Adaptation by Malinda Lo

Publication Date: September 18th, 2012
Little, Brown and Company
Format: Hardcover, 386 pages
RATING: 3 out of 5 Stars
Reese can’t remember anything from the time between the accident and the day she woke up almost a month later. She only knows one thing: She’s different now.
Across North America, flocks of birds hurl themselves into airplanes, causing at least a dozen to crash. Thousands of people die. Fearing terrorism, the United States government grounds all flights, and millions of travelers are stranded.
Reese and her debate team partner and longtime crush David are in Arizona when it happens. Everyone knows the world will never be the same. On their drive home to San Francisco, along a stretch of empty highway at night in the middle of Nevada, a bird flies into their headlights. The car flips over. When they wake up in a military hospital, the doctor won’t tell them what happened, where they are—or how they’ve been miraculously healed.
Things become even stranger when Reese returns home. San Francisco feels like a different place with police enforcing curfew, hazmat teams collecting dead birds, and a strange presence that seems to be following her. When Reese unexpectedly collides with the beautiful Amber Gray, her search for the truth is forced in an entirely new direction—and threatens to expose a vast global conspiracy that the government has worked for decades to keep secret.

It’s taken me at least two weeks to actually finish this book. I started off hooked and completely enthralled with the mystery surrounding the deadly flock of birds but by the time that’s over, this book just completely flat-lined. Considering there was a bigger mystery in what happened to Reese and David after their car accident, it’s unfortunate that it couldn’t sustain my initial hunger.

Do you guys remember those birds that fell from the sky a couple of years ago? There were conspiracy theories that circled all over the internet and news networks that had something to do with either weather, fireworks, the Mayan apocalypse and invisible UFOs. Well, Adaptation’s genesis was this phenomenon. Reese and David were stranded in Arizona due to FAA’s grounding of all flights in and out of the country. Flocks of suicidal birds flew themselves to their death by colliding with planes for inexplicable reasons. When their rental finally made it out of Arizona, chaos, looting, killings have started. Their debate coach was held at gunpoint at a gas station that eventually exploded into a fiery ball. As the two made their escape, a bird caused an accident that landed them in a secret government hospital.

We all know what happens when you find yourself in a secret government anything. You end up signing a NDA, your house would be infested with listening bugs and then you’d be stalked followed by the Men in Black. This is what happened to David and Reese. Not only did they have to constantly look behind their backs, they slowly discovered extraordinary things about their bodies.

There wasn’t a shortage of suspense as David and Reese sought out answers. In all my reading life, I’ve never been exposed to how far the government would go to hide their secrets. This was kind of a revelation for me (just goes to show how limited my reading preferences are).

The romantic elements didn’t work, in my opinion. David and Reese had that budding romance that didn’t really go anywhere. The next love interest also didn’t spark fireworks. I wasn’t convinced that Reese’s fascination with this person didn’t stem from curiosity or that for the lack of choices. It was like, okay David didn’t work…soooo let’s try you on for size. Know what I mean? Reese’s coming of age, self-discovery story seemed out of place. If this book focused more on its sci-fi trope, then perhaps I’d have liked it more. I normally enjoy romantic arcs in a book but in Adaptation’s case, it was simply a distraction.

VERDICT: While I didn’t really cozy up to this novel, I have no problem recommending it nonetheless. This novel is unique; the premise unheard of in this genre. Malinda Lo took what happened a couple of years ago (give or take), gave it a little twist of X-Files and went with it. The result is a one-of-a-kind novel that will have adrenaline junkies and conspiracy theorists salivating for the instalment.

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The Infects by Sean Beaudoin [Review and G!veaway]

Publication Date: September 25th, 2012
Candlewick Press
Format: ARC, 369 pages
RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars
A feast for the brain, this gory and genuinely hilarious take on zombie culture simultaneously skewers, pays tribute to, and elevates the horror genre.
Seventeen-year-old Nero is stuck in the wilderness with a bunch of other juvenile delinquents on an “Inward Trek.” As if that weren’t bad enough, his counselors have turned into flesh-eating maniacs overnight and are now chowing down on his fellow miscreants. As in any classic monster flick worth its salted popcorn, plentiful carnage sends survivors rabbiting into the woods while the mindless horde of “infects” shambles, moans, and drools behind. Of course, these kids have seen zombie movies. They generate “Zombie Rules” almost as quickly as cheeky remarks, but attitude alone can’t keep the biters back. Serving up a cast of irreverent, slightly twisted characters, an unexpected villain, and an ending you won’t see coming, here is a savvy tale that that’s a delight to read — whether you’re a rabid zombie fan or freshly bitten — and an incisive commentary on the evil that lurks within each of us.

