Thursday, July 19, 2012

Review: “The Immortal Rules” by Julie Kagawa

In a future world, vampires reign. Humans are blood cattle. And one girl will search for the key to save humanity.

Allison Sekemoto survives in the Fringe, the outermost circle of a vampire city. By day, she and her crew scavenge for food. By night, any one of them could be eaten.

Some days, all that drives Allie is her hatred of them. The vampires who keep humans as blood cattle. Until the night Allie herself is attacked—and given the ultimate choice. Die…or become one of the monsters.

Faced with her own mortality, Allie becomes what she despises most. To survive, she must learn the rules of being immortal, including the most important: go long enough without human blood, and you will go mad.

Then Allie is forced to flee into the unknown, outside her city walls. There she joins a ragged band of humans who are seeking a legend—a possible cure to the disease that killed off most of humankind and created the rabids, the mindless creatures who threaten humans and vampires alike.

But it isn't easy to pass for human. Especially not around Zeke, who might see past the monster inside her. And Allie soon must decide what—and who—is worth dying for.

The Immortal Rules (Blood of Eden) 

New Julie Kagawa series?  Vampires?  Dystopian?  Yes, please!!!!  I totally loved Kagawa’s Iron Fey series, so when I heard she had a new book out, I jumped at it. 

Allie is a fabulous YA heroine - tough, smart, brave.  This girl is a true fighter.  The world she lives in is bleak and desperate, but Allie is a true survivor.  It is a testament to her character that she makes the ultimate decision to chose life as a vampire over death.  That said, Allie hates the vamps and will do all she can to maintain her tenuous hold on her humanity. 

The world that Kagawa builds is rich and scary.  It was like I was in it, feeling the hunger, the darkness, the pain.  These are not sexy, brooding vamps who want to be human.  These vampires are true predators who view humans as food.  The rabids--a cross between vampires and zombies--are even more terrifying.

Zeke is a true good guy.  He’s noble, a formidable leader, kind.  He’s on a mission to lead a small group of humans to the city of Eden, a city he’s not even sure exists.  Zeke’s faith is the perfect foil for Allie’s skepticism.  Together, they make a strong team with undeniable chemistry. 

The entire last chapter of this book held me on the edge of my seat.  I am so in love with this book and can’t wait for the next installment in the series. My only complaint is that the Allie is Asian in the book, but the cover shows a more Caucasian looking girl.  I always get sad when publishers “white wash” their covers. 

Overall, I give The Immortal Rules...

Plot - 5 bookmarks
Character Development - 5 bookmarks
World Building - 5 bookmarks
Love Story - 4 bookmarks (Was not the main focus of this book, but I expect it to grow in importance over the series.)
Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) - Brenda Song (Allie), Armie Hammer (Zeke), Juno Temple (Ruth), Kit Harington (Kanin)

Monday, July 16, 2012

Review: ‘R.E.M.: A Dreamer’s Gift’ by Cheryl Abbott

Seventeen-year-old Bradalynn Collier is used to enduring night after night of unbearable restlessness. In the quiet darkness while everyone else sleeps, dreams that are not only hers take possession of her mind. Brady thinks her gift for entering the subconscious minds of others is a curse—until she meets the mysterious Alexander Connelly on her first day of her junior year in high school.

Alexander is a new transfer student whose mesmerizing green eyes seem to stare straight through Brady. Against the advice of her best friend, Doug Rothen, Brady decides to venture into the dark nights of Alexander’s slumber. As she suffers through his relentless nightmares, becoming emotionally attached along the way, Brady finds reason to finally gain control of her unique ability. But just as an unexpected relationship emerges and blurs the line in her friendship with Doug, a devastating accident forces Brady to make an unthinkable decision.

In this compelling tale, Brady must betray the trust of others and make a choice that has the potential to tear her away from the only dream she now desires—a life with Alexander Connelly.

REM: A Dreamer's Gift

I like the idea of being able to enter other people’s dreams, so even though I’m not accepting unsolicited review requests, I decided to make an exception for this one.  While I liked the concept and think it was a good first novel, I had a few issues with the execution. 

Readers of my blog know that I put a lot of weight on strong character development.  Bradalyn is a typical YA heroine, although more tired than most since she doesn’t get much rest at night.  I didn’t not like Brady, I just didn’t find her all that memorable as a character.  She was a little too perfect and slightly boring.  Alexander had great potential, but then his “mystery” didn’t turn out to be all that mysterious.  His back-story is revealed too early in the book and didn’t add to the climax.  I kept holding on, hoping for some big bomb to drop, but it never really happened. 

One of my other hot buttons is sexual tension.  Even in YA novels, there has to be chemistry between the characters.  This is especially important when there is a love-triangle.  Brady and Alex had about as much chemistry as siblings.  There was no heat in their kisses, no tension in their touches.  And seriously, how many teens sleep together and never even entertain the idea of taking the physical relationship further? 

The triangle is rounded out with Brady’s best friend, Doug, who is so obviously in love with her and she is completely oblivious. My favorite love triangles are those that could go either way, where the reader doesn’t know who the character is going to choose.  In this book, there is never any chance Brady is going to choose Doug.  And after a few immature tantrums, even Doug realizes it and gives up with little fan fare. 

Okay, so I had some issues with this book, but I don’t want you to think it was bad.  Not to get all spoilery, but in the end, Brady takes a giant risk for Doug and it ends on a huge cliffhanger that made me want to keep reading.  In the end, I think this was a solid debut novel.  I just hope the next book fixes some of these issues.

Overall, I give R.E.M.: A Dreamer’s Gift...

Plot - 4 bookmarks
Character Development - 2 bookmarks
Love Story - 2 bookmarks
Paranormal Elements - 3 bookmarks (I was a bit irritated not to know more about the origin of Brady’s abilities, but I hope the next book addresses it.)
Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) - Katrina Bowden (Brady), Colton Haynes (Doug), Joshua Bowman (Alex)