Monthly Archives: July 2013
I’ve decided I’m going to start putting the ratings near the end of the reviews. I’ve seen other blogs do this, and I decided I liked it. It lets me explain the reasoning behind the grade before I reveal the grade itself.
Title: Frigid (GoodReads)
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout (writing as J. Lynn)
Page Count: 225 (Nook edition)
Genre: Contemporary NA Romance
For twenty-one-year-old Sydney, being in love with Kyler isn’t anything new. They’d been best friends ever since he pushed her down on the playground and she made him eat a mud pie. Somewhere over the years, she fell for him and fell hard. The big problem with that? Kyler puts the ‘man’ in man-whore. He’s never stayed with a girl longer than a few nights, and with it being their last year in college, Syd doesn’t want to risk their friendship by declaring her love.
Kyler has always put Syd on a pedestal that was too high for him to reach. To him, she’s perfect and she’s everything. But the feelings he has for her, he’s always hidden away or focused on any other female. After all, Kyler will always be the poor boy from the wrong side of tracks, and Syd will always be the one girl he can never have.
But when they’re stranded together at a posh ski resort due to a massive Nor’easter, there’s nothing stopping their red-hot feelings for each other from coming to the surface. Can their friendship survive the attraction? Better yet, can they survive at all? Because as the snow falls, someone is stalking them, and this ski trip may be a life-changer in more ways than one.
I guess I should start this review with a confession: this type of story is my guilty pleasure. When I was in high school and the beginning of college, I read a lot of fan fiction, and most of those stories were about two people who loved each other but didn’t confess their feelings because they were both so sure that they would never be good enough for the other. A lot of people hate such stories, but for me – the lonely fat girl with hardly any friends who didn’t get her first kiss until she was a month away from turning 20 – they were amazing. I could relate to the characters, even though they were weak, because I was weak, too.
Of course, those stories also gave me incredibly unrealistic expectations that kept me clinging to the hopes that this guy would like me even though he never would, but that’s beside the point.
The point is that this novel is exactly like those stories, and that is why I loved it. Well, parts of it. Sydney and Kyler are best friends, and neither thinks the other will ever love them. The first half of this book is filled with so many misunderstandings that lead to hurt feelings, and that’s the sort of thing I love reading about. Really, I haven’t felt this emotionally involved in a NA couple since, well, ever. Are they my favorite NA couple? No (that title goes to Max and Cade from Faking It), but I could relate to them. I wanted to see them get together.
That said, once they actually did get together, I stopped really caring. For a while I was afraid the second half of this book would be one sex scene after the other. It wasn’t, and the plot picked up a little bit near the end, but it still didn’t live up to what I enjoyed about the first half. Most of that’s because they were already (mostly) together, and I tend to lose interest at that point. Also, now that I wasn’t wrapped up in how they were going to confess their feelings, I was left with more time to get annoyed by the other elements of the story that I was able to ignore when I was focusing on their insecurities.
Like the subplot about the character who keeps trying to hurt them. The identity of the bad guy was so incredibly easy to figure out, and it was unbelievable that the characters wouldn’t know. The actions of said bad guy were also a bit out there. The motivation made slightly more sense by the end of the novel, but it still seemed a bit unrealistic and contrived to me.
Then there’s some issue with the romance plot. For one thing, we never really see why Kyler and Sydney are friends to begin with, let alone why they’re in love with each other. I sort of projected my own feelings onto the characters to sort of make up reasons, but I eventually realized that I shouldn’t have to do that – the author should show me why they feel that way. Also, Kyler’s sort of a possessive jerk. He doesn’t want Sydney with anyone he deems “not good enough” for her, which isn’t his call and makes me dislike him, not like him. Plus, the second half of the plot revolves around their both not knowing if this is a fling or not and Sydney’s obsessions about whether or not she should tell him she loves him, even though her confession is what started the entire thing. So that was sort of annoying.
I also hated the constant use of the word “baby,” but again – that’s just a personal issue I have for some reason. Although the fact that he calls her that when they’re just friends just seems weird in general, as does the fact that he picks her up and sets her on his lap in the beginning (when they’re just friends) and kisses her on the cheek and stuff. Maybe I’ve just never had a close friendship like that, but that seems really weird and unbelievable to me.
