26 Sep 2012

UNREMEMBERED - JESSICA BRODY

SUMMARY
When Freedom Airlines flight 121 went down over the Pacific Ocean, no one ever expected to find survivors. Which is why the sixteen-year-old girl discovered floating among the wreckage—alive—is making headlines across the globe. Even more strange is that her body is miraculously unharmed and she has no memories of boarding the plane. She has no memories of her life before the crash. She has no memories period. No one knows how she survived. No one knows why she wasn’t on the passenger manifest. And no one can explain why her DNA and fingerprints can’t be found in a single database in the world.

Crippled by a world she doesn’t know, plagued by abilities she doesn’t understand, and haunted by a looming threat she can’t remember, Seraphina struggles to piece together her forgotten past and discover who she really is. But with every clue only comes more questions. And she’s running out of time to answer them. Her only hope is a strangely alluring boy who claims to know her from before the crash. Who claims they were in love. But can she really trust him? And will he be able to protect her from the people who have been making her forget?

REVIEW
I'm lucky enough to have received an advance copy of this book from a rep and was immediately intrigued by its premise. I don't read contemporary novels very often but was glad that I picked this up. It errs towards science fiction and is as fast-paced as a spy thriller.

It's premise is great: A girl, named Violet by the nurses in hospital, is found floating in the ocean after a suspicious plane crash. After being placed with a foster family she becomes determined to find out where she comes from, and to also find out more about the mysterious boy who continues to follow her every move.

The Unremembered is a fantastically built novel. The suspense gradually grows into a high octane thriller that will have you gripping your seat. I was shocked time and time again by the abilities Violet discovers in herself and it was really fun to discover everything she can do at the same time she does. There were several times I was completely unsure how Violet was going to get out of the situations she gets in, which reminded me of the twists of The Hunger Games.  You're never sure who to trust, or if any of her memories are ever real. It's not really a dystopian novel as such but will appeal to fans of these.

12 Sep 2012

THE SELECTION - KEIRA CASS

SUMMARY
Thirty-five beautiful girls. Thirty-five beautiful rivals...It's the chance of a lifetime and 17-year-old America Singer should feel lucky. She has been chosen for The Selection, a reality TV lottery in which the special few compete for gorgeous Prince Maxon's love. Swept up in a world of elaborate gowns, glittering jewels and decadent feasts, America is living a new and glamorous life. And the prince takes a special interest in her, much to the outrage of the others. Rivalry within The Selection is fierce and not all of the girls are prepared to play by the rules. But what they don't know is that America has a secret - one which could throw the whole competition...and change her life forever.

REVIEW
I must stop judging books by their covers. I must stop judging books by their covers. If I keep telling myself that maybe one day I'll listen

The gist of the story is America Singer, narrator and generally stubborn lead character is picked in a lottery to become a contestant in 'The Selection': a country-wide competition to find a girl to marry the crown price Maxon. There are a lot of dystopian similarities between this and The Hunger Games but obviously with none of the gravity. 

I have to say that I quite surprised myself by enjoying this book. I expected it to be rather shallow and although it almost is, America's character really brought it forward to me. She is funny and strong and doesn't cower in a corner like the rest of the girls. She has the best of both worlds and I really enjoyed the growing triangle between Prince Maxon and her former boyfriend Aspen. It's got a fun, glitzy edge to it with the rivalry between the girls and the television interviews. I really enjoyed the banter, it was witty and funny. 

8 Sep 2012

BLACK HEART BLUE - LOUISA REID

SUMMARY
"They tried to make me go to my sister's funeral today. In the end I'd had to give in ...I'd been walking in her shadow for sixteen years and I liked its cool darkness. It was a good place to hide". How would you feel if your twin sister died suddenly? Particularly if she was the beautiful one and you were horribly disfigured. And how would it feel to be alone now if you and your sister were the only ones to know the truth about what takes place behind closed doors at home? And what would you do if it was your parents who brought danger and terror into your life? Would you dare reveal how your sister died? And would you be brave enough to find an escape of your own? "Black Heart Blue" is a powerful novel about the domestic horrors that can unfold within a small community - and one girl's quest to stand up for the truth.

