1.31.2015

TUNNEL VISION by Susan Adrian

TUNNEL VISION
by Susan Adrian

published in 2015 by St. Martin's Griffin

* * * * *

Jake Lukin just turned 18. He's decent at tennis and Halo, and waiting to hear on his app to Stanford. But he's also being followed by a creep with a gun, and there's a DARPA agent waiting in his bedroom. His secret is blown.

When Jake holds a personal object, like a pet rock or a ring, he has the ability to "tunnel" into the owner. He can sense where they are, like a human GPS, and can see, hear, and feel what they do. It's an ability the government would do anything to possess: a perfect surveillance unit who could locate fugitives, spies, or terrorists with a single touch.

Jake promised his dad he’d never tell anyone about his ability. But his dad died two years ago, and Jake slipped. If he doesn't agree to help the government, his mother and sister may be in danger. Suddenly he's juggling high school, tennis tryouts, flirting with Rachel Watkins, and work as a government asset, complete with 24-hour bodyguards.

Forced to lie to his friends and family, and then to choose whether to give up everything for their safety, Jake hopes the good he's doing—finding kidnap victims and hostages, and tracking down terrorists—is worth it. But he starts to suspect the good guys may not be so good after all. With Rachel's help, Jake has to try to escape both good guys and bad guys and find a way to live his own life instead of tunneling through others.


* * * * *

1.10.2015

INVINCIBLE by Amy Reed

INVINCIBLE (INVINCIBLE, #1)

by Amy Reed

to be published by HarperTeen / Katherine Tegen Books

5 owls


***

Invincible tells the story of Evie, a girl who is trapped in her own mind and struggling to find her identity after a miraculous recovery. She is stuck in a place between what others think of her and what she wants to be. With her miracle came a destructive tragedy, which only adds to her sense of emotional burden.

As a character, Evie is rarely likable, but she is real. Reed does not sacrifice truth to create likability, which I respect and admire. Evie has suffered, almost losing her life to cancer, and it shows. She has lost her sense of identity, and it shows. She makes bad decisions; she says mean things to people she loves; she is indecisive. These things forge Evie as a tangibly real person. She has leapt off the page and burrowed into my brain. She resonates. Reed gets adolescence more than most other YA writers.

Invincible is Reed's best book yet, and the first of a planned duology. I'm not going to say it's the next The Fault in Our Stars, because it's not; it's so much more than that. Reed touches on love, identity loss, hope, friendship, expectations, reality, depression, addiction, family, losing yourself, finding yourself choice, and recovery in one brisk novel. I may never read another book, if only because I'll be rereading Invincible over and over again.


1.09.2015

ELEGY by Amanda Hocking

ELEGY (WATERSONG, #4)

by Amanda Hocking

published by St. Martin's Griffin


4 owls

***


This review contains spoilers for the first three novels in the Watersong series! Read with caution!

You know, the length of this book kind of took me by surprise.

542 pages. For Hocking, this is abnormal; her Switched books were all short, clocking in at around 300 pages apiece, and the other Watersong books were each around that length, too. In a 542-page tome, I was worried Hocking would stray from the main mission and divulge too much side information. I was worried the series she has spent three books crafting would crash and burn with an overbearing fourth installment.

Those worries were definitely unnecessary.

In Elegy, Gemma is closer than ever to breaking the siren curse. With the scroll in her possession, she is almost there. With Penn's impending threats and a ticking clock, she needs to crack the case. The Watersong series ends with the best book, in my opinion. Family drama, sizzling romance, and a touch of the paranormal combine to make Elegy a spellbinding finale to the series. The characters read like your favorite TV family. The strongest offering of Hocking's and my favorite underwater series I've read yet!

1.08.2015

STILL MISSING by Chevy Stevens

STILL MISSING

by Chevy Stevens

published by St. Martin's Griffin

read via Kindle store



***


3.5 owls

First off, let's get this out of the way: my Kindle ruined, or at least severely tampered with, my reading experience with Still Missing. (Yet another reason why these blasted things should be read on paper. But, hey, I did read it on a Kindle; I'm the one at fault here.) 

One of the most crucial design flaws of the Kindle is the way the extra crap hastily included at the end of books (reader discussions, interviews, and But Wait . . . There's More! teasers of the authors' next books) count toward the overall percent-read figures of the book. I expect to reach the 100% mark when I finish the last chapter and hit the acknowledgments, but because of all the extras at the end of the Kindle editions, the actual end of the book hit me at 85%. That means that a whole fifteen percent of this book was dedicated to excerpts from Stevens's other books and reading group discussion questions, which was severely disappointing when I expected that 15% to include more plot points. That's what screwed things up for me: my belief that something big was coming, that more things were happening, maybe a jaw-dropping twist at the very end to leave us guessing, something infuriating and rewarding. Because I had fifteen percent left, I expected more. What I got as a conclusion wasn't more: it was sadly less than what I hoped for.

I enjoyed the way Still Missing unfolded. I enjoyed how the story was told from the perspective of a bitter, traumatized woman looking back on her traumas. I enjoyed the blossoms of Stockholm syndrome strewn throughout -- the book was, for the most part, psychologically accurate. (Somebody did her research!) The plot kept me turning pages; even though none of it particularly surprised me, it still led to feverish, nail-biting reading. What I don't think was the smartest choice, however, was the storytelling method Stevens employed, wherein Annie conversationally accounted her tragedy to her "shrink." It gave Stevens an excuse to write lazily (so many clich├ęs!) and didn't trust readers very much to pick things up on their own (for example, the way she explicitly spelled out the irony -- I think we got it).

Some of Annie's traumatic experiences really resonated, eliciting lots of emotion from me as I read. It got a bit graphic, but was all necessary to develop Annie's character. Overall, Still Missing functioned very well as a psychological thriller, delivered with a plot that engrossed (but ended, in my opinion, a little too bow-tied and perfect), and captured the facets of trauma very well from a psychological standpoint. People aren't the same after they experience traumas, and it can take years for them to return to how they were before, if they ever do. Stevens captured this beautifully.





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