Feminists will probably also take issue with the whole “good, mostly inexperienced Sydney” versus all the “bad, promiscuous girls” that Kyler sleeps with. Part of me was annoyed with the dichotomy, but the other part of me (the part that wasn’t kissed until I was nearly 20) likes that the inexperienced girl was the one he preferred. So, again, I’m torn about how I feel about that.
Overall, I absolutely loved the first half of this book, even though there were some plotting choices and typos that had me questioning the quality. Not all characters can be strong, though – sometimes we need weak people we can cheer for, too, especially when they know they’re being pathetic. Or at least I think so. I guess most people will disagree with me. But whatever. This was a silly escape book for me, and for a few hours I was able to get caught up in someone else’s romantic problems. That said, there were still a lot of issues I had with this book, and those issues kept me from enjoying it as much as I had hoped I would, even given my lowered expectations for this sort of story.
Recommendations: If you’re looking for a realistic romance and strong characters with a believable plot, this book is probably not for you. If, however, you want a silly contemporary romance between two characters who misunderstand each other all the time, you might enjoy this. I’m happy with the $1.50 I spent on this, but if I had spent more, I probably would have been sort of annoyed.
Title: The Moon and More
Author: Sarah Dessen
Page Count: 435
Genre: Contemporary YA
Luke is the perfect boyfriend: handsome, kind, fun. He and Emaline have been together all through high school in Colby, the beach town where they both grew up. But now, in the summer before college, Emaline wonders if perfect is good enough.
Enter Theo, a super-ambitious outsider, a New Yorker assisting on a documentary film about a reclusive local artist. Theo’s sophisticated, exciting, and, best of all, he thinks Emaline is much too smart for Colby.
Emaline’s mostly-absentee father, too, thinks Emaline should have a bigger life, and he’s convinced that an Ivy League education is the only route to realizing her potential. Emaline is attracted to the bright future that Theo and her father promise. But she also clings to the deep roots of her loving mother, stepfather, and sisters. Can she ignore the pull of the happily familiar world of Colby?
Emaline wants the moon and more, but how can she balance where she comes from with where she’s going?
This book was not what I was expecting. I thought it would be a book about her struggle to decide which guy she likes better, her familiar boyfriend or the new guy from New York. But that’s not what it was at all.
Family relationships. Dessen is great at writing family relationships. Real families fight. They do things just to piss each other off. They disappoint each other. But at the end of the day, they’re still there for one another, and Dessen captures that perfectly. The characters all feel realistic and have their individual quirks.
The side characters all felt very real, as well. This is one of the reason I love Sarah Dessen’s books: she doesn’t just throw characters in to fill up space, at least not characters who appear in more than two scenes. Daisy seems like a really awesome friend to have. I have to admit that I sort of hated Morris at first, but he definitely grew on me as time went on.
Really, there were only two characters that I didn’t really like. The first was Emaline’s father, whom she first met when she was ten years old. He lets her down when she needed him most, and he doesn’t even really seem to care all that much. He’s definitely not going to win any awards for world’s greatest dad, but he has enough personality to make him not a totally flat character, which is really all you can ask for. His and Emmaline’s relationship was definitely flawed, but it seemed realistic.
The second person I disliked was Theo. He was awkward and arrogant, a combination I’m not really used to reading about. He was an interesting character, I guess, and I have to give Dessen props for creating such a realistically annoying character. He’s embarrassing, but you can understand why Emaline puts up with him, at least at first. I’m actually a little glad that he wasn’t what I thought he was going to be when I first picked up this book. I’ve read so many books where the girl leaves her boyfriend and ends up with this super amazing guy and – while I absolutely love those books when done right – I enjoyed reading something different.
I enjoyed that this book wasn’t just about her relationships with boys. Emaline had a lot of family issues to deal with, not to mention the fact that this is her last summer before she goes away for college. She has a lot of things to deal with that summer, and Luke/Theo is only one of them.
The Not So Good
Maybe it’s just because I recently read about how horrible exposition is, but I found myself getting a bit bored with some of the large flashbacks and background information, particularly in the beginning. It wasn’t a huge deal, but it was something I noticed with this book that I hadn’t noticed with others. I’m not sure if this book just isn’t as good or if I’m being more critical than normal, but it was something I noticed.