So, check it.

This book is far from perfect. There are ambiguities in the story itself that the author chose to leave unexplored for whatever reason he deemed necessary. Even so, I gave this book five stars and I am going to attempt my very best to tell you why. The ratings for this book on Goodreads puzzles me; but for once, I see a role reversal of some sort. Usually, I’d be scratching my head because of a book’s history of high rating in which I disagree. This time, however, I’m on the flip side of the coin. 

The Gist: Troubled teens serving 3-6 months in a reform camp. Genetically enhanced, chemically induced chicken. Zombie apocalypse. Think – Lord of the Flies with zombies killing kids and no (human) kids killing kids. Think – Zombieland but funnier. Think – This is Not a Test without the angst of a suicidal teenager. Makes sense?

The Review: Well, shit. I think I’ve touched my last KFC original recipe fried chicken. Scrap that. I think I’ve touched my last piece of chicken EVER. Sean combined humor and gore in a way that you’d realize you’re not supposed to be laughing at the sad circumstances in which people – both young and old – were dying in the most bloodied, spectacular way. But hey, I’ve never been one for normal reactions anyway.

There is a subtle brilliance in Nick’s wry, more often, sarcastic voice. It was full of mockery and potshots against the society as a whole. If I were an intelligent reviewer or a much deeper reader, I’m sure I can connect the bee hive mentality of the zombies to those of the teens roaming the caf, quad and hallways of their education establishment. But because I’m not, I think I’m gonna go with what I know here and just give you some highlights (in bullet form, no less) why this book DID NOT SUCK.

  •  Nick/Nero. Socially awkward, quiet but bad-ass.  An unassuming hero who only ever wanted what other sixteen year-old boy would: to finally man-up and speak to a girl he’s been jonesing with for a while. To not have to work the night shift at a chicken slaughter house so they won’t get evicted…or to not have to worry about his little sister who prefers the company of a hand-held game and to have her speak normally. Lastly, for The Dude to finally act like The Dad.
  • There is something unequivocally disturbing intelligent about Nick’s outlook on things. I could literally fill this review up with musings and observations that are most often funny, quirky and true. 
  • The build-up to the gore-fest was genius. You’ll more than likely get bored with the first fifty pages of the book because you’d think nothing is happening. But I digress; all the events that lead up to the contagion and its source is like background noise as you read through Nick’s banal, boring, and cumbersome life. Chances are, you’d probably ignore the signs if you’re not paying attention.
  •   Violence, blood, gore, brain matter, exposed intestines, creative ways of killing zombies, seemingly hormonal zombies (see Swann) and even more hormonal boys (humans).
  • The Rock. Yes, the wrestler…”If you smell-el-el-el-elllll what The Rock is cooking…” appearing as the inner voice of reason and kick-assery in Nero’s head. Just imagine how freaking awesome this book would be in FILM. And seriously? As I read through The Rock’s parts, I was imagining the flare of his nose and the waggles of his brows while he more or less called on every single one of Nero’s bullshit.
  •   The opening went like this:
The neighborhood was trashed, funeral pyres in the distance burning against a raw pink sky. Half the street was in rubble, from Thompkins all the way to Main. The high school was gone.

Sounds like a nice set-up for a post-apocalyptic party, eh? Well, it is and it isn’t.

Verdict: Reminiscent of Shaun of the Dead, the Infects is fun as it is gory, funny as it is thought provoking. If you’re a fan of zombies in literature, this offers just enough change (humor) in the long line of books with similar subject matter. It was like watching a dark comedy with zombies in the co-starring role.

