Category Archives: Teen Paranormal

Existence by Abbi Glines

Existence

A high school girl loves a boy she shouldn’t. He loves her too, even though to love her is wrong because he is not human. Human girl repeatedly, and sometimes a bit too rashly, in my opinion, offers to die for love object. Sound familiar? Well it shouldn’t, because this is the totally originally and not cliché at all plot of Existence, an ebook only offering from Abbi Glines. Without giving too much away, the story’s heroine, Pagan (really, could no one talk her out of that name?), is unique because she can see souls who have died and, one day, one of the souls actually speaks to her. She falls hopelessly in love with said soul (whose name, I’m sorry to say, is Dank Walker), and then they encounter numerous obstacles in the way of (cue foreboding music) the love that the universe forbids.

I sound jaded, I know. But it is just that, if you are going to do something that has been done a lot—ahem, like a teen supernatural forbidden love story—you better have an original angle. And the thing is, Glines actually has one, but her treatment of the material does not make it feel original. It feels like we took out vampires and put in Dank Walker, whatever he is. The book’s issues have a lot to do with timing and editing. Glines makes two major errors: the first is to drag out a nonessential romantic plot in the beginning of the book; the second is that she writes her reveal of Dank’s supernaturalness like a detective fiction writer who can’t wait for the end of the book to say who the killer is. So Glines gives it away, hint by heavy-handed hit, until everyone in the book knows the secret but the heroine we are supposed to think is intelligent. Frustrating doesn’t even begin to cover what it’s like to slog through the middle of this book.

To compare Pagan to the lover of vampires who will not be named is to suggest that Glines’ heroine suffers from similar martyr-like symptoms, and she does. Glines does offer something of a twist on teenage wallflower “martyrdom is how I show my boyfriend I love him” at the end of this book, but not before she offers her adolescent female readers a view of a heroine whose most powerful act of bravery is to offer to throw away her own life for the sake of the boy she loves.

This review may seem a bit harsh. Perhaps it is because I saw promise in the premise of the book and it failed so completely to live up to its potential. Since is the beginning of a planned trilogy (the sequel, Predestined, is already out), we have more to come from Abbi Glines on the subject of all things relating to the soul.

Why you might love this book: Your craving for forbidden supernatural love stories is insatiable. You consume them all with abandon, no matter how sick you may feel afterwards.

Why you might not love this book: You have decided that some cravings should only be satisfied with goods of the highest quality instead of the greatest quantity.

Rating: Two out of five black cats.

 

 

Publisher: Wild Child Publishing (www.wildchildpublishing.com) (December 2011)


Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare (Infernal Devices #2)

Clockwork Prince, Cassandra Clare’s second installment in her Infernal Devices series, is easily her best work to date. In most series, the sequel (especially in a planned trilogy) often lacks any sense of urgency or completion; the author merely sets up all the pins so that they may be knocked down in the finale. While Clare certainly has left herself with plenty of pins, she offers in Clockwork Prince a complex and captivating book in its own right.

Clockwork Prince continues the story of Tessa Gray, a sixteen-year old American who, when she travels to London to live with her brother, finds herself entangled in the strange  Downworld of vampires, werewolves, demons, and warlocks. Tessa may even be a warlock, she learns, as she has the ability to shape-shift. In Clockwork Prince, Tessa and the team at the London Institute of Shadowhunters continue their pursuit of Mortmain, the adversary so carefully hidden in Clockwork Angel. Tessa, Will, and Jem delve into Mortmain’s past, through which they inadvertently learn about their own painful histories.
Clare carefully opens the doors to the mysteries behind her characters—who are Tessa’s parents, why did Will leave his family, why does Mortmain want to destroy the Shadowhunters—and offers the reader new quandaries with which to grapple. And, as readers of the first book will have seen coming, Clare expertly crafts the problematic attachments between Will, Tessa, and Jem. In the Mortal Instruments series, Clare navigated the murky hearts of Jace, Clary, and Simon, but (SPOILER ALERT: DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS SERIES) Simon was always just a distraction on the way to Clary getting together with Jace. With this love triangle, Clare has raised the stakes, impressively so, and the outcome is not necessarily a given.

Clare’s writing has also improved dramatically from the first series. Her sense of pacing creates dramatic tension and her characters’ dialogue feel more natural (although, if one more person “spins on her heel” to dramatically exit a room, I may lose it). My friends who are Victorian literature scholars may take issue with some of the historical liberties she has taken with her places and characters, but for the rest of us, Clare has done enough research to give us the look and feel of 19th-century London. She also offers us snippets of from period writers at the beginning of each of her chapters, and her characters discuss their favorite contemporary literature (Dickens, Tennyson), which gives the book a feeling of verisimilitude.

If you haven’t picked up this series yet, definitely give it a go!

Why you might love this book: Cassandra Clare at her best (so far)!

Why you might not love this book: If you have an aversion to historical fiction, you may not love the backdrop for the story.

Rating: Five out of five black cats!

Publisher: McElderry Books (November 2011)

ISBN: 1416975888 (ISBN13: 9781416975885)


Daughter of Smoke and Bones by Laini Taylor

Reading Daughter of Smoke and Bones, the first installment in a new trilogy by Laini Taylor, is worth the frustration of the agonizing wait for the next two installments. The book, a spectacularly written YA paranormal, seamlessly integrates science fiction and reality and offers a heroine who is neither a wallflower nor defined by her sassy quips, which is often what passes for “character” in some of these hastily marketed books. In Karou, the heroine, Taylor has created a unique and captivating individual, one to whom the reader can connect and whose story we are eager to follow.

