Posts tagged ‘simonandschuster’

December 31st, 2010

Wither by Lauren DeStefano; Review

by Madeleine Rex

Title: Wither

Author: Lauren DeStefano

Published: March 22nd, 2011

Number of Pages: 368

Rating: 5/5

Official Review:

With a premise that is extraordinary and unique, particularly among YA literature, Wither stands out on the shelf. However, it’s not until one picks it up and reads that one realizes what a mind-boggling, intriguing treasure it is. Rhine’s story is of love, both voluntary and not, hate, confusion, and passion. I was swept away in her world, her predicament, her feelings and worries. There’s no doubt that Wither wowed me – and there’s no doubt it will hypnotize many others.

Synopsis:

What if you knew exactly when you would die?

Thanks to modern science, every human being has become a ticking genetic time bomb—males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out.

When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden’s genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape—to find her twin brother and go home.

But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden’s eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant Rhine is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limited time she has left. [From Goodreads]

Review:

What a ridiculously original and intriguing book! The premise itself is… unique and disturbing, but indubitably irresistible. I am so very, very grateful the opportunity to read an ARC (as were a friend of mine and her sister…).

Here’s the deal, this book is so fantastically interesting that I can hardly imagine anyone being able to put it down easily. The idea is simultaneously horrifying and surreal (in a, um, nightmarish way). Even during the slower parts of the book, I was desperate to know how the story would unfold – or if it even could. The darned thing was so twisted, and my feelings toward actions, characters, and what I hoped would happen were all over the place. I knew what I should feel, and it tended to be at odds with what was actually running through my head. This book makes your mind reel.

Rhine (first of all, what a stellar name!) is an ideal main character. Nonirritating, thoughtful, loving, naturally worried but not constantly overanxious, smart, clever, funny, and full of weaknesses that show that, not only is she human, but she has a beating heart just like the rest of us. Her confusion mirrored my own. Her fears and needs and wants were just what you’d expect, and her actions were all in character. Ultimately, though, the thing that made her awesome was that she could see beneath people’s skins, forgive them or dislike them, but treat them as they deserved – not necessarily as she wanted to treat them. I loved that despite everything, her visions and opinions weren’t always set in stone, but willing to change should change be necessary. She wasn’t too obstinate or inflexible. She gave second chances.

The other wives are fascinating as well. The dynamics of their situation are certainly unusual, but to them it’s surprisingly… unsurprising. Each one of them has a different take on the situation, their new home, and, for that matter, their new husband. The bond the wives share is one I think all girls or women can relate to. They are the most strong as a group, they work off each others’ energies, thoughts, and strength. They rely on each other as I would guess sisters do (I don’t have one). Essentially, it was a both a touching and heart-wrenching element of the novel.

Linden – the husband – is an incredible character! I never knew what to think of him. With every moment we spent with him, with every comment made by any of the characters regarding him, my opinion changed. Originally, his name made me cringe. He was evil. He was sick. Yet, as his character was revealed I came to “enjoy his company” and yearn to learn more about him. I can’t say anything more without giving too much away!

Gabriel is another key factor in the novel (of course). Though I thought he was sweet and learned to respect him, and though I was excited whenever he made an appearance in the book, I never felt close to him. I never quite felt like I had fallen in love with him – which is a bummer. Interestingly, I thought it was Rhine’s relationship with Linden that developed more and was the more intriguing of the two. I was far more anxious and excited when Linden entered the room.

The atmosphere was fascinating, as it was a mix of the present, future, and past. There were things that we definitely have not achieved technologically as of yet, but the society seemed to be very 1920s-like. I loved living in the world of this book for a short while (I read it way too quickly!), despite the fact that it’s horrifying. There were simply so many characters, settings, plot and character twists, and things to admire about this novel that I cannot wait for the sequel!

Ultimately, Wither is an astounding debut novel with incredible situations, moving scenes, terrific writing, and fascinating characters. I foresee many positive reviews in its future, as it is mystifying.

Thanks, so, so, much to Simon & Schuster for the ARC!

October 10th, 2010

Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick; Review

by Madeleine Rex

Title: Crescendo

Author: Becca Fitzpatrick

Published: October 19th, 2010

Number of Pages: 432

Rating: 4/5

Official Review*:

Crescendo is a gripping, stomach-clenching sequel that is bound to ensnare readers – lovers and non-lovers of Hush, Hush alike – in Becca Fitzpatrick’s unique series. Though I found things to be desired in the main character, Nora, the supporting cast of wildly varying characters does a fantastic job of moving the story forward smoothly – not that the plot needs much of a boost. With a mystery full of an abundance of secret agendas and misleading clues, this book will keep readers on their feet. Or their noses in their books, for that matter.

