Please don’t assume the 5 stars mean this is a deep or world-changing book. It’s totally not. It’s basically an enemies-to-lovers story between two teenagers who end up on the run from the authorities, joining up with a ragtag band of outlaws that felt very much like the crew of Serenity, and then going on an adventure that was constantly keeping me on the edge of my seat. I was shocked at how well the romance worked because I started off the book absolutely HATING the male protagonist. I actually had the thought, “She’d better not be turning this into a romance because I would never buy that [female protagonist] would get over how awful he is.” And then . . . it was done so deftly that I was totally rooting for the two of them by the end.
An annoyingly selfish rich young woman is cursed by a wizard after she rejects his advances (which irritated me because she had every right to) in a particularly selfish and cruel way (which, okay, she could have done it in a much more considerate manner). He curses her that she will be as cold as her heart and followed by death. At first I was not on board much because I didn’t buy that her heart was icy cold, even if she did seem childish and selfish. But I soon got caught up in the implications of the curse: she is always shiveringly cold, everywhere she stays for more than a few minutes starts to develop a snowstorm, and anyone who touches her will be injured by her cold. She’s run out of town, and she struggles to survive on her own in the mountains until she finds a better purpose for her life and her curse. Meanwhile, Death visits her from time to time, trying to entice her to “come with him.” And it was kinda cool, and I did like the eventual romance quite a bit, but it felt sort of uneven, sort of unconvincing at times. Definitely felt like a first novel.
Three kids, who love roleplaying and acting out stories with action figures, have a bit of a falling out. One of the girls in the group claims this creepy antique doll her mom keeps in a cabinet has spoken to her, begging her to bury her in the cemetery a few towns away. It’s unclear for most of the book whether the girl is telling the truth (and this is truly a ghost story) or if she’s just making everything up to try to keep the group together, or a mixture of both. Anyway, the kids have adventures and misadventures before the end, and of course they make up. It dealt with some good, deep issues, but I felt like some aspects were kind of cliche or old-fashioned, which was odd for a book published in 2013. Also, the writing didn’t wow me in general.
After reading The One and Only Ivan and reading glowing reviews of this one, I couldn’t wait for the hold to come in. But I just didn’t like it very much, though there were things about it I really liked. The story was told from the perspective of an old tree that people hang wishes on each year. The tree becomes the canvas for a hateful message to a Muslim family that has moved into the neighborhood, and meanwhile, the owner of the property the tree stands on has decided to cut it down. The voice is dreamy and, I guess, tree-like, but mostly I found it irritating. It may have been a me thing. And the message was too overt for my tastes, though it was one I agreed with. Short and sweet, if you’re interested.
YA. I could not put this down. It was gripping and beautifully written and creepy as heck. Camellia Beauregard is a Belle, one of a few women in the entire kingdom of Orleans who is naturally beautiful and who can bestow temporary beauty on others. Everyone else is “gris,” with gray skin, red eyes, and gray, straw-like hair. So of course everyone “needs” a Belle, making Belles very well-respected and important. Camellia is extremely talented, and she longs to be chosen as the favorite, the one Belle who serves the royal family. But twists and turns ensue, and not everything is as it seems. Half dystopia, half lush fantasy with a great villain, The Belles was almost 5 stars. But . . . the end was only okay, and everything else suffered in retrospect. I’m definitely reading the sequel when it comes out. I believe this was a debut book, and it just came out in February 2018, so I imagine things will only get better from here.
Spoiler: I guessed the main twists, which I was hoping I was wrong about. I got to the end and thought, “Huh. I guess I was right. Okay.” Also, I really struggled to understand why the MC wouldn’t just use her gifts to kill the villain once she realized she could. I mean, yeah, murder is terrible and all that, but this villain was BAD. I wanted it at least addressed, and it wasn’t. I actually think there could be room for a different villain stepping in if the first one died quickly in the first book, so doing that wouldn’t have ruined the series. I don’t know.
Also, some parts are problematic (bury-your-gays trope). I recommend reading Goodreads reviews if you’re concerned.