[463]: The Coldest Girl in Cold Town by Holly Black

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown

GOODREADS SUMMARY | Little, Brown for Young Readers | Hardcover, 419 pages | September 3rd, 2013 | Young Adult | Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars


We all know vampire stories are a dime a dozen in both Adult and Young Adult genres. Nowadays, you’ll be hard pressed to find one that adheres in the vein of its forefather. Every single tale is a mutation of sorts; so much so that Vlad the Impaler had morphed into another creature altogether. The Coldest Girl in Cold Town must’ve caught me on a good day. Because for all its effort to stick to the original legend (somewhat), it had worked so much better than any other vampire metamorphosis that have become vastly popular in modern fiction. That’s not to say that Holly Black didn’t give it her own twist. Conversely, the combination of both old and the new made for a time-sucking read. And that’s a good thing.

A bloody hangover.

The sundown party that Tana attended was meant to usher in the end of the school year. But when she woke up in a bloodbath surrounded by corpses, the hangover will probably not go away even if she swallowed a bottle of Advil.  The only survivor of the massacre was her ex on the cusp of a change, and a chained ferocious vampire with ruby red eyes and a revenge years in the making. Knowing what was waiting for them outside the door of the room, Tana had to find a way to leave the farm house. With Aidan, her ex on the verge of becoming a vampire himself, she needed to get him to a place where vampirism is a way of life: Cold Town.

Take two aspirins, and call me in the morning.

In Cold Town, they might have a chance at surviving. And knowing that she could be infected herself, there really was no former life to get back to. Unless, she’s willing to let the virus ran its course – which would take 88 days of excruciating pain and thirst. She’s determined not to change so she could go back to her sister, Pearl and their  father, who was already traumatized for killing their newborn mother.  Sometimes, the best laid plans could be blown to smithereens, which is exactly what happens when they find out the identity of the vampire riding shotgun in the trunk of her car.

Remedy for my malady.

Who would’ve thunk it? I’ve been in such a horrendous stretch of funk with YA lately that I didn’t think I’d see the light of day. Who would’ve guessed that this vampire novel is just what I needed to jump start my YA mojo back to pubescent exuberance again? Sometimes, simplicity is good. And this is what I found in Holly Black’s vampire novel. The world was effortlessly imaginable, with an absorbing, suspenseful plot line, an a set of characters who are not too complex that you’d need to do an individual psych evaluation to get to know.

Tana is a character who’s got her head on straight despite the mess of her so-called life. She’s fearless, selfless, and with no concept of self preservation. Her refusal to change also what makes her more admirable. Her determination to remain human stems from the history of how she lost her mother. And while her fearlessness sometimes led her to some questionable choices, it didn’t make her any less valiant.

The romance was subtle, which is also a big plus for this book. Because if you’re on the verge of becoming a monster, that should be on the forefront of your mind and not how “the cold one” makes your dying heart tick. It was realistic, and it made sense.

In conclusion, Holly Black’s take on the vampire lore may not be avant garde, but it was exactly what I needed to get out of a funk.
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P.S.A.

I would just like to apologize again for the spam mails you got from me last night.  We had a bit of trouble with the integration so we had to manually import some old posts from the old blog. You shouldn’t be getting anymore old updates from me, but just in case you are, please let me know.
xoxo

Joy

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Nameless by Lili St. Crow

Dark and extraordinary. 
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Nameless by Lili St. Crow
Razorbill | Hardcover, 328 pages
Truth be told, I opened this review with: this is not your ordinary retelling of a beloved fairy tale, then deleted it altogether because even that line seems like a tired old phrase used to describe every single retelling that’s ever grazed our shelves. I also wrote, this is Snow White like you’ve never seen her before, but then I read the book’s jacket and it has the exact same quote from someone or other.

If you ask me to give you a little rundown of this book, then I’ll have to decline because it’s beyond me. Complicated, dark and gothic, shockingly beautiful and irrevocably unique. But I must warn you that the writing takes a bit of getting used to. There was a wide-spread usage of jargons that are entirely intrinsic to the novel as a whole. And yet, I didn’t question it nor did I complain about it. The author substituted words that have been used and misused in every paranormal YA I’ve ever read. Words like: vampires, sucking blood and the process of which vampires die in a way that almost gives them the benefit of a soul is unheard of. Then I find myself thinking, how do you even know the Seven Families are vampires? It could be another species of mythical creatures altogether, for all I know. That’s the beauty of this imagined world though, it’s wide open to interpretation and pliable enough to cater every reader’s imagination.

The romance. Oh the romance. There were two boys. It was weird. That’s all I’m going to say about that. I think if I say any more, I would ruin it. But the second I realized the love triangle was impossible, I kind of wished it was. And that’s saying a lot because love triangles fill me with abhorrence and disgust. But not here. I look forward to Camille’s interactions with both boys on every page.

The world building is insane; a dichotomy of old world and the future, an ambiance that was romantic and dark, lush and forbidden – hard to explain and even harder to paint. It’s a twisted world perfectly immortalized by the author’s words.

Nameless may be a retelling of Snow White but St. Crow stripped it off anything that may deemed it fairy tale. Prince charming does not exist and the Princess was a stuttering mess. Bring your patience and an appreciation for the weird if you’re thinking of reading this book.

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Review: Untraceable by S.R. Johannes

Publication Date: November 29th, 2011

Coleman & Scott
Format: Kindle Copy
RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars
SUMMARY
Everyone leaves a mark. What if yours could be erased?
Untraceable is a new teen wilderness thriller with a missing father, a kickbutt heroine, and of course – two hot boys.
16 year old Grace has lived in the Smokies all her life, patrolling with her forest ranger father who taught her about wildlife, tracking, and wilderness survival.

When her dad goes missing on a routine patrol, Grace refuses to believe he’s dead and fights the town authorities, tribal officials, and nature to find him.

One day, while out tracking clues, Grace is rescued from danger by Mo, a hot guy with an intoxicating accent and a secret. As her feelings between him and her ex-boyfriend get muddled, Grace travels deep into the wilderness to escape and find her father.

Along the way, Grace learns terrible secrets that sever relationships and lives. Soon she’s enmeshed in a web of conspiracy, deception, and murder. And it’s going to take a lot more than a compass and a motorcycle (named Lucifer) for this kick-butting heroine to save everything she loves.

I sent an email to the author last week asking her where I could purchase her book. I’m not sure if she could tell but I was a little…er, frantic. I literally searched all the on line bookstores and I couldn’t find a copy! Well, she was nice enough to tell me that her book wasn’t available yet. Duh! Anyway, I waited {im}patiently like a good little bookworm that I am and when the day finally arrived, I wasted no time and devoured this baby right away.

Untraceable is a story about a teen who doesn’t know the words surrender, relinquish, defeat, give up, submit or any other words synonymous to concede. Grace is practically the only person in the whole town who believes that there’s something suspicious about her father’s disappearance. The rest of the population of small town North Carolina just tolerated her inquisitiveness as a way to deal with grief, even her own mother. Grace seem to keep finding herself in a heap of trouble as she digs up clues to her father’s whereabouts. But she’s determined. She refuses to give up hope; as long as there’s no body, Grace will scour every square inch of the Smokies to find her father. What she discovers along the way is the gruesome reality of what extremes people will do for money and a boy with a history connected to her search.

Grace is such a refreshing character. Her rock hard determination and belief that her father was still alive parallels her will to do whatever she sets her mind into. Her best trait is that she just wouldn’t give up, no matter how ludicrous she may seem to other people or no matter how many times she’d hit a dead end. She just keeps going. Nothing fazes this girl, not even a knife to her throat. Heck, she’d pet a bear one moment and give a guy a roundhouse kick on the next! I truly enjoyed reading her POV. She has this funny opinion about herself; not so much self-deprecating but just candidly real.

The action in this novel was unrelenting. It made for a fast read, in my opinion. The gruesome parts were a bit unBEARable – I found myself tearing up on some scenes, especially the one with a trapped cub. If you’re an animal lover, there are some hard-hitting, hard-to-swallow facts about poaching. It was disturbing and yet I was oddly thankful for the education.

I’ve never been a fan of camping or any outdoor activities myself. But after reading this book, I may sign up for the next fly fishing class. I have no clue how  Ms. Johannes did it, but she somehow romanticized all the things I hated about any outdoor activities known to man.

Now, I’m sure you’ve read me lamenting about annoying love triangles many a times and unfortunately, this book has it. FORTUNATELY, it wasn’t the kind that made me want to yank my hair out.  It almost felt like the author was running two different stories. It wasn’t that Grace was a completely different person when she was with either guys, it was just the way she compartmentalized either boys. Never did I feel the usual annoyance that I usually feel when I read love triangles and I think it also had something to do with the way Ms. Johannes gave Grace a feeling of certainty on who her heart truly belonged. I know there were some instances where she could’ve gone either way but I wasn’t fooled. The boy whom she ended up with (?) just felt like her other half. There’s just no ifs and buts about it…and I may or may not be biased to the Brit boy because he kept calling her, “blossom”. Sawwwwwwooooon (oh crap! did I just spoil that?)

This book ended in a cliffy and I’m dying to read the next one. If you’re looking for a change of pace, this YA suspense will just be the ticket. This book had me up and at ’em at four in the morning. I just couldn’t get it out of my head. Untraceable is a well conceptualized, well written novel that’s truly one of a kind. It had an environmental message woven in a tale about a family’s way of dealing with a loss of a loved one. Unconventional, yes but oddly appropriate. Everyone’s got a way of telling a story and I thought that S.R. Johannes did a marvelous job.  I love finding great reads that really wasn’t even in my radar up until seven days ago. Don’t pass up on this book.

“Everything that touches this earth leaves a special imprint, a unique mark that proves we existed in some way – no matter how invisible we may feel.” – S.R. Johannes

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Review: Invisible Touch by Kelly Parra

Publication Date: October 14th, 2008
MTV Books
Format: Paperback, 279 pages
RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars



SUMMARY
Kara Martinez has been trying to be “normal” ever since the accident that took her father’s life when she was eleven years old. She’s buried the caliente side of her Mexican heritage with her father and tried to be the girl her rigid mother wants her to be — compliant and dressed in pink, and certainly not acting out like her older brother Jason. Not even Danielle, her best friend at Valdez High, has seen the real Kara; only those who read her anonymous blog know the deepest secrets of the Sign Seer.
Because Kara has a gift — one that often feels like a curse. She sees signs, visions that are clues to a person’s fate, if she can put together the pieces of the puzzle in time. So far, she’s been able to solve the clues and avert disaster for those she’s been warned about — until she sees the flash of a gun on a fellow classmate, and the stakes are raised higher than ever before. Kara does her best to follow the signs, but it’s her heart that wanders into new territory when she falls for a mysterious guy from the wrong side of town, taking her closer to answers she may not be able to handle. Will her forbidden romance help her solve the deadly puzzle before it’s too late…or lead her even further into danger?
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I’m always excited to find books that are literally difficult to put down. I came across Invisible Touch through Alexa’s  review. For once, my bookshelves-stalking skills paid off! We generally have the same tastes in books so I trust her judgement completely. I ordered this book sometime in the summer and obviously, had just got around to reading it.  I picked it off my shelf last night and devoured it almost in one sitting. I’m sleepless and it feels like an entire construction crew is jackhammering the skull off my head. But I can’t say I have any regrets. I loved every wakeful minute spent reading this. 
HIGHLIGHTS:
  • Kara Martinez and her family had been struggling to be whole since her father was killed in a boat accident. Aside from having to deal with the grief, she’d had to play a game of pretend with practically everyone she knows. She’d also been keeping a secret – a secret that could have her institutionalized for being insane. On the day that her father was killed, she was pronounced dead…for eleven whole minutes. She woke up with a disturbing ability to see ghosts and signs on people foretelling of an imminent danger. Her latest premonition involved people she knew and a boy who knew more than he’d let on. 
  • Rubik’s Cube. Almost the entirety of the novel was a puzzle to be solved. There wasn’t any obvious answers nor there were any easy ones. I’ve never been a fan of mystery solving books but this one had me completely engrossed. The mark of a good mystery novel, if I may say so myself. 
  • Compelling Characters. The primary reason why this book gave me a sleepless night was because of its characters. Once you start reading about Kara, you’d have this inane desire to keep going. Her subdued beauty and traits clashed with her intense need to just break out, to be free from grief, to be free from all the pretences and to finally break free from the wall she barricaded around her. Often times, I wanted to shake this girl; I wanted her to cry and scream out her frustration. I wanted her to stop making everyone feel like everything was okay by pretending. It was completely exhausting. But no matter how frustrated I got, Kara was that type of character that I can’t just abandon. Her character has this ability to draw you in until you’re completely vested in the story. The family dynamics around Kara was to be expected of a family in grief. Her mother’s need to coddle her to the point of suffocation was her way of protecting what was left of her family. Jason, Kara’s brother folded into himself. There was something about his quiet anger that made me feel like he was also ashamed; ashamed for all his shortcomings as the man of the family. I also loved her best friend, Danielle. They were two sides of the same coin; each one hid a secret and had the same fear. I’ll get to Anthony Garcia in a bit. He deserves his own billing 🙂 I just think that Ms Parra created a cast of characters that were deeper than their token roles in Kara’s life. 
  • Toe-curling Romance.  I’m a big fan of forbidden romances and there was just a touch of that here. Anthony was from the wrong side of the tracks and Kara was absolutely not allowed to date him. I guess if there were any other stories that this novel would be akin to, I’d say Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles would be its close relative. He had some questionable reactions that were better explained toward the end. I loved his intensity; it jelled well with Kara’s constant insecurities. He was tenderness and sweetness and ferocity rolled into one package of hot Latin blood. *sigh* 
“If one day I was taken away…would you wait for me to come back?”
Concerned moved across his face. “Where are you going?”
“Just tell me, please. I need to know, without telling you anything else.”
“No.”
I swallowed and blinked back tears.
“I’d go after you,” he said.” 

LOWLIGHTS:
Sorry, this book is one of my favourites. I just can’t find any!


FINAL THOUGHTS:
If the page-turning mystery does not entice you to chomp this up, then the romance is sure to engage you in. 


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Review: The Power of Six by Pittacus Lore

Publication Date:  August 23rd, 2011
HarperCollins
Format:  Hardcover, 406 pages
Add The Power of Six to your Goodreads!

SUMMARY
I’ve seen him on the news. Followed the stories about what happened in Ohio. John Smith, out there, on the run. To the world, he’s a mystery. But to me . . . he’s one of us.

Nine of us came here, but sometimes I wonder if time has changed us—if we all still believe in our mission. How can I know? There are six of us left. We’re hiding, blending in, avoiding contact with one another . . . but our Legacies are developing, and soon we’ll be equipped to fight. Is John Number Four, and is his appearance the sign I’ve been waiting for? And what about Number Five and Six? Could one of them be the raven-haired girl with the stormy eyes from my dreams? The girl with powers that are beyond anything I could ever imagine? The girl who may be strong enough to bring the six of us together?

They caught Number One in Malaysia.
Number Two in England.
And Number Three in Kenya.
They tried to catch Number Four in Ohio—and failed.

I am Number Seven. One of six still alive.

And I’m ready to fight.

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MY TAKE: 2/5 STARS
Initial Reaction After Reading:
I’m thoroughly angry. The majority of the book was a fantastic read…until I got to the parts where Four/John Smith agonized like a fickle boy stuck between loving one girl and liking another. Oh, there’s a difference. It makes me mad that THIS overshadowed how great this book could’ve been. I’m sorry that I’m so hung up on the forced romances in this book but I detest love triangles; hate it, hate it, hate it – with a passion. I have debated on abadoning this book but with only about a quarter left, I forced down the irritation and persevered to continue.
Highlights:
  • The instalment to I Am Number Four follows the story of Four, Six and Sam on the run from the law and from the Mogadorians on their tails. Much like its predecessor, this book was action packed and full of unrelenting thrills.  
  • We finally learned of the contents of the chests and the legacies that will help the surviving six exiles to find each other and fight for Lorien’s resurgence.
  • Sam and Bernie Kozar remain my favorite characters of this series but I also enjoyed some new characters that were introduced: Ella and Hector.
  • Six is a bad-ass, kick ass chick, who unfortunately, had to suffer being a part of a ridiculous love triangle. We get to learn more about the life she led with her deceased Cephan, Katarina. I love her ferocity and will toward whatever purpose she was supposed to fulfill.
  • Step aside, Four, I have a new favorite Loric. Number Seven, much like Six is resolute in her beliefs. Having lived most of her Earth life in a convent, the suffocation she felt at being ‘imprisoned’ was palpable. I was frustrated with Adelina for renouncing her duties as her Cephan, but thankfully, there was some redemption in her character toward the end.
Lowlights:
  • Four/ John Smith. Through much of his angsty soliloquy about Sarah and Six, the thoughts swirling through my head was that this book was not written by the original author who wrote I Am Number Four. It just cannot be. How in the world could you introduce me to a strong male lead in the first book and then turn him into a pantsy, angsty alien on the next? The decision to see Sarah in Paradise was, in the spirit of honesty, the STUPIDEST thing he could ever done. I’m just having a hard time digesting how Four turned out. I’m almost glad that the entire book wasn’t told in his POV, because, seriously, when he’s not fighting Mogs? Being in his head made me want to slit my wrist. I’m not kidding. Stop pining already! Ugh.
  • Speaking of Sarah, why do I get the feeling that what she did was just a veiled attempt to force feed me with the idea of Four and Six?  Right now? I really couldn’t care less who Four ends up with. I am more interested to see what happens to the rest of the Lorics. Sarah was another character who turned Jekyll and Hyde on me. I just don’t understand why the author chose to un-developed these two characters. I didn’t really warm up to the idea of Sarah and Four but I’m furious that the author sold me – completely at that, on the first book with their professions of love only to make a mockery of it on the next. What.the.heck.
Final Thoughts:
Even after receiving a lukewarm reception from me, this book definitely did its job of building anticipation for the next one. I really am looking forward to reading the third instalment, regardless of how angry this book made me. I still think that this is an amazing series but I AM SO OVER FOUR.

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Review: Blood Wounds by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Publication Date: September 12, 2011
Harcourt Children’s Books
Format: Hardcover, 256 pages
Goodreads Summary

Willa is lucky: She has a loving blended family that gets along. Not all families are so fortunate. But when a bloody crime takes place hundreds of miles away, it has an explosive effect on Willa’s peaceful life. The estranged father she hardly remembers has murdered his new wife and children, and is headed east toward Willa and her mother.
Under police protection, Willa discovers that her mother has harbored secrets that are threatening to boil over. Has everything Willa believed about herself been a lie? As Willa sets out to untangle the mysteries of her past, she keeps her own secret—one that has the potential to tear her family apart.
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MY TAKE: 4/5 STARS
This book was such a disturbing read. It starts off with a picture of seemingly perfect nuclear family – each one supportive of each other. At one point, you couldn’t really foresee anything will go wrong to destroy Willa’s somewhat unusual family set up. She lives with her mother, her stepfather Jack, and his two daughters from another marriage. Everyone gets along – but like all other families, resentments and bitterness bubble close to the surface.


One blow was all it took for this house of cards to come tumbling down.

Right off the bat, we learned about Willa’s secret. What she does to escape the pressure of always wanting and never having. That secret alone was disturbing. I try to stay away from stories involving cutting but I was glad that in this book, it wasn’t really the main focus. It was about Willa’s biological father’s murdering spree. He killed his entire family – his wife and his three children. The murders were gory, violent and hard to comprehend. This was the catalyst for Willa’s awakening, to find out who she was and to stop ignoring the potent blood that gurgles through her veins.

I have read Life As We Know It by this author and I’ve enjoyed it as much as a book about an Armageddon scenario could be enjoyed. So I wasn’t really surprised when I felt the same way about this after reading. Ms. Pfeffer has a way with words – dark and gloom seem to be her area of expertise.

Honestly, it took a lot to convince myself that Willa will not end up like her father. The author did a good job of planting that seed in my head. That because Willa likes to cut herself, she’ll somehow ended up like her father, one who has a penchant for blood and knives. I kept waiting for her to finally snap, and really who could blame her? I would’ve if I’d been in her shoes. Living with her stepsisters alone should’ve been cause enough to kill them in their sleeps, but hey, that’s just me. They’re really not that bad, if a little spoiled and privileged. They have their moments of decency. I can’t really fault them for having lived their advantageous lives.

I love Willa’s relationship with her stepbrother, Trace – brief, sad but tender just the same.

My heart was beating out of my chest when Willa was imagining how her father’s family met their demise. All the blood, all the violence and the disturbing way he cradled the youngest’ severed head in his arms. It was truly a scene out of a psycho thriller flick.

Blood Wounds had me from page one. Its disturbing and visceral writing make for a terrifying and realistic read. If a change of pace is what you want, I suggest trying this one on for size. Definitely not to be missed. 

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Review: Dark of the Moon by Tracy Barrett

Publication Date: September 19th, 2011
Harcourt Children’s Books
Format: Hardcover, 320 pages

Goodreads Summary

Ariadne is destined to become a goddess of the moon. She leads a lonely life, filled with hours of rigorous training by stern priestesses. Her former friends no longer dare to look at her, much less speak to her. All that she has left are her mother and her beloved, misshapen brother Asterion, who must be held captive below the palace for his own safety.
So when a ship arrives one spring day, bearing a tribute of slaves from Athens, Ariadne sneaks out to meet it. These newcomers don’t know the ways of Krete; perhaps they won’t be afraid of a girl who will someday be a powerful goddess. And indeed she meets Theseus, the son of the king of Athens. Ariadne finds herself drawn to the newcomer, and soon they form a friendship—one that could perhaps become something more.
Yet Theseus is doomed to die as an offering to the Minotaur, that monster beneath the palace—unless he can kill the beast first. And that “monster” is Ariadne’s brother . . .