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Invincible (Chronicles of Nick #2) by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Publication Date: March 22nd, 2011
St. Martin’s Griffin
Format: Hardcover, 420 pages
RATING: 3 out of 5 Stars
Nick Gautier’s day just keeps getting better and better. Yeah, he survived the zombie attacks, only to wake up and find himself enslaved to a world of shapeshifters and demons out to claim his soul.
His new principal thinks he’s even more of a hoodlum than the last one, his coach is trying to recruit him to things he can’t even mention and the girl he’s not seeing, but is, has secrets that terrify him.
But more than that, he’s being groomed by the darkest of powers and if he doesn’t learn how to raise the dead by the end of the week, he will become one of them…
I keep hoping that this series will get better. But so far, I’ve not seen even a shadow of talent that I’ve come to know of Sherrilyn Kenyon. This isn’t the action-packed, adrenaline rush that I’m used to reading. This book for example, moved at such a snail’s pace. I got to page 255 and still, nothing had happened. It was also at that point when I realized that I was reading for the sake of reading, unable to care what happened either way. Consequently, by page 272, I knew I was postponing the inevitable. I was wasting my time. 

Three-quarters of the book dealt with the aftermath of the quasi-zombie apocalypse from book one. By now, everyone has been paying attention to Nick. Everyone, including the dark forces that want to dominate the world in utter supremacy. The theory is, Nick is the only person who can destroy humanity and reign as king of all. So there are forces who wanted him for their purposes. On the flip side of the coin, there are also the good forces that are determined to keep Nick’s humanity in tact so the whole thing was like a tug-of-war. Since this is only the second book of the series, it’s still hard to decipher the players of the game. Just when you think you’ve got all the teams figured out, Kenyon would insert this nugget of a doubt to mess it all up.

This book is also about Nick’s slow realization and awareness of his powers and the people who are helping him embrace them. My main problem with this book was that the story line seems to be disjointed. I had a hard time following how the evil coach was pertinent to Nick’s coming into his own. This book just seem too disorganized for me to follow.

I still adore the characters – majors and secondary. If there’s anything that Sherrilyn is good at, it’s creating a diverse characters but remaining genuine to her Dark Hunters series.

VERDICT: The allure that Sherrilyn Kenyon wrote this series stops here for me. Half the time, I was encumbered with boredom and restlessness while reading these books. I’d come to a conclusion that Ms. Kenyon’s forte will always be Adult PNR and I’ll be the first in line should she start a new series along that genre.

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Infinity (Chronicles of Nick #1) by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Publication Date: May 25th, 2010
St. Martin’s Griffin
Format: Hardcover, 464 pages
RATING: 3 out of 5 Stars
At fourteen, Nick Gautier thinks he knows everything about the world around him. Streetwise, tough and savvy, his quick sarcasm is the stuff of legends. . .until the night when his best friends try to kill him. Saved by a mysterious warrior who has more fighting skills than Chuck Norris, Nick is sucked into the realm of the Dark-Hunters: immortal vampire slayers who risk everything to save humanity.

Nick quickly learns that the human world is only a veil for a much larger and more dangerous one: a world where the captain of the football team is a werewolf and the girl he has a crush on goes out at night to stake the undead.

But before he can even learn the rules of this new world, his fellow students are turning into flesh eating zombies. And he’s next on the menu. As if starting high school isn’t hard enough. . .now Nick has to hide his new friends from his mom, his chainsaw from the principal, and keep the zombies and the demon Simi from eating his brains, all without getting grounded or suspended. How in the world is he supposed to do that?

Chronicles of Nick is a spawn off Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunter series. It took me a while to get started on this because I had to make sure I wouldn’t miss out on anything if I jump into this series without reading any of the Dark Hunters first. Now that I’ve read Infinity, I’d say I would’ve been lost on some but not totally.

This book’s prologue was set into the future; Nick’s got all this anger bottled up inside him directed at his best friend and former hero, Acheron. You’ll have to read book number…(I can’t remember) of the Dark Hunter series to find out why. Chronicles of Nick is about his journey; to embrace his dark side, to explore his powers, to choose between being good or following in his father’s footsteps. In the meantime, he’s had to deal with groundings from his mom, battling zombies, werewolves, ghosts, and whatever fun mysticism New Orleans has to offer.

