Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Interesting Idea, but Reads Like a Rough Draft

Book of the Hidden (Hidden Trilogy #1) by Annalynne Thorne (TEM Publishing, 2012, 120pp.)
Witch sisters Vivian and Jean are leaders of the Underground, a secret magical society and haven for supernatural creatures who seek asylum from the hatred of mankind. When a mean-spirited werewolf, Astrid, attacks teenager Seth and infects him with lyncanthropy, Vivian brings him into the safety of the Underground. “Turning” a human against their will is a crime in the Underground, so she has Astrid banished. 
In order to cure Seth, Vivian seeks the missing Book of the Hidden, a tome of magic that can reverse his transformation. She quickly finds it, but by this time, the two have fallen in love. Non-magical humans aren’t allowed to live in the Underground. Although Vivian knows that Seth will be better off with a normal life, Seth insists that he would rather stay afflicted than live on the surface world without her. Meanwhile, the bitter Astrid seeks revenge against the pair.
The concept of such a society as the Underground is an interesting idea that an author could do a lot with, as is the scenario of sacrificing personal happiness for a loved one. Unfortunately, the novel reads like a rough draft. While a lot can be accomplished in 120 pages, the whole tone of the story feels rushed. This prevents the reader from really getting to know the characters and the world they live in. In addition, there were numerous spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, and run-on sentences. Most teen readers will probably not mind such nit-picky mistakes, and in fact enjoy the story regardless. For others, you may want to look elsewhere. Recommended for Ages 16-18.
Click on cover for image source.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Not Perfect, But Certainly A New Angle for Paranormal YA Romance

Source: Author Website

Lies Beneath (Lies Beneath #1) by Anne Greenwood Brown (Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 2012, 320pp.)

 Mermaids weren’t always the perky, bikini-top clad creatures you saw in The Little Mermaid. Early legends depict them as monsters that lured sailors to their deaths - a more or less fitting description for the family of mermaids in Lies Beneath. Calder and his sisters must kill to live, and they do this by luring mortals into the water and then absorbing their life forces. They’re are a pretty vindictive bunch, too. They blame a man named Hancock for breaking their mother’s heart and then leading her to her doom. When Calder and his sisters hear that Hancock’s son, Jason, will be moving into a house by their lake, they plot revenge by sending the strikingly handsome Calder to seduce Jason’s oldest daughter, Lily. Unfortunately, Calder soon falls in love with the girl, and finds himself torn between protecting his beloved and remaining loyal to his sisters.

It’s not a perfect book by any means. The action takes a while to build, and some readers may not find Calder and Lily’s romance particularly compelling. However, it’s certainly a new angle for the paranormal teen romance genre, and I predict that fans of Twilight will definitely gobble this one up. Recommended for Ages 16-Up.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Somewhat Amusing, but Ultimately Unpolished

Narrative Loserdom: (From Journal One) by Ryan Collins (Self-Published, 2011, 204pp.)

A fictional diary written by the character Justin Taggart, a 15 year old Texan boy who--let’s face it--may be a bit of a loser at school. Written in episodic spurts from July 2001 to July 2002, he chronicles his misadventures with his friend Adam, in which they invent new ways to steal TV cable, try to break into a Coke machine, and run a lawn-mowing service.

The diary format of the story definitely works, but with some flaws. While the writing style is very much consistent with the abilities of an aspiring writer, there’s too much description and explanation for the reader’s benefit, considering the narrator is writing out his thoughts by hand. In terms of character, we never really get to know anyone beyond Adam and Justin, so the protagonist’s half-hearted documentation of his high school crushes seem a bit pointless. With a very abrupt ending to conclude the story, Narrative Loserdom comes off as a somewhat amusing, but ultimately unpolished work. Recommended for Ages 15-17.

Click on cover for image source.