Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Review of Jellicoe Road

At age eleven, Taylor Markham was abandoned by her mother. At fourteen, she ran away from boarding school, only to be tracked down and brought back by a mysterious stranger. Now seventeen, Taylor's the reluctant leader of her school's underground community, whose annual territory war with the Townies and visiting Cadets has just begun. This year, though, the Cadets are led by Jonah Griggs, and Taylor can't avoid his intense gaze for long. To make matters worse, Hannah, the one adult Taylor trusts, has disappeared. But if Taylor can piece together the clues Hannah left behind, the truth she uncovers might not just settle her past, but also change her future.
[from Goodreads]
Rating:  4.5 out of 5 boxes
Target Audience:  Contemporary fans and some of those who aren't
High point:  The slow, careful exposition
Low point:  When it ended and there wasn't any more :-(
Reader maturity: 13+

Jellicoe Road was amazing! It's rare that a book lives up to the hype (5+ years of it!), especially when it's as polarizing as Jellicoe Road. It seems that bloggers either loved it or hated it. I loved it!

A marriage of simplicity and complexity exists in Jellicoe Road. Taylor is a straightforward character; she says what she means, both to the reader and to her fellow characters. At a distance, she and her story are simple, showing us everything we need to know, but up close, the clean lines of her story begin to tangle and we learn, along with Taylor, that there is much she doesn't know. Melina Marchetta exposes events of 20 years prior with enticing patience, giving the reader just enough information to hazard a guess at a theory over and over again until the end, when all is revealed in the same intentional way. Jellicoe Road satisfied my need for interesting characters, complicated relationships and a tantalizing mystery (or three).

Taylor is one of my favorite YA characters yet. She's bold and no-nonsense with glimmers of compassion and kindness shining through. Her character evolves throughout the novel, yet manages to stay true to the Taylor of Chapter One. She's not like me; I didn't find her "relatable" per se, but she's the kind of book character I'd want to befriend if she came to life.

There are several romantic relationships in Jellicoe Road, and they're as sparse and perfect as the rest of the storytelling. There's no insta-love or even insta-like, just friendships that blossom into something more.

Melina Marchetta masters the art of exposition in Jellicoe Road, from the mysterious identities of The Brigadier and The Hermit to the whereabouts of Taylor's mother. Every word is deliberate, as well as carefully placed. Jellicoe Road is a book I can't wait to revisit. As soon as I finished it, I immediately wanted to read it again!

Title:  Jellicoe Road
Author:  Melina Marchetta
Genre:   YA Contemporary
Year:   2006

Book Source: Won from Words on Paper

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Supernatural Saturday Review: Mercy (Mercy #1)

A fallen angel haunted by her past. Yearning for her immortal beloved. Forever searching for answers.Who will show her Mercy?

Mercy has lost herself. She can’t count how many times she’s “woken up” in a new body, and assumed a new life, only to move on again and again. During the day she survives in the human world on instinct and at night her dreams are haunted by him. Mercy’s heart would know him anywhere. But her memory refuses to cooperate.

But this time is different. When Mercy wakes up she meets Ryan, an eighteen year old reeling from the loss of his twin sister who was kidnapped two years ago. Everyone else has given up hope, but Ryan believes his sister is still alive. Using a power she doesn’t fully comprehend, Mercy realizes that Ryan is right. His sister is alive and together they can find her. For the first time since she can remember, Mercy has a purpose; she can help. So she doesn’t understand why the man in her dreams cautions her not to interfere. But as Ryan and Mercy come closer to solving the dark mystery of his sister’s disappearance, danger looms just one step behind.

Will Mercy be able to harness her true self and extraordinary power in time?
[from Goodreads]
Rating:  3 out of 5 boxes
Target Audience:  Paranormal fans
High point:  The body switch
Low point:  The chapters between when I figured out the mystery and when it's officially revealed
Reader maturity: 15+

Mercy is the kind of book that unfolds slowly, giving the reader information to postulate theories and keep them reading to see if they're right. About 50% of the book does this really well. However, the first few chapters left me confused and searching to see if I was reading a sequel by mistake. The last few chapters weren't as interesting because I had already figured out Mercy's story and figured out the present day mystery.

Rebecca Lim did a good job placing Mercy in someone else's body. Her confusion and reactions made sense. However, Mercy herself was quite critical of not only the body she inhabited but of the other characters all throughout the book, a trait that significantly diminished my sympathy.

I probably won't continue the series due to the angel theme (I won this copy), but I thought the body-switching/murder-solving aspect was entertaining and well-executed.

Title:  Mercy (Mercy #1)
Author:  Rebecca Lim
Genre:   YA Paranormal
Year:   2011

Book Source: Won from Sarah's Urban Fantasy Blog

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Supernatural Saturday Review: Black City

In a city where humans and Darklings are now separated by a high wall and tensions between the two races still simmer after a terrible war, sixteen-year-olds Ash Fisher, a half-blood Darkling, and Natalie Buchanan, a human and the daughter of the Emissary, meet and do the unthinkable—they fall in love. Bonded by a mysterious connection that causes Ash’s long-dormant heart to beat, Ash and Natalie first deny and then struggle to fight their forbidden feelings for each other, knowing if they’re caught, they’ll be executed—but their feelings are too strong.

When Ash and Natalie then find themselves at the center of a deadly conspiracy that threatens to pull the humans and Darklings back into war, they must make hard choices that could result in both their deaths.
[from Goodreads]
Rating:  2.5 out of 5 boxes
Target Audience:  Paranormal fans
High point:  The neat idea to mix dystopian and paranormal
Low point:  The execution of the mix of dystopian and paranormal
Reader maturity: 15+

I had high hopes for Black City. As a combination paranormal-dystopian, it sounded fresh and exciting.

While the idea was certainly fresh, the writing was not. Natalie's mother and Ash were caricatures of the evil parent and brooding boyfriend. There was also a surly ex and obligatory best friend. Aside from the cliches, oft repeated descriptions (e.g. "black bustle dress") and childish main character, I liked the premise. A dictatorship masquerading as a democracy that wipes out 50% of the population as a means to control public opinion? There was so much potential with the endlessly burning buildings, oppressive regime, government secrets and taboo lab experiments, but Black City fell short.

If you'd like another opinion, you can find the Goodreads reviews here.

Title:  Black City
Author:  Elizabeth Richards
Genre:   YA Paranormal & Dystopian
Year:   2012

Book Source: Won an ARC from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer