Review: The Holders by Julianna Scott

the holdersThe Holders by Julianna Scott (Book 1 of the the Holders series)

Expected publication date: March 5th, 2013 by Strange Chemistry

Cover image and synopsis provided by the publisher.

Pre-order this book at: Amazon / B&N / Book Depository / Indie Bound



17-year-old Becca has spent her whole life protecting her brother – from their father leaving and from the people who say the voices in his head are unnatural. When two strangers appear with apparent answers to Ryland’s “problem” and details about a school in Ireland where Ryland will not only fit in, but prosper, Becca is up in arms.
She reluctantly agrees to join Ryland on his journey and what they find at St. Brigid’s is a world beyond their imagination. Little by little they piece together information about their family’s heritage and the legend of the Holder race that decrees Ryland is the one they’ve been waiting for… but, they are all, especially Becca, in for a surprise that will change what they thought they knew about themselves and their kind.


Rating: 3 star



If any of you are like me, you are sick and tired of all these books which are basically a re-branded version of X-Men.  I have read many of them in the last year and frankly, they all sucked.  When I saw this book start to go down the X-Men route my apprehension grew, would this one suck too?  I am happy to say it did not suck!  It was not an amazing book or a book that I will remember forever, but it was enjoyable and satisfying.

Let’s first turn to the basic plot for analysis.  Yes, in case you hadn’t already guessed, it is very reminiscent of X-Men.  I won’t elaborate into a lot of detail because that might spoil some things.  Basically you have a school where they bring kids who have special abilities.  Here they are taught to control and use their abilities to fight against the bad guy and protect us poor, hapless normal humans along the way.  This is where we find Becca.  Her brother is one of these kids with special abilities and she insists on accompanying him to the school to make sure it’s not a loony bin or something.  One place where this differed from X-Men is that these kids get their abilities based on genetics.  The abilities were originally granted to a bunch of people by the Irish gods and it is passed down through their lines.  I am not sure why it was only Irish people who were given these abilites, it was never really addressed in any detail.  I appreciated that the author appeared to have done at least a little homework on the Gaelic language and the old Irish Gods.  Overall, the plot was not anything that overly surprised me and was a bit predictable but it was done well and so it is less annoying than it could have been.

The world-building was decent but lacking in certain areas.  We get the very basic details about the world and how it works but nothing beyond that.  Part of that is because we are learning these things through Becca’s POV.  Becca, overall, is a good narrator but since she is new to all this, she is only given the most base level details and by association that’s all we are given as well.  I wanted to hear more about it.  I wanted more detail and was slightly disappointed that I didn’t get it.  For example, there is an item that they KNOW is very powerful and they can’t let the bad guys have it.  Why not?  Well I dunno because the bad guys can’t even use it.  But the good guys can’t use it either.  So why did it matter?  I found out later, but initially it was very confusing.  Or, another example, we are told that rarely do women inherit these abilities and when they do their power level is very low.  Why?  It was never explained.  Even the characters copped out with, “We don’t know, that’s just how it’s always been.”  The world building that we did get was decent and fairly solid in my opinion but needs more work on the details in future books.

Now let us discuss the romance in this book between Becca and Alex.  It was like a breath of fresh area.  I’ve been reading so much YA recently and the romances are always so annoying in many ways.  This was fantastic!  Becca is a smart and intelligent girl who is not dependent on the approval of a boyfriend for her identity, which I appreciate.  Alex is smart, funny, considerate, a gentlemen, and thoughtful.  And, he blushes, I mean how cute is that!  I found myself falling for Alex right along with Becca because he was just so adorable.  I was mildly concerned that I might get weirded out with the romance since Becca is 17 and Alex is 23, but there was no reason to fear.  The romance is sweet, gradual, and innocent so I didn’t have any pervy signals going off in my head.  We didn’t even have insta love!  It was gradual and based on real things like behavior, personality, and how that person is treating them.  I was so pleased with this romance that it restored my faith in YA romances a little bit.

At the end of the day, I am happy that I read this book and persevered through my initial apprehensions.  It had some flaws which led to the 3 star rating, but overall I enjoyed myself.  I was a good book that served its purpose very well.  I recommend this book to sci-fi fans and fans of YA that are tired of the cliched romances they offer.

