be called) thinks the same thing, citing Stephen King's "The Monkey's Paw," and is very careful about seeking assurances about the nature of the favor-granting.

 

I don't want to say too much, because I'd hate to spoil too many of the surprises that this book holds.  Yes, there is an element of "be careful what you wish for," as well as the downside of revenge fantasies.  This book deftly blends sci-fi, fantasy, mythology, romance (though I'm not usually a fan of that!), and human psychology.  As the first installment of a trilogy, it does leave much of the story yet to be told, but it also has its own satisfying plot resolutions (though not neatly wrapped, by any means, because trilogy).

 

So who would I recommend this to?  Are you a fan of BuffySupernaturalGrimmOnce Upon a Time?  If you answered "yes" to any of these, I think you'd enjoy Mortal Danger.

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