Friday, November 16, 2012

And All the Stars by Andrea K Höst

And All the Stars : 5/5 stars

And All the Stars is another great book by Andrea K. Höst. If you haven't checked out her Touchstone trilogy, you should, ok?
So, as I was saying, And All the Starsis a survivalist science-fiction story that will grip your heart and never release it until you finally reach the last page. It's fast-paced, well-written and hard to put down.
In the first pages, you're thrown right in the middle of the action - an explosion at St-James' station and the main character, the very likeable and very real Madeleine Cost, is miraculously saved but covered in violet dust. The dust that mysteriously appeared out of weird towers that sprouted overnight and no one knows what it does. Is it poison? Is it deadly? Even if she feels like she is a dead girl walking, Madeline never gives up and keeps on trying to survive in this brand new world.
I can't really tell much more about the story without spoiling everything, and that would be catastrophic because the constant surprise and mystery of the story is one of the many good points of this book.
As for the characters, if you've already read a book by Höst, you know what I'm talking about when I say as usual, they are wonderful. She has this incredible talent to make every character important, likeable and supremely real. They are not perfect, they are just as common and normal as you and I, but she manages to make them great, important and likeable. They could be real people. And you'll probably fall a little in love with every single one of them.

As usual, the world building is also great, precise, detailed (if you can talk about world-building if it's set on Earth? i don't know.) and I loved the writing.
I definitely recommend this book and any book by her. She's truly amazing and you'll love her characterization. 

Persephone by Kaitlin Bevis

Persephone : 5/5 stars

I love mythology and I am especially fascinated by Hades and Persephone's myth. Therefore I was really, really excited about this book but at the same time, wary because I've already read a few modern rewritings of this myth and they were downright terrible (The Goddess Test, anyone? Diddn't think a book could make me feel that angry).
And this is undoubtedly the best rewriting I've read so far.

The characters were very well-written and felt real. Persephone doesn't care for being a damsel in distress and takes matter into her own hands. Her reaction to the whole "hey you're a goddess" is not downplayed at all, like it usually is, and quite realistic I've found. I loved Cassandra, with her sass and her always rectifying Hades - she made me giggle out loud. Hades is alright but quite different from what I'd thought : the author slightly changed the myth. This Hades is not really the "bad guy" of the story, he actually "kidnaps" Persephone so that she can stay safe in the Underworld from the real bad guy, a psychopath and serial rapist : Boreas, God of Winter. At first, it slightly unsettled me but I realised that I am not sure I really want to read a love story with an abusive and pedophile Hades... So that's actually for the better!
Speaking of the love story, this one mercifully avoided the classic "insta-love" situation. Persephone seems particularly unimpressed by Hades at first and only learns to like him and eventually love him with time, upon seeing how he rules on the Underworld. Also, I found quite mature how Persephone handled her own feelings for him. It was really refreshing compared to the cheesy stuff you usually see in YA.
Another aspect of the story I really liked : the transformation of the Gods in the modern world. Honestly, that was just GREAT. It was just as good as Percy Jackson. The more I read about it, the more I thought "omg this is awesome, THIS IS AWESOME.". Everything just made a lot of sense and there were no loose ends or discrepancies.
The writing style was clear and fluent. The dialogues were quite witty and made me giggle sometimes and the Twilight references under the name "Dusk" really amused me.
Another aspect of the book I really appreciated, speaking of Twilight, is that they never downplayed the importance of the age difference between Hades and Persephone. It didn't feel like it was just a momentary hindrance to increase the sexual tension and anticipation, it felt like it was a real problem that Hades (and the author) carefully considered so that it wouldn't be creepy. Honestly, these days I've read so much YA where seriously wrong and unhealthy relationship were glorified that I just have to highlight how this book was a breath of fresh air compared to them because it avoided these pitfalls.
It is a great book : I recommend it to anyone. I am so glad it didn't disappoint me and I really can't wait for the second installment in the series!

Goddess Interrupted by Aimee Carter

Goddess Interrupted (Goddess Test #2) : 1/5 stars

This book was so unbelievably bad I don't understand how it got published.
Now that Kate's accepted her role as the Queen of the Underworld and her mutual love for Henry, she cannot wait to go back to his waiting arms in Hell. However, the welcome is not quite the one she expected, as Kronos, the evil Titan, prepares his vengeance against the Gods with the help of Calliope.
Kate is a whiny judgmental attention whore with whom everyone falls in love in this book (god knows why) and I couldn't stand her. This is especially bad since this is a first person narrative and we had no other choice but to bear with her warped sense of things and her incessant comments about how Ava and Persephone are sluts.
The story? Well, there isn't one. This should have taken one third of a book, however it just stretched and stretched and stretched and it was all unnecessary. Nothing happens. Kate goes to the Underworld, have 5 pages long emotional debates, shit happens, she has emotional turmoils and fights with Henry. That's it, folks. You don't have to read it anymore.
The "romantic relationship" between her and Henry is the most frustrating crap. Henry has turned into an utter jerk duing those 6 months of summer - wait, no, not in a jerk. In a stone. He's basically a wall and Kate turns into a spoiled attention whore. Do you know any tenenovelas or Korean dramas? Do you see how the two main characters are in love at first, but don't dare to say it because of crappy misunderstandings like one of them thinks the girl is actually a man and don't want to be gay, or one of them catches the other with a girl but it's actually his sister and it lasts really long until finally one of them decides to kiss the other. This is this book. Crappy telenovela-worthy misunderstandings that keep Kate and Henry away and it's just annoying and you want to both slap both of them but mostly Kate.
Plus, the author continues to completely butcher the mythology. Henry is still depicted as a poor victim, Persephone as a slut and Kate still allows herself to judge her. What does she know about marriage, tell me, with her 18 years of life and no previous boyfriend experience? Yet she goes "I'm holier-than-thou" on everyone. And what was up with Dylan refusing to participate in the battle? At first I didn't care and in the ending, the real name of the Gods are reminded and I see "Dylan -> Ares". How does that make sense, Ares backing out on a battle but Aphrodite volunteering? This was horrible.
I do not recommend this book at all and won't purchase the third book.

