Monday, February 27, 2012

Review: Everneath by Brodi Ashton

Title: Everneath
Author: Brodi Ashton
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Genre: YA, Paranormal
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis: Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath, where immortals Feed on the emotions of despairing humans. Now she's returned- to her old life, her family, her friends- before being banished back to the underworld... this time forever.

She has six months before the Everneath comes to claim her, six months for good-byes she can't find the words for, six months to find redemption, if it exists.

Nikki longs to spend these months reconnecting with her boyfriend, Jack, the one person she loves more than anything. But there's a problem: Cole, the smoldering immortal who first enticed her to the Everneath, has followed Nikki to the mortal world. And he'll do whatever it takes to bring her back- this time as his queen.

As Nikki's time grows short and her relationships begin slipping from her grasp, she's forced to make the hardest decision of her life: find a way to cheat fate and remain on the Surface with Jack or return to the Everneath and become Cole's...

Review: "Everneath" is a new addition to the YA paranormal genre, with a focus on Greek mythology, as well as the entire concept of an underworld (in both Greek and Egyptian myth).

 The story centers on Nikki Beckett, who vanishes for 100 years into a place known as the Everneath - where immortal beings feed off of human emotions and basically leave behind a shell of the person. Those 100 years are actually 6 months, in the real world, and Nikki returns to make amends, say goodbye to the people she loves, and to maybe reignite her relationship with her boyfriend, Jack.

Nikki's return is bittersweet. Not only has it been assumed that her disappearance was due to severe drug problems but also, there is an expiration of time that she has until she is banished into the underworld permanently - another 6 months.

The book immediately drew me into the story. I certainly found myself holding my breath as I read Nikki's time ticking away. It was also really interesting to have the back and forth narrative that explained how Nikki even got to the point where she was taken under. Cole, the bad-boy supernatural being in this story, was actually pretty likeable and a perfect contrast to Jack. I thought the entire concept and story moved along really well and, most importantly, it was hard to put down.

Ultimately though, there were a few minor issues that irked me and thus had me wavering between a 3 and 4 star rating for this book. One of these was about Nikki's treatment of her family upon her return. I know the book is about love and all that jazz, but really, it was so focused on that romantic aspect that it Nikki came off a little bit uncaring to her father and brother. It irked me that Jack was really the ONLY thought that kept her alive - especially when she has an innocent little brother and a father who really seems to care for her, and who also just suffered a major loss.

Overall, I had to go with a 4-star rating because the book truly captured me and I'm just dying to read the rest of the series to find out what happens next. I'd highly recommend this one to all YA paranormal lovers.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Review: Erebos by Ursula Poznanski

Title: Erebos
Author: Ursula Poznanski
Publisher: Annick Press
Genre: YA
Rating: 3/5

Synopsis: An intelligent computer game with a disturbing agenda.

When 16-year-old Nick receives a package containing the mysterious computer game Erebos, he wonders if it will explain the behavior of his classmates, who have been secretive lately. Players of the game must obey strict rules: always play alone, never talk about the game, and never tell anyone your nickname.

Curious, Nick joins the game and quickly becomes addicted. But Erebos knows a lot about the players and begins to manipulate their lives. When it sends Nick on a deadly assignment, he refuses and is banished from the game.

Now unable to play, Nick turns to a friend for help in finding out who controls the game. The two set off on a dangerous mission in which the border between reality and the virtual world begins to blur. This utterly convincing and suspenseful thriller originated in Germany, where it has become a runaway bestseller.

Review: Nick Dunmore starts noticing his friends are acting strangely. They're skipping school, acting super tired and generally suspicious. What's causing the change is an underground video game called "Erebos." There are basically two rules to playing "Erebos" - You MUST play alone and you cannot talk about the game to anyone at all. Lastly, you only get one chance to play the game so you better make it count (no unlimited lives here).

When Nick receives a copy of the game DVD, he quickly succumbs to it. As the game slowly begins crossing lines between what is play and what is reality, Nick is thrust straight into an almost "secret society" of players. To excel in the game, he is forced to lie and perform seemingly odd tasks in the outside world. What he's not aware of is that he is part of a tangled web of deceit that comes to a tipping point at the book's climax.

The first half of the book moved extremely slowly for me. There are drawn out descriptions of game play that are really boring and end up being not at all important to the end. As a person who plays "World of Warcraft" religiously, I had a really, really hard time believing just how addicted people got to this game and what they were willing to do in the outside world to succeed within it. It was pretty ridiculous that a game can have so much control over your life. It was also really difficult for me to believe that people obeyed the two rules mentioned above so strictly. I mean, it's a game - played by teenagers.

Along the same line of disbelief, the actual level of sophistication that this game had was also completely ridiculous. Maybe I would have been more keen on believing it if the book was set in the future - but definitely not present day! The things that the game is capable of knowing are just mind-boggling and that, to me, makes it too unbelievable to be effective. The level of artificial intelligence displayed in the game is a long, long time away.

The second half of the book picked up a lot more, but when the final reveal came I was rather...disappointed. I'm not sure what I was expecting out of the end but it was something way more epic than what actually happened. It would have been nice to have everything tied together with a greater dose of realism.

Overall, the book's concept was a great one but the execution was not to my liking.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Book Funk!

I've been in a kind-of book funk recently - which explains the lack of updates until today. Currently, I am reading a book for review - Erebos (linked to on the right-hand side) - and it's not that its bad but for some reason, I'm not as sucked into it as I thought I would be and thus, its become really difficult for me to pick it up when there is something else I'd rather be doing. I will definitely go into that more in my review, but yes. I am still here - just stuck on a book.


Review: Friends With Boys by Faith Erin Hicks

Title: Friends With Boys
Author: Faith Erin Hicks
Publisher: First Second
Genre: YA, Graphic Novel
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis: A coming-of-age tale with a spooky twist!

Maggie McKay hardly knows what to do with herself. After an idyllic childhood of homeschooling with her mother and rough-housing with her older brothers, it’s time for Maggie to face the outside world, all on her own. But that means facing high school first. And it also means solving the mystery of the melancholy ghost who has silently followed Maggie throughout her entire life. Maybe it even means making a new friend—one who isn’t one of her brothers.

Funny, surprising, and tender, Friends with Boys is a pitch perfect YA graphic novel full of spooky supernatural fun

Review: I wasn't sure what to expect from "Friends With Boys," but what I got was exactly what I needed - something to break me out of my lack of reading slump. Not to mention, the slump was broken in the best way possible - with a cute, refreshing, quick read that put a big ol' smile on my face.

The story centers around Maggie, who is starting her first year of high school after being home schooled. As in any "coming of age" stories, there is just the perfect blend of anxiety and excitement of what high school has to offer - with the cliques, the spots to avoid, and the places to be. As Maggie learned the ropes, I was totally brought back to that first day of high-school, myself - to the point where there were definitely a few small butterflies in my stomach.

The drawings are super adorable and both pictures and text work so well together that it really made for such a fun, interesting read. The story itself is really cute but, unfortunately, leaves a lot of questions unanswered. It definitely sets itself up for a sequel, which is why I could give this book only 4 stars and not 5. There is a lot of setup and not enough resolution for my tastes. Overall though, I truly would recommend this book to readers of all ages, but especially those who are on that cusp of being a "real" teenager and entering high school. What a cute, little read!