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MY TAKE: Unrated

This is a Greek Mythology remixed. If you were like me, whose knowledge in that subject is pretty limited to the usual (the Trojan War), then this book would probably not be for you.

Dark of the Moon focuses on the legend of Minotaur; a half-beast, half-human brother of Ariadne.

This book is intricate, with characters that you’d need first hand knowledge of. I had a hard time keeping up with everyone’s gods and goddesses, religious practices and who belongs to which, for lack of a better word, tribe. I had a hard time following the story line period. I was bombarded with a whole slew of characters that I felt I had to have a refresher course just to understand what their roles were.

I’m going to be completely honest and say that I have no idea who Minotaur is. I’ve never read of his myth at all and therefore, I must say that I had a difficult time reading and understanding this book.

I did love Ariadne’s love and affection for Asterion (her brother). Often times, the scenes played out poignantly as I pictured a delicate girl taking care of the beast in the palace’s dungeons.

If you’re looking for romance, you won’t find it here. Incidentally, I feel like I should start questioning my intelligence should I read The Goddest Test and actually like it. But we all know reading is subjective. And I’m a romance reader first before anything else. Does that make this book bad? Well, no. In fact, if I were into Mythology retelling sans the aspect of romance, I think I would have loved this book. The author’s creativeness about the subject made this book multi-dimensional. She wrote about legends, religion and the importance of family. I’m just sorry I didn’t like it as much as I would have.

This book was written well, and those who are fans of Greek Mythology retelling would absolutely love this book. But it really wasn’t for me. I am not sure if I should rate it. I neither like it nor hate it. 


 
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Review: As I Wake by Elizabeth Scott

 
Publication Date:  September 15, 2011
Dutton Juvenile
Format:  Hardback, 224 pages
 
 
Ava is welcomed home from the hospital by a doting mother, lively friends, and a crush finally beginning to show interest. There’s only one problem: Ava can’t remember any of them – and can’t shake the eerie feeling that she’s not who they say she is.

Ava struggles to break through her amnesiac haze as she goes through the motions of high-school life, but the memories that surface take place in a very different world, where Ava and familiar-faced friends are under constant scrutiny and no one can be trusted. Ava doesn’t know what to make of these visions, or of the boy who is at the center of them all, until he reappears in her life and offers answers . . . but only in exchange for her trust.

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MY TAKE 2/5 STARS
 
Let me see if I can give you a breakdown of what this book is about.

…hold on…

…still thinking…

…Nope. Sorry. I got nothing.

Even if I try to put into words how I perceived this book, I think I’ll just confuse you even more.
I’d like to give this book five stars for originality; because no one, I MEAN no one, can probably duplicate the story line that Elizabeth Scott created. We’re talking alternate universe where one or more of the same person can exist but not in the same space. Where the government was free to vanish criminals – innocent or guilty – into a dystopian world where food was scarce that you would need stamps or tickets to avail of your basic needs; where no one is trusted and you are being watched, listened, and stalked, day in and day out. But there was also a parallel universe where life was normal, where kids go to school and they worry about cliques or if their crushes will finally talk to them.

I think the premise is simple enough to follow. But when the characters’ worlds collide, that’s when I ran into a mountain of problems.

The story focuses on Ava, a girl who woke up not knowing who she was. Little by little, tidbits of her memory unearth a million of questions that I still felt were unanswered. I’d like to give props to Ms. Scott for successfully inciting this reader’s empathy with Ava’s character. I was as confused as Ava was…and I don’t know if that’s a good thing.

For a book of 224 pages, I thought that there were too many things going on that it could’ve probably used a hundred more. Everything was vague and muddled. I’d like to have a one-on-one talk with Ms. Scott just so she could explain this book to me.

I have so many questions.

What happened to the world that the government suspected everyone?

How did Ava know what the chemical composition is of an explosive?

How did those kids end up in a dark place where they are trained to be some sort of government spies?

Plot-wise, I felt like Elizabeth Scott threw me in a vast ocean without a life jacket; not necessarily to drown but to find my way to the shore. You have to find your way to the end of the story – a story which I found difficult to follow. Some of the dialogues were stilted, which at some point annoyed me. Even so, I thought that the dark undertones made the writing strange and beautiful.

I have read reviews of this book, and I am probably missing the whole point. If you like solving puzzles or being thrown in a world full of mysteries, then this book is for you.

In the end, I was just happy to finish this book. Reading this was not a pleasant experience.

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