Synopsis:

The sequel to the New York Times Best selling phenomenon, Hush, Hush!

Nora should have known her life was far from perfect. Despite starting a relationship with her guardian angel, Patch (who, title aside, can be described as anything but angelic), and surviving an attempt on her life, things are not looking up. Patch is starting to pull away, and Nora can’t figure out if it’s for her best interest or if his interest has shifted to her arch-enemy Marcie Millar. Not to mention that Nora is haunted by images of her father and she becomes obsessed with finding out what really happened to him that night he left for Portland and never came home.

The farther Nora delves into the mystery of her father’s death, the more she comes to question if her Nephilim blood line has something to do with it as well as why she seems to be in danger more than the average girl. Since Patch isn’t answering her questions and seems to be standing in her way, she has to start finding the answers on her own. Relying too heavily on the fact that she has a guardian angel puts Nora at risk again and again. But can she really count on Patch, or is he hiding secrets darker than she can even imagine? [From Goodreads]

Review:

As many of you know, I had a heterogeneous mixture of feelings (can you tell I’ve had too much school?) concerning Hush, Hush. I liked this, I didn’t like that, but I sorta did and sorta didn’t like that… You get the gist of it, and I must say that, though I enjoyed the book immensely and believe it’s an improvement, I have similar feelings in regard to Crescendo.

First of all, I want to repeat that this book is an improvement. I read it faster (and not simply because I had a deadline). I read it eagerly and happily. There’s no doubt that it’s incredibly gripping and a whole lot of fun to predict (because a majority of the time, you’re wrong).

On a gloomier note, I had some issues with character – just as I did with Hush, Hush. Interestingly, I have issues with different characters. Take Nora, for example. You can tell from my review that I was very fond of Nora as I read the first book. She was refreshingly nonirritating and smart. I believed her only flaw to be choosing Patch out of the mess of men out there (and, no, I’m not comparing men to clothes strewn across the floor). Now, after having read the second book in the series, I like Patch more than Nora.

Oh, yes. I said it. I have time and time again declared that I am not a fan of Patch, despite my adoration of boys with weird P names. Throughout book one, he came across as selfish and murderous to me (sexy, right?). I even wrote a blog post on the ridiculous relationships in some YA books. In Crescendo, I had no problems with him whatsoever. Being who I am, I was uncomfortable with some of what they did, but I wasn’t too upset with them for that reason. Patch was more sensitive, likable, friendly… human (Irony Alert!), and Nora was quite pathetic (for want of a better word). Not only was she pining after Patch for what seemed like forever and playing rebound on a not-so-hot (I’m not talking physically) guy, but her obsession with what was happening with Patch and her seemingly insurmountable jealousy drove me insane.

Despite what how it might seem, I’m not trying to discourage you from reading the book – or the series, for that matter. Most definitely read them. The fantastical elements and the world of the angels is well built and intriguing. Plus, Vee, Nora’s friend, makes just about anything worth it.

On a more plot-driven level, when Nora wasn’t freaking out over Patch, quite a fabulous and suspenseful storyline reeked havoc on my sanity and my ability to put down my book for fourth period choir. Nora’s dad and his murder play an enormous role in this sequel. Becca toys with me by leading me to believe one thing and then proving me wrong over and over, thereby keeping me on my toes and eager to see in what way she’d surprise me next. In addition, she includes things and details that seem minor or insignificant that prove to be integral, and vice versa. The book reads like a good suspense/thriller movie in this way as your mind jumps from possibility to possibility, adding new ones… crossing out others… until, finally, the truth is revealed.

And that truth is pretty disturbing. I can easily imagine people holding their breath as they read the climax, only more terrifying due to the atmosphere. The book reminds me of what I learned in English earlier this year as we reviewed plot structure. Exposition – Narrative Hook – Rising Action – Climax – Falling Action – Resolution.

And what if I told you that there’s virtually no falling? That the end is just as page-turning as the book leading up to the climax? What if I told you that there will be absolutely no way you’ll be able to finish this book without pining after the third in the same ridiculous way Nora pined after Patch? (And, in case you were wondering, I find pining after books and obsession with books far more acceptable that pining after boys. Also: Please excuse my ridiculous overuse of the word “pine.”)

I most certainly recommend this book to lovers and like-ers of Hush, Hush. I think it will be fascinating to hear people’s varying opinions. I advise you to reread the first book in the series before reading Crescendo if it’s been a while since you read it. I know it took me a while to remember all that happened in book one.

Ultimately, Crescendo is a fast-paced sequel with an ability to make you queasy, eager, and possibly a little obsessed.

*Thanks to S&S for the ARC!

Everyone check out Traveling ARC Tours! Thanks to them for this book!