A special thank you to Strange Chemistry who provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Published by Harper Collins on November 15th, 2011

Author’s Website:

Synopsis from Goodreads website:

Juliette hasn’t touched anyone in exactly 264 days.

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal. As long as she doesn’t hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don’t fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war– and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she’s exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.

In this electrifying debut, Tahereh Mafi presents a world as riveting as The Hunger Games and a superhero story as thrilling as The X-Men. Full of pulse-pounding romance, intoxicating villainy, and high-stakes choices, Shatter Me is a fresh and original dystopian novel—with a paranormal twist—that will leave readers anxiously awaiting its sequel.


I have had a really hard time figuring out how to rate and review this book.   Mostly because I am so conflicted about it in general.  I think the synopsis is entirely accurate with its X-Men reference, but not in the way they are suggesting.  This was an interesting concept.  This girl has been locked away in an asylum after touching a young child (in an attempt to protect him) and he ended up dying because Juliette’s touch is lethal.  She gets a roommate in the asylum with Adam and the two are then promptly removed from the asylum because the overlord of the world wants her to be his head torturer. So far this was all excellent.  I loved the character of Warner and Adam was mildly interesting as well.  I read the first 130 pages or so without stopping and read well into the middle of the night without realizing it.

The writing was unique with the author putting in strikeouts over certain thoughts or feelings that the main character didn’t like.  It was interesting and made the book feel like reading the journal of a very troubled young woman.  But some of the writing made the story seem abrupt and choppy and it didn’t flow very well in places.  I can’t really put my finger on what made it feel that way but it took away from the story a little.

When this story really hit the brakes was with Juliette being Warner’s prisoner.  The plot really came to a screeching halt and never even started to recover.  At points it seemed like we were about to get answers to the questions of the book only to have it just drop and never get answered.  I also started to really tire of Juliette being the ultimate Mary Sue character.  She’s pretty, she’s sweet, she’s gentle, even when she did something awful like killing a boy it was only with good intentions, and every single male character in the book fell all over themselves drooling while she sat back in complete ignorance of what the big deal was.  This made me want to scream!  You would think that being able to kill people just by touching them would be a great flaw, except it isn’t because Juliette is basically Mother Teresa!

There isn’t even another significant female character in the entire book, just a bunch of males alternately drooling or being afraid of Juliette.  I believe “Benny” may have been female but we don’t actually meet her, only hear about her in a few sentences.  And there are female twins at the very end, but again they only make an appearance for about three sentences.  I really hated the X-Men thing too.  The resistance is rounding up people with “abilities” and turning them into superheroes who are going to save the world.  I saw that a few times, at the movie theater, and it was done a lot more completely.

The world building was also lacking by a great deal in this book.  We only get glimpses of the world as Juliette remembers it and a few brief glimpses of life in one city.  That’s it, there was no more world building and it made me feel disconnected from the story.  The closest we got to explaining this world was a rant about how we humans did this to ourselves.  We sprayed all these icky pesticides on food and made it inedible, we caged animals in inhumane conditions and so they died, we regulated food for profit and made others go hungry, we manipulated the climate with our man-made junk and polluted the world.  Okay!  We get it!  Now, go away treehugger and leave the condemning of modern life to someone not writing a work of fiction.  I don’t mind an author having an explanation for the end of the world that involves these kinds of things, but stop preaching to me about it already.  I read this book to enjoy it not get a lecture on all the bad things we’re doing to the earth.

After Adam and Juliette escape Warner the plot never really restarted and by the time I got to the last page I felt like I had gotten half of a story, not a complete story with a sequel coming out soon.  There were some interesting moments that made me ask some questions, but those questions never got resolved and neither did the story.  Even in a series each novel needs to be a complete story with a beginning, middle, and an end.  We got the beginning and we got the middle, but there was no decent ending.  While I was completely enthralled with the beginning of the book the ending left me with no interest in reading about this world any further.

To put an ending to my review, I will rate this 2.5 stars out of 5.