After reading the fantastic This is Not a Test, reading Infinity was like a comedy. I’m not being facetious; I just meant that the breed of zombies and the voice of the characters remind me of Shawn of the Dead – the comedic side of a zombie apocalypse. While Infinity was more of a zombie invasion brought on by black magic and, if you can believe it, spurred on by a gamer with a lot of time on his hands, it was – and forgive me for saying this, lame.

Sherrilyn Kenyon however, has the innate talent to hypnotized you into devouring her book in practically one sitting. It didn’t matter how lame it was, I flipped the pages until I read the entire thing. And in any case, I love reading about Nick anyway and I was most especially curious about his relationship with his mother and his evil, absentee father. His voice remained genuine from what I’ve read of him so far in the Dark Hunter series. He’s sassy, quick-witted and sarcastically funny. Over all, this book lacked a viable plot. It almost felt like, Ms. Kenyon wrote this just to jump into the YA bandwagon. It was disappointing.

VERDICT: Overall it was an enjoyable read and I will probably read the rest of the series (since I already have them). At the end of the day, you’re really not missing much.

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This is Not A Test by Courtney Summers [G!veaway Alert]

Publication Date: June 19th, 2012
St. Martin’s Griffin
Format: Paperback, 326 pages
RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars
It’s the end of the world. Six students have taken cover in Cortege High but shelter is little comfort when the dead outside won’t stop pounding on the doors. One bite is all it takes to kill a person and bring them back as a monstrous version of their former self.
To Sloane Price, that doesn’t sound so bad. Six months ago, her world collapsed and since then, she’s failed to find a reason to keep going. Now seems like the perfect time to give up. As Sloane eagerly waits for the barricades to fall, she’s forced to witness the apocalypse through the eyes of five people who actually want to live.
But as the days crawl by, the motivations for survival change in startling ways and soon the group’s fate is determined less and less by what’s happening outside and more and more by the unpredictable and violent bids for life—and death—inside.
When everything is gone, what do you hold on to?

There are not a lot of authors who I consider a sure thing; even fewer books that I knew I’d love soon after reading its synopsis. This is Not A Test is a book that I’ve pined over for months now, so you can just imagine how high my expectations were.  It always amazes me when a book meets that standard and then some. From the creepiest, prettiest cover I’ve ever laid eyes on, to the tactile allure of the summary, Ms. Summers delivered a novel heaped with terror and suspense. This book decimated every other zombie book I’ve ever read so far, which is surprising because this book wasn’t a gore-fest by any stretch. Courtney Summers veered away from the zombie novel norm by highlighting her characters’ emotions as they struggle and deal with their own demons, new and old, all while the world was on the cusp of zombie apocalypse. In a way, it was like The Forest of Hands and Teeth series by Carrie Ryan – books that focused on the human element sparsely peppered with the carnage of living in a world overrun by zombies.

From the get go, Courtney will overcome you with fear – and no, I’m not talking about your fear of the undead. I’m talking about something a bit closer to the disturbing reality of abuse. Sloane Price had planned to escape the violence of living with her father. The only way she thought she could go was to kill herself. So goes Sloan’s soliloquies about the ways she wanted to go. Swallowing pills would’ve been the easiest way but her sister took that choice away when she abandoned her to their abusive father. A contagion struck; turning the entire population into rabid, flesh eating monsters and Sloan, feeling abandoned and alone, succumbed to the reality that the only way out is to give up the illusions of surviving.

Six kids – stranded in a school surrounded by zombies. That is the simple plot line this book was about. But come on, Summers is known for creating some pretty angst-filled characters, so you know it won’t be as simple as a story about six kids battling the undead with baseball bats and crowbars. You know she’ll twist your guts and it won’t be because the character ended up swathed in zombie matter and you’re feeling like you want to spill your own guts – literally. You know she’ll squeeze your heart and it’s not because you just witnessed a thirteen year-old boy bashed the head of his undead English teacher. The lady knows how to write broken characters and Sloane Price was quite possibly one of the messiest. It’s not enough that Sloane’s character is abused, bruised and battered. Summers had to go and throw in some zombies just for fun. Or perhaps it’s the other way around. Either way, be prepared for a heart-ripping read.

The book focused on how these six kids would behave and their state of minds as they dealt with the helplessness of their situations. It was easy to get lost in the emotions and psyches of the characters that I sometimes forget the book was also about zombies. Therein lies my dilemma; because sometimes, it was easy to ignore the fact that outside, the world succumbed to people who were once alive but now dead – reanimated, if I may. This zombie book was pretty tame by Jonathan Maberry standards. But the emotions and terrors were intensified somehow. The characters (especially Sloane) were very adept in making you feel their horror – whether imagined or not. You’ll see the shadow that they see, you’ll feel every single trickle of dread, every pump of blood and at the same time, you’ll agonized about all the could’ve beens and what will not be. Even if the majority of the book didn’t focus on the gore, the last ten pages more than made up for it. It was intense.

VERDICT: This book rocked in the most un-zombie way possible. Courtney Summers took the rudimentary zombie apocalypse story elements and added just the right perfectly flawed characters to take her readers on a higher (but different) level of zombie awesome. Emotional, gripping, and superb. Words that best described what I’d just read. What I want to know is, Ms. Summers, tell us what happens next. 

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The Painted Boy by Charles de Lint

Publication Date:  November 11th, 2011
Viking Juvenile
FORMAT: Hardcover, 431 pages
RATING: 3 out 5 Stars


James Li should be in Chicago, finishing high school and working at his family’s restaurant. Instead, as a born member of the Yellow Dragon Clan, he is on a quest even he does not understand. Jay’s journey takes him to Santo del Vado Viejo in the Arizona desert, a town overrun by gangs, haunted by members of other animal clans, perfumed by delicious food, and set to the beat of Malo Malo, a barrio rock band whose female lead guitarist captures Jay’s heart. He must face a series of dangerous, otherworldly-and very human-challenges not just to survive, but to prove his worth to the clan. This is Charles de Lint at his best!

This book started out great for me; there was just enough mystery within its opening pages that got my attention right away.  Unfortunately, books heady with folklore and myths tend to be heavy on the narrative as well and The Painted Boy suffered from the same symptoms and quickly lost its initial appeal. I finished the book but it took me quite a bit longer. Sadly, it couldn’t maintain the interesting beginning. It lagged and dragged until the seemingly rushed and convenient ending.

The Painted Boy is the story of James Li and his quest to find his purpose and stake on life. The dragon that mysteriously appeared on his back when he was eleven years old held the key to his destiny. Some  say that the dragon and James Li were one in the same; but he needed to understand just how vast the spectrum of his power was. When he ended up in Santo del Vado Viejo, he was comforted by the fact that for the first time in a long time, he felt like he belonged. Never having any life to speak of when he lived in Chicago, the desert town offered him friends, a job, and talks of destinies and training did not exist.

It didn’t take long however, until the violence of living in a barrio, overrun by gangbangers, soon bled into a life he wanted to build for himself. After witnessing a senseless killing of a girl in the hands of a gang banger,  the dragon in him woke up, incinerating the murderer and decimating a building in a fit of uncontrollable rage. Suddenly, he didn’t have a choice but to continue on with the quest on finding himself and controlling the great power within him before it destroyed everything in its path.

My major problem with this book is the switching styles of narration; diarized entries is something that I haven’t been able to enjoy and this book has that along with first and third POVs. There were also several point of views but that didn’t bother me as much as the former.

With the lack of lead Asian characters in YA nowadays, reading about James Li was refreshing. But it was a bit disappointing because I read so little about his Oriental heritage. He was a character in a town populated by Mexican-Americans and aside from mentions of his Paupau (grandmother), don’t expect much mention of his culture. I was looking forward to reading about that element of his character but sadly, it was pretty much nonexistent.

He was also a bit tame, in my opinion. I mean, the primary reason why I picked this book off my Mt. TBR was that I’d expected a bad-ass, kick-ass, defender of the oppressed, hero. He eventually assumed the character, but it took him awhile. Because this is a stand-alone book and James’ wasn’t able to undestand and harness his powers until close to the end, The Painted Boy left me a bit unsatisfied. I’d have loved to read more about this boy and how he’d utilize his powers. The ending was sort of, kind of, open ended but apparently, there’ll be no sequel.

