Saturday, July 31, 2010

Betrayed by P. C. Cast, Kristin Cast

Betrayed: A House of Night Novel (House of Night Novels)

Pages (Hardcover): 320 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Released: September 29, 2009

Quick Thoughts I love the world that P.C. and Kristin Cast created, however, I didn't like Marked, their first novel, very much. That being said, I was interesting in a few of the plot points and decided to read Betrayed to see if some of my questions were answered.

Review: The book takes place right after the events from Marked, Zoey has increased her powers and is now training to be a High Priestess and taking on more responsibilities as the head of Dark Daughters and Sons. Her enemy, Aphrodite, has fallen from grace and is now a social outcast and everything is just great for Zoey and her friends, except they aren't.

Zoey still has some weird feelings about her mentor, Neferet, her almost ex-boyfriend won't leave her alone and despite Zoey's efforts, she can't stay away from him. Not because of him though, but because of her cravings for his blood. The hot teacher, Loren, shows an interest in Zoey and Zoey can't help but feel attracted and beautiful by this. Her boy troubles get more complicated when she wavers around her feelings for her boyfriend, Erik.

But enough about her love life, the real danger is the ghosts. Zoey has no idea if they are involved with the recent string of deaths involving humans, but she knows something isn't right with them. And by the time this novel ends, one of Zoey's friends will die, breaking her heart and causing her to wonder if everything is truly worth it.

The plot, minus Zoey's love life, is interesting. Sadly, the characters are still so bland and one dimensional. Her friends are still cliche ridden and the twin stuff might be making be slightly crazy. The villain has potential to be really good though, so I'm interested in seeing how that route turns out.

With this book, I felt like Zoey was kind of everything she hated, in terms of her love life. She blasted her former best friend and Aphrodite for being a ho, yet she cheats on her boyfriend and even though she feels guilty she doesn't want to stop. The situation with her teacher, despite how weird it is, sounds interesting because you can easily tell Loren is evil and will do something messed up to her, but despite this, Zoey wants him. In the first book, Zoey felt Nyx leading her own and guiding her, yet she feels nothing in regards to this. Odd.

I will say that Heath and Aphrodite are my favourite characters in the novel. Heath is a love sick addicted to being bitten puppy, and he's written well in this aspect. Aphrodite grows the most in the novel, however, and over shadows the rest of the characters. I wanted to read more about her than Zoey, which isn't good if Zoey is the main character in this novel.

Final Thoughts: The plot is interesting, however, the bad guy has been hinted since the first book so it doesn't come as a surprise, and the conversation between them (Zoey and the bad guy) at the end of the novel doesn't work for me. Zoey increases her power, but it still feels forced and too perfect. The book is a bit better than Marked though and I can't help but want to know more about Aphrodite and Heath.

Grade: 5.5 out of 10

Betrayed is the second book in the House of Night series and it's available at bookstores and Amazon.

Betrayed by the length of this review? Check out a shorter version at 5 Line Reviews

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Pages (Paperback): 608 pages
Publisher: Vintage
Released: June 23, 2009

Quick Thoughts I remember reading this back in my book blogging days (can I still say that if I came back to blogging?) and I remember being really excited for this because it was new and getting rave reviews. I think during this time, I was reading more international novels, so his name popped up and after reading the summary I wanted to read it.

Review: Carl Mikael Blomkvist, journalist and publisher of the magazine Millennium, is convicted of libel and the lose of revenue, readers, and his slowly his reputation. If that isn't enough, Mikael also has to serve some jail time. This is all too much for him, so he steps down and leaves the magazine. It's then when he is contacted by Henrik Vanger. The deal between the two is simple, Henrik will provide the proof that Mikael desperately needs to restart his reputation and in return, Mikael will have to spend a year in Henrik's estate and write the Vanger family history and to help solve the case on who murdered Harriet Vanger.

With the help of hacker, Lisbeth Salander, Mikael will have to solve the case in order to restore his reputation and ease the mind of old man Henrik.

There are an assortment of characters, but I'll deal with the two main ones, Mikael and Lisbeth.

Mikael is smart, passionate, and a hard worker. But, despite all of his good qualities, I didn't particularly like that he would occasionally bed his best friend and business partner (who is married). The whole situation, even though everyone, including the husband, was fine with this, was a little off-putting to me. I understand there is a strong connection between them, but that doesn't mean it has to go this far. If they were single, I don't think I would have minded too much.

Lisbeth, what can I say about her, she's awesome. Simply awesome. Throughout the story, you learn more about Lisbeth and her past and you realize that this is a girl who had to do a lot in order to survive in the world. She made the story for me and when she came into Mikael's life the story picked up and I couldn't putting it down.

Final Thoughts: Minus the libel case, I loved the book. The mystery was interesting and the Vanger family were intriguing and mysterious in their own way. After that case was solved and Mikael goes home, the book starts too lose some of it's fire and it drags the book down. Other than that, it's a great book and I like what Larsson has done with Lisbeth.

Grade: 9 out of 10

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is the first book in Stieg Larsson's series and is available in bookstores and Amazon.

