In the last two weeks I managed to buy some new books, three of them I expect to be fantastic, two I'm not that sure about.
The last honeytrap - Louise Lee
The Nightmare Charade - Mindee Arnett
The Glass Sentence - S.E. Grove
Split Second - Kasie West
After - Anna Todd
The first and the last books I'm not that sure about, the writing style in the first and too much drama in the last book might make it hard for me to love both stories.
The books in the middle are either part of series I enjoyed in the past or just sound fantastic. I'm especially excited for the book by Mindee Arnett, because it's the last in a paranormal YA trilogy which was so far fantastic. The Glass sentence is btw one of the prettiest books I own, it even has my beloved rough-cut pages.
The Nightmare Dilemma -- Mindee Arnett
Book 2 of Arkwell Academy
Much like the first book in this series, The Nightmare Dilemma is very enjoyable and cute. But I can't help but note that, also like the first book, something seems to be missing--enough so that the book falls short of being memorably awesome. I just can't seem to put my finger on what it is that doesn't work quite right for me. The narrative tone of the first book felt strangely detached; the narrative tone of this second book, however, feels... off. I can't quite reconcile the tone of the story with the subject matter depicted in the story--they just don’t feel like they match up.
Nonetheless, the story was enjoyable and the characters were also likable. The world of Arkwell Academy has so much potential to extend into many story lines (and still gives me the same feel as the Harry Potter world, which I also loved immensely). I'm not sure how the trilogy will conclude, but I wouldn't mind reading more stories that could take place within the same fictional world as Arkwell Academy, as again, there is so much potential for lots of storytelling.
The Official Story Blurb:
Dusty Everhart might be able to predict the future through the dreams of her crush, Eli Booker, but that doesn’t make her life even remotely easy. When one of her mermaid friends is viciously assaulted and left for dead, and the school’s jokester, Lance Rathbone, is accused of the crime, Dusty’s as shocked as everybody else. Lance needs Dusty to prove his innocence by finding the real attacker, but that’s easier asked than done. Eli’s dreams are no help, more nightmares than prophecies.
To make matters worse, Dusty’s ex-boyfriend has just been acquitted of conspiracy and is now back at school, reminding Dusty of why she fell for him in the first place. The Magi Senate needs Dusty to get close to him, to discover his real motives. But this order infuriates Eli, who has started his own campaign for Dusty’s heart.
As Dusty takes on both cases, she begins to suspect they’re connected to something bigger. And there’s something very wrong with Eli’s dreams, signs that point to a darker plot than they could have ever imagined.
Some of the stuff mentioned in the blurb don't exactly present in the actual book, but none of it really too significant, honestly. As much as I enjoyed the book, I can't say that it's the most memorable experience. And, as I already stated, the narrative tone through Dusty doesn't seem to match the subject matter being presented in the book either; Dusty has a fairly juvenile tone of voice, but the things that are happening feel like they are more mature and serious. It actually made the narration slightly distracting, especially when Dusty spends more time than necessary drooling over Eli, repetitively admiring his "hot body" or something to that effect.
But the mystery was fun and interesting and the ultimate Big Baddie (though unsurprising) made for a good twist in the overall storyline. There was a lot of stuff going on, ranging from controversial matters as well as some social and human causes that parallel ongoing conflicts in the real world throughout history. It inspires some thought, but with the flippant tone of the narration, again, it makes it hard to focus on any of it.
Overall, the story was interesting, though a lot of the events were predictable, even the development of the romance between Dusty and Eli was slightly eye-roll-worthy predictable--not that it was handled badly or anything, but... well... I guess it works. Selene is still cool and awesome as the awesome best friend and even Lance makes a great potential side-kick type character for future purposes. I expect him to have more book time in the last book.
One thing is for sure: I am very much still interested in reading the last book to see how everything turns out in the end.
This book is a pre-chosen participant in the following Reading Challenge(s):
This one was a surprise for me. I'd seen a lot of mediocre reviews, that strangely vehemently compared it to Joss Whedon's Firefly, but then complained that it was, inf act, not enough like Firefly. I saw a definite influence, but I saw the influence of many more modern sci-fi franchises as well, such as video games like Mass Effect, and movie series like the Alien franchise. But it wasn't a pastiche. It took conventions I'd seen before and spun them into something new and exciting.
It's one of the few books I've read that steadily grew and grew in my estimation. I was set on a solid three-stars for about the first hundred pages, and then things got interesting, with its survival space horror vibe. It hiked up to five stars in the last hundred or so pages, with revelations I genuinely did not see coming. (And I had tried to guess!)
It was a bit of a rough start. Though I liked that it was so action oriented (hey, even a girlie-girl like me likes to take a break from the obligatory romance-drive YA) it felt like it didn't give the characters time to develop or really to grow a personality. It's once they leave on the Avalon, hero Jeth's private spacecraft, which now belongs to his boss (a big wig space crime crime lord!) and which he hopes to earn the money to buy back. Here I really felt the influence of movies like Alien and Event Horizon. The atmosphere was genuinely creepy, and there are some delightfully gory images here, as well.
The latter half of the book introduces the concept of aliens, and explains what this universe's version of hyperspace--meta-space--actually is. That's where it really won me over.
I will say, it's always upsetting to me what can and can't be shown in YA, or what the perception is. There's violence in this book. The lost spaceship the gang finds is filled with strangely eviscerated bodies. Jeth is ruthlessly tortured. But there's only the slightest hint of sex, and the vaguest nudge at the idea that he might be getting an erection while kissing a girl. I found this same inconsistency in Jonathan Maberry's Rot&Ruin series, too. Sex is something teenagers deal with; the adults who watch over these things need to deal with that very simple fact and stop making it dirty, something to hide, and normalizing violence on top of that.
Stepping back off of my soapbox, thank you.
An excellent, solid read. YA science-fiction that actually makes sense, that seems to be thought out and developed to its full potential. Give me more like these!
So, the story opens with space Artful Dodger running a Serenity-type scam with his band of teenage misfits in tow. They're intercepted by a Spectre from Mass Effect (here, an ECHO) who ominously warns them that their space kingpin is going to have an interesting job for them, and he wants in on it. Things go typically Firefly-ish from there, and get effed to hell. Back at their home base, the kingpin, or space Bill Sikes if you will, and there's reason to stick with the Oliver Twist analogy, gives them the mission, and they consult with space Fagin before they're off to space Bermuda Triangle. And then, BAM! Wow, it turns into space survival horror, and everything gets more interesting. They travel through a Mass Relay from Mass Effect (seriously, they're even made with unknown methods and material by an ancient race. Was it the Protheans?) and take the Serenity into space Bermuda Triangle, where weird things begin to happen.
They're there to salvage the Event Horizon, and burst of white noise with voices mixed in come over their intercoms at unpredictable interludes. Suddenly, the proximity alert goes off and they almost run right into the ghost ship, which didn't even seem like it had been there a minute ago! (Wow, this really is Event Horizon.) They go aboard and see that the place has been totally Philadelphia Experminet'd, and gnarly bodies rest half in and half out of walls. And that's when they run into Newt from Aliens. That's the first 109 pages.
And it might seem like I'm being snarky about it being derivative, but I'm actually interested to spot all the influences. And, hey, as a friend said the other day, Star wars is sort of like Gilgamesh fanfic, so making it modern pop culture references doesn't devalue it. Liking it so far better than I thought I would.