There was also an awkward, out-of-place romance that I felt was forced. This book could’ve gone without it, in my opinion. There was a first meeting and the matter-of-fact description of how pretty the girl was and then it suddenly went into details about how much James was pining for her. I understand boys will be boys but I expected a slow development of attraction not a whiplash. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t an instant-love syndrome; James’s attraction just happened way too fast for me. But in the end, the romance didn’t really go anywhere so I guess my point is…well, what the hell is the point?

The best thing about this book is the myth that we’re all related to animals somehow. I love how Charles spun it in the most believable way possible. Arizona, once again, proved to be the source of the Earth’s teeming life. I’ve read some books regarding the mystical power of the desert and the land and I’m more convinced of its magic.

VERDICT: This book fell a bit flat for me.  I’m not that familiar with Charles de Lint’s work but I’m willing to read more of him. I think he’s got a great talent for story telling based on this book’s original plot alone. If you’re interested in a novel rich with environmental and social issues, give this book a go.

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Fear by Michael Grant (Gone #5)

Publication Date: April 3rd, 2012
Katherine Tegen Books
Format: Hardcover, 509 pages
RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars
It’s been one year since all the adults disappeared. Gone.
Despite the hunger and the lies, even despite the plague, the kids of Perdido Beach are determined to survive. Creeping into the tenuous new world they’ve built, though, is perhaps the worst incarnation yet of the enemy known as the Darkness: fear.
Within the FAYZ, life breaks down while the Darkness takes over, literally—turning the dome-world of the FAYZ entirely black. In darkness, the worst fears of all emerge, and the cruelest of intentions are carried out. But even in their darkest moments, the inhabitants of the FAYZ maintain a will to survive and a desire to take care of the others in their ravaged band that endures, no matter what the cost.
Fear, Michael Grant’s fifth book in the bestselling dystopian Gone series, will thrill readers . . . even as it terrifies them.

Book number five of the Gone series was pretty much everything that I’d expected from Mr. Grant: Heart-stopping suspense in a relentless pursuit to make a basket case out of his readers. Well, you’ve done well, Mr. Grant. Bravo.

The kids of FAYZ have gone into two separate camps; and at the helms of these camps are brothers, Sam and Caine. For the moment, the siblings have come to some sort of temporary peace. But deep into the mine, the gaiaphage is anything but. It is terrified; it wants to get out to be reborn. Little Pete was his hope but his death ended that plan. The darkness, however, has a plan B.
As the slow build of terror comes to a simmer, the entire dome is slowly being swallowed by utter darkness. Darkness means no food; no food means hunger; hunger means chaos. But they have bigger problems to face first: Drake – the evil whip-hand is looking for blood. Commanded by the gaiaphage, Drake would do everything it asks especially if it meant he’d be able exact his revenge on the one he hated more than he hated Sam and his crew: Diana.  He also realized that this time, no one will stop him from killing those he abhors.  There’s no rest for the weary of Perdido Beach and Michael Grant sure made this prevalent with every agony and suffering – both mental and physical – that he’d put his characters through. 
Brand new terror and unspeakable pain – Fear was a different torment somehow; it was a slow progression of trepidation, and delight in pain in the most perverse way. Michael Grant rooted right through the minds of these kids and put them through some torture of a different kind. There were perspectives that gave me a more in-depth look into the state of mind of these kids. They were scared, of course, but the author dug deeper into their psyches. Also, some of the secondary characters have been given more play (which I loved!) and it almost felt like I was meeting them for the first time.
The ending was hopeful but sad and it ripped me. Without giving anything away, let’s just say that some of the kids of Perdido Beach are not feeling so hot about the dome lifting.
VERDICT: Michael Grant is a god; I either love him or fear him for his rich but disturbing imagination. The subsequent books to this series were my annual torment and delight. I looked forward and dreaded reading them just because my heart goes through calisthenics of a different kind when I do. Fear is by far, my favorite of the series because gosh darnnit, I can see the LIGHT at the end of the tunnel – or in this case, the mine. I am so ready for these kids to have a happy ending even though I know Michael Grant is probably going to make them work extra hard for it. 