REVIEW
Rebecca and Hephzibah are non-identical twins practically imprisoned in the Vicarage. They are both mentally and physically abused by their parents and while they are home schooled have very little contact with the outside world. When they finally convince their parents to let them go to college they both get a taste of the outside world. The story follows the sisters' desperate attempts to find salvation from the horror of their lives. We join them as they are released in to the 'real' world and realise that they are worth so much more than how they have been treated. 

Black Heart Blue is a very moving and compelling read. It will take you to the extremes of child abuse, hinting at events without being too open, making this an eye-opening read for older teens. Hephzibah's voice is perfectly pitched like a teenagers diary, full of self-confidence and daring. She explores her social skills and adapts quickly, trying out make up and trying to attract boys. Her sister, Rebecca is almost her polar opposite. She keeps to the shadows and tries to make life as safe for herself and her sister as possible. I found that I had to keep reminding myself that they were twins, Hephzibah always felt older, even though Rebecca's voice is more defined.

The dynamic between the two sisters is both hard to read and immensely touching. There is no patronising 'we are twins so we can understand each other better than anyone' - they are much more like normal sisters. Reid is very honest in her portrayal of them, especially towards Rebecca's disfigurement, and sometimes it is brutal, but this works to enforce the teenage attitudes of desperately wanting to be normal or fit in.

6 Sep 2012

THE GIRL ON THE STAIRS - LOUISE WELSE

SUMMARY
Jane Logan is a stranger to Berlin and she finds the city alive and echoing with the ghosts of its turbulent past. At six months pregnant, she's instructed by her partner Petra to rest and enjoy her new life in Germany. But while Petra is out at work, Jane begins to feel uneasy in their chic apartment. Screams reverberate through the walls, lights flicker in the derelict building that looms over the yard, a shadow passes on the stairs... Jane meets a neighbour's daughter, a girl whose life she tries to mend, but her involvement only further isolates her. Alone and haunted, Jane fears the worst...but the worst is yet to come. Louise Welsh, the acclaimed author of The Cutting Room, delivers another masterful suspense novel. The Girl on the Stairs is a powerful psychological thriller packed with twists and turns to keep you reading well into the night. Read it, or be left in the dark.

REVIEW
Firstly, I take absolutely no please in giving bad/negative reviews but I was so disappointed with this book. I picked it up because I've been trying to increase my knowledge of current adult fiction and Louise Welsh is an author I'd seen some good reviews for and was curious to see what the fuss was about. 

The premise of this book is that a pregnant Jane moves to Berlin with her partner Petra and as a result becomes isolated from society. Whilst stuck in her apartment building she comes across Anna, looking battered and bruised and assumes that she is being abused by her father, a renowned doctor. She pushes this idea as far as she can and this has 'devastating' consequences.

As a protagonist Jane is immensely irritating. Although I agreed with her dilemma that if you believe someone is being abused you should stand up for them, it becomes an obsession for her. Not only were there many occasions where I wished she would just drop it (even though it was the main storyline) I also found the fact that she was pregnant and smoking hard to read. It is a personal opinion and although I try to stay objective with any book and understand that some women find it hard to give up something they are so addicted to for a pregnancy there was no remorse in Jane, no exploration or explanation as to why. It was just a simple fact. I know this is a sideline to the actual plot, but the reader spends so much time in the mind of a biased narrator that perhaps her views would have fitted in well. This, plus the fact that she is a pregnant lesbian surrounded by supposed abuse and prostitutes, makes the book feel like it is trying to find controversy. Mainly because Jane was bored. I understand that we are supposed to know that she is an unreliable narrator who is possibly suffering delusions or developing obsessions because she is isolated but it got to a point where I just didn't care anymore.

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