Friday, January 11, 2013

Review: Darkness Falls - Jessica Sorensen

Title: Darkness Falls (Darkness Falls Series #1)
Author: Jessica Sorensen
Rating: 4/5
Price: FREE at Amazon!

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When the disease spread through the world, people had no choice but to go into hiding. The Colony is hidden deep underground, far away from the vampires—humans that were transformed by the disease. The vampires are hideous, starving, and they will kill any human they come across.

Seventeen-year-old Kayla is a Bellator, a warrior that protects The Colony. In order to survive, there are three rules she must follow:
Rule #1—Never go out after dark.
Rule #2—Always carry a weapon.
Rule #3—No matter what, never EVER get bit.
But what happens when the rules Kayla has always lived by can no longer apply?

The Highers run The Colony and accept nothing less than perfection. One slip up can mean death. Kayla has always worked hard to follow the rules and strive for perfection. But during a moment of weakness, she lets her imperfections show. Her punishment is worse than death. She is chosen for The Gathering and is thrown out into a world full of starving vampires.
No one has ever survived The Gathering, at least that’s what Kayla’s been told. But when she runs into a group who insist they were once part of The Gathering, Kayla discovers the Highers have been keeping secrets. Secrets that could lead to a cure.

First of all--the plot had me pretty much from the beginning. Sounds fascinating, right? An awesome mixture of dystopian and paranormal? Count me in!

I know a lot of readers are complaining in reviews about the amount of romance in YA fiction, but personally, I love it. I'm delighted with all the romance. In fact, I've been known to skim comments just to see people's comments about the romance in a novel. One comment I read on a book (not this one) complained that the amount of romance in the book turned them off. I immediately bought the book. LOL!

So, for those of you who like just a little romance, this book is a good choice. There's just enough to get you interested, but not enough that it dominates the plot. Or even the sub-plot. It does seem to factor into the twist near the end, though, which was a fun change.

Kayla is a strong character who's an awesome warrior. She's brave (who else would run into a cave just to search for vampires?), smart (she figures out something's up with her parental-figure, and that she's being lied to pretty quickly), and self-sufficient ("Sure, I can survive on dirty rain water. Who can't?" -- not an actual quote). And she is willing to ask all the questions you know you'd want to ask if you were in the same situation.

The book starts in a dystopian-like city, where citizens are kept in an enclosed fortress by the Highers--those in charge of the city. It quickly progresses, though, to the outside of the city, where it really picks up. Kayla and two others who were "killed" inside the city are tossed outside, and the mysteries just keep coming. First there's the little girl who was dumped with Kayla and another guy Bernard who can seemingly predict the future. Then there's a mystery boy (Aiden--OH how I love love love that name), who seems to know Kayla a little too well even though she has no memory of him. There's the fact that vampires are actually afraid of Kayla and run away from her instead of the other way around. And then there's an idea tossed around that Kayla may be the beginning of a Higher herself.

But wait, there's more!

When the three were dumped out into the desert, they were given three syringes and told if they took the medicine inside, it would "save" them. Well Kayla finds out what happens when they take the medicine--and let's just say it's miiiiigggghhhhhtttttttyyyyyyy appealing. The plot twist that happened there really caught me by surprise.

The best plot twist, and I'm going to give it away here because it's given away pretty quickly in the book via clues, was that the vampires were actually created by a doctor. Possibly a doctor attempting to recreate the "beautiful, elegant, gothic, super-humanly-fast with super-healing-abilities," vampires from lore. You know--the way we pretty much think of them.

Unfortunately, something went wrong, and the vampires they ended up with had decaying flesh covered in sores and bled tears of blood when they got hungry.

I've seen a lot of complaints in reviews about the "show, don't tell," writing style, and I will say a lot of this book is very "tell"-focused. At first it was a little hard for me to get into, but I actually found it worked, and after a while barely noticed it. It didn't detract from the story for me, anyway. The plot was that good.

I've been toying with the idea of picking up the second book just for the plot twist with the romance, but I might wait for the third one and buy them both together. The first one definitely had a cliff-hanger ending, but not so cliff-hanger-y that I didn't feel satisfied.

It's definitely worth the read--I finished it in just a couple of hours before bed last night. I would recommend it. And even if you don't like a love-triangle, or the "show-don't-tell" style of writing, the book is free and the plot is great. Give it a shot!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Review: Surrender - Elana Johnson

Title: Surrender (Possession #2)
Author: Elana Johnson
Rating: 4/5

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Forbidden love, intoxicating power, and the terror of control…

Raine has always been a good girl. She lives by the rules in Freedom. After all, they are her father’s rules: He’s the Director. It’s because of him that Raine is willing to use her talent—a power so dangerous, no one else is allowed to know about it. Not even her roommate, Vi.

