Saturday, April 3, 2010

Review: Fallen, by Lauren Kate


Title:
Fallen (Book #1, Fallen series)
Author: Lauren Kate (laurenkatebooks.net)
Pages: 464
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: December 08, 2009

Genre: Young Adult
Themes: boarding school, fallen angels, forbidden love, reincarnation

Synopsis: (From GoodReads) There's something achingly familiar about Daniel Grigori.

Mysterious and aloof, he captures Luce Price's attention from the moment she sees him on her first day at the Sword & Cross boarding school in sultry Savannah, Georgia. He's the one bright spot in a place where cell phones are forbidden, the other students are all screw-ups, and security cameras watch every move.

Even though Daniel wants nothing to do with Luce--and goes out of his way to make that very clear--she can't let it go. Drawn to him like a moth to a flame, she has to find out what Daniel is so desperate to keep secret . . . even if it kills her.

Dangerously exciting and darkly romantic, Fallen is a page turning thriller and the ultimate love story.


Additional Information: Amazon.com's book trailer for Fallen is below.



My Review: The story starts out with Luce being late for the tour of the new boarding school she is attending, Sword & Cross. You're introduced to a few of the characters that become a big part of the story, such as Gabbe, Cam, and Arriane. Instantly, Cam takes a liking to Luce and so does Arriane, volunteering to show her around the grounds then demanding that Luce cut her hair like her own. Soon after, Luce spots Daniel Grigori, who she is immediately attracted to. More odd than that, she feels as though this isn't her first time seeing him. When Daniel spots Luce, he gets wide-eyed right before smiling and gallantly flipping her off. Even though he was rude to her, Luce continually finds herself thinking about him and looking for him. That is until she has a run-in with Molly, who quickly welcomes her to school with a big plate of meatloaf over her head. However, thanks to Molly, Luce is introduced to Penn - the late school caretaker's daughter who decides to stay at Sword & Cross because that's where her father is buried. Although a little eccentric, Penn turns out to be a good information source for Luce. Luce and Daniel talk every once in a while, but each time she's left even more confused than before. A little less than a hundred pages into the novel, you have your first big scene of action that kind of puts the whole novel into swing - before then, it's just a bunch of introductions, Cam flirting with Luce, and you sort of get an idea of why Luce is in Sword & Cross. However, it's never really fully fleshed out in the story, which either may be a hole in the plot or something the author plans on telling in the next book. Either way, you know enough to know there was a tragic accident, she was blamed for it, and now she's in a boarding school with other "troubled teens". I'm going to stop with the play-by-play, but I will say that as the story unravels, you figure out that a lot of people are not what they seem. You also get the whole story on why Daniel seems so familiar to Luce, as well as a big back story on why they may never be able to be together.

Alright, I'll admit ... I judged a book by its cover - bad. Reading the blurb on the back, I didn't really think there would be anything all that intriguing in the book. Why? I thought it would just be a book where you follow a girl who drools over some really hot guy the whole time and that's about it. I have to say that I was definitely wrong. The story is pretty wonderful. As I said in my review for Evernight, the cover would fit better on that. However, not every book has a cover that fits well with the story itself. So, I'll say that, as just a cover, it's an attention-grabber and it's very beautiful. And really, what's better than being a proud owner of a good book with a gorgeous cover? The prologue to the story is actually a flashback, with unnamed characters, but you quickly understand it as the story goes along - and it does it's job as a prologue by catching your attention, making you want to read more. The plot? As mentioned, it does have some holes and you will have some questions after you read the novel. Since it is a part of a series, I am hoping the author will fix that by answering the questions later on in the series. So, I'm going to be lenient on that until I read more of the series. I loved the characters and they fit their persona well - though I do think that Arriane lost a little of her spark as the story went along. I think she faded back a little too much and didn't keep her spunkiness that she originally started out with. There IS an epilogue that goes with the story. After you read it, you'll have a "Whhhhaaaat?!" moment, but it's a good one! It really gets your blood pumping for the next book. The writing is wonderful, as well as the point of view ... which follows Luce in third person, but you do get a grip on the surroundings too. I forgot to mention that the ending is a little heart-wrenching, but it's necessary and gets your hopes up for the sequel.

Rating: - It was a tough decision between three stars and four, but ultimately I do think this book is more of a four star read than three. It has a good plot, good characters, and it's a great read. There are some holes, but not enough holes to question the overall story itself or the characters. At the end of the book, you have a great grip on the story, the backstory, the characters, and a small hint of things to come. It's definitely a book that I would recommend to buy.

Summary: You could say that Fallen is about a girl who starts a new school and instantly falls for one of the hot guys there. However, it's much deeper than that. Fallen is on a whole new level about a girