Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Book Blog #204: Reborn by C.C. Hunter

Title: Reborn
Author: C.C. Hunter
# of Pages: 400 (paperback)
Genre: YA, Paranormal, Romance
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Synopsis: For Della Tsang, Shadow Falls isn't just a camp: it's home. As a vampire who's never fit in with her human family, it's the one place she can truly be herself. But when a mysterious new guy arrives at camp, Della’s whole world is thrown into turmoil. Chase is a vampire with secrets, who knows more than he’s telling. But the more time she spends with him, the more she begins to trust this attractive stranger—and feel drawn to him. But romance is the last thing she wants—as she keeps telling Steve, the hunky shapeshifter who won’t stop trying to win her heart. And if Della isn't careful, he just might succeed.  When a new case puts everyone she cares about in danger, Della’s determined to do everything she can to save them . . . even if it means teaming up with Steve and Chase, who leave her more confused than ever. With their lives on the line, will Della and her friends survive—with their hearts intact?
Review: This is one of those books where I know I should give it a lower rating. Why am I such a sucker for paranormal-romance?

It's been years since I read and fell in love with the Shadow Falls series. I purchased this book right around when I finished the main series because I loved Kylie's story and couldn't get enough of the characters. However, Reborn, along with many other books I purchased around the same time, have been sitting on my shelf for too long and my taste in books has changed. After just reading the Savage Drift and not enjoying it, I was concerned I would have a similar experience with Reborn.

The problems with Reborn could also be applied to every book in the Shadow Falls series. I believe I failed to mention it in my reviews for Whispers at Moonrise and Chosen at Nightfall, but most of the characters like to censor themselves despite them all being in their late teens. I'm not saying that all teens curse (but let's be honest, a lot of them do), but it would be much more natural and age appropriate if the characters actually cussed instead of saying "B with an itch." Hunter may have avoided including a lot of cursing in her books to broaden her potential audience, however, not censoring words such as "damn" and "hell" is enough to deter readers who care about strong language from reading the book. If Hunter was uncomfortable with putting cursing or using the correct terminology for reproductive organs in her book, she could have omitted it completely, and the dialogue would have sound much more natural than it does now.

It is very important for the reader to have already read the Shadow Falls series; most of the supernatural concepts are better explained in the original series than in Reborn. This series definitely cannot stand alone. As far as originality, it does not seem that different from the typical paranormal-romance book; two guys who like one girl (Della). Cliché and predictable, Reborn was giving me every reason to rate it two stars. However, there's something about the way Hunter writes the romantic scenes that makes the book addictive (halfway through the book, I told myself there was no way I was going to continue reading this series, but by the time I finished, I found myself wanting to know more about Della's love life even though deep down I already know Della is going to end up with Chase). There are even times when Kylie, Miranda, and/or Della are giving relationship advice to each other that seem overly abstract and unrealistic, but despite those poorly written segments, I still found enjoyment in reading Della's story.

I would recommend this book to those in their early teens (I believe this is Hunter's target audience), and only to those who have already read the Shadow Falls series. At this current time, I don't think I will read the rest of the series but it's not entirely out of the question.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Book Blog #203: Savage Drift by Emmy Laybourne

Title: Savage Drift
Author: Emmy Laybourne
# of Pages: 305 (paperback)
Genre: YA, Science Fiction, Dystopian
Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Synopsis: It's over. Dean, Alex, and the other survivors of the Monument 14 have escaped the disaster zone and made it to the safety of a Canadian refugee camp. Some of the kids have been reunited with their families, and everyone is making tentative plans for the future. And then, Niko learns that his lost love, Josie, has survived! Or is it? For Josie, separated from the group and presumed dead, life has gone from bad to worse. Trapped in a terrible prison camp with other exposed O’s and traumatized by her experiences, she has given up all hope of rescue. Meanwhile, scared by the government’s unusual interest in her pregnancy, Astrid—along with her two protectors, Dean and Jake—joins Niko on his desperate quest to be reunited with Josie.
Review: I read the first two books of the Monument 14 trilogy almost three years ago. In this time, not only have I forgotten most of the characters and the whole plot, but also my love, and the main stream audience's love, for dystopian science fiction has drastically dwindled. However, since I owned a copy of this book for some reason or another three years ago (I didn't like the preceding two book very much - what made me think this one would be any better?), I decided to read it regardless if I'd be able to follow the story or not.

What I do applaud Laybourne for is how quickly she was able to summarize the plot of Monument 14 and Sky on Fire. At the very beginning of the book, Laybourne includes Alex's letter to the editors of a newspaper which succinctly retells the story of how the survivors of the Monument 14 made it to the Canadian camp and conveniently lists all of the main and supporting characters' names and ages. While I would otherwise find this method irritatingly sloppy, I appreciated the refresher and how Laybourne craftily incorporated the letter into the plot.

More characters are introduced than were necessary, especially the younger children. Characters such as Chloe, Caroline, and Henry, the children who were part of the trilogy since book one could have easily been condensed into one character. The same could be said of Heather, Aiden, and Freddy; one child would have been sufficient in revealing Josie's cold yet protective nature. Developing so many different characters was overkill.

While every teenager mentally develops at their own pace, I expected more maturity from the older characters, especially Dean and Jake. Their constant bickering may have meant to come off as childish, but I was never sympathetic with either of them, only annoyed. I would rather have felt Dean's frustrations with having to deal with the loser baby father hanging around his girlfriend, but Laybourne made his narrative sound immature and even a little creepy (he wanted to play with Astrid's bellybutton? Seriously?).

Laybourne is constantly using labels to describe side characters: a Latino man, a Chinese nurse, a man with a "Jersey-gangster" accent. I've never been so aware of the race/ethnicity/origin of the characters in a book until now. Laybourne uses these stereotypes to shortcut her way through describing insignificant characters even though most of the time these labels are not even relevant to the character's development nor the story. It would be better if Laybourne left these details up for interpretation.

Most reader who have made it to the third book already like Laybourne's writing style. To these people, I would recommend this book to because from what I can tell, this story is just as enjoyable as the others. To those who are still on the fence, if you are interested in a low-level YA read that is short and shallow, this is your book.