Last Days by Adam Nevill

last days Last Days by Adam Nevill

Published February 26th, 2013 by St. Martin’s Press

Cover and synopsis provided by the publisher.

 

Buy this book at: Book Depository / Books A Million / Amazon / B&N

 

Synopsis:

Indie filmmaker Kyle Freeman is hired to create a documentary about The Temple of the Last Days—a notorious cult that met its chilling end in an Arizona desert back in 1975. As he travels to the cult’s birthplaces in London and France, and its infamous demise in the United States, a series of uncanny events plague all his shoots: out-of-body experiences, visits in the night, ghastly artifacts appearing in their rooms each evening, and the deaths of their interviewees.

What exactly it is the cult managed to awaken – and what is its interest in Kyle Freeman?

 

Rating: 1 star

 

Review:

There is only one way to put this.  This book sucked.  It sucked to high heaven.  It bored me nearly to death with every page.  I honestly wondered if all of the good reviews were paid to say nice things about this crappy tome.  Even as I write this, I think that might still be the case.  With all that said, here are my issues with this crappy thing.

The author has zero sense of pacing.  This book moved at a snail’s pace for chapter upon chapter and then suddenly all kinds of things started to happen in the last quarter of it.  The idea of this book is a good one, a filmmaker is hired to do a documentary about a cult from the seventies that committed mass suicide/murder and manages to stumble into paranormal activity that targets him.  That sounds like it should be good right?  It’s not.  In every single city or location the characters visit the exact same things happen.  Every person the characters interviewed said exactly the same thing.    Approximately 300 pages was a repeat of what happened in the first 100 pages. I was bored to tears.

The author’s descriptions were annoying and confusing.  I didn’t understand what was going on most of the time.  As an example, the author described the room in which the last scene takes place for 2 whole pages.  The picture of it was fully formed in my head and it was a great description!  But then all of a sudden he starts talking about a “large plastic tent” in the middle of the room that had never been mentioned before.  Then just a few paragraphs later it’s described as a “plastic cube” that is solid enough that it requires beating it and shooting at it to dismantle it.  But, I thought it was a tent?  And why wasn’t this included in the initial room description if it’s so important?  If it was a tent then why was it so hard to puncture?  By the time I got to this question I had been pulled completely out of the story and just didn’t give a crap anymore.  This happened so often that I was regularly confused and thought I had skipped over something accidentally.  So I would go back and re-read that part and realize, no I hadn’t skipped over it, it was never addressed.

Most stereotypical American characters ever!  Let’s see, there was the sheriff who was a complete hillbilly.  Cowboy hat and boots, spoke with a drawl, kept saying things like “ya’ll” and “ain’t”, could have walked right out of a western…but he’s from Arizona.  Yeah, it confused me too.  Or Jed, the gun toting, muscle bound Jesus freak who thinks he’s on a mission for God, is unstable and keeps pointing guns at his own friends.  I mean, really?  All we needed was an overweight, outspoken black woman and the stereotypes would have been a complete collection!  It was ridiculous.

Kyle was supremely unlikable.  He spent most of the book mentally belittling and mocking the people he was interviewing for believing in this paranormal stuff.  Then he went on to experience the paranormal stuff himself and freaked out, running around and screaming at everyone else to figure out a way to protect him.  Shut up dirtbag!  Nobody likes you!  Just die already and quit your whining.  I hated this guy so much.

I was very disappointed that I hated the book this much.  I heard this author compared to my favorite author, Scott Sigler, and was excited to see if that comparison held true.  It most certainly does not!  This author has no sense of pacing, storytelling, or character building.  I can’t, in good conscience recommend this book to anyone, it was awful.

Beautiful Bastard by Christina Lauren

beautiful bastardBeautiful Bastard by Christina Lauren

Published February 12th, 2013 by Gallery Books

Cover and synopsis provided by the publisher.

Buy this book at: Amazon/ Book Depository / B&N / Books A Million

Synopsis:

An ambitious intern. A perfectionist executive. And a whole lot of name calling. Discover the story that garnered more than two million reads online.

Whip-smart, hardworking, and on her way to an MBA, Chloe Mills has only one problem: her boss, Bennett Ryan. He’s exacting, blunt, inconsiderate—and completely irresistible. A Beautiful Bastard.

Bennett has returned to Chicago from France to take a vital role in his family’s massive media business. He never expected that the assistant who’d been helping him from abroad was the gorgeous, innocently provocative—completely infuriating—creature he now has to see every day. Despite the rumors, he’s never been one for a workplace hookup. But Chloe’s so tempting he’s willing to bend the rules—or outright smash them—if it means he can have her. All over the office.

As their appetites for one another increase to a breaking point, Bennett and Chloe must decide exactly what they’re willing to lose in order to win each other. Originally only available online as The Office by tby789—and garnering over two million reads on fan fiction sites—Beautiful Bastard has been extensively updated for re-release.