The second thing is more personal, but it’s still something that annoyed me. This book had a definite “Us vs. Them” theme, one that Emaline comments on several times. It’s the New York City tourists vs. the Colby locals, and it’s obvious whom we’re supposed to like and dislike. I’m always sort of annoyed at the whole “New Yorkers are rude and snobby” thing. I mean, I’d be okay with being rude and snobby if there were redeeming qualities, as well, or if they could show the benefits to being rude and snobby (I, personally, would take honest but rude over the two-faced fake-niceness I’ve experienced here in the south).
I guess I should also mention that I’m from New York. I’ve never lived in the city, but I really wanted to. I also would have loved to go to NYU or Columbia, and I disliked the implication in this book that there’s something wrong with Theo because he doesn’t understand how Emaline could just walk away from that. I’m sorry, but that really is a good school, and it’s understandable that he didn’t understand.
It seems like there’s this constant battle between big city, pretentious snobs and small-town, laid-back people. Okay, I sort of dropped the comparison there, but the point still stands. Just once I would like people with “pretentious” tastes to be the good guys. But that’s a pet peeve of mine, and I guess it’s not entirely fair to blame Sarah Dessen for that. Of course, that won’t stop me from blaming her a little bit.
Overall: This book wasn’t what I expected, but I liked that it surprised me. Fans of Sarah Dessen will probably enjoy her newest release. If you’re still on the fence about Sarah Dessen, I might start with a different book.
You guys have no idea how excited I am to be a part of this cover reveal/giveaway. This is a great series, and the covers are beautiful. Keep reading, and you can see for yourself!
By J. Elizabeth Hill
Cover Reveal And Giveaway
Coming September 10, 2013
Cover by Regina Wamba of MaeIDesign.com
(Book 2 of the Mirrors of Bershan)
“I never meant any of this, least of all for you to pay the price of my pride.”
After binding themselves to each other through their magic, Faylanna Derrion and Tavis journey back to her ancestral home, Iondis, intent on restoring the estate to its former beauty. From the moment they arrive, they find the secret horrors of the place aren’t exhausted yet.
Faylanna finds an old journal of her father’s, one that shakes her understanding of her own past. Worse, Faylanna and Tavis are both nearly killed when attacked by one of the men set to guard the Ninth Mirror of Bershan, still residing at Iondis. In the aftermath, he disappears with the newly-found journal. Sure there is more to this event than they know, Faylanna and Tavis return to the capital, Rianza, for help.
More secrets await them there, ones kept for years by people Tavis never suspected. When the truth is revealed, it alters his present and future completely. Can he rise to the challenges this new fate presents him with or will the change be more than he can handle?
The truths each learn about themselves and those they thought they knew will test Faylanna and Tavis’ love for each other. Will they be able to endure the pain and chaos they face, or will it tear them apart?
ADD IT ON GoodReads
Haven’t met Faylanna and Tavis? BOUND is on sale! You can pick up the ebook for only 0.99!
(Book 1 of the Mirrors of Bershan)
“Doesn’t she know you can’t do real magic alone?”
Faylanna Derrion’s graduation from the Voleno Academy is marred by her father’s demand that she return to the family estate, Iondis. He refuses to accept her decision not to bind herself to another Magicia in an unbreakable partnership, insisting she must do so with his help. No one understands her need to prove she can succeed on her own.
Then her mentor and his partner are taken before her eyes by a terrible darkness, forcing her to flee, even as her father’s soldiers try to force her to go home. On her journey to find help, she meets Tavis, a farmer in search of his mother, who she can’t manage to refuse. The revelation that he’s a novice Magicia causes Faylanna to question everything she’s believed.
At the same time, a dream that’s haunted her since childhood begins to change and the unknown man in it calls to her. His words are sweet but she’s not quite willing to believe he’s anything more than a dream, until she can’t deny it.
As secrets are revealed and events unfold, will Faylanna hold to her solitary path or will she choose the one that now beckons her with new possibilities?
You can also read my review of the first book here.
About the Author
Born in Toronto, Ontario, Julie Elizabeth Hill exported herself to Vancouver, British Columbia after many years of staring longingly at the map following every snowfall. For as long as she can remember, she’s been making up stories, but it wasn’t until high school that someone suggested writing them down. Since then, she’s been hopelessly in love with story crafting, often forgetting about everything else in the process.
