August 22, 2011

Review: Across The Universe by Beth Revis

Synopsis (from Goodreads): Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.

Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone - one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship - tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn't do something soon, her parents will be next.

Now, Amy must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there's only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming.

Review: Across The Universe is one of my first forays into the sci-fi genre, and although I didn’t love it, I still found it an enjoyable read with some great world-building.

The chapters detailing Amy’s claustrophobia while being trapped in the ice were, in my opinion, the strongest of the book. I could feel the horror right along with her, and I applaud Revis for being able to evoke that kind of response. These chapters really showed her strength as an author, and I wished more of this had been captured in the later chapters.
I enjoyed getting to know the ship along with Amy, all the rules and rituals that she saw. This world-building was the author’s strong point and was definitely a highlight. I liked all the secrets behind the Elder/Eldest plot and the Season was particularly disturbing. I hope we’ll see some stronger characterization in the next book now that this is out of the way, because I felt that sometimes it was lacking compared to the detail that went into the world-building. 
Now for the romance - or lack thereof. I’m not sure what I missed, but I just didn’t feel any spark between Amy and Elder. I actually wanted Amy to end up with Harley - and I’m sure that’s not what the author intended. I think the next book will explore the relationship more, so hopefully my mind will be changed.
Across The Universe is a solid debut that has some strong world-building and interesting characters. I’m eagerly awaiting the sequel and am excited to see where Revis takes this series.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

August 14, 2011

Review: The Day Before by Lisa Schroeder

Synopsis (from GoodreadsAmber’s life is spinning out of control. All she wants is to turn up the volume on her iPod until all of the demands of family and friends fade away. So she sneaks off to the beach to spend a day by herself.
Then Amber meets Cade. Their attraction is instant, and Amber can tell he’s also looking for an escape. Together they decide to share a perfect day: no pasts, no fears, no regrets.
The more time that Amber spends with Cade, the more she’s drawn to him. And the more she’s troubled by his darkness. Because Cade’s not just living in the now—he’s living each moment like it’s his last.

ReviewIt’s amazing that an author can create so much emotion from so few words, but this is exactly what Lisa Schroeder does in The Day Before. This is a book written entirely in verse, and is my first foray into verse literature. Although it took me a while to adjust to the sparse, minimalist writing style, I was ultimately won over by the amazing characters developed in this novel.
Amber is a girl that just wants a break from the huge decisions looming in the near future, and so takes a day-trip to a beach town where she has spent many a family holiday. Here, she meets Cade, a boy who seems to be doing exactly the same thing. The relationship between these two was so sweet. Even though the book only spanned a day, it never felt rushed or fake, instead it captured the sweetness of love in a way I hadn’t read in so long.
The day was perfectly paced, enough conflict to drive the story but not so much that it got unrealistic. There were so many sweet moments, so many heart-breaking moments and so many touching moments. I loved getting to know Amber, all her struggles and triumphs. She was so great and I related to many of the things she said. 
Honestly, I’m so glad The Day Before was my first verse book. It was an amazing book - I stayed up until 2 am reading it! I highly recommend this for anyone who loves contemporary novels or who is looking to challenge themselves by reading a novel in verse form.
Rating: 4 out of 5

I received this e-book free of charge from Simon and Schuster's galley grab program. This is no way affected my review.

August 7, 2011

Review: Instructions For a Broken Heart by Kim Culbertson

PhotobucketSynopsis (from Goodreads): Three days before her drama club's trip to Italy, Jessa Gardner discovers her boyfriend in the costume barn with another girl. Jessa is left with a care package from her best friend titled "Top Twenty Reasons He's a Slimy Jerk Bastard," instructing her to do one un-Jessa-like thing each day of the trip. At turns hilarious and heartwrenching, Instructions for a Broken Heart paints a magical Italy in which Jessa learns she must figure out life-and romance-for herself.

Review: So. My first one star review. And on a book I thought I would love, no less. I feel really bad giving Instructions For A Broken Heart such a low rating - I tried so hard to find something, anything, I liked, but ultimately I drew a blank.
Reading that synopsis, I was expecting a light, fluffy novel, probably in the same vein as Anna and the French Kiss. Instead, I got an annoying main character that squanders a trip to beautiful Italy by being the most petty, pathetic and just downright annoying female lead that I have read in a long while. I mean, I understood that Jessa was upset, she had every right to be. But her actions were just unbelievable. The things that should have made her mad, she completely ignored and things that were inconsequential had her in tears or performing a completely irrational response. I just could not relate or comprehend it at all.
The synopsis gave a hint that there’d be a romance with a cute Italian guy, but that never happened. Did I read a different book? Because the only romance (I use the word romance loosely here) I saw came in the last 10 pages and was utterly pointless and confusing. There was an Italian guy, but he was involved in some ridiculous sub-plot that had nothing to do with the main story and seemed totally out of place.
I honestly felt perpetually confused while reading this book. There was no rhyme or reason to any of the character’s actions and none of them were particularly likable. I kept reading only for the fact that I thought it must get better. Unfortunately, it starts badly and just continues going down-hill. A disappointing read that I had such high hopes for.
Rating: 1 out of 5