Rating: 1 star

Review:

This was one of the most pointless, asinine, and ridiculous books I’ve ever read in my life.  Luckily for all of us that means that this review will likely be short.  Most of the time in erotica, you get a story about why the main characters like each other enough that they want to have sex.  Not in this one.  Here, these two despise each other, yet still have sex at least once every ten pages.  This is just porn, pure and simple written porn.  It was a Twilight porn, and it is not suddenly better once the names have been changed.  There was no plot, there was no characterization.  Just two people who insult each other, screw each other,  fight some more, insult some more, have more sex….and repeat for 300 of the most boring pages in all of fiction.

These two characters were the most narcissistic human beings ever and all that happens is they have sex.  Then they fight and get pissy for absolutely no reason and then make up and have sex. Oh, and the panties hoarding thing is on the level of a rapist from Law & Order: SVU.  I shuddered every time he indulged that particular whim.  And then shuddered in greater horror when I realized we had to endure another sex scene.  Horrid book with no redeeming qualities.

No wait, it has one redeeming quality.  It announces right off the bat exactly what it is, a rewritten fan fiction.  At least it doesn’t try to hide it.

Review: The Twelve by Justin Cronin

the twelveThe Twelve by Justin Cronin

Published October 16th, 2012 by Random House

Picture and synopsis from the Goodreads book page

Buy this book at: Book Depository / Amazon / B&N

Synopsis:

At the end of The Passage, the great viral plague had left a small group of survivors clinging to life amidst a world transformed into a nightmare. In the second volume of this epic trilogy, this same group of survivors, led by the mysterious, charismatic Amy, go on the attack, leading an insurrection against the virals: the first offensives of the Second Viral War.

To do this, they must infiltrate a dozen hives, each presided over by one of the original Twelve. Their secret weapon: Alicia, transformed at the end of book one into a half human, half viral—but whose side, in the end, is she really on?

Rating (out of 5): 1 star

Review:

***Warning: Spoiler alert!  Consider yourself duly warned!***

It is with great sadness that I give this book one single star, and even that might be more than it deserves.  The Twelve is the sequel to 2010’s The Passage and is the second book in the trilogy.  I read The Passage and I absolutely loved it.  I admit that there was a large section of the middle that was horribly boring and tedious, but overall I thought the book was one of the best I had read.  I looked forward to The Twelve with much fervor and excitement.  I pre-ordered it almost a year in advance and tapped my foot impatiently that the release date wouldn’t get here any quicker.  When the book arrived at my house I tore open the packaging and spent a lot of time just starting at it in wonder.  It was finally here!  Then I plunged into it and was stopped dead in my tracks.  This book that I had looked forward to for over a year was just not good!  It took everything I didn’t like about The Passage and amplified it a hundred times.  I was so distraught that I thought perhaps it was my fault and I should put the book down for awhile and come back to it.  So I took a month long break, and it still wasn’t any good when I came back.

My first irritation with this book was something I noticed in The Passage but it was much much worse in this one.  Cronin has a tendency to use really weird word choices sometimes.  And he falls into purple prose constantly.  No, scratch that, he doesn’t fall into purple prose, all he writes is purple prose.  I got really sick of hearing about the undulating crimson waves of light shimmering across the cerulean sky as the sun peeked it’s head just over the dusky horizon as if afraid to make any further appearance.  It got really old and I just wanted SOMETHING to happen already. Stop describing everything in such an unnecessary way and give me some plot, please!  And the word choices were just strange at times.  It would completely pull me out of the story as I stopped short and thought, “What?”  For example he described Amy as “meager”.  Okay, I know what meager means, but he is using it to describe her as humble and that is not a very common usage of that word.  Or describing a rape as “peculiar ministrations.”  At first I wasn’t even sure what the hell he was talking about.  It took me almost five pages to realize that was a rape scene.

My next problem was how often we jump around to different characters.  Literally every two or three pages we jumped to a completely different plot and a different narrating character and then a few pages later it was something else.  This made it really hard to track what was going on or whether we were even in the same time period.  Were we at directly after the virus or a hundred years later, I often didn’t know.  Then you add in that certain characters were present in both time periods, with no real explanation of how that happened, so that made it extra confusing about where we were.  Then you have a huge cast of characters that is impossible to keep track of on top of the confusing narration.  At one point I had to put the book down to scratch my head because I know for a fact that X character died in The Passage (I read it 3 times, he died, we buried him!), yet all of a sudden he’s back and a viral.  I think the author confused himself with the multitude of characters.