Twitter – @jlizhill
Blog – http://jelizabethhill.wordpress.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/pages/J-Elizabeth-Hill/345946002103430
Cover Reveal Giveaway:
I’m really bad at writing Camp NaNo updates. Part of my problem is that I want to wait until I’m done writing for the day to write them, but then I don’t finish writing until right before I collapse into bed, and that’s not really the best time to write a blog post. Since it’s been like a week and a half since my last update, though, I figure it’s probably best if I actually pull it together long enough to write this.
This past weekend (Friday afternoon until Monday afternoon), I was on vacation with my parents, my boyfriend, and my sister and her boyfriend. We rented a house on a lake, and we spent most of the time swimming and playing games. It was a lot of fun but not very conducive to writing. I had one good night of writing while everyone else was playing ping pong downstairs, but I still only managed to write 5,884 words the entire weekend.
Monday I drove back for my last class of the summer semester. I had a debate and a huge project due. I ended up getting an A on both assignments, and I learned that I passed the English GACE (the test that I needed to pass in order to get my teaching certification). I decided to spend the night relaxing and watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer with my boyfriend. Not a productive evening, but it was fun.
Last night I started being productive again. I wrote 7,893 words, which I feel is a good start on making up for the words I didn’t write this weekend. I have nothing to do for the next month, so I’m definitely going to be putting my all into writing. Well, writing and reading, because I have 3 library books out right now and 2 books that I promised people I would read and review. So, yeah, lots of reading to do, too. I’m definitely looking forward to the next few weeks. 🙂
For those who don’t know, here are my current stats for Tilt Your Head and Smile:
Total Words: 70,104
Average Words per Day: 4,382
Total Chapters: 13
Average Words per Chapter: 5,842
At this rate, TYHAS will be about 135k – a bit much for a contemporary/literary NA novel. Of course, my novels tend to get shorter with edits, so that’s comforting. I have this problem where I’m always afraid that I’m leaving out important information. I guess I have this other habit of trying to skip scenes that are too hard for me to write, and I end up taking the easy way out and wind up staring at my “finished” manuscript, which isn’t really finished at all. In an order to fight that, I try to force myself to write everything, even stuff that should really just be summarized, and that’s how I end up with super long novels. That’s also why draft 2 tends to be shorter.
I am starting to work on a different method of outlining, though. I still have my original outline, which is about 6,100 words long and is broken up into chapters and details what happens with each different plot line in that chapter. I tried to put those in order within each chapter, but some chapters need a lot of switching around/breaking up/combining in other ways. This is all fine with me, as it seems to be working for now.
But now what I’m doing is going back through and outlining each chapter more specifically right before I write it. In the past, I’ve just gone through and made my notes a bit more detailed. Now, though, I’m also going through and trying to figure out which parts need to be actual scenes and which could just be summaries. I just started doing this last night, but it definitely helped me finish that last chapter faster – but in a way that still made sense.
Title: OCD, The Dude, and Me (GoodReads)
Author: Lauren Roedy Vaughn
Page Count: 240
Genre: Contemporary YA
With frizzy orange hair, a plus-sized body, sarcastic demeanor, and “unique learning profile,” Danielle Levine doesn’t fit in even at her alternative high school. While navigating her doomed social life, she writes scathing, self-aware, and sometimes downright raunchy essays for English class. As a result of her unfiltered writing style, she is forced to see the school psychologist and enroll in a “social skills” class. But when she meets Daniel, another social misfit who is obsessed with the cult classic film The Big Lebowski, Danielle’s resolve to keep everyone at arm’s length starts to crumble.
This book is told through a combination of letters, emails, and essays, which makes this a fun and easy book to read. Danielle has such a great voice. She’s self-aware for the most part. She’s sarcastic and amusing, and I found her really easy to relate to most of the time. She’s flawed but still likeable, which is my favorite kind of character. She says the wrong things. She does the wrong things. But at the end of the day, I still wanted her to be happy and get what she wanted, even if what she wanted wasn’t always what was best for her. She was a very believable character for the most part.
