Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Five of the Most Disappointing Books I've Read This Year (that I haven't blogged about yet)

Maybe this should count as a rant. But I was going to publish these reviews separately, and then I figured, why not just lump them together since they have the same issue-- really hyped up books that were incredibly disappointing.

5. The Bridge by Jane Higgins (2 out of 5 stars)

The BridgeThe Bridge by Jane Higgins follows Nik, who is an outsider of sorts in his prestigious boarding school. The cream of the crop become part of a secret elite group called ISIS who are the prime defenders against infiltration of the other side. Nik, for some reason, doesn't get selected even though he's top in his class. After war breaks loose, Fyffe, a good school friend of his, and Nik cross the Bridge to find Sol, her brother who has been kidnapped.

OK this blurb sounds interesting, right? The problem is, although at times the writing is lyrical and pretty, I felt like it lacked a lot of content. We move from place to place, but I never felt grounded in this world. There was a definite lack of world building. I don't understand this war that is going on, and I have no idea how the society got to where it is. Nik is likeable, but I had no deep feelings for him or any other character in the book, as the conversations are stilted and tough. I had a tough time getting through the whole thing, because honestly, it drags. I guess one of the big points of the book is that both sides are pretty similar in a lot of ways, but the whole time I was just in disbelief that they didn't realize that Nik was from the other side with his poor use of the language. REALLY?

There's a twist at the end, but for me, I was pretty disappointing slogging through all of these pages to end up... nowhere.

The ending left it open for likely a trilogy, but this is a series I definitely won't be following. Pretty cover though.

4. Of Poseidon by Anna Banks (3 out of 5 stars)
Of Poseidon (Of Poseidon, #1)
I have had this book on my to read pile for a while now. I wavered between a 3 and 3.5 rating-- so it's somewhere between there.

Of Poseidon by Anna Banks is about teenager named Emma who loses her friend tragically at sea and meets a mysterious guy, Galen. Emma has violet eyes and hasn't met anyone else with violet eyes until Galen. Slowly, she realizes that there is more to her than she ever realized-- and she is connected to the sea and Galen in ways she never believed possible.

The good points to this book: the premise is interesting-- Syrena (or merpeople) are warring against each other in an underworld kingdom. At the end, there are some fun twists that kept me reading to the end. The prose is straightforward and easy to follow.

However, Syrenan (is that a word?) characters are rather stiff and formal, which I realize is part of their background, but didn't work for me. I never really got into Emma and Galen together and their romance has to be convincing for the book to work. I thought the choice to use alternating first person perspective of Emma and third person present of Galen to be an odd combination and not one that felt very natural. Emma almost feels too juvenile sometimes, exploding with commentary in her head with all the words smashed together.

That said, because of the events that happened at the end, I am interested to see what happens next and may pick up the next one just to find out what happens, which I almost never do with three star books. (Note: I may have been too generous with stars on this one)

3. Eve by Anna Carey (2 out of 5 stars)
Eve (Eve, #1)
Eve is one of those books that everyone has mentioned at one time or another in the YA world, so I knew I had to take a look.

Eve by Anna Carey is a post apocalyptic dystopian YA novel-- unsurprisingly about a girl named Eve. She is brought up in a School where she is taught to hate boys, but quickly, finds out that nothing is what it seems. After a disturbing discovery, she runs away, and meets a boy named Caleb, who lives in a mountain with a bunch of other boys. From there, she realizes what she has been taught is not entirely true and that she has a lot to learn about life and love.

Eve seems like a very stereotypical dystopian YA to me. We have a female protagonist that is very innocent and gullible, who is thrust into a dangerous world. While the story itself is straightforward, I couldn't really get into it because Eve is not a very compelling character. She keeps making obvious and terrible mistakes, and then quickly becomes completely besotted with Caleb, which makes me prefer the old Eve who thought all men were awful. There is maybe one plot twist if I'm being generous, and I quickly skimmed through the last 25% of the book just to see what would happen. Not much.

Overall, a disappointing addition to the dystopian genre. Nothing very surprising about this book.

2. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodgkin (3 out of 5 stars)
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer, #1)I've had this book on my to read list for a while now because it's gotten a bit of buzz.

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin is unsurprisingly, about Mara Dyer (allegedly not her real name), who undergoes a very traumatic experience at the beginning of the book, leading to the death of her best friend, her boyfriend, and his sister. She is the only survivor. Because of this, she picks up with her family and moves to a different location, and meets an intriguing boy at her new school, Noah Wade. Together, they attempt to uncover her dark and mysterious memories.

Sounds like a good premise, right? Hodkin does do a good job of creating a suspenseful atmosphere. Nothing makes sense to Mara, and nothing does to us either. We want to know what is going on. The book is well written, and the start definitely piqued my interest to continue reading.

Then the book just drags. We kind of suspect something else is going on with Mara, but it takes the whole book for the plot to get there and confirm our suspicions. Noah is kind of a creepy love interest-- sure, he's "hot" in the way Mara (and apparently the whole student body) thinks is hot (English, metrosexual, skinny with no muscle, but somehow can still beat up a huge jock?). But their interactions are very stereotypical: girl meets boy, boy likes girl, girl says she hates boy, boy laughs and says no way, then girl finally gives in. Not to mention, the "mean Queen Bee" of the piece is also her own chunk of stereotype with no extra dimension.

Overall, while the start was promising with a nice brooding mood to the novel, it ended up dragging and not holding my interest for the above problems.

1. Article 5 (I'm cheating on this one a bit since I'm blogging about it again next week in my rant- 1 out of 5 stars)
Article 5 (Article 5, #1)
I've had this on my list for a while, but haven't read it yet because of the mixed reviews. Now getting into it, I see why (and I was right to wait).

Article 5 is about a girl named Ember who gets arrested early on in the book because of Article 5, one of the mandates now in the United States. Don't ask me why a War (you always know if it's in capital letters, it's IMPORTANT-- no, not being sarcastic AT ALL) would create this mandate, or why people would think it was the way to stop wars, but whatever. So she loves this boy, Chase, who of course is a soldier that helps enforce these rules.

I admit that I could only get through 45% of this book before giving up. And there was at least 10% that I was skimming, hoping to make it to the end, just so I could see if there were any redeeming twists. But I was so fed up with the lack of world building, the vagueness of the whole situation, and the really annoying and unlikeable protagonist, Ember. I was hoping the whining and bad attitude would get better, but she basically just blames everyone else for her problems. I know life is bad, but eventually, you have to move on and try to get through the awfulness that is going on. Otherwise, you might as well just give up. In real life, this chick wouldn't have made it past the first few chapters. After scratching that guard, she would have been killed. Her relationship with her mother is completely unhealthy, and focusing on that as the big emotional connection in the book felt very false. Not to mention Chase-- if I were him, I would have dumped her on the side of the road a long time ago.

Overall, a huge disappointment, and I couldn't even finish it.

What have been your most disappointing reads this year and why?

Current Giveaways
1. International Giveaway of signed copy of If I Lie by Corrine Jackson OR Three swag packs!
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3.  Interview and Giveaway with Clare Marshall, author of The Violet Fox, e-copy of The Violet Fox (INT)
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  1. Oddly enough, one of my most disappointing reads this year was also Of Poseidon, but I gave it 1 star. It's probably the worst book I've ever read.

    I was also majorly disappointed in God Save the Queen, but it picked up at the end so I may still read the next book.

  2. I haven't read any of these but I've heard great things about Mara Dyer and Article 5 intrigues me. Too bad they weren't for you.

  3. I save my disappointments and ambiguities for the end of the year, though I did rant about "Unraveling."