I’m also still not sure exactly what the plot was.  When I finished The Passage, I was fairly certain that we were going to be hunting down the eleven remaining virals out of the original Twelve.  But, 95% of the book was spent NOT doing that, so I have no idea just what the hell we did for nearly 600 pages.  Instead we jumped around from character to character and had a character making the virals into some kind of deity and enslaving people.  Because the plot was so vast and confused, we missed out on some great opportunities.  At one point, a young boy wants to run into a stadium after the virus is released and they don’t want him to see the horror.  What horror?  I still don’t know.  They may have wanted to protect the boy but, I wanted to see it!  I wanted to know what was going on there!  The boy escaped the adults and managed to see it, but I still didn’t.  This trend continued throughout the book.  At another point Peter is fighting a viral while locked in a cage.  We get a whole two paragraphs before we get a narrative AFTER it’s over and find out it lasted a total of 27 seconds.  I felt so incredibly ripped off.  All of the potentially good horror or action scenes were skipped over like they didn’t matter so we could spend 10 more pages on purple prose that made my eyes want to explode.

Finally, I got sick and tired of the religious references.  I had the inkling that we were going down that road from The Passage and I didn’t mind it.  But the author just tried too hard to make the connections.  I started trying to predict what the next religious reference would be.  Oh, is he the new God?  Yep, he proclaimed himself to be.  Is she going to die and then get resurrected?  Yep, she did…oh look twice.  It was pathetic that trying to predict the absurd religious references was more entertaining to me than the book itself.  It almost felt like the author was standing and looking over my shoulder saying, “See, do you get it?  Twelve Apostles and Jesus?  I’m clever huh, don’t you get it?”  Yes I get it and it’s fucking stupid!

In the end I cared about this book so little that I honestly didn’t even want to finish it.  The only reason I did finish was to see if there would be ANYTHING that would spark my interest in the third book.  I couldn’t even care that my favorite character got raped, because I had no idea that’s what happened until long after it happened.  Then I couldn’t even care that she got revenge on her rapist because it was just glossed over like it wasn’t important…like everything else that was good in this book.  At this point, I will not be reading the last book.  I loathed every page of this book and I hate the direction this plot is taking.  I don’t care how it ends anymore, this book killed any enthusiasm I had for this story.  I keep trying to figure out where all these good reviews are coming from because I am not even sure we read the same book.

To end, I want to add a personal note to Mr. Cronin:  Yes, we realize that you are a highly literary, intelligent individual who has a degree and can write literary works of genius.  But, guess what, you are writing a horror trilogy.  I know you feel guilty about “selling out” for a big paycheck and being in that dreaded mass market category, but that’s no excuse to bastardize your own work.  You have destroyed this story by trying to make it highbrow and literary.  Assuage your guilt about selling out some other way.  I swear you are on some personal mission to make me hate your book, congratulations I did.

Review: Breed by Chase Novak

breedBreed by Chase Novak

Published September 4th, 2012 by Mulholland Books

Picture and synopsis from the Goodreads book page

Buy this book at: Book Depository / Amazon / B&N

Synopsis:

Alex and Leslie Twisden lead charmed lives-fabulous jobs, a luxurious town house on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, a passionate marriage. What they don’t have is a child, and as they try one infertility treatment after the next, yearning turns into obsession. As a last-ditch attempt to make their dream of parenthood come true, Alex and Leslie travel deep into Slovenia, where they submit to a painful and terrifying procedure that finally gives them what they so fervently desire . . . but with awful consequences.

Ten years later, cosseted and adored but living in a house of secrets, the twins Adam and Alice find themselves locked into their rooms every night, with sounds coming from their parents’ bedroom getting progressively louder, more violent, and more disturbing.

Driven to a desperate search for answers, Adam and Alice set out on a quest to learn the true nature of the man and woman who raised them. Their discovery will upend everything they thought they knew about their parents and will reveal a threat so horrible that it must be escaped, at any cost.

Rating (out of 5): 1 star

Review:

As much as I was looking forward to this book, by the end I hated it.  No, hated it not a strong enough word.  I loathed this book.  So many times I wanted to put it down and never pick it back up, but I soldiered on until the very last page and began to wish I had followed through with the urge to abandon it.  This book was a perfect example of a great idea that was executed terribly.  This was written by bestselling author Scott Spencer, under the pseudonym Chase Novak.  I, for one, will not be checking out anything under either name.  This saddens me because I was looking forward to this book so much that I suggested it for my online book club to read, that ended up being a very poor decision.

***Warning:  From this point forward this review may contain spoilers.  Stop reading now to remain unspoiled.***

The basic premise of this was intriguing.  An affluent couple who is so desperate to have a child that they travel to an unknown part of the world to have an unknown procedure performed on them.  Here is where I ran into my first problem.  At one point Leslie decides not to go through with the procedure.  I can’t argue with her, she’s in a country she’s never heard of, in a filthy office, about to be injected by a weird doctor with something and the doctor won’t tell her what it is.  She starts hollering and the doctor orders her husband from the room…and he complies!  For all he knows they are holding her down and injecting her against her will!   I was furious on her behalf.  But then I got furious with her.  She just lets it go and proceeds on their lives together, including having sex with him that same day!  I would have gotten a good divorce lawyer before I was out the door of the office after beaning the doctor in his skull with my foot!  So that bothered me.

Another huge problem I had with the beginning of the story was the POV.  It was written in third person omniscient.  So it basically read like a news report.  We would see what was happening and how it happened.  But we’d have no idea why it happened, what they thought or felt about what happened, or any of the details that make you care about the characters.  At one point Alex grabs a small rodent and eats it and I had no idea why.  Since i didn’t know if this was an impulse he’d struggled with or a thought he couldn’t ignore anymore it had all of the significance of a pointless sidenote.  For that reason I found that I didn’t really care about Leslie or Alex because the only things I could see about them were ignorant, selfish, and horrendously stupid.

After the twins are born the POV shifts to third person close, which was slightly better than before but by that point I just didn’t care.  I didn’t care about the characters, I didn’t care about the plot, I wanted something to happen. Yeah yeah, I get it the parents are monsters now.  They are fighting off the inhuman urge to eat their children.  Gotcha, now let’s do something with it.  What they did was that the twins ran away and spent most of the book running from their parents.  Along the way they discover other kids that are like them and who have parents like them.  Apparently there are hundreds of these people wandering around and yet…no one else in the world has noticed.  That stretched my reality a little too far to be believable.

We also learn a little bit about the original doctor and what was in the original shots.  A very little bit.  I was excited about that and expected this story to become a quest for answers.  But it didn’t.  We were still on some stupid chase from the parents which was boring and starting to drag.  When the parents finally catch them I thought, yay good stuff coming!  Nope, it just kind of stopped.  Complete with some death and mayhem.  And THEN we go on a quest for answers back to the original doctor.  All I could think was, “Why did no one think of this in the last 10 years?”  But even that proved worthless because there were no answers to be had.  The plot never went anywhere and then you reached the end and realized that you had spent several hundred pages on a pointless quest for nothing.  This plot had so much potential and all of it was squandered.  When I reached the end of the book I was mostly relieved that it was over.  If there is a sequel, I will buy it only to tear out off the pages and shred them by hand.  I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone.  All that you’ll gain from it is feeling vaguely nauseous and then being angry that there was no pay off for the grossness.

 

 

The Rook by Daniel O’Malley

The Rook by Daniel O’Malley

Published January 11th, 2012 by Little, Brown and Company

Author’s website: http://www.rookfiles.com/

Buy this book at: Amazon / B&N / Book Depository

Synopsis:

“The body you are wearing used to be mine.” So begins the letter Myfanwy Thomas is holding when she awakes in a London park surrounded by bodies all wearing latex gloves. With no recollection of who she is, Myfanwy must follow the instructions her former self left behind to discover her identity and track down the agents who want to destroy her.

She soon learns that she is a Rook, a high-ranking member of a secret organization called the Chequy that battles the many supernatural forces at work in Britain. She also discovers that she possesses a rare, potentially deadly supernatural ability of her own.

In her quest to uncover which member of the Chequy betrayed her and why, Myfanwy encounters a person with four bodies, an aristocratic woman who can enter her dreams, a secret training facility where children are transformed into deadly fighters, and a conspiracy more vast than she ever could have imagined.

Filled with characters both fascinating and fantastical, THE ROOK is a richly inventive, suspenseful, and often wry thriller that marks an ambitious debut from a promising young writer.

Rating (out of 5):

Review:

I was very excited about this book before I read it.  It has an interesting and exciting premise.  Someone “waking up” in the middle of a bunch of dead bodies with no idea who they are, how they got there, or just what the hell is going on.  Then they discover a letter to themselves saying “Yes, I knew this would happen…someone is trying to kill you, you need to find out who and why.”  THEN you add into that, this woman works in the high rank of Rook for an organization that investigates supernatural occurrences.  Anyone who knows even a little about me would know that at this point I’m practically drooling over the thought of this book.  Unfortunately I failed to enjoy anything in this book past about chapter six.  This book’s main problem was an inexperienced author who had no comprehension of knowing how to structure a story well and an editor who fell asleep at the wheel.

My first sticking point with this book was the main character’s name.  The author shouldn’t have to tell me that MyFawny rhymes with Tiffany.  Which isn’t even the proper pronunciation of the name, which the character even says more than once!  It’s just a weird name.  Every time I saw it the same thought ran through my head, my fanny.  Every single time!  It always just made me give a little snort of laughter and I couldn’t get over it.

Then there was the letters and communications from “Thomas”, which is what MyFawny calls her personality from before the amnesia.  At first this information was interesting and I thought we were edging closer to figuring out who tried to kill her.  But after awhile the information was not interesting anyone.  I found myself yelling at the book about how much I didn’t care and could we please get back to the plot!  It only got worse when the author started interrupting action scenes with these info vomit sections. Quite literally the battle is going on, bodies are falling, people are being attacked, and we get treated to 10 pages about dragons that proved to be related to the main plot…well not at all.  I literally fell asleep 4 times in the middle of this information vomiting.

