Saturday, August 25, 2012

Book Review: Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins

Title: Sweet Evil
Author: Wendy Higgins
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: YA (paranormal)
Why I read it/how I found it: 2012 Debut Author Challenge

What if there were teens whose lives literally depended on being bad influences?

This is the reality for sons and daughters of fallen angels.

Tenderhearted Southern girl Anna Whitt was born with the sixth sense to see and feel emotions of other people. She’s aware of a struggle within herself, an inexplicable pull toward danger, but Anna, the ultimate good girl, has always had the advantage of her angel side to balance the darkness within. It isn’t until she turns sixteen and meets the alluring Kaidan Rowe that she discovers her terrifying heritage and her willpower is put to the test. He’s the boy your daddy warned you about. If only someone had warned Anna.

Forced to face her destiny, will Anna embrace her halo or her horns?

I'm sure people who consistently enjoy paranormal romances will find interest in this story. For me, I love paranormal stuff done well, like Everneath and Paranormalcy. Unfortunately, there are more bombs than successes in this genre. While structurally I couldn't enjoy Sweet Evil, the mythology presented in it is very unique, given the angel/demon thing has been done a lot in the YA category. I think what I liked most about it is that it didn't shy away from the actual presence of God, or angels, or anything, rather than kind of just ignoring Him. The few angel books I've read have done this before.

This has a lot of standard tropes you see in YA paranormal romance.
-The sweet, innocent female protagonist. That would be Anna. But OF COURSE Anna isn't socially accepted by her peers. Because she's "different."
-The dark, tortured, but hott (yes, two t's, because Anna insists he's hott with two t's)love interest. Who also happens to be British. And in a band. And rich. And an emancipated minor. And did I mention the hott factor? That is Kaidan.
-The guy who gets thrown in halfway as a potential love interest, but she can't get over how her heart goes thump-thump over the first love interest, the one her soul sings to.
-Insta-love! Four days is enough to feel love toward a guy, right? RIGHT?

This did hold more entertainment for me than most other books in this genre lately, and it wasn't HORRIBLE, but it wasn't even good. I'm sure a lot of people will enjoy it who like other stuff similar to this, but for people looking for something different, Sweet Evil doesn't deliver quite enough. 

Other information: This is a planned trilogy, but the rights to the other books haven't been bought yet. Wendy Higgins's website is here.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Book Review: A Breath of Eyre by Eve Marie Mont

Title: A Breath of Eyre 
Author: Eve Marie Mont
Publisher: Kensington Publishing
Genre: YA (Er...contemporary? Fantasy? Fanfiction? Yeah, let's go with fanfiction.)
Why I read it/how I found it: 2012 Debut Author Challenge

Emma Townsend has always believed in stories—the ones she reads voraciously, and the ones she creates in her head. Perhaps it’s because she feels like an outsider at her exclusive prep school, or because her stepmother doesn’t come close to filling the void left by her mother’s death. And her only romantic prospect—apart from a crush on her English teacher—is Gray Newman, a long-time friend who just adds to Emma’s confusion. But escape soon arrives in an old leather-bound copy of Jane Eyre…

Reading of Jane’s isolation sparks a deep sense of kinship. Then fate takes things a leap further when a lightning storm catapults Emma right into Jane’s body and her nineteenth-century world. As governess at Thornfield, Emma has a sense of belonging she’s never known—and an attraction to the brooding Mr. Rochester. Now, moving between her two realities and uncovering secrets in both, Emma must decide whether her destiny lies in the pages of Jane’s story, or in the unwritten chapters of her own.

I love Jane Eyre. It's one of my favorite books. Which is why this book was so disappointing for me.

Many sections of the book are plopped straight out of Jane Eyre. Conversations, actions and such. Which, I've read alternative POVs from famous books/plays before with the same dialogue, however this book did not either A.) Add more scenes/dialogue than the original or B.) Give new perspective to the scene. Whenever she was in Jane's world, I found it boring and also, really unnecessary to the plot of her own issues in her life. It did drift away from the original novel toward the end of her journeys as Jane, but then it was just stupid.

Rochester's blamed for everything. Bertha's craziness, her situation, all of it. Despite the fact that Charlotte Bronte says insanity runs in Bertha's family, that Rochester stayed with Bertha for four years trying to help her, and also that asylums in the nineteenth century were horrible. Absolutely horrible. Yet Emma thought it would have been a good idea to send Bertha to doctors and nurses. Honestly, for someone so smart she should know a bit about history and the fact that insane people were treated horribly back then. Rochester did Bertha a kindness keeping her in Thornfield. Was he perfect? No, but judging him on our standards today is unfair.

Bertha's insanity is reduced to a depression, rather than the homicidal insanity it truly was. I shook my head the whole time Emma decided she needed to "save Bertha" rather than forgive Rochester.

And what killed me the most--Emma claimed Jane was not a feminist. Because she stuck with Rochester rather than Bertha. I can't even muster the energy to write down how completely wrong and stupid that reading is. Flat-out stupid to call one of the most progressive feminist novels for its time anti-feminist.

Emma's story outside of Jane's world is all right. Fairly stereotypical with mean girls and boys and such. I felt that a lot of things that should be more serious and drawn out in Emma's life were cut short because of the pages spent as Jane.

Other information: This is the first book in a trilogy, the other two A Touch of Scarlett (taken from The Scarlet Letter) and A Phantom Enchantment (taken from The Phantom of the Opera). Eve Marie Mont's website is here.