Tag Archives: weres

Review: Wolfsbane by Andrea Cremer

20 Oct

Series: Nightshade,  book #2

Published: July 26th 2011 by Penguin Young Readers Group

Details: Hardcover, 390 pages

My Rating: 2.5/5

My Summary:

In this sequel of The Nightshade series, Calla finds herself struggling with the consequences of having left her pack. She and Shay are being cared for by the Searchers, but the rest of her group, including Ren, are still with the enemies. I loved Nightshade, but was less than thrilled with this one. Too much talking and info dump. Not enough action. In the end, not much was solved, and it finishes off in a cliff-hanger. All in all, disappointing.

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Synopsis:

When Calla Tor wakes up in the lair of the Searchers, her sworn enemies, she’s certain her days are numbered. But then the Searchers make her an offer—one that gives her the chance to destroy her former masters and save the pack—and the man—she left behind. Is Ren worth the price of her freedom? And will Shay stand by her side no matter what? Now in control of her own destiny, Calla must decide which battles are worth fighting and how many trials true love can endure and still survive.

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My Review:

Only 50 pages in, my “filler warning bell” started ringing. (The bell that rings when I see filler-signs, usually in sequels, see Linger or Desires of the Dead.)

I tried to ignore it, because I wanted to like Wolfsbane. I had been dying to read it ever since I finished the amazing Nightshade a couple of months ago. But the more I read, the higher the bell rang. And after another 100 or so pages I could no longer deny the fact that my “warning bell” had a valid point. The plot was definitely missing!

Throughout the first 250 pages, we follow Calla and Shay as they hang out at the Searcher’s quarters. Doing what you may ask?

Well, bickering. That’s what they do. They sit around and talk, joke, banter, discuss things and once in a while drink coffee or take a tour on the grounds. Then back to talking and joking around some more.

Literally 250 pages of dialogues, I kid you not!

You know, I’m usually a fan of dialogues, since they are a convenient way of showing what the characters are like, rather than the author telling us through descriptions. My problem with these dialogues though were that they seemed to have no purpose, other than serve as fillers.

A pattern that would repeat itself over and over again, was the following:

A vital piece of information needed to be delivered, maybe half a page at the most. But throw some bickering of the group in between that vital piece of information and voila! Three pages have been filled rather than a half.

It would usually go like this:

(One line of actual information)

“You’ll rendevouz with Grant tonight”, Silas said, pulling a crumpled piece of paper out of his jeans pocket. “I just got confirmation”.

(Start bickering)

Anika reached for the note. “Silas, we’ve talked about keeping correspondence neat”.

“I was in a hurry”. He shrugged.

“I wouldn’t touch that if I were you”, Connor said. “You don’t know where that’s been”.

“Shut up, you louse”, Silas snapped.

“Louse?” Connor laughed. “How deep did you have to dig for that one?”

(End bickering)

(One line of actual information)

(Start bickering..)

You see what I mean? It went on like this for the entire novel!

It also felt like Cremer tried so hard to make the searchers a likable bunch of people, that in the end, it felt forced. All their bantering and bickering felt like “Oh look at us! We’re so cool, deep and fun, we listen to cool music, we play guitar and on top of it all, we are kick-ass warriors who can wield all sort of lethal ninja-weapons”.

Sorry guys, but you did not impress me.

It felt more like a parody of other warriors, or as if Cremer had just read The Mortal Instruments and tried to create a new kind of Shadowhunters. Same type of bickering, same tight relationships, same weaponry rooms with enchanted weapons and the same type of enormous headquarters situated all over the world. There was even the same type of war going on against our parallel world, a demon world with black magic.

Only, in The Mortal Instruments it worked, because I saw it in action. It was an on-going thing, as in, they would head out and meet demons and fight them on a daily basis. Here, not so much. It was more talking and yada yada yada. I never felt any urgency, and I certainly never felt that they were skilled or talented. They made a huge fuss over preparing well and making plans, but when they actually went out there, it ended up being the most unplanned thing I’ve ever seen, which quickly went downhill as soon as they set foot on enemy territory. Skilled warriors? I think not.

Another thing that fell short for me was the love triangle. Surprisingly, because if you remember my review of Nighshade, I devoured Calla’s difficulties with choosing between her alpha mate Ren and the newcomer Shay. In this installment however, Shay has turned into an obnoxious macho guy who would not take no for an answer. Ren is practically absent the entire novel, save from a 3 second cameo appearance, and like most reviewers have commented, I missed him!

Moreover, I no longer recognized Calla. She lost her spine in this book, and was walking around feeling lost and guilty most of the time. A shame, since Calla was one of my favorite heroines in Nightshade.

The ending is a cliff-hanger, and promises more of Ren, which I have to admit is intriguing. Nevertheless, I am considering ending the series here. Unless of course, the next book Bloodrose recieves stunning reviews.

Bloodrose to be released in January next year. For all you “Team Ren” out there, see a teaser chapter here.