I also had a problem with the female point of view.  It was just off and wrong and felt awkward.  For example, right after the wake up to amnesia MyFawny stands in front of a mirror assessing the quality of her breasts and showing appreciation at her lack of cellulite.  Now, being a woman and knowing a lot of women, I can tell you that women do not behave this way!  In another circumstance MyFawny gains control over someone’s body who is trying to stab people and her first thought is “oh she’s on her period.”  Again, really?  Then we also had a huge problem with MyFawny CONSTANTLY belittling and passively aggressively attacking women who she thought were attractive.  Referring to them as bitchy or hoping they slept their way to the top and were really idiots.  Most women don’t feel that way.  I started to wonder if the author had ever even talked to a woman because he can’t write one.

Now we have the fact that this is set in London, but half the book sounded entirely American.  For example, MyFawny orders blueberry pancakes.  Now, my fiance lives in England and I asked him about this, and he has never really ever seen pancakes at all on a menu unless it was a restaurant that sported an American menu.  Other Americanisms abound like couch instead of sofa, lunch instead of dinner, dinner instead of tea, cell phone instead of mobile, sidewalk instead of pavement.  It just was terribly obvious.  It was even written with American spellings.  The author is Australian so there’s no reason the spelling couldn’t at least be more accurate.  Then about halfway through the book it turned into “Bloody hell where did I put my mobile!?”  It was such a shocking change I actually did a double take.

Finally, the plot was a mess.  The main point, according to the synopsis, was to find MyFawny’s would be assassin.  That was largely ignored and the plot didn’t progress at all until it miraculously got solved in the last 50 pages.  Instead we had this totally different plot entirely, which frankly wasn’t very interesting.  By the time we got to the ending I just wanted it to be over, I wasn’t looking forward to anything and then it just got more depressing.  The ending was so cliched that I just started to laugh hysterically and couldn’t stop myself.  The bad guy kidnaps MyFawny just so that he can have her explain how she found him out and so that he can gloat about his evil deeds.  Then she miraculously turns the situation around and saves herself!  Excuse while I wipe a tear from my eye, the hysterical laughter is back.

This book was just bad, there is no other word for it.  It has a fascinating premise and a few really good characters but all of that amounted to nothing.  Right now this is not planned for a series, and I think that is the right move to make.  Please, I beg you, just let it end here.

 

Revealing Eden By Victoria Foyt

Revealing Eden by Victoria Foyt

Published January 10th, 2012 by Sand Dollar Press Inc

Synopsis and picture from the Goodreads book page
Normally, this is where I would put the links to buy this book, but I can’t bring myself to do it this time.  I beg you, please don’t buy this book for your own good.

Synopsis:

Eden Newman must mate before her 18th birthday in six months or she’ll be left outside to die in a burning world. But who will pick up her mate-option when she’s cursed with white skin and a tragically low mate-rate of 15%? In a post-apocalyptic, totalitarian, underground world where class and beauty are defined by resistance to an overheated environment, Eden’s coloring brands her as a member of the lowest class, a weak and ugly Pearl. If only she can mate with a dark-skinned Coal from the ruling class, she’ll be safe. Just maybe one Coal sees the Real Eden and will be her salvation her co-worker Jamal has begun secretly dating her. But when Eden unwittingly compromises her father’s secret biological experiment, she finds herself in the eye of a storm and thrown into the last area of rainforest, a strange and dangerous land. Eden must fight to save her father, who may be humanity’s last hope, while standing up to a powerful beast-man she believes is her enemy, despite her overwhelming attraction. Eden must change to survive but only if she can redefine her ideas of beauty and of love, along with a little help from her “adopted aunt” Emily Dickinson.

Rating (out of 5):

Review:  First, I would like to make a few things clear.  I did not just read other reviews and form my opinion.  I did not just read a few paragraphs and form my opinion.  Yes I am aware of the controversy surrounding this book and I decided that I was going to read it myself and see what the fuss was about.  I read the book in its entirety, from beginning to end and this is what I discovered.

The first item on the agenda is the naming of the different races in this book.  You have Coals for blacks, Pearls for whites, Amber for Asians, and Tiger Eye for Hispanics.  Now, according to the author the names of semi-precious stones are racial slurs because in this post-apocalyptic world gems are worthless, but coals is not a racial slur because coal is of vital importance in this society.  I can’t buy this for a few reasons.  1. The main character, Eden, refers to coal as a racial slur several times. 2. Another main character, Bramford, has a bracelet with a gemstone in it.  So clearly they can’t be that useless. 3. This is a society that lives underground, can imbed sensors into everyone’s brain to connect them to the rest of society, and have doctors and scientists who are researching genetic manipulation.  So, you expect me to believe this society only values simple things and has no use for things or wealth and privilege.  I just can’t buy it.  Not to mention that coal and cotton are racial slurs that have been used against the black community many times in the past, so to use them in this manner is offensive.