The rest of the characters were also great. She’s relatively close to her parents – or at least as close as a teenager can get for the most part. She’s closest to her Aunt Joyce, who’s very open and honest with Danielle but in a loving way. I’d love to have an aunt like her. Daniel is a great friend, and he made me laugh while reading this book. We get to learn a bit more about her teacher throughout the book, which I liked. Her teacher is aware of more than she lets on, and she cares about Danielle while still doing her best to push her to do more than she thinks she is capable of. Ms. Harrison doesn’t always succeed, but she does her best.
I liked that there was a good mixture of adult and peer relationships in this book. I’ve read a lot of young adult books where the adults mysteriously vanish for the most part, and that wasn’t true here. All the adults in Danielle’s life really cared about her, and that was quite obvious.
The Not So Good
The summary states that this is a book that features someone with “a plus-size body.” Danielle does not have a plus-size body. She goes on and on about how fat she is, and then she mentions that she’s a size 12. That’s annoying enough anyway, as I would never consider a size 12 fat. Hell, my goal pant size is like a 16, and I don’t really think I’ll ever get there. But that’s not the point. The point is that we learn a few pages later that Danielle is not even a size 12. She is a size 8.
I’m sorry, but on what planet is a size 8 “plus-size”? The more I think about it, the more it upsets me. I could deal with Danielle thinking that she’s fat even though she’s not. Tons of girls think they’re fat when they’re not. But the fact that the book description says she’s plus-size means that the adults who helped get this book into print thought of her as that way, too, and that is just wrong. It sends the wrong message to girls who already receive enough mixed messages about their health and weight (which are not the same thing).
Anyway, that fact alone knocked the book down a lot in my opinion. I’m also a bit unclear about the fact that she’s supposed to be in an alternative high school and yet I saw nothing alternative about it other than the fact that she could eat lunch outside, which is pretty standard in most YA books. I expected more of her classmates to have problems, as well, or to have the school be set up in a weird way, but it wasn’t. It seemed like a normal, albeit somewhat small, high school.
Her relationship with Justine was also weird. I’ve never gone on a class trip to England, but I can’t imagine that you could disappear and go to the tour guide’s house for lunch and no one would think that was strange. And there’s a scene involving her near the end that I thought was kind of dramatic. It didn’t ruin the book or anything, but it was a bit strange.
This book also handled more mature subject matter than I was expecting. That wasn’t a bad thing, necessarily, as I enjoyed reading it. I just thought I’d mention it in case someone was thinking of giving this book to someone in middle school. There’s a fair amount of swearing, drug use, and talk of sexual activities. I personally don’t care if middle schoolers read that, but I’m sure others might.
Also, I’m sure the second half (maybe last third) would have been more fun if I had ever seen The Big Lebowski. That said, you definitely don’t need to have seen the movie to enjoy this book. An understanding of that movie probably would have just made it better.
Overall: The writing’s good. The characters are great. This is an easy, fun read that deals with some difficult material in a good way. This book would have gotten a much higher rating from me had they not described the heroine as “plus-sized.”
Title: Faking It (GoodReads)
Author: Cora Carmack
Page Count: 304
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Mackenzie “Max” Miller has a problem. Her parents have arrived in town for a surprise visit, and if they see her dyed hair, tattoos, and piercings, they just might disown her. Even worse, they’re expecting to meet a nice, wholesome boyfriend, not a guy named Mace who has a neck tattoo and plays in a band. All her lies are about to come crashing down around her, but then she meets Cade.
Cade moved to Philadelphia to act and to leave his problems behind in Texas. So far though, he’s kept the problems and had very little opportunity to take the stage. When Max approaches him in a coffee shop with a crazy request to pretend to be her boyfriend, he agrees to play the part. But when Cade plays the role a little too well, they’re forced to keep the ruse going. And the more they fake the relationship, the more real it begins to feel.
Is this the most original storyline in the world? No.
Should you read it anyway? Absolutely!
I wasn’t originally sure if I would like this book, as I didn’t care about Cade all that much in the first book. I was so wrong. I like him and Max so much more than Garrick and Bliss. This novel had so much more depth than the first book had – not that I don’t still love the first book, of course. But I should probably try to write a more organized review and not fan-girl all over the place.
