Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I wanted to like this one, and it almost succeeds for me. Westerfeld is telling two stories – one is the tale of 17-year-old Darcy Patel, who has written a book, gotten an agent, and postponed college to go off to New York and write. Interspersed with this we get Darcy’s novel, titled Afterworlds, which tells the story of Lizzie, who survives a terrorist attack by slipping into the world of the dead, and emerges with the power to see ghosts and talk to a Hindu god of the dead.
I love stories within stories, I like YA literature and paranormal romance, but this just did not work for me. Lizzie’s story was definitely more engaging for me, and watching it be shaped as Darcy rewrites and revises was interesting. But the framing story fell short. Darcy is a total Mary Sue – a too-perfect stand-in for the reader who magically gets an agent, a publishing deal, an enormous advance, a huge and affordable apartment in New York, a perfect girlfriend, an invitation to join a famous author on a book tour — it’s all too good to be true and so grating. The literary characters she is surrounded by are pretentious and patronizing. Her problems are all magically solved (or just ignored – Westerfeld never really resolves the fact that she’s living far beyond her means and will basically run out of money five minutes after the book ends).
And one more oddity – another review I read pointed out that Darcy’s friends are all going on about how wonderful her writing is, and how amazing her book is, which is basically Westerfeld just complimenting himself. And once you realize that, it just glares out at you. Did he do this on purpose? Is it supposed to be funny? I don’t know, but it just didn’t work for me.
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Angel Burn by L.A. Weatherly
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I will never view the angels in the same (heavenly) light again. In Angel Burn , by L. A. Weatherly, angels have been slowly invading Earth, revealing themselves to humans with what feels like divine benevolence. Instead, however, the angels malevolently sap the humans of their energy and ultimately their health, while simultaneously anesthetizing them with feelings of great joy and gratitude. The angels’ scheme seems destined to yield world dominance, if it weren’t for interference from the story’s two main characters. Willow is a not so typical high school student who feels more comfortable with her head under the hood of a car than a hair dryer. She has a gift for clairvoyance and first learns of the angels when conducting a psychic reading for a high school acquaintance who is desperate for Willow’s help. Alex, a handsome, home-schooled Angel Killer with AK tattooed on his well-defined bicep, is dispatched by the CIA to assassinate Willow, but why? Alex trails Willow to the local Church of Angels to learn more about his unlikely target, and when the angels turn violently on Willow, the pair are thrust into the road trip of their lives. The story is fast-paced, the characters are well developed and likeable, and the premise of evil angels is provocative. The inevitable romance that develops is tender, sweet and believable. I recommend this to those who enjoy paranormal romance and adventure.
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Infinite Days by Rebecca Maizel
My rating: 1 of 5 stars
I have a better title: Interminable Days: Until this Book is Over . I wish I could write a more positive review, because I’m sure the author put a lot of effort into this book, but either she got a lot of bad advice from those surrounding her, or she needs to find another career. The best feature of the book is its cover, which is what attracted me, and probably a multitude of other hopeful, unsuspecting readers in the first place. Lenah Beaudonte was seduced in the year 1418 at the tender age of fifteen by the love of her life: Rhode, a stunning vampire who granted her infinite days with him by her side. Now flash forward nearly 600 years to the bucolic campus of Wickham, an exclusive boarding school in coastal New England. Lenah awakes as a 16 year-old beauty after 100 years of hibernation following an obscure ritual in which her beloved Rhode sacrifices himself so that she can be human again. This is where the novel really starts to annoy. Lenah adjusts to life in the 21st century without much more than a few endearing social gaffes (like dropping to her knees when she hears recorded Mozart, or coyly asking for the definition of prom after being invited). She quickly falls for the most popular, hottest guy on campus, who drops his girlfriend at the first site of the lovely Lenah. Their relationship is based solely on being well matched aesthetically, as they appear to have nothing more in common. This is enough, however, for Lenah to fall deeply in love (again) with Justin Enos, and to endanger him and all of their shallow friends by sticking around long after she becomes aware that the forlorn and forgotten members of her coven will soon seek her out and kill those to whom she has become attached. The writing is stilted, the characters are flat, and the plot is plodding. Here’s a prime example, “His chest was covered in rain, and we were both drenched. We smiled at the sky, then at each other, and for the moment I forgot I was nearly five hundred years older than he was. ‘What’s your name?’ he asked, his green eyes protected by long, wet lashes.
And so it begins. And goes on, and on, and on. If you’re desperate for another teenage vampire love story, and have a lot of time to kill and nothing else to read, then go for it. Otherwise, don’t waste your time.
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