Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Hollow by Jessica Verday

Title: The Hollow
Author: Jessica Verday
Genre: Supernatural, romance, high school
Summary: On Goodreads
Pages: 513
Reviewing: Characterisation, relationship, plot
Rating: 8/10
I'm a sucker for novels that have angst and that are also well written, and this novel is packed with both, so much so that I actually became depressed for the duration of time that I spent reading this - an evening and a morning. And 513 pages within eighteen hours including sleep is no mean feat!

In a nutshell, the Hollow is all about how Abbey copes with the death of her best friend. Along the way, she meets an enigmatic and decidedly hot stranger called Caspian, and finds herself falling for him. But as she tries to unravel the mystery regarding Kristen's death, she uncovers many secrets, the biggest one of all being to do with Caspian himself...

Ahh, words cannot express how much I loved, loved, loved this book! I found myself completely caught up in Abbey's angst and emotions, and couldn't help but yearn for her to be whole again. The description that Verday used, something about a vice gripping her heart, hit the nail on the head in terms of that kind of feeling. As a character, Abbey was beautifully visualised and brought to life - Verday's characterisation definitely surpasses that of the previous books I have reviewed. And Caspian...what can I say? He is hotness epitomised! There are very few main male characters that I really do fall for as often there is something lacking to them, but here, I found Caspian to be so well realised through Verday's writing and Abbey's point of view that I couldn't help but fall for him too. He is such a sweet character, so protective of Abbey, and also, so full of angst too. Nothing like a tortured soul to yearn over, hehe.

I found the developments to their bittersweet relationship to be completely believable for the time frame and world of the novel. Even though Abbey found him attractive immediately, Kristen's death was always at the forefront of her mind, which it should be (I refer you to Crossroads by Mary Ting *eyeroll*), so the build up to the relationship was slow and secondary to other factors in the first half of the novel. I loved the small things that they did for each other, like the exchange of gifts at the cemetery, the cookies and perfume that she makes for him, and the cute times they spend together in the library. Anyway, I can't stress enough just how great it is that the relationship doesn't completely take over the plot!

In terms of plot, the story is slow and gentle. There aren't a lot of mind-blowingly action-packed scenes as this isn't that kind of novel. This is more of a story that explores the way the main character deals with grief. It's very internal. Having said that, Verday takes us through half a year starting from Abbey's return to school, and we see how she deals with having to act normal, and how she deals with situations when she becomes a target of bullying. The best parts of the plot revolve around her walks through town, when she goes to the river and the cemetery, for here we get to see the real Abbey shine through.

Finally, the Hollow draws very heavily from the legend of Sleepy Hollow, so make sure you know that story - although it does get explained here too. I kinda wish I'd read the story first now though.

Final Thoughts:

So, I loved this. Verday apparently wrote all of this on thirteen notebooks before typing it up, so kudos to her! If you like angsty angst, and don't mind a more relaxing read, then this is the right book for you! But don't get me wrong, there is still enough word-candy here to get you drooling if you're also looking for the guy hotness factor... ;)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Lament by Maggie Stiefvater

Title: Lament
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Genre: Fantasy, romance, high school
Summary: On Goodreads
Pages: 356
Reviewing: Style, plot, characterisation, layout
Rating: 7/10

My first thought upon finishing: wow. I'm a big fan of the urban fantasy genre - faeries have never swamped the young adult genre as much as vampires and werewolves, so it's always a breath of fresh air to pick up a book like this, especially one written by an author that I already adore. And yet again, she does not disappoint!

Talented harpist Dee's world is completely overthrown when she meets the mysterious and handsome Luke Dillon who she falls in love with almost straight away. All seems well at first, but little by little, she starts to realise that Luke is hiding secrets. When he is no longer able to protect her from the world of faeries, he must decide which is more important to him: his heart or his soul?

Throughout the entire novel, Maggie's writing style was always so wonderfully poetic. She finds beauty in everything that she writes about, and has a way with words that really inspires me to look at the world with fresh eyes. Her imagery was vivid, evocative, and I found myself completely drawn into her settings and descriptions. There was something so romantic about the symbol of the white bird used to portray Luke's soul, and something so bittersweet about the scene with the birds on the moon. I also loved how Maggie weaved in so many elements of Irish mythology and musicality into her writing.

In terms of plot, it was definitely believable for its genre and flowed well. I found the story unfolding and building up at a good pace, and whilst it wasn't overtly unpredictable, there were enough elements thrown in to keep me guessing. Although, my two issues with the plot are: Dee and Luke fall in love way too fast, and the ending climax happens way too fast as well, which is a shame.

I wish Maggie had spent a bit more time showing more aspects of Luke's personality. I found Dee to be a very well rounded character - she was quirky and had a lot of very teenagery thoughts, but whilst I adored Luke's tragic and tortured aura, I think he needed to feel more real. I definitely enjoyed the romance that they had going, but in the end, it lacked a bit of chemistry for me. James was absolutely adorable - pity we never got to see what he made of the whole romance and ending situation...

Finally, onto the layout of the book - I found the artwork cute and charming, and I liked how the story was divided into little "books" as it reminded me a lot of the way long narrative poems are structured and to me, shows that Maggie cares about the layout just as much as she does about her story.

Final Thoughts:

This was a thoroughly enjoyable read which I finished in less than a day, and which I totally recommend! If you're looking for something different to the dystopias and vampires that are swamping the young adult world, then look no further! :)