I’ve read a lot of good girl meets bad boy stories lately. This is the first book I’ve seen that’s bad girl meets good boy, and I loved seeing the roles reversed. Max and Cade were such interesting, complex characters, both dealing with grief and loss in completely different ways. I loved watching them get to know each other. This was one relationship that I was really rooting for the entire time.
I hadn’t expected this much depth from Cade after seeing him in Losing It, but I loved learning more about him in this book. There’s a reason he’s such a nice guy all the time, a reason why he tries so hard to be perfect. It’s a reason that I could really relate to, which made this book such a fantastic read. Cade is at that point in his life when he feels like everyone is moving forward without him, and nothing he does seems to be good enough. He’s still trying to figure out what he wants out of life.
Max, on the other hand, knows what she wants: to make music. She just needs to convince her parents to keep supplementing her income, as the two jobs she works aren’t enough to pay her bills and her college loans, which she only has because her parents forced her to go to college in the first place. She tried the perfect thing in the past, and it didn’t work for her. I loved reading about her past, although it made me a bit sad because her relationship with her sister is really similar to one of my character’s relationship with her sister. It sort of sucks reading someone else write your idea way better than you ever could, but it’s also sort of fun.
There were so many awesome lines in this book. There wasn’t quite the same level of awkward as there was in Losing It, since Max isn’t nearly as awkward and self-conscious as Bliss is, but I found myself enjoying it just as much, just in a different way. It’s great seeing characters figure out that what they thought they wanted wasn’t really what they wanted.
There’s really nothing I can think of to complain about this novel. It was funny and silly at times and deep and introspective at others. Cora Carmack is now on my list of authors I will automatically buy from. In fact, I’ve already gone ahead and preordered her next novella and novel. This is my new favorite New Adult novel (although Losing It is obviously still a very close second). You don’t necessarily have to read the first one first, as the only real plot you need to know from the first one is really easy to pick up on in the second, but I would still recommend reading them in order, as you’ll get more out of it.
So I’ve realized we’re about to finish the first week of Camp NaNo, and I haven’t updated this blog once. It’s time to fix that. First, some stats:
Current word count: 31,509
Average word count per day: 5,252
That’s not bad considering the fact that I didn’t write at all on Friday because I was finishing up a major project that accounts for 20 percent of my grade in my online class and the fact that I only got an hour of writing done on the fourth of July because I was out of the house with friends all day. I’ve finished through chapter 5 in my outline, although one of the chapters is going to be broken up, as it’s about 11k all by itself, which is a bit ridiculous. If I split that into two chapters, my average chapter length is the same as my daily word count, 5252. That’s still a bit longer than my chapters usually are, but maybe that’s just the way this manuscript is going to go, because I actually think most of my chapters are about that long even when I’m not finding the average.
As a reminder, this month I’m writing yet another draft of my NA novel TILT YOUR HEAD AND SMILE. I first wrote this novel for NaNo 2011. I wrote the first 50k, changed the format halfway through, and wrote another 50k, bringing my total up to 100k for that draft. Then I rewrote it for JanNoWriMo, and that draft was again 100k. I got about halfway through editing that one and rewriting parts of it when I decided to work on something else.
That was all before I realized that New Adult was a thing. I was calling my novel literary fiction. Now I’m calling it contemporary NA. I changed the plot around some. I added a romantic subplot. The romance really is just one of the subplots, though, so I don’t feel too bad about adding it. And April is now going to be learning more about herself than she was in the last several drafts, so I’m excited about this version. I’m still going to have to do major revisions when I’m done with this draft (because I tend to ramble just as much in my drafts as I do in my blog posts), but I’m excited because I think I might finally have the basic plot of this one figured out.
Of course, part of the problem I’m noticing with this draft is that I’m 31k into it and only just finished chapter 5 out of 26. If I continue at this pace, this story is going to be like 137k, which is just a tad too long (read: way too long) for a NA novel. I’m starting to think my goal of 80k was a bit too low. Still, I remember this happening the first time I wrote this, too. I think I just need to get into my groove and it will figure itself out. Or I’ll just end up cutting thousands of words when I revise. I usually end up doing that, too.