Karou, however, is only one of the many reasons why Daughter of Smoke and Bones is a must read for fans of the paranormal/scifi genre. Taylor has created a richly layered world that both complements and stands in opposition to our own, and the characters she chooses to inhabit this world are as memorable as their environs.

The difficulty in reviewing this book is not to give too much away. Karou, an art student in Prague with naturally growing blue hair, runs mysterious errands for her adopted family of otherworldly black market dealers who specialize in wishes and trade in teeth. Karou’s identity is the biggest reveal of the book, as is the truth about the black hands that have been appearing burned on doors all over the world. While some of the plot devices are not unique, Taylor has breathed new life into them, rendering them, if not original, unforgettable.

Why you might love this book: Creative and memorable in character and plot, this book is a great read.

Why you might not love this book: If you hate waiting for the next installment, you may want to hold off until Taylor complete the trilogy.

Rating: 5 out of 5 black cats.

 

Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers

ISBN-10: 0316134023

ISBN-13: 978-0316134026


Supernaturally by Kiersten White

Supernaturally, the second book in Kiersten White’s bestselling Pararnormalcy series, details the further adventures of Evie, the teenage heroine who can see through the “glamors” of paranormal creatures. At the end of Paranormalcy, we saw Evie cut her ties with the IPCA (International Paranormal Containment Agency) for whom she “bagged and tagged”  paranormal creatures and start a new life with Lend, his father, and his alternative network of paranormals. Supernaturally begins with Evie living the life she always wanted: she has a boyfriend, she goes to high school (she even has a locker), and she still watches her favorite show, Easton Heights.

Evie gets everything she thought she ever wanted and, of course, it’s not what she thought it would be. Life as a normal person is, well, normal and rather boring. High school is nothing like Easton Heights: no lovers quarrel in the hallways, no drama, just a gym teacher who hates Evie. And her perfect boyfriend, Lend? He’s great, when he’s around. He’s just never around, too busy with college and studying.

Evie is ripe for the picking when Raquel shows up with an offer: come back to the IPCA on a case-by-case basis. To sweeten the deal, she introduces Evie to Jack, a mortal who can travel the faerie paths, keeping Evie safe from the faeries like Reth who continue to threaten her with vague innuendo about her background. Evie is back to feeling special and, naturally, hijinks ensue.

For fans of Evie, Supernaturally is a must-read. As you may have guessed, White has a third book planned, Endlessly, completing the trilogy. As a stand-alone book, however, Supernaturally has some drawbacks.  Paranormalcy was irreverent, fun, and Evie was, and is, a natural heroine. Her life, over the course of the novel had become much more complicated, and White keeps adding to the number of plot points in the air. The second installment in the trilogy feels weighed down by the many facets in play: faerie drama, Lend’s immortality, Evie’s role at the IPCA, Evie’s family history, etc. White is clearing laying the groundwork for the final installment in the trilogy, where all will (hopefully) be revealed.  We have a feeling is will be bleeping fantastic.

Why you might love this book: Evie is one of my favorite heroines and she is bleeping funny.

Why you might not love this book: The book is over-encumbered with plot, and sometimes feels more like a set up for the next and final installment.

Rating: 3 out of 5 black cats.

Publisher: HarperTeen (2011)
ISBN-10: 0061985864
ISBN-13: 978-0061985867


Bloodlines by Richelle Mead

Meet Sydney. No, wait. You already know Sydney, Jill, Eddie, and, of course, Adrian from Richelle Mead’s wildly popular Vampire Academy series. Bloodlines inaugurates Mead’s first in a spin-off series that focusing on the Alchemists and told from Sydney Sage’s point-of-view.

Sydney’s perspective is certainly a departure from Rose Hathaway, the quick-tempered and feisty heroine of the VA series. Sydney, raised by a domineering, sexist, and conservative father, spends her time trying to fly under the radar instead of getting noticed. Sydney’s career as an Alchemist has been decided for her, but she does not challenge the system that has indoctrinated her…yet. Her prejudices against vampires and dhampirs are well developed, and her journey in this series looks to be one where Sydney must grow into her own person and make her own choices about the creatures with whom she shares her world. And while Mead certainly creates a lot of depth in Sydney’s character, she lacks some of the pluck and verve that made VA’s Rose such a compelling vantage-point.

That being said, the book is not without its pluck and verve: only it is reserved for Adrian Ivashkov, a favorite and rather ill-used character who makes the transition into Mead’s new series. Adrian’s effervescent personality maintains his trademark charm, but Mead continues to reveal more about what motivates and drives him. As with the VA series, Adrian brings some much needed humor to the book, but he also provides much of its emotional depth.

The plot of the series takes place in the world of the Alchemists, who have been charged with aiding in the protection of Jill Mastrano, the sister of Vasilisa Dragomir, the Moroi Queen (crowned at the end of the Vampire Academy Series). Sydney is sent to a private high school in Palm Springs to act as the Alchemist overseeing the hiding and protection of Jill, who is accompanied to her new school by a familiar VA guardian, Eddie Castile. And, for reasons revealed in the book, the loveable Adrian gets to tag along.

Bloodlines is already a must-read for all fans of Vampire Academy, and Mead is clearly setting herself up well for another compelling series.

Why you might love this book: you already love Adrian and you know it.

Why you might not love this book: Sydney isn’t Rose, and it may take us some time to warm up to her.

Rating: 4 out of 5 black cats

 

 

Publisher: Razorbill (2011)
ISBN-10: 1595143173
ISBN-13: 978-1595143174