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Review: Dark Eden by Patrick Carman

Publication Date: November 1st, 2011
Katherine Tegen Books
Format: Hardback, 316 pages
RATING: 3 out of 5 Stars
Fifteen-year-old Will Besting is sent by his doctor to Fort Eden, an institution meant to help patients suffering from crippling phobias. Once there, Will and six other teenagers take turns in mysterious fear chambers and confront their worst nightmares—with the help of the group facilitator, Rainsford, an enigmatic guide. When the patients emerge from the chamber, they feel emboldened by the previous night’s experiences. But each person soon discovers strange, unexplained aches and pains. . . . What is really happening to the seven teens trapped in this dark Eden?
Patrick Carman’s Dark Eden is a provocative exploration of fear, betrayal, memory, and— ultimately—immortality.

mso-hansi-theme-fontI give the author props for setting up a creepy world where you expect to be horrified at every turn.

I give the author props for conjuring up a group of characters whose seemingly normal temperaments belie the crippling fears they have within.

I give the author props for setting up a creepy world where you expect to be horrified at every turn.

I give the author props for writing pages upon pages of ominous scenarios, settings, and landscapes.
And as much as I want to say this book will the scare the pants out of you…I, unfortunately, cannot.
I don’t know why anyone would say this book can be classified as a thriller when it wasn’t even mildly so. I’m not trying to be a jerk by trivializing these kids’ fears but I felt like the entire set up was beyond over the top. The author made a fanfare out of everything – promising too much without really fulfilling. It was disappointing. I read…and read…and read and waited for that moment when my heart would skip a beat but it didn’t happen.
I’ll give you this: The twist near the end almost, ALMOST made reading this book worthwhile. However, it came out of the left field. It was one of those, ‘where the hell did that come from?’ moment. In the end, it was like the majority of the book was a fruitless practice because a major element of the plot was a surprise of an epic proportions. I think this is the first book I’ve ever read where the shock didn’t do much for me.
Incidentally, there’s an app for this book. It might enhance your reading experience better. As for me, I think I’ll pass. I’m sitting here and resisting the urge to pull my hair off their roots. I’ve read reviews for this book and I’m completely aghast that once again, y’all left me at the bus stop.
VERDICT: I don’t think I read the same book as everybody else. Or…there were some subliminal messages that I completely missed. All in all, this book was a disappointment and a half.
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Review: The Hunt by Andrew Fukuda

Publication Date: May 8th, 2012
St. Martin’s Griffin
Format: E-ARC from Net Galley
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Don’t Sweat.  Don’t Laugh.  Don’t draw attention to yourself.  And most of all, whatever you do, do not fall in love with one of them.
Gene is different from everyone else around him.  He can’t run with lightning speed, sunlight doesn’t hurt him and he doesn’t have an unquenchable lust for blood.  Gene is a human, and he knows the rules.  Keep the truth a secret.  It’s the only way to stay alive in a world of night—a world where humans are considered a delicacy and hunted for their blood.
When he’s chosen for a once in a lifetime opportunity to hunt the last remaining humans, Gene’s carefully constructed life begins to crumble around him.  He’s thrust into the path of a girl who makes him feel things he never thought possible—and into a ruthless pack of hunters whose suspicions about his true nature are growing. Now that Gene has finally found something worth fighting for, his need to survive is stronger than ever—but is it worth the cost of his humanity?

Imagine a world where humans are close to extinction. Civilization comprises of vampires who rule the night and an undetermined number of humans have resorted to hide their natures to blend in. You have to control your facial expressions; you can’t smile or frown, crying will make an instant dinner out of you. If you have poor eyesight – well, sucks to be you. Because you need to learn how to read in the dark, see what they see. Rare, pretty much raw meat is a staple in your diet, with manufactured blood for cocktail. This is Gene’s reality; alone in the world, pretending to be them to prolong an existence no matter how futile it may be.
This book was such an adrenaline rush. From the beginning, the author took painstaking means to get your heart pumping and he was relentless right to the last page. The vampires here are more rabid than usual, hence the instinct to devour humans was stronger. Factor in the fact that there wasn’t much food supply left, you will have no choice but to be right there with Gene through all the times he struggled to hide his humanity. Every misstep meant the end of his life so I dutifully rooted for him not to screw up. If this was turned into a movie, I’ll be that patron who’d watched the entire thing with a hand covering my eyes. 
I only question the impossibility that none of his classmates ever clued in to his real identity. I mean if the vampires’ senses are more attuned to their prey, I think that it would take a lot more to hide the way a person smells. I wasn’t convince that he did all he could to mask the odor. Aside from avoiding perspiration at all costs, I think that the vampires would’ve been able to smell him. Other than that, I really think Andrew Fukuda did a phenomenal job at being original. We all know this is a hard task when we’re talking about vampires’ books here. I mean, we’ve pretty much read all we could about them.
Andrew was also not big on background – history – set up. We’re just dumped onto a world where it’s ruled by vampires. There were zero explanations as to how it all started, how to world came to be. I’ve read some books where the absence of this would come to pass but I’m truthfully curious and I thought the book could’ve used it. 
The forearm scratching (instead of laughing) was a bit of a reach for me. We weren’t really given any understanding as to what brought it on. Why don’t vampires laugh in the first place? Or why couldn’t they have facial expressions? I wish it were better explained.
VERDICT: In the end, I enjoyed every bit of this highly unique vampire novel. It’s The Hunger Games with rabid vampires for contestants and humans as the ultimate prize. Engaging, suspenseful and flat-out will make your heart beat out of your chest. 
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Review: Devil’s Kiss By Sarwat Chadda

Publication Date: September 1st, 2009
Hyperion Books
Format: Paperback, 327 pages
RATING: 3 out of 5 Stars
Bilquis SanGreal grew up knowing she would have to make sacrifices to be in the Knights Templar.  Sacrifices like losing her mother to the Templar’s ongoing battle against the Unholy; sacrifices like trading her childhood in for relentless training; sacrifices that keep her completely  isolated from the world of a normal teen girl.
Billi’s lone wolf status is challenged when her childhood friend, Kay, returns from his psychic training in Jerusalem.  Kay manages to stir things up quickly — he’s gorgeous, arrogant, and wants to slide right back into his old place in Billi’s life.  Billi is skeptical, but interested, until she meets Michael — an ethereally handsome guy who seems to understand her like no one before him, and effortlessly stakes a claim in her heart.
Just as Billi’s starting to enjoy this pleasant new twist to her life, Kay ruins everything.  In a moment of bravado, Kay uses the last of the Templar’s treasures, King Solomon’s cursed mirror, drawing the attention of one of the most dangerous of the Templars’ enemies — The Angel of Death.
Only with the mirror can the dark angel unleash his full powers, and now that he’s heard the call of the mirror, he’ll stop at nothing to get it.  To save London from catastrophe, Billi will have to make sacrifices greater than she’d ever imagined.

I’ve struggled with this. I can’t say for sure which of the elements of this story bothered me the most; or where it failed to keep my interest. But it was one of those reads that I just wanted to get it over and done with.

Billi SanGreal is a stereo-typical, kick ass heroine. You know the type – the one with a whole slew of personality problems who uses her ass kicking skills to ward off people. I can’t say I blame the girl; her father is a cold fish who sees her as a means to an end…or in this case, to a prophecy. She’s surrounded by a group of men who are one step closer to being religious fanatics. Her mother was killed when she was but a child and the only questionable feminine influence in her life seems to hate her guts for some odd reason. It was never really explained why.

The author certainly made a big production of highlighting a possible love triangle in the synopsis. But after reading the bits of romantic scenes in this book, I was feeling a whole lot cheated. I know right? Me? whose bane of bookworm existence are LOVE TRIANGLES. Why the heck am I complaining about the lack of this aforementioned possible geometrical romance? Well, the thing is, if you’re expecting any semblance of relationships at all in this book, expect a HUGE disappointment. The majority of the book focuses on the Templar’s continuing fight against the forces of evil which didn’t leave much room for character development. Everyone seems one-dimensional. Billi, our MC pretty much spent the entire time resenting the life that she did not chose, while the rest didn’t have any life outside of the Order.

The plot moved at a break-neck pace which should’ve been a plus for a reader whose got the attention span of a gnat (like me!). Sadly, this wasn’t enough to overcome the over-all detachment I felt while reading this book. Heck, even the supposed romances did not have any kind of build up.

If you’re looking for a darker YA Paranormal with little to zero romance, this is your book. If you’re looking for a unique read out of the endless streams of ho-hum YA fare, this is your book. If you’re not at all timid to read about religions and the many ways they could be misinterpreted, this is your book.

Over all. This book is not for me.

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