That’s one thing I’ve noticed about my writing process: I’m great at adding words to novels, but I rarely actually make progress with those novels. I mean, really, I’m 30k into the novel, and she hasn’t even reached her “to hell with all of this” point that makes her start looking for a real job. This novel takes play between May 2010 and March 2012, and I’ve only just reached the first week of June 2010. And I’m at 30k.
I have problems.
Still, this is a first draft. Well, okay, this is a third draft. But still. It’s a draft. It’s my first time drafting this particular version of this novel. I don’t care if it’s good. I care if it’s done. I’ll make it good later.
And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some writing to do. 🙂
Title: One (GoodReads)
Author: Leigh Ann Kopans
Genre: YA science fiction
When having two powers makes you a Super and having none makes you a Normal, having only one makes you a sad half-superpowered freak.
It makes you a One.
Sixteen-year-old Merrin Grey would love to be able to fly – too bad all she can do is hover.
If she could just land an internship at the Biotech Hub, she might finally figure out how to fix herself. She busts her butt in AP Chem and salivates over the Hub’s research on the manifestation of superpowers, all in hopes of boosting her chances.
Then she meets Elias VanDyne, another One, and all her carefully crafted plans fly out the window. Literally. When the two of them touch, their Ones combine to make them fly, and when they’re not soaring over the Nebraska cornfields, they’re busy falling for each other.
Merrin’s mad chemistry skills land her a spot on the Hub’s internship short list, but as she gets closer to the life she always wanted, she discovers that the Hub’s purpose is more sinister than it has always seemed. Now it’s up to her to decide if it’s more important to fly solo, or to save everything – and everyone – she loves.
The writing. The sentences flow and make you want to keep reading. We get enough description to picture what’s happening but not so much that it gets boring. Coming from someone who hates most description, this means a lot.
The characters. I really enjoyed getting to know Merrin and her friends. They all had their own personalities and goals in life. I really enjoyed seeing Merrin’s initial reaction to Leni and seeing how she realized she was jumping to conclusions. Her reaction seemed realistic to me, and I liked that. I liked most of the characters. They seemed like real people with hopes and flaws and personalities. I wish we had gotten to see a bit more of Leni and Daniel, but I’m still satisfied with what we did see.
Merrin. I just loved that Merrin was great at chemistry. There is, of course, absolutely nothing wrong with girls who are great at the more liberal arts-type classes, but it’s still great to see books that show that girls can kick ass at science, too. There were several times when I didn’t quite follow what she was talking about when she started going on about chemistry, but I always felt like she knew exactly what she was saying and doing, and that, I think, is the important part.
The romance. Merrin and Elias actually talk and get to know each other before they kiss for the first time, and they’ve been dating for a while before there’s any talk of love. That was a refreshing change from most of the books I’ve read.
The world. Merrin and her friends live in a future American society that looks a lot like ours , just with some advancements in technology and the fact that a large number of the population has superpowers. Kopans does a good job introducing the world and making it sound believable. There were a few instances where it seemed like she was trying too hard, but overall I really loved learning about this new world.
The Not So Good
The pacing. The entire first two-thirds of the book is dedicated almost solely to Merrin and Elias’s relationship. We get little hints that something’s not quite right in their world, but it’s really not until the last third of the book when things actually start happening. All of a sudden all the plot I was waiting for showed up at once. I wish this had been spaced out a bit. The story behind everything that’s happening is interesting. It’s just all thrown at you so fast that it doesn’t really work.
The first third of the book was interesting because we were getting to know the characters. The last third of the book was interesting because, well, plot. The middle third, though, was lacking, and I think it would really have benefited from having the events at the Hub start earlier. I also feel like the ending was a bit rushed and not really what I was expecting.
There’s also a storyline with one character that doesn’t quite live up to its potential. Merrin starts off by talking about how wonderful this character is, but we never really see her talk to this character, at least not once she starts seeing this character on a regular basis. Then all of a sudden this character creeps her out. It didn’t feel like I was actually reading a novel at that point; it felt like I was reading the summary of a novel.
Overall: This book didn’t live up to my expectations. The characters and the writing were great, but the plot was a bit too rushed at the end. If you’re looking for a contemporary romance with some sci-fi thrown in, you will probably really enjoy this book. If you’re looking for a science fiction book with some romance thrown in, you might be disappointed, although I still recommend you try it for yourself to see.