Compact, but with the same energy, check out the 5 line review of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo over at 5 Line Reviews

Marked by P. C. Cast and Kristin Cast

Marked: A House of Night Novel (House of Night Novels)

Pages (Hardcover): 320 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Press; First Edition
Released: September 29, 2009

Quick Thoughts: I admit it, I like novels with supernatural creatures. There is something about them that just makes me want to gobble them up and find more to devour. There is a problem with this though, if you read a lot of urban fantasy novels they all start to sound the same. Due to this, I always look out for novels where the author changes up their supernatural creature and makes it uniquely theirs. Regardless of whether it works out well or not, I like that the author made an effort and tried something new. Luckily for Marked, it seems like the Cast girls have done just that!

Review: Welcome to a world where due to hormonal changes during the teenage years, teens turn into vampyre. They don't become vampyres right away though, they become fledglings and are shipped to a special school where they will learn about their upcoming Change. Now, just because you are told that you're a fledgling, doesn't mean that you'll become a vampyre. The bodies of some simply reject the change and they die, so when you are Marked and told that you will become a vampyre, it's a scary thing.

That is what happens to the main character of Marked, Zoey Redbird. One day she's at school with a bad cold, the next minute she's Marked. If isn't enough pressure on her, she's given powers from Nyx and forewarned about an upcoming test that will happen. It sucks for her, but it's fantastic for this reader. And so she is sent to the House of Night, a school for fledglings, and  is taken under the wing of Neferet, the High Priestess of House of Night.

Over the next few days, Zoey meets friends, fights with Queen Bee, Aphrodite, deal with her almost ex-boyfriend, and very human, Heath, and the feelings she has for cutie fledgling Erik. As her power grows and with Nyx's guidance, Zoey, with the help of her friends, Nyx, and cute boy Erik, will have to bring Aphrodite down and save someone special to her. But is this the reason why Nyx gave her the powers? And why is it that she sees the ghosts of students who have died?

I tried to like Zoey, I really did, I really really did. But it was simply too hard. She isn't developed properly and so I never felt like she was real. She is also super perfect, the cute boy in school instantly takes an interest in her, she also has her almost ex-boyfriend trying to get back with her, she gets so many powers and everything happens in a matter of 3 days. I don't generally mind Mary Sue like characters, but Zoey was a little too much for me.

If Zoey, who was the narrator and the one we see the most, isn't developed, then it isn't that much of a surprise that no one else is either. That isn't too bad, it's only the first novel and they can still be fleshed out, but it would be nice if everyone wasn't such a cliche. Her step-father is a religious nut. Her mother is a submissive do nothing. Her grandmother is all understanding. Her friend Damien, is the gay boy whose parents reject him. Aphrodite, is the mean girl and ho. Zoey's human friend, Kayla, is the friend who wants her boyfriend and is a ho. And there are two girls, one black the other who is white and blond, who are so alike that everyone calls them Twins. This is fine, it's cute, until they constantly end their sentences with twin this and twin that. It happens almost every other sentence.

Final Thoughts: The book has a lot of great ideas and I like that people become vampyres due to hormones and changes in the body, it's unique and very interesting to read. However, it wasn't executed properly and Zoey becoming the most powerful fledgling, and everything that she wants in the matter of a few days is ridiculous. It happens too quickly and the climax was a let down due to this. It would have been nicer if it took the span of a year, like Harry Potter, so that the characters, motivation, and plot flows better.

I was disappointed, but I'll probably read the next book because the matter about the ghosts doesn't get solved and I want to find out what happens with them.

Grade: 5 out of 10

Marked is the first book in the A House of Night series and is available at bookstores and Amazon as well.

If you'd like to read the short version of this review, visit 5 Line Reviews

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

Twilight (The Twilight Saga)

Pages (Paperback): 544 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Released: November 1, 2008

Quick Thoughts: My friends have been asking me to read Twilight for awhile now, but I'm always wary when it comes to popular books. It's always a hit or miss and I'm always disappointed when it's a miss. Then one day, I won Twilight and decided that I had no choice now, I have to read it.

Review: The plot is fairly simplistic, girl moves in with her dad, girl meets boy, boy wants to kill her and taste her sweet sweet boy, boy stalks girl, boy watches girl when she's sleeping, girl doesn't start to sleep with a bat next to her bed, instead girl finds this amazing, girl and boy fall in love, girl finds out that boy is a vampire, girl wants to be a vampire, boy says no, bad guy comes into the picture and tries to kill girl, he doesn't and they live happily ever after.

Like I said, it's a fairly simplistic plot.

I've read that Bella is a Mary Sue and that may be the case, but what I disliked about her character was her lack of friendliness towards her friends. And once Edward shows up, it's almost as if she didn't have friends to begin with. It just didn't sit well with me. That being said, I felt like she was written well enough and sounded like a teen in love.

Edward is a creepy character, only because he admits that he watched Bella while she slept (this is before they went out), yet this is what I found fascinating about him. He's in between wanting to kill her and love her, it's interesting and he's clearly tortured about the entire ordeal. The other characters were interesting in their own right, but the book is mostly about Bella and Edward.

Final Thoughts: This surprised me and made me want to read the rest of the series. The story follows a simple plot line and it works well, the journey for Bella and Edward is an interesting one and they have me wondering what will happen next with them.

Grade: 8 out of 10

Twilight is book One in the Twilight Saga and is available in bookstores and Amazon

If you'd like to read the shorter version of this review, visit 5 Line Reviews