THE ETERNITY CURE (Blood of Eden, #2): Review

13581990The Eternity Cure (Blood of Eden, #2) by Julie Kagawa
Published by Harlequin Teen on April 30, 2013
Genres: young adult fantasy, paranormal, vampire fiction, post-apocalyptic fiction, young adult romance
Pages: 434
Format: Hardcover
Amazon Barnes & Noble | Goodreads | IndieBound

Rating: ★★★½


It’s been such a long time since I read this book that I probably won’t be able to give you such a detailed review for it as I could have given if I’d reviewed this sooner after I read it. But I promise I will try.

While The Eternity Cure is definitely not a static sequel (no “Middle Book Syndrome” here!), I do not feel it lived up to its predecessor. The plot was always progressing, but I felt that some of the characters weren’t, and the romance took a wrong turn down Cheesy Street somewhere. While we received more of an explanation about some things, I felt several of the things that showed potential in The Immortal Rules didn’t live up to said potential: the characters and the romance, mainly. I’ll be focusing more on those here than the other components I focused on in my review of  The Immortal Rules, just so you know.

The Characters

Allie was a character I felt I could root for in the first book. There, we saw her transformation into a vampire and her struggle to figure out what that meant for her in regards to morals and human life. Here, she’s continuing to do that, and it’s interesting to see her try to balance her human side with her vampire side and try to prevent one from eclipsing the other completely. I also admired how she was determined to save Kanin, her creator, even though she didn’t owe him that and she went through a lot of trouble to try and find him.

Kanin gets developed more in this book, which was really cool to see. We witness him at some of his very lowest points–struggling with guilt, grief, and his bloodthirsty vampire nature–and he’s a more nuanced, more vivid character for it. He’s probably one of my favorite characters in this series, and my heart ached for him and his struggle.

In order to find Kanin, Allie also teams up with her sire-brother, Jackal, whom we met in the first book. In The Eternity Cure, we get to see more of what makes him tick and how he deals with life as a vampire. He brought some much-needed comic relief to the book, and made me laugh out loud several times. I always enjoyed reading his banter with Allie, especially when Kanin was around.

Zeke pops up in this book, too, but instead of growing as a character, I think he remained pretty stagnant and one-note. This was an issue for me in the last book, too, but I said in my review of Book One that having a nicer, gentler character helped even things out a little bit. And it did, but, when all of the other characters were being developed and he was not, it was easier to noticed how underdeveloped he was. He got moody several times, too, which seemed really immature and added some unnecessary drama to the novel. It’s a shame, too, because I think he would have been my favorite character otherwise.

The Plot

As I said earlier, this is not a book where nothing happens. Allie’s journey to find Kanin is both eventful and exhilarating. Kagawa takes us deeper into her world via encounters with mole men, vampire hierarchs, and other dangers. And their encounters with vampires who have caught the new strain of Red Lung? Terrifying and gross. (I loved it. 😀 ) There is hardly ever a dull moment. This world is cutthroat and dangerous, and Kagawa further cements this fact in this novel.

That being said, there were a few predictable moments ((SPOILER)) like Zeke being the leader of the underground group and Stick being the vampire prince’s aide. But there were other moments that made me go “WHAT?!”  ((SPOILER)) like that ending with Zeke. GAH. ((END SPOILERS)) But other than that teeny tiny complaint, I was almost always on the edge of my seat as Allie and company were kicking butt.

 

The Romance

This is where things started to go downhill for me. In Immortal Rules,  I said I thought Allie and Zeke made a good couple, with a good balance of gentle and tough, vampire and human, dark and light. Here, though, they started to get a little angsty, and Allie created a lot of drama over yo-yoing between wanting to be with him but not wanting to hurt him. I understand the situation was kind of impossible–How can a human and a vampire ever be together without the former being hurt?–but I felt they could have done something more useful than freak out.

And Zeke to me was just really corny in this novel. He had lines like

Only death will take me away from you, vampire girl. … And even then, I’ll watch over you from wherever I end up.

as well as

You have my promise, vampire girl. I don’t intend to give up. I’ll fight beside you for as long as I can.

I mean, maybe those quotes actually aren’t so cheesy, but…vampire girl? Really? That’s the best you could do? To me, that nickname takes words that could have had weight and just melts them into cheese. And when that’s the dynamic between the heroine and her love interest and most of their interactions happen this way, it starts to feel fake and not too genuine.

Also, one last note: While I’m not totally opposed to swearing in a book, I don’t like a lot of it, and the characters’ liberal use of it here made me really uncomfortable–enough to warrant a lower rating. So, know that’s one of the factors that resulted in this book having a lower rating than it’s predecessor.

Overall: still action-packed, still gritty and gripping, but the romance is lacking and a little bland, and the quality of the book suffers as a result.

WiP Marathon #1: June 2016

Last report word count + chapter count/scene count:

Not applicable for this meme, but, according to my last WiP Wednesday post, the word count was 97, 986. There were 30 chapters total.

Current report WC + CC/ SC: 

Current word count is 99, 492 words (woohoo! It went up!), and current chapter count is 30 chapters.

WiP Issues This Month:

I really need to rewrite the first chapter, and the next five or six chapters as a result of that.

Also, there’s, like, no plot. It reminds me of that one line from Mr. Onus in Treasure Planet: “I see nothing! One great big stinking hunk of NOTHING!” :/

Onus

See? Even Mr. Onus is upset at the lack of things happening in my book’s plot.

So, I kind of have to work on that. I need to develop my villain more and raise the stakes, too. I have a few ideas for how to fix those issues, so hopefully I’ll be able to get on that ASAP.

What I learned this month in writing: 

Writing/Editing/Revising a novel isn’t always fun. Sometimes it’s tedious and exhausting and mind-numbing and really, really discouraging. But it’s still worth it, anyway.

What distracted me this month while writing: 

I was on a family road trip for a good two weeks this past month, so that definitely lessened the time I had to work on my manuscript. I’ve also been reading (both for school and for fun) a lot more than writing, which means I’ve made less progress in revisions and edits than I could have if I wouldn’t have been reading. (But Eclipse is boring enough that it might just send me back to editing, hahaha.)

Goal for next month: 

Rewriting the first chapter, building up my villain, and forming a cohesive plot. Tall orders, but with enough motivation, I think I can do it. I’m ready for you, July. (I hope.)

ACROSS THE UNIVERSE (Across the Universe, #1): Review

8235178Across the Universe (Across the Universe, #1) by Beth Revis
Published by Razorbill on January 11, 2011
Genres: young adult science fiction, science fiction and fantasy, young adult romance
Pages: 398
Format: Hardcover
Amazon Barnes & Noble | Goodreads | IndieBound

Rating: ★★★


Maybe it’s because of the amazingness that was Illuminae, but this book bored me. I couldn’t connect with any of the characters, I had a hard time caring about what was going on, and the story seemed pretty lackluster to me.

The World-building

For the most part, I found Godspeed to be intriguing. It was interesting to explore the various parts of the ship with Amy and see how so many people could survive so deep into space. The way the society on this ship functions is cohesive and different from other sci-fi books I’ve read (though I haven’t read many like this), which is good.

The levels of leadership were also unique and full of potential. I like the idea of having an “Eldest” as the leader, and then having “Elder” as his apprentice; the names sound cool and different to me, and it makes the positions of power easy to distinguish. It’s cool how, even so young, Elder is destined to be the leader of the ship and learning how to maintain it and take care of its passengers.

However, the idea of “the season” irked me, and just felt really weird and awkward. For a place that seems so technologically advanced, it seemed very bestial and uncivilized. My reaction was very similar to Amy’s: shocked and grossed out.

The Characters

Reading two different points of view added a dimension to this book that couldn’t have been there otherwise, but I found Elder’s viewpoint held my interest much more than Amy’s did. To me, Amy was whiny and on the bland side, and, while I didn’t hate her, she wasn’t exactly a memorable character, either. She was a typical teenager, only she was too typical.

Elder caught my attention a lot more, for some reason. His struggle and journey of learning how to manage the ship and the people on it was fascinating to me. Throughout the book, he’s learning how to make big decisions and think for himself and do what he feels is for the greater good, even if others disagree. Seeing his growth in these areas and in knowledge was something I thoroughly enjoyed.

I wish I could say I enjoyed our villains, as well, but unfortunately I found them to be very one-note and cartoony. They had a ton of potential, but it was never fully realized, and I think the mystery aspect of the book suffered for it.

There were a few other pleasant surprises (like Harley) and several unexpected twists in the character department, but overall, I felt this was the area that needed the most work in the book.

 

The Romance

There actually wasn’t a lot of romance in this book up until the very end, so if you like your characters’ love lives in the background of your science fiction books, you might appreciate this. Most of the romance here was Elder pining for Amy (though not in a mushy way, thank God) and learning how to relate to the only girl his age on the entire ship. It was nothing to write home about, but it was okay, I guess.

In short, though there were some aspects of this book I enjoyed and many I saw potential in, I found Across the Universe to be too underwhelming and vanilla for my tastes for me to continue on with the series. But I wouldn’t be opposed to reading something else from Miss Revis (an Elder novella? *wink, wink*) in the future.

 

Mood & Music Monday: 6/27/16

Welcome to this week’s Mood and Music Monday! I missed last week, but I’m hoping to get back on track this week. 🙂

Mood and Music Monday is a weekly meme I’ve started, wherein I’ll post a song and talk about how it relates to my day/week, as well as a few other things. (And, in case anyone’s wondering, this meme has no relation to Lauren’s [from Always Me] “Music Mondays.”) Feel free to participate and to leave a link to your posts down in the comments!

Here’s the update for this week.

SONG(S) OF THE WEEK

What are you listening to? This week, I’ve been listening to “American Money” by BØRNS. It played on my Tove Lo Pandora Radio one day, and I fell in love with its sound. Some are calling BØRNS the male Lana Del Rey, and it’s easy to see why. I’ve also been listening to “Heathens,” the new single by twenty one pilots (which is epic, because it’s twenty one pilots and everything they do is epic and they are my babies and I’m fangirling and I should stop now but IT’S AMAZING AND YOU SHOULD LISTEN TO IT), and “Good Grief,” Bastille’s new single.

Speaking of which, a lot of bands I like seem to be putting out new stuff. Coincidence, or nah?

What are you reading? I’ve put Eclipse on hold so I could get to other books that needed to be taken back to library. I haven’t touched The Adventures of  Huckleberry Finn in a week or so because I’m trying to balance recreational reading with assigned reading, and it’s not working too well, eheheh. Right now, I’m almost finished (about 80 more pages to go) with The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness, the first in the Chaos Walking Trilogy, and I’m really enjoying it. I’ve been meaning to read this trilogy for a long time, and a lot of my friends highly recommend it, so I’m hoping all three of them will be good reads. 🙂

What are you drinking? Water, because I’m not an exciting person.

Any goals for this week?  Reading more Huck Finn, finishing Eclipse, working on my book, and (maybe?) start reading another one. We’ll see how it goes!

How about you?

  • What song(s) are you listening to today?
  • What is your current read? Are you enjoying it?
  • Do you have any plans or goals for this week?

CHARM & STRANGE: Review

16045088Charm & Strange by Stephanie Kuehn
Published by St. Martin’s Griffin on June 11, 2013
Genres: young adult, contemporary, paranormal, mental health/mental illness
Pages: 216
Format: Hardcover
Amazon Barnes & Noble | Goodreads | IndieBound

Rating: ★★½


I have to say, I’m pretty disappointed. All the reviews I saw for this book were glowing. They promised a heartbreaking, mind-bending, haunting read. Instead, I got a confusing one.

Several reviewers have cautioned that it’s best to go into this book not knowing too much, but, given that I was confused even knowing one of the big twists (it’s given away in the categories the book is cataloged under on the back side of the title page), I’m not sure I can say the same. This is a dark book about dark subjects, and I feel I can’t review it honestly without giving away some major, major spoilers. So, be warned, folks. There are massive spoilers ahead. Also, trigger warning for anyone who is sensitive to dark topics. 

This story is told non-linearly. It’s split into two different sections (Before and After) and has chapters listed as “Matter” and “Antimatter,” which deal with Win’s life now, and his childhood lived as Drew, respectively. Through these “flashbacks,” we get glimpses into the traumatic childhood Andrew has experiences. We meet his older brother Keith, who comforts him like nobody else can (most of the time) and his little sister, Siobhan, whom Andrew adores. In the “Antimatter” chapters, we experience an Andrew (Win, as the other characters call him) on edge and aware of his own impending breakdown. The chapters are short, and keep the book moving quickly.

However, I feel the length of the book has both pros and cons, the latter being that I didn’t get to connect with the characters very well. Jordan and Win’s other friend whose name I’ve already forgotten had great potential to be developed as interesting, unique characters, but I felt they remained flat in favor of more flashbacks. Had the book been longer, this might not have been an issue.

I also felt the book’s length meant I had more questions than answers at the end. I know this is a psychological thriller and that being in the dark is kind of the norm for that genre, but I felt it was a little too confusing. For example:

((MASSIVE SPOILERS)) Was it just Andrew and Keith who were sexually abused by their father, or was it Siobhan, as well? I would have appreciated if it would have been stated more directly in the book for the reader’s sake; otherwise, we’re left to guess that it was sexual abuse.

Also, how did the three of them come to the conclusion that committing group suicide was the only answer? Whose idea was that? How on Earth did they convince Siobhan? The suicide attempt was talked about very briefly and then never really mentioned again. Like with the abuse, I feel a little bit more explanation is necessary for why they saw this as the only way out. It would’ve helped me connect with the characters more and helped their actions make more sense.

((END SPOILERS)) So, overall, the writing was good, but not good enough to give this book three stars. Though I have to give this book credit for dealing with tough topics, I feel it was too short and too vague and confusing for me to really understand what was going on in it, and I can’t appreciate a book if I can’t understand it.