The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter

 The Goddess Test #1 : 2/5 stars

That book had received great reviews so I expected kind of a lot from it but I was disappointed ; I wanted to like this book.

The story is about Kate Winters, casual girl whose mom is on the verge of dying and asks her daughter to come back to her hometown, Eden - cliché boring small town. There she meets Henry, aka Hades, devastatingly handsome but dark who proposes to her to save her mom for a little while and in exchange, she has to live with him 6 months of the year and pass 7 tests to prove she’s worthy of being a Goddess.

The story managed to interest me as a fan of Greek Mythology, but I was really annoyed by the fact that Aimée Carter actually rewrote a portion of the myth ; Hades didn’t actually kidnap Persephone, it was an arranged marriage. Hades & Persephone’s myth happens to be one of my favorites, and I don’t really appreciate it being altered for the sake of making Henry look like a victim and the nice guy - she made him like Edward Cullen, for heaven's sake. I liked Hades as he was, thank you very much.

Which leads us to my second point : the characters are all a bit bland, especially the main character Kate who’s a real Mary-Sue. When she arrived to the small town, she really annoyed me being all Daria and haughty with her snotty inner comments… Reminded me in a bad way of Bella from Twilight. Ew.

The author also doesn’t really develop the friendships : she says that X and Y are friends but doesn’t show it in any way (and I think writing should be all about suggesting stuff so that the reader concludes it) and it just feels all very superficial and unexplained. The characters have really little depth and I actually don’t like Henry that much.

It was a very predictable story - I’m not saying I knew exactly how it would end but most of it was just painfully obvious and the plot outside the test is just your stereotypical girl hates boy, learns to know him and falls madly in love with him and boy, even if he looks all cold and aloof, actually loves her as well. And I have by the way no idea why Henry has any interest in the main character because I still have no idea what her personality’s like.

Another bit that made me furious : what's up with YA-writers that make their heroins have sex unwillingly? Because they were forced, because they were under some kind of spell or whatever. Like girls aren't supposed to initiate sex or desire sex, they can only have sex if they're old enough not to shock people and if they don't do it on purpose so they can stay all nice and innocent. Can you be more misogynistic?

I’m a bit harsh there, I did read the story quite fast and enjoy it and I think it’s the author’s first book so.. I wouldn’t recommend it to a mythology afficionado since most of it is altered to match the author’s wishes and it doesn’t have that much presence in the book, but it’s still a rather nice and fluent reading. I had good hope that the author would get better for the second book, however it somehow managed to be even worse. See my review for the second installment in the series. I do not recommend this at all.

Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky

Awaken #1 by Kate Kacvinsky : 1/5 stars.

The plot of Awaken intrigued me : set in a future where people live like hermits in their house, where all human interaction has been replaced by virtual interaction on the computer. The main character is a teenager whose father helped put this future in place by creating Digital Schools - virtual school, so that students don't have to leave the computer to study. She suddenly takes a leap of faith and decides to meet some dude she met on a chatroom, who just happened to be some leader of the revolution against computers.
I wanted to like this book, really. I read it in two days : it can't be that bad, then, right? But honestly I wouldn't recommend it to anyone.
The main character is supposed to be this shy girl used to being a hermit, not used to human interaction and like three chapters after meeting her Love Interest, she becomes instantly this brave sarcastic smart-ass who can hack computers and isn't afraid of anything. The author explained this completely stupid change by repeating that "[her love interest] brought out the better side of herself" but I don't really found this logicial nor believable. She's just flat. It seems like she got into this big revolution against virtual life merely because she can feel tinkling on her arm when Love Interest touches her...
That's the thing too. The Love Interest is just too present in this book. It seemed to me that the dystopian part was some kind of secondary plotline, a pretext and that the love story (which wasn't even all that interesting, to make it worse) was the main event. I know YA dystopia is in right now, but come on.. She spends 3/4 of the book pining for Love Interest, then in ecstasy because she finds him and then in pure misery because he temporarily leaves. She could have spent that time thinking, say, about a way to save her society from endoctrinement? Nope!
Their love story is also boring. And Love Interest does this annoying thing that 90% YA Love Interests do, that "oh no honey you can't lift a finger and help you're way too precious for me" trope that is supposed to be romantic, but really is condescending and infuriating.
The book is still a quick read, it's nicely written, too but it feels like it's just surfing on this YA dystopian fashion and brings nothing new to the already overflowing table.

Hello, world

Hi! My name is Catherine and I'm 20 years old. I love books, tv shows, travelling and writing. I'm going to write all my book reviews here ; I hope you will enjoy them and that we will have exchanges about it later :) English is not my main language, so I'm afraid my grammar won't be perfect but I will do my best.