Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Angelfall by Susan Ee

Title: Angelfall
Author: Susan Ee
Genre: Fantasy, young adult, dystopia
Summary: On Goodreads
Pages: 255
Reviewing: Style, dialogue, characters, plot
Rating: 9/10

OH MY GOD, I LOVED THIS BOOK SO SO MUCH! Everything about it was just made of so much win! The more young adult books I read, the harder it is to find something that I truly like, so now when I do find something that manages to break past my wall of apathy, I will well and truly engage in fangirl mode. So be warned.

In Angelfall, we are introduced to a world that six weeks ago, was a world that you and I could relate to. Now though, it's a post-apocalyptic mess. An army of angels attacked, bringing down cities and causing destruction worldwide. Now, anarchic gangs rule the day and things that go bump rule the night. It's a free for all.

Meet Penryn, a seventeen year old girl who is out with her clinically paranoid mother and disabled seven year old sister Paige one night when they find themselves in the middle of a fight between one lone angel and a group of them. Pen's mother runs away, but Paige gets snatched by the angels, so Penryn rescues the lone angel Raffe, who has had his wings cut off. From there onwards, a wary truce is formed between the two as they both have a common goal - to find their way to the angels' base so that Raffe can get his wings sewn back on, and so that Penryn can find her sister and bring her home. Cue ensuring chaos.

The introduction and set up for the plot was swift, we were thrown straight into it, and we had enough running commentary from Penryn to get everything we needed to know and to picture about the world without overdoing it on the descriptions. Everything was witty and fast paced, a style that was consistently carried through the entire novel. I loved Penryn's smartass comments - often I found myself laughing aloud at her observations or choice of vocabulary. And don't get me started on the amazing dialogue interplay between the two leads...!

“Why were the other angels attacking you?" 
"It's impolite to ask the victim of violence what they did to be attacked.” 

“Here, I’ll show you how to use it. Let me see your foot.” 
“That’s a pretty intimate demand in the angel world. It usually takes dinner, some wine, and sparkling conversation for me to give up my feet.”

You can really tell the author is having a lot of fun with this, and, hey, good snappy dialogue makes for some class A character interaction. With a lot of other books that I've come across, I couldn't really feel anything for the mains and for their romantic interests, just because so much of the chemistry that occurs has to be conveyed via dialogue. But in Angelfall, the dialogue sparkled, lifting the characters from the pages and bringing them to life in my mind.

Penryn has this tough sarcastic survivor chick edge going for her - she has pretty honed fighting skills, having been advised by her crazy mother to take them in case she ever needs to defend herself against her mother. Yet she's also this vulnerable girl who wants nothing more than to piece her life back together. She, like Katniss from The Hunger Games, has no dreams of glory or of being at the forefront of the action. She just wants to be on the sidelines, head down, getting on with it. Meanwhile, Raffe comes across as an arrogant, cocky teen, albeit in angel form. Yet, thankfully, he is also protective, loyal and most definitely cares about Pen - these traits only manifest later on, in his wingless state when we get to see a more vulnerable side of him.

I'm not going to say too much about the plot, so that you won't have anything spoiled, but rest assured that it's pretty dark at places, and there are a few nasty shocks - things I was definitely not expecting at all when I read this.

Final Thoughts


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Angel by L.A. Weatherly

Title: Angel
Author: L.A. Weatherly
Genre: Supernatural, young adult, romance
Summary: On Goodreads Willow knows she's different from other girls. And not just because she loves tinkering around with cars. Willow has a gift. She can look into people's futures, know their dreams, their hopes and their regrets, just by touching them. But she has no idea where she gets this power from. Until she meets Alex…
Alex is one of the few who know the truth about angels. He knows Willow's secret and is on a mission to stop her. The dark forces within Willow make her dangerous – and irresistible. In spite of himself, Alex finds he is falling in love with his sworn enemy.
Pages: 512
Reviewing: Plot, characters, relationships, narrative
Rating: 7/10
I'd been meaning to read this book for a long while now, so imagine my delight when I came across it at a CRUK charity shop as part of a 3 for £1 deal!

Anyway, I want to start off by saying that if you're going to judge a book by a cover, then you may well be very very surprised. See, what I saw was a blonde girl, presumably the main character, standing in a very strong pose, head tilted downwards, giving me the eye - and that screamed badassery in a major way. So I'm going into this book having read the blurb, and expecting a feisty female with a dark manipulative side who oozes sexuality but inevitably sees the error of her ways and turns 'good'. Tell me I'm wrong.

So what do we actually get?

A really shy, timid girl who is on the fringe of society, struggling to fit in at her school because of her psychic powers. Maybe I'll write my own story with the above expectations that I had, as whilst it may be clee to the chay, it'd make for some damn good reading.