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Review: Entice by Carrie Jones

19 Jan

Series: Need, book #3

Published: December 7th 2010 by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

Details: Paperback, 264 pages

My rating: 2/5

My Summary:

Third installment of Need series. Zara is now a pixie queen. Astley is her king, and she is on a mission: bring Nick back from Valhalla. I loved Need, but nothing could hold my attention here. This book was a mess. Juvenile, flat characters and a straggling plot. Won’t continue the series.

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A few chapters in:

As you may know if you read my review of  Need, I absolutely loved that book. Zara’s grief  and fears rang true to me, the novelty of the pixies was exciting and of course there was the steamy romance between Nick and Zara. Impossible not to get addicted!

Unfortunately the sequel Captivate did not reach the same amazing levels as Need. Why? Well, I was craving growth and resolution in Captivate, and it failed to deliver on those two points. Characters stayed the same (or even went more immature) and most of my questions were left unanswered. I still enjoyed reading it, and so I always knew that I was going to read Entice, in the hopes that this third installment would restore my faith in this series. Time to find out if it will.

I’ve now read a few chapters and I can’t say that I’ve noticed any magic a la Need just yet. On the contrary actually. But it may be too early to tell. Let’s hope so.

Entice starts just where Captivate left off with Zara and her friends heading off to the school dance. As you know if you’ve read the previous books, Nick is dead, or rather he was taken to a resting place for dying warriors, meaning he may in fact still be alive. Zara has gotten herself transformed into a pixie, in order to bring Nick back. Apparently humans are not allowed to that resting place, and so she had to change. Moreover, she is now a pixie queen seeing as Astley – the pixie king who appeared in Captivate – changed her.

Zara however does not care about being a pixie queen. Her only goal is getting Nick back. Yet she fears that Nick will no longer love her when he finds out about her change. Nick hates pixies.

As in the previous books, the pixies are now roaming the woods looking for boys to torture to satisfy their needs. Being a pixie herself, Zara can now finally help with protecting humans from these pixies, and at the dance she does just that, stopping a couple of pixies from kidnapping teens.

Astley keeps reappearing here and there, and he remains kind and patient. Yet he is not the most talkative guy out there. I would like him to let Zara in on one or two things on the pixie stuff, because seriously, it’s starting to get very vague here, and I need some answers! For one, why is there going to be a war? Where do all these pixie kings come from? Why do some of these pixies (the evil ones) feel the need to torture boys? Is that something they need in order to survive? Why boys in particular? And why do the good pixies not feel the need to do that? Oh, well there’s more, but you get my drift. Answers please!

Moreover, I keep feeling that Zara has gone slightly too immature for my liking. For instance, in the middle of a deep conversation with Devyn, she decides to squeal, jump up and roll around in the snow. Say what??? And that’s just one example. Let’s just say, I’ve been scratching my head quite frequently over the course of these first chapters.

In short, let’s hope for some character growth here.  And answers..I need answers..

 

 

After finishing the book:

Well, I finished the book last night. And did I get my most needed answers?

No, I didn’t. Worse still, I’m no longer interested in hearing them. I’m sorry all you fans of the Need series (myself included) but this book was a mess.

I think the main problem was the plot which was so haphazard that it felt as if the author was making it up as she went. The whole book was about rescuing Nick from Valhalla. Problem was, no one knew how to actually get to Valhalla. So chapter after chapter was essentially devoted to Zara and Astley trying to find ways to get there. And failing, over and over again. When action was needed, Zara or someone else got hurt. Or we got to know a bit more about Astley. But other than that, not much of a plot.

Sometimes the conclusion outweighs a non-existent plot (see Linger), but that did not materialize either. In fact, the conclusion just provided me with even more questions (to store with my other trillions of questions from the previous installments, thank you very much).

I had a problem with the characters as well. Zara seemed downright immature, and more often than not I struggled to follow her train of thought because it wasn’t coherent. It was grave one second, then squealing of happiness the next. Astley was probably the character I felt the most for, all though that’s not saying much. I did however wonder why he was so bent on Zara getting back her wolf. It felt as if he neglected everything else (an eminent war, leading and taking care of his pixies etc) just for the sake of helping Zara. I failed to see how that made a responsible king, which is supposedly what Astley was.

Unless he had other motivations for helping Zara, apart from his goal of Zara finally having Nick back so that she could stop missing Nick and start loving Astley instead. Yes folks, this was apparently Astley’s main motivation for helping Zara, believe it or not. A bit too goodie-goodie don’t you think?

So, back to the other characters, Issie, Devyn, Betty etc. They were all brilliantly drawn in Need, and to some extent in Captivate as well. In this installment however they were reduced to flat cut-out cardboard characters, only existing in the plot to worry and help Zara on her mission to Valhalla.

It would have been interesting if at least one of these characters had provided some resistance to the Valhalla mission, or at least doubts, because there were reasons to doubt. They had no idea what they were doing – if Nick was even alive, and all the while people were dying in Maine. But the whole group just kept cheering on Zara and encouraged her to move on. Boring!

