Tag Archives: dream world

Review: Nevermore by Kelly Creagh

29 Oct

Series: Nevermore, book #1

Published: August 31st 2010 by Atheneum

Details: Hardcover, 543 pages

My Rating: 3.5/5

My Summary:

Well written debut about cheerleader and an outcast goth guy who are assigned an English project about Poe in school. First half of the book is of them gradually growing fond of each other despite their differences. The second half the book turns horror/supernatural as they are thrown into a dream world interwoven with Poe’s stories. A fuzzily explained dream world drags the grade down. Still enjoyable read.

A few chapters in:

I read various book blogs raving about this book and its wonderful romance, and so naturally I was intrigued.

After reading a few chapters however, I am sceptical. The premise is so similar to other paranormal romances that it almost put me off. Isobel, the heroine, a popular girl and cheerleader, is paired up in class to do a project with this outcast and weird, yet strangely good-looking boy in school. (Heard this plot setting before anyone?) Naturally, she’s horrified in the beginning, but I assume she will warm up to him eventually. I haven’t got that far though, and as I said, I am slightly wary. I hope that their (what I assume to be)  growing fondness for each other actually shows. As it is now, it’s been a bit too awkward and weird between them, him not uttering many words at all. Hmm..

It has got great reviews though, and so my hopes are still up for an exciting novel. Let’s see how it plays out..

After finishing the book:

So I finished the book a few days ago, and I’m still not quite sure what to think.

I think I find it difficult to sum it up because I really liked some parts and disliked others. As you know, I started out sceptical, but as Isobel and Varen got to know each other better it got interesting. But then, just as I was getting really hooked, it took a dive into that supernatural dream world and my interest was lost again.

First however, let me point out that the writing is excellent. It is detailed, hence the length of the book, but not tedious like other books I’ve read (see The Pace). The reason why it’s not tedious is because the details make sense. If something detailed is explained, more often than not, that particularly detail is important for the plot later on in the book. Which makes me want to pay attention, because I know I may be rewarded later. So kudos to Creagh for that!

The plot however, as hinted earlier, was uneven. The first half of the book was good in the sense that I liked how Isobel and Varen gradually grew fond of each other. It certainly took some time. Isobel, despite committing social suicide by hanging out with Varen, was surprisingly much more open to talking to him than he with her. Consequently, at the start I was wary of Varen. He was being rude and arrogant for no other reason than for the fact that Isobel was (on the surface) a popular cheerleader. Then gradually we get to know more about Varen and understand where he is coming from. Suddenly his grumpiness made sense to me. Their feelings for each other slowly start to grow into something more – romantic.

But, just as that starts to develop, the supernatural plot takes over. Varen disappears. Isobel somehow ends up in a dream world chasing him and trying to understand how to solve the chaos. She stumbles through one weird surrounding through another, meets a number of strange creatures, her ex-boyfriend being one of them as he visits the dream world as the red death. (Don’t even ask me what that was about – I have no idea!). And all the while the strange Mr Reynolds keeps popping up here and there, helping (or not helping) Isobel with fuzzy advises.

To cut it short, I felt like I was reading a great contemporary novel about two people with different backgrounds falling in love, then got interrupted and thrown into a David Lynch movie where nothing made sense.

Moreover, I didn’t buy the whole epic romance between Varen and Isobel. I understood their connection at the start, but it went from “I think I might like you” to “you’re the love of my life” in two seconds. Like ..wait..what? Did I miss something?

I think I would have like the two of them (Isobel and Varen) to have had a bit more time together in the “normal world” before all the craziness started. And I would have liked the craziness to have been a bit less crazy or at least stayed crazy for a shorter period of time.

The Bottom Line:

All that being said, it’s still a good book, which had me glued to the pages througout some parts. It’s well written with an original story. I can definitely see potential for a good series and it’ll be interesting to see where it is heading from now on.  I just hope that we are provided with explanations in the next book so that this dream world makes better sense. Sequel is to be published sometime in the fall next year.