All of that changes when Raine falls for Gunner. Raine’s got every reason in the world to stay away from Gunn, but she just can’t. Especially when she discovers his connection to Vi’s boyfriend, Zenn. Raine has never known anyone as heavily brainwashed as Vi. Raine’s father expects her to spy on Vi and report back to him. But Raine is beginning to wonder what Vi knows that her father is so anxious to keep hidden, and what might happen if she helps Vi remember it. She’s even starting to suspect Vi’s secrets might involve Freedom’s newest prisoner, the rebel Jag Barque....

I previously reviewed Possession (#1) - Elana Johnson with gushy-gushiness. So I was looking forward to the same wonderful writing, characters, and excitement as the first book. I was also hoping to find out what happened with Vi and Jag, but not looking forward to trying to choose between Jag and Zenn.

Well, the good news is--Elana didn't disappoint. (Of course!) The same captivating writing was as-present in book two as book one.

Book two introduces some new characters and re-introduces some old ones, and goes into more elaboration about the world Ms. Johnson created. It's an amazing world, and she describes it flawlessly; so realistically you feel like you're in it. The way she builds suspense just turns the author in me green with jealousy, and the reader in me frantic to keep going. Incredible.

I know the book is about Raine and Gunner, but for me, maybe because of the attachment I formed to them in book one, it was all about Zenn-Vi-Jag and their ever-present love triangle.

I felt every ounce of love Zenn felt for his dear Vi, so much so it made my heart ache and I hated myself for wanting Vi to pick Jag. I felt Jag's cavalier strength, full of admiration for him. I felt Vi's confusion and overwhelming emotions like they were my own. And they were side characters. But when they were on the page, electricity just seemed to fly. When they were all reunited, I almost felt my Kindle buzzing in my hands. The emotions built up between them was absolutely tangible.

Starting with book one and solidified by book two, I've decided Jag is the perfect hero, and Vi is the perfect heroine. It seems like a lot of the books I read who have reviews citing the girl as being "strong," are really just, well, you know the word. Not someone I'd want to have over to hang out. But Vi? I wanted to hang out with Vi. I wanted to be friends with Vi. I wanted to know her and see what made her tick. She was strong, resilient, and just fun. And Jag... well... who doesn't want a romantic mischief at their side?

Ugh, I can't wait the next three? Four? months until the last book. I hope it centers back on Vi. I bet it will center around all four of the mains--Vi, Raine, Jag, and Gunn. And the last page of the book? Talk about cliffhanger! Argh!!!

In summation: Read it. Definitely read it.

My one wince-inducing complaint about book one was about Vi's daddy. He used to break the rules and hug her and in her memories seemed like such a wonderful, devoted father, but turned out to be super-incredibly-evil. My favorite moment in book two that didn't center around Zenn-Vi-Jag was the big revelation about him. That her father has been on their side all along. He really was trying to save them. He really is working to help the resistance and overthrow the government. I was so happy, I was sighing. In book one you're really led to think he's a great guy, even when he's doing horribly evil things, so to find out in book two that he really is a great guy just felt... fulfilling. Maybe because I'm a daddy's girl, but I always want father's to be ridiculously devoted to their kids. It felt like things came full circle when her dad revealed the truth. I just hope that in book three, Vi gets to find out.

Crimeny, Batman! Can we talk about Vi and Jag's reunion? Oh. My. Gosh. It was brief (only a few paragraphs long), but so insanely beautiful. Beautiful-beautiful-beautiful. I didn't want the moment to end. I re-read it half a dozen times. I smiled. I went, "Aww," out loud. I melted. And as their scenes continued, the chemistry they had created in book one just picked right back up again, sucking me into the pages. I can't wait to read more about them in book three. If they're not in book three I might die.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Writing a Trilogy (link repost)

As I mentioned in my previous post, I have fallen in love with Elana Johnson. She wrote some amazing blog posts that I have kept open in my browser window for days, afraid to close my browser because I was worried I wouldn't be able to find them again. Well, now I'm going to post them!

It's a series post, called Writing a Trilogy. She goes through each book of a trilogy and breaks down the formula for the overall series, each book, and each character/story progression. It's a really fascinating read, especially if you're working on (or are planning on working on!) a trilogy.

Writing A Trilogy, Part One: Book One
Writing a Trilogy, Part Two: Book Two
Writing a Trilogy, Part Three: Book Three

Good luck!