Lastly, I was getting seriously irritated at all the questions not being answered, which made me wonder if even the author knew the answers to them. As you know if you’ve read any supernatural fiction, it’s the how’s and why’s that make a great world-building great. Small details are weaved together into a logical pattern and suddenly you are presented with a world-building which feels intricate and most importantly: believable.

In Entice, the world building of the pixies is as haphazard as the plot, with plenty of details, but all lacking explanations, and never weaved into a whole picture.  Consequently, I had a hard time believeing in the world that Jones had created. Never a good sign.

In the end, I just gave up. I did get to the last page, but not without effort. And unless the next installment receives skyrocket high reviews, this is the end of the pixie road for me. No more squeeing Zara White for me, I’m done!

The next installment to be published sometime this year.

Review: Captivate by Carrie Jones

28 Aug

Series: Need, book #2

Published: January 5th 2010 by Bloomsbury USA

Details: Hardcover, 273 pages

My rating: 3.5/5

My Summary:

Sequel to Need. The pixie hunt continues, and the new pixie character Astley is introduced which causes Zara to doubt if all pixies are evil, also creating a love triangle. Ending with a cliff hanger. While I loved Need, I found this book less great, with logical gaps and preteen language. Still enjoyable. Third book Entice out Dec this year.

A few chapters in:

I loved the first book Need, so I’m loving diving into the pixie world of Zara and Nick again.

This book takes off where the first one ended. All the pixies are imprisoned in their house and Zara and her friends are patrolling the woods. One day, Zara happens across a wounded pixie guy. She saves him only to realize afterwards that he was a pixie king from far away. Has he come to take over the kingdom of her father? Moreover, he seems nice and he is confusing Zara. Are all pixies really evil?

The others, and especially Nick don’t seem to share the same concern over the welfare of the pixies. They think pixies are evil, period. Meanwhile we are getting glimpses of the bigger world of pixies. And what is the deal with Zara not feeling quite right. Is her pixie blood affecting her in some strange way?

This is how far I’ve got, but I’m very invested into the story already, and I’m pondering the same questions as Zara, are all pixies really evil? The story is promising so far. Let’s see how it plays out..

After finishing the book:

I finished the book last night and I’m sorry to say I was not as overwhelmed as I was after reading Need. The great characters that were introduced in Need never developed into anything more, rather they felt slightly underdeveloped in this book. For some reason I also felt the language in this book to be more preteen than teen, as if it had gone slightly more immature than in the prequel.

I did however like the new character Astley, which is introduced midway through the book. He added a new dimension to the plot, both in the form of a possible love triangle and the fact that he may (or may not) be something as unusual as a good pixie. I loved reading the sections where he was involved.

We are also introduced to some of the world building of the weres and the pixies but only bits and pieces, so that nothing really makes any sense. I think I would have liked some loose ends to get tied up, something more solid to build upon. It all felt so vague, the whole reason for a looming pixie war. What are the forces behind it? What are the roles of the weres? Why is it happening now? Not much is explained, and what is explained doesn’t make much sense. I am curious though to see if it will redeem itself in the third book Entice, to be released in Dec this year.

The Bottom Line:

Finally, do I recommend Captivate?

Yes absolutely, it is still very much an entertaining read, especially if you are invested into the characters after Need

Review: Need by Carrie Jones

13 Aug

Series: Need, book #1

Published: December 23rd 2008 by Bloomsbury USA Children’s Books

Details: Hardcover, 306 pages

My rating: 4.5/5

My Summary:

About grief-stricken Zara who after her fathers death is sent by her mom to stay with her Granny. There she meets sweet Issy and gorgeous Nick, who help her when strange things start happening, mainly a man following her leaving traces of gold dust. This is a wonderful story, with pixies and weres and a beautiful love story. Loved it!!!!

My Review:

All I know about this book is that it is about pixies..sort of fairies I think, and that the plot is somewhat similar to Twilight. Curious to see what it is all about.

Update:

Ok, so I’m really getting into this book! It’s about grief-stricken Zara, who after her fathers death is sent away by her mom to stay with her granny in Maine.  She starts school and finds new friends, among them sweet Issy and gorgeous Nick. She has barely started her new life there and weird things are happening. Mainly, there is a strange man, who keeps appearing wherever Zara is, and he leaves gold dust after him. Could he be a pixie? Why is he following Zara? Ok, so that’s as far as I’ve got. But it’s looking good. Great heroine! Let’s see how the rest plays out..

Final thoughts:

Wow what a great book!! It’s been some time since I got this attached to a book. I loved the voice of Zara, she seemed so real somehow, scared but yet brave, with a temper..I liked that! And Nick..swoon! Loved all the secondary characters as well, and the whole myth around the weres and the pixies. Great story! And thank god there is a sequel!

Finally would I recommend Need?

Absolutely with a resounding YES! Great start to a series!