But I digress. Plotwise, you have your standard lone huntsman, Alex Kylar, the tall dark stranger of a teenager on a mission to eliminate the world from angels. And these are not your standard angels - these are beautiful otherworldly creatures that crossed into our world and can only survive by feeding off the energy of humans. Normally, they manifest as humans, but when they feed, they transform into a form of light and are able to entrance the human mind into thinking that this is the best thing that could ever happen to them. Afterwards, the humans that have been fed upon succumb to insanity or physical diseases, growing weaker and weaker until they die. Now, Alex has been hunting angels for years, but when he receives an order to kill Willow, the shy, timid girl, he has some initial reservations, which of course are derived from her overwhelming beauty. Yet, there is something weird about her aura - she seems both human and angel...

You'll have to read the novel to find out more about the plot! I was sucked in by the intriguing premise, and I can tell you now that it's compelling enough to make you want to read more, yet the downfall is that it's also incredibly predictable at the same time. The reason for Willow's mother's mental illness is pretty easy to pick up on, as are the reasons for why Alex has no family, and I could very easily guess at the various frenemies throughout the book. As for pacing, most of it is paced very well, but there is one part that stretches out for ages - the hiding - and it did bore me to death. Sometimes there is too much of a good thing, and I think I'd rather wish there was more sappy romance than wishing for less. Kudos to the author for writing some very believable road trip and hideout scenes though!

In terms of relationships, I'm going to say this now: it is most definitely predictable, and it all escalates way too fast! After knowing each other for barely a week, they have both already decided that they love each other... Come on!! Reading those bits made me want to bang my head on the desk repeatedly.

I found the characters of both Alex and Willow to be really interesting at the start of the novel and was very emotionally invested in both of them and their backstories, but after they meet, fight, and then stop fighting, I felt that the characters lacked their original sparks of personality. Without conflict, they both seem to be flat carbon copies of the same essence, and that made me disengage with them somewhat, especially as their relationship progressed further.

I guess part of it must come down to the narration. What I found a bit odd was that the author uses third person for all of the characters apart from Willow, which is narrated in the first person. I've seen this done before (badly) with the House of Night series, so I was a bit skeptical about it. Personally, I think the narrative should've stayed consistent in terms of which tense was used as that way, we would get to know all of the characters on an equal level. Willow's voice isn't particularly strong, whilst Alex seems to be a much stronger character - first person would've suited him more than the third, as it would've been much more interesting to get his thoughts and reactions instead of something more distant, thus weakening the impact his character has on the story.

Final Thoughts 

Overall, I liked this story. It was compelling and different enough to make me want to read more. Looking back over my review, it appears that I have spent more time bashing the book rather than praising it but I kid you not, it's definitely worth a read! :)

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles

Title: Perfect Chemistry
Author: Simone Elkeles
Genre: High school romance
Summary: On Goodreads
Pages: 360
Reviewing: World, structure, characterisation and relationships
Rating: 7/10

Take a good girl and a bad guy, throw them together in chemistry class, and what do you have? Sparks flying left, right and centre! With a tried and tested premise like this, you can't go wrong. Brittany's the perfect girl, in looks, grades and sports. Contrast that with Alex, a member of the Latino Blood gang who is known to dabble in guns, drugs and general badassery. And yet, both characters are more alike than they'd like to believe...

First up is the premise. I found the world building to be great ~ Simone paints two contrasting lives ever so well, and her descriptions are neither too much or too little, just enough for us to finish off the painting ourselves. This is a realistic novel, not sugar-coated in the slightest, and not afraid of dishing out the grit in the world. I can clearly see that there has been a lot of research done to make everything as authentic as it can be ~ be it from the interspersions of Spanish, to the little details of the different lifestyles, to the gang structures and turf wars...and it really does add another level to the story.

In terms of structure, we are told the story from two perspectives: Brittany and Alex. This is great as we get the inside scoop from both angles; how one acts and how the other reacts and the thoughts that accompany them both. Of course though, with a structure like this, it's just insanely obvious that there is no question at all as to whether or not they'll end up together, just how they get there. Which the author manages to convey interestingly enough!

I found both characters to be incredibly likeable, and definitely more real than a lot of other main characters I've come across in the genre. I was worried at first that I wouldn't be able to connect with Brittany, since she's made of riches and has it all (on the outside), but as the novel moved on, there was less focus on the externals and more focus on the internals, which definitely made me empathise with her more. Alex, on the other hand, never came across as badass as he or the author made him out to be ~ if that's intentional then kudos to the author. He had his no nonsense attitude, but his heart was definitely not made of stone from the small snippets of interaction we get with his mother, his brothers and with his best friend Paco, who is such an adorable dorkface!

Finally, onto the juicy bit ~ the heart of the novel, which is the relationship of course! Simone writes the sexual tension so well that I was feeling it all myself ~ all the longing, the increased heartbeats, the frustration of the characters not getting together when I want them to... Ahh, young love.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I thought this was a charming read. Whilst it didn't give me the adrenaline rush that other books *cough* Hunger Games *cough* does, I definitely enjoyed the sexual tension between the two leads... ;)