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Review: A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

13 Oct

Series: Gemma Doyle, book #1

Published: July 4th 2005 by Simon & Schuster Childrens Books

Details: Hardcover, 403 pages

My Rating: 2/5

My Summary:

About Gemma, who after her mothers death is sent to a boarding school in Victorian England, where she befriends a group of girls with whom she starts a secret club and uses forbidden magic to enter a magical world. For me it lacked in characterization, none of the characters were likable, and so I didn’t care about the book. Possibly ok for teens.

A few chapters in:

Harry Potter for girls. That’s how some people have described this book. I have also heard it’s very young adult – as in – you may need to actually be in your teens to appreciate this book. In short, I’ve heard a lot of various opinions of this series, some less flattering than others. But seeing as it’s recommended by a huge amount of people, and seeming similar to Harry Potter (which I loved), I thought I might as well check it out.

I am now 100 pages in, and I’m stricken by how similar this is to Immortal (note that Libba Bray published a few years previous to Immortal). We have a grief-stricken girl, arriving at a haunting, old private school, not getting the warmest welcome. The click of popular girls treat her badly, and her only friend so far is her room-mate who is a plain and ordinary girl, also poor and an outcast as she was sent there on a scholarship. There is a necklace, passed on from the dead (or sick) family member, which seems to hold secrets in regards to the heroine’s hidden powers. There is also a diary, written by someone else entirely, who experienced the same confusing powers as the heroine, but years previously. Oh, and there are visions as well, and strange dreams. And not to forget, a dark mysterious boy who lingers in the area, watching our heroine, but with unknown intentions.

Did I miss anything? That’s as far as I’ve got, but the premise really does share some striking similarities with Immortal, just saying.

Am I liking it so far? Sort of. I’m not completely captured, possibly because it got me bored reading the same story yet again. I also understand reviewers saying it’s aimed towards young adult only. It feels as if I may be too old for the target audience here. That being said, it’s well written, and I have a feeling it might get better. Let’s see what happens..

After finishing the book:

So what can I say? I wasn’t captured in the beginning and I’m sorry to say it stayed that way throughout the novel.

As I said earlier, Gemma the protagonist is sent to a boarding school in England after her mother’s death. There, she befriends three other girls and they form a secret club, first as a joke but as Gemma’s powers are revealed, it grows into something far more serious and eventually spirals out of control.

So why did it not capture me? I have one word for that: characterization. I didn’t care one bit for Gemma or neither one her three friends. They were immature, stupid and irresponsible, all of which I could have forgiven them in the beginning seeing as they were only teenagers. But there is no growth! Gemma keeps trusting these girls, and I can’t for one understand why, seeing as how they behave in various situations in the book (torturing an animal and having their best teacher at school fired among other things). Gemma might be a nice girl but she is too weak. She seems to know right from wrong, but keeps making stupid decisions anyway due to peer pressure (basically whenever the other girls whine).

It’s hard to care about the book when you are not invested into neither one of the main characters. I’m all for rounded characters portraying both good and bad traits, but these girls seemed to portray flaws exclusively. I would have loved for these four girls to eventually bond and care  for each other as in a true friendship. That never realized though as they were all too absorbed into their own personal goals to truly care about one another.

There is also a weird sort of romance in the book, made up almost entirely by sensual dreams. I’m not sure of why Gemma starts dreaming about Kartrik, seeing as they don’t share one single good moment together. He’s basically threatening her or being plain rude every time they meet. There is also not much of an explanation to why Kartrik made the effort to follow Gemma from India, and incorporate himself into a Gipsy community in her proximity, just to be able to watch her and advise her not to do magic. It seemed a bit too far-fetched to me, but sure, maybe there are explanations in the following two books, what do I know?

The ending fell flat as well. I don’t even think I fully comprehended it. Why was the villain suddenly defeated? What happened? There was a lot of rushing and swivelling and then suddenly Gemma got away. Or maybe I wasn’t paying enough attention, because to be honest, at that point I had all but given up on the book.

The Bottom Line:

All this being said, and to Bray’s defence, I may be too old for the target audience. Or rather, I know for a fact that I am. If I had read this book at say, the age of 14, chances are I would have loved it. But as it was now, at the age of 32, this book did not deliver. I won’t continue the series.