WiP Wednesday: 6/22/16

Hello, and welcome to this week’s #WiPWednesday post! #WiPWednesday is a weekly meme started by Brigid Gorry-Hines from Wordfare. Every Wednesday, I’m supposed to post an update about my WiP (Work in Progress), including word count and where I’m at in writing/revising it. Hopefully, doing this meme will keep me motivated to continue working on my WiP.

So let’s get started! I’ll try to fill out these categories as best as I can.

WIP:  The L.S. M.S.

Writing or Revising? 

Still revising.

Current Word Count: 97, 986

One more than last time.

How It’s Going:

I’ve been reading other books a lot more than my own work, but I did write a scene I think I can use in the next draft, which makes me excited. I’ve rewritten the scene three times now trying to get it right, and I think this third try has produced a(n almost) perfect blend of the two. 🙂

Goal for Next Week:  

Still to finish typing up chapter summaries and get started on those bigger revisions. Thanks to Pinterest, they aren’t looking as scary anymore. Let’s hope that mindset lasts!

PRODIGY (Legend, #2): REVIEW

prodigy_marie_lu_bookProdigy (Legend, #2)  by Marie Lu
Published by Putnam Juvenile on January 29, 2013
Genres: young adult, dystopian fiction, young adult romance, science fiction
Pages: 371
Format: Hardcover
Amazon Barnes & Noble | Goodreads | Indiebound

Rating: ★★★★


Normally, I notice this pattern with dystopian trilogies. If you’ve read enough of them, I’m sure you’ve noticed the pattern, too.

In book one, the hero/heroine lives a bleak, normal, miserable life in their world until he/she discovers a horrifying secret about their totalitarian government/society, which causes them to rethink everything they’ve known about the world around them and rebel.

In book two, they join the resistance, usually becoming its new face, and inspire the citizens of that society to revolt against their government in the name of freedom. Usually, the second book is a hit or a miss, mainly because there is little to no diversion from this formula. There’s almost always a love interest involved, who also serves as a convenient ransom for the government to use against the character should things go wrong, too.

I figured this book would be no different. But that’s where I was wrong.

Because, in all truth, Prodigy really surprised me. It took the storyline everyone reading YA dystopian fiction is familiar with by now and tied that storyline into a bunch of complicated knots. Untangling everything was fascinating.

I’ll separate this review into the same categories as I did with Legend, just for continuity’s sake. So, here we go. 😀

The World-building

While I felt Legend‘s world-building was its biggest flaw and I still would have liked more explanation about how this society functions and how it came to be, I felt we saw a different side of the Republic in this book. In this book, there is no “good” or “bad” side, and it’s very interesting to watch the characters come to terms with that, even as they bind themselves to one side or another with their promises.

Elector Anden, in particular, was a highlight of this book for me, not necessarily because of his character, but because he’s so different from all the other government leaders in various dystopian books. Not only was he kind, but he’s also not selfish and power-hungry, a welcome deviation from a path that’s been beaten to death by villains like President Snow from The Hunger Gamesand Jeanine Matthews from Divergent. He wants the best for his country and his people, and seeing him try to achieve that in the midst of the Republic’s unrest was fascinating. It added a lot more depth to his character.

SPOILER: Also, I loved how the Patriots turn out to be sponsored by the Republic itself, and how just because the Patriots are fighting for change in the Republic doesn’t automatically make them the good guys. That was genius. It added a lot more depth and realism to the Republic as a whole, in my opinion.

The Characters

June and Day both really grew in this book. Both of them—especially Day—are still scarred by their government, and seeing them process that trauma instead of it being glossed over was both believable and all the more a reason I was rooting for them. It was amazing to see them grow from extraordinary teens into leaders interested in the good and safety of themselves and their people. They still read like older teens than they’re supposed to be (I think they’re both sixteen here), but this didn’t bother me as much as it did in the first book.

On another note, there were still a few instances where they were eerily on the same page and things were a little too convenient, but, again, this didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the book as much as it did in the first one.

The Romance

June and Day’s relationship takes on a different dimension in this book, which was really cool to see. They’re great separately, but they really kick butt when they’re together. I loved how their devotion to each other never detracted from their development as separate characters. Instead, it enhanced each one’s personality. Their age and the time span of their relationship was still an issue for me here, but not as much as in Legend.

SPOILER: Also, two love triangles? Whoa. Normally, that would make me seethe, but here, it wasn’t too much of an issue, maybe because I felt it didn’t overpower the rest of the book.

So, all in all, a definite improvement on the first and a great addition to the trilogy. (Probably my favorite book in it, actually.)