Now I want to talk about how racism is portrayed in this book.  Be warned this might be long and get into ranting territory. The author supposedly wrote this book to flip racism on its head and help white people understand racism better.  Okay, I’m a white person, I can never understand what it is like to be oppressed and subject to racist hate.  But I can learn about its impacts and have sympathy and compassion for those that it happens to and disgust for those being hateful.  So in this book, Eden is the oppressed minority.  I fail to see how she is so badly oppressed and the subject of racist hate.  She has a cushy job working in a laboratory, she has her own quarters, she has a dog, she gets paid for her job, and she seems to have the freedom to move about whenever she pleases and do what she pleases.  At one point she even hurls an incendiary racial slur at someone of the majority race and nothing happens!  In such a racist society, she would not have gotten off the hook.  She also wouldn’t have a job, get paid, be allowed to move freely, or anything else either.  Fact, during the slavery period of America, it was illegal to teach black slaves how to even read…do you think they let them go to a dance?  But poor oppressed Eden can go dress shopping and go to the dance and yet be oppressed at the same time.  Also, why are the Pearls allowed to breed at all?  If they are such inferior human beings with inferior genetics, why let them breed?  Stick em outside in the sun and let them die and then the problem of inferior genes is solved.

As I was trying to figure out exactly how Eden was being oppressed, I also noticed something else.  The only person acting in a racist manner in this book…is Eden!  She’s also something of a sexist too.  I stopped counting after fifteen times of her calling another woman (no matter color) a bitch.  Pretty much every sentence and thought that Eden had was race related.  She walks down the street, convinced that everyone is thinking of attacking her because she’s white.  It doesn’t matter that no one actually does, she still thinks it.  She can’t describe a single person without mentioning their race or something derogatory regarding their race.

And please don’t make me relive how she insists on referring to Bramford (who is the majority race) as a “beast”, a “monster”, a “bastard”, and a “creature”.  That, all by itself, was offensive to the extreme.  And what were Bramford’s evil offenses that led to such animosity?  Oh you know, giving her water, saving her from blowing up, saving her from drowning, giving her food, saving her from an anaconda, and repeatedly helping her survive her own stupidity.  Oh the humanity!  How dare he do such kind things for her!  Seriously every time he was kind to her, her next thought would be “That selfish beast!”  At one she even rides him around the jungle like a freaking pony at the fair!  Seriously?  I just can’t get over it.

But with how oppressed Eden is, you would think that she would have compassion and be understanding of other oppressed minorities right?  Oh no.  She references another pearl as a bitch, a liar, a conniving bitch, and various other lovely things without ever even meeting the woman.  She sees a cotton (albino) boy, about 7 years old, and screams like she’s being hacked to death by a serial killer.  Well gee, that’s compassionate and sure to make that little boy feel loved and accepted!

This book, in the end, is exactly what you should not be calling a book about race relations.  It is racist, sexist, and wholly offensive.  If you want to see a good portrayal of racism and how poisonous hatred can be, go watch American History X.  That is a fantastic portrayal of just how toxic racism is on all sides, from the side of the perpetrators and the victims alike.  It is a story about how people can see the error of their ways and change their lives.  It is a story about how devastating this kind of hatred is to everyone involved.  I cannot recommend that anyone buy or read this book, if you want to learn about racism go buy that movie instead.  At the end of the day, perhaps it was misguided for a woman who’s only interaction with the African American community was that she had a black maid as a child should have avoided attempting a treatise on race relations.

 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest and thoughtful review.  No money or goods were exchanged.

Review: Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen

Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen

Published February 12th, 2012 by Walker Childrens

Picture and Synopsis from the Goodreads book page

This book can purchased from B&N or Amazon

Synopsis:

Many readers know the tale of Robin Hood, but they will be swept away by this new version full of action, secrets, and romance.

Posing as one of Robin Hood’s thieves to avoid the wrath of the evil Thief Taker Lord Gisbourne, Scarlet has kept her identity secret from all of Nottinghamshire. Only the Hood and his band know the truth: the agile thief posing as a whip of a boy is actually a fearless young woman with a secret past. Helping the people of Nottingham outwit the corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham could cost Scarlet her life as Gisbourne closes in.

It’s only her fierce loyalty to Robin—whose quick smiles and sharp temper have the rare power to unsettle her—that keeps Scarlet going and makes this fight worth dying for.
Rating (out of 5):

Review:

To start off this review I want to warn you, this is not going to be a nice review.  I always try my hardest to be even-handed with my reviews, pointing out the good AND bad in every book I read.  But every now and then a book comes along that I dislike so much I cannot be fair or even-handed.  Scarlet is one of those books.  I have been looking forward to reading this for months!  I love fairytale retellings, I love the story of Robin Hood, and I was intrigued at the idea of “Will Scarlet” being a girl.  I was so excited about this book that when I saw it on the library shelf I practically pole vaulted over a group of people to get to it before anyone else saw it.  It was almost something out of Mission Impossible.  Unfortunately, it was a HUGE waste of my time and I ended up finishing it and then practically throwing the book back at the library’s book drop just to get rid of it.

A few words about the plot.  The plot itself was not a bad one!  Scarlet is posing as a boy in the band of thieves and a thief-taker who she has had a previous run in with shows up in town.  Not only does she have to help the band protect the townspeople but has to worry about not being captured by this sadistic and evil man.  This was all good.  The plot moved a bit too slow and so most of the really good stuff was in the end, but I could have overlooked that.  It was also painfully predictable.  About page forty or fifty I remember thinking to myself, I know who Scarlet is, I know how she knows Gisbourne, and I know her back story.  Well, it took until page 230 but I was right!  I wish I wasn’t because it made it annoying and stupid.  The ending was also a major fail, but I’ll get to that when I go through the awful characters.
Now, let’s start off with Scarlet.  She is an infuriating character.  She is strong, smart, witty, and very clever.  Those are all fantastic things and I was so happy to see it after a run of being disappointed with YA heroines.  Unfortunately Scarlet was not only all those good things but also intermittently a complete idiot, selfless to the point of being suicidal, and her inner dialogue made me want to scream in frustration.  She runs around with two guys practically throwing themselves at her feet and insists on thinking “No, it’s impossible that they like me that way, impossible!”.  Wake up you moron!  She starves herself simply because she feels guilty that other townspeople can’t afford to eat.  Um, okay.  And you dying of starvation is going to help them how?  They already depend on you and the band to help put food on their table so again…starving is going to help them how exactly?  Yeah, that’s what I thought!  And I really don’t understand why her inner dialogue was always in “commoner” english….she’s a noblewoman in disguise, which wasn’t that hard to figure out, so why do her thoughts speak commoner too?  Irritating!  She also says more than once that she despises being a woman.  That’s a great message to send young girls!  Then at the end, my God the end.  She is the runaway fiance of thief-taker Gisbourne (which I completely called by the way), and decides that she has a great idea to save Robin from being killed by him.  Why, she’s just going to turn herself into Gisbourne and agree to marry him!  That sounds like a great idea!  He only cut your face up, was prepared to force you into marriage at age 13, and tried to kill you when you said no!  Wait, I smell more selfless suicidal behavior here.

On to the unnecessary love triangle.  I didn’t like the love triangle idea to begin with, it came across as forced and contrived.  But it got worse when I realized that both males in this love triangle are complete and utter pigs.  First there’s John.  He’s a typical playboy, flirts with anything that wears a skirt and takes more than a few to bed just because he can.  Suddenly, for no apparent reason except that he finally saw her in a skirt, John decides he’s in love with Scarlet.  He then proceeds to tell everyone in town that she is his girl, despite her saying absolutely not.  He consistently violates her boundaries without invitation and takes advantage of her in vulnerable states to kiss her, hug her, or cuddle up with her to sleep.  She continues to tell him that she is not interested in him, yet somehow he thinks that persisting will make him more attractive to her at some point.  Right, whatever.  Don’t like John at all.

But then there’s Robin.  What the hell happened to Robin?!  He starts of as gallant and brave and strong and all those lovely things we think of when we imagine Robin Hood.  Except where Scarlet is concerned.  He spends half his time trying to convince her that he’s interested in her, and the other half of his time ignoring her and treating her like trash.  Well, that’s attractive!  Then when John starts showing interest in Scarlet he loses his damn mind and turns into JealousRobinHood.  Jealousy, always so attractive in YA right?  But just to endear him to Scarlet further, he bosses her around and generally acts like he owns her.  Then the best part!  He calls her a tease repeatedly for “leading John on”, when she has done nothing but tell John to leave her alone.  Then he proceeds to call her a whore because John kissed her.  That’s right, John….kissed….her, but she’s the whore.  The innocent, no experience with men, girl is a whore because a guy kissed her, but let’s talk about all those girls you were with in the Crusades shall we?  Go to hell Robin, you’re a bastard too.

Much was the only good character because he was sweet, kind and did everything he could to be useful to the band despite only having one hand.  I loved Much!  Too bad he was a secondary side character at best.

As I think more on this book’s horrid characters, I have come to the conclusion that I blame Twilight for this.  I really do.  Because Stephenie Meyer became a HUGE bestseller all other YA authors are following her lead.  And thus we have a wave of pathetic, weak, stupid, selfless, depressing, self hating heroines who have zero instinct for self-preservation.  And all heroes in YA books suddenly have become controlling, possessive, hypocritical, judgemental, sexist pigs.  Twilight, my hatred for this book is your fault.

Review of Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan

Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan

Published September 13th, 2011 by St. Martins Press

Author’s website: http://www.amykathleenryan.com/

Synopsis from Goodreads: If a violent battle destroyed the only world you’ve ever known, would you be brave enough to save who was left? Would love be strong enough to survive the fight? Either way, there’s no turning back.

The Empyrean is the only home 15-year-old Waverly has ever known. Part of the first generation to be successfully conceived in deep space, she and her boyfriend Kieran will be pioneers of New Earth. Waverly knows she must marry young in order to have children who can carry on the mission, and Kieran, the handsome captain-to-be, has everything Waverly could want in a husband. Everyone is sure he’s the best choice. Still, there’s a part of Waverly that wants more from life than marriage, and she is secretly intrigued by the shy, darkly brilliant Seth.

Suddenly, Waverly’s dreams are interrupted by the inconceivable – a violent betrayal by the Empyrean’s sister ship, the New Horizon. The New Horizon’s leaders are desperate to populate the new planet first, and will do anything to get what they need: young girls. In one pivotal moment, Waverly and Kieran are separated, and find themselves at the helm of dangerous missions, where every move has potentially devastating consequences, and decisions of the heart may lead to disaster.

Rating: 

Review:

This was another book that I REALLY wanted to like.  It sounded interesting, I liked the synopsis, I liked the cover, and the characters caught my interest.  But then it quickly turned sour and I found myself wondering why I wanted to read it in the first place.  However, we will start with the good things!
I liked Keiran.  He was by far the best character in the whole book.  Some of the other characters, and even him at times, seemed a bit two-dimensional and boring.  I just couldn’t not like him though.  He is honest and loyal and says what he thinks even if it could get him in trouble.  I expected him to be the typical “golden boy” character since that’s how he was introduced but it seemed like it was a mantle that was put on him simply because of the circumstances of his birth and he accepted it grudgingly.

The plot started out really intriguing and I wanted to see where it would go.  The New Horizon suddenly appears on radar and no one knows why.  Now, I admit that it bothered me that everyone on the Empyrean’s first reaction was suspicion.  These are supposed to be your counterparts, your allies, the people who you are going to forge a new world with!  But you are suspicious instead of concerned that it appears they just stopped in the middle of their mission years earlier and you caught up to them.  I didn’t like that and I started to get suspicious that the author was setting us up for a book long rant about something.  At the time I suspected it was either something to do with women and children or religion, but I wasn’t sure which.

I also really liked the dynamics of the two ships, since both were different but in a way it was the same and equally as weird and creepy.  On the Empyrean the  men had a tendency to look at the girls in an appraising manner, like meat at a slaughter-house.  On the New Horizon the weirdness was the same with people constantly wondered and inquiring about their menstrual cycles but there was a different vibe to the weirdness.

So far all of this is relatively positive right?  That’s what I thought too!  Then I hit the halfway point and it all went downhill from there.  I hated the POV changes.  This author split the book into 5 parts, each part contains a handful of chapters.  Each part is told from the POV of one ship and then it switches to the other ship for the next part, and so on.  Now, there is a good way and a bad way to do POV changes.  This was a bad way.  I got so involved in the POV we were currently in that I didn’t care about the second plot, then suddenly I was in the other plot and by the time it finished I didn’t care about the first anymore.  It made me feel disconnected from the plot and I didn’t really care much about the characters as a result.  Plus, I had a hard time tracking the timeline for the book.  Since we spent so long in one POV weeks or months would have taken place, then we were thrust into the other ship and these were events that were going on at the same time as the bit I just read.  By the end I felt like I’d read years and years of timeline when it was only a few months.  It was confusing and I didn’t like it.  A chapter by chapter breakdown would have been better.

By the end I couldn’t stand Waverly.  I did appreciate the fact that she was not a Mary Sue idiotic twit who was too stupid to ensure her own survival.  That kind of “heroine” has been cropping up in YA fiction way too much lately.  Waverly tried to be a strong, tough, kick ass heroine and succeeded to a small degree.  But then she goes and ruins it all by being completely willing to distrust her FUTURE HUSBAND in favor of the guy who tried to starve him to death!  I mean, really?  That bothered me so much that I wanted to reach through my eReader and slap Waverly in the face for her stupidity.

The author tried really hard to push her own agenda in this one, and it made the ending and large portions of the plot feel forced.  We are informed very early on that the New Horizon was a ship of religious people while the Empyrean was a ship of non-religious people.  When I read that my first thought was, uh oh we’re revving up for an author rant against religion!  And I was correct!  The author takes every opportunity to portray the religious individuals as bad, cultish, evil, and manipulative.  While the non-religious people are logical people who can see through the bullshit of the evil religious cult.  I rolled my eyes at this and was prepared to overlook it until the author decided to put Keiran into the role of the next evil, religious cult leader.  And Waverly just skips right along with that idea and goes to the boy who tried to kill her future husband to plot with him about how to save him from himself.  Oh, also the author made a point of making sure Keiran was hallucinating about hearing God’s voice, because all religious people are nutcases right?  This just angered me so much that I was tempted to throw my eReader across the room in disgust.  Stupid, stupid and more stupid.  I will definitely not be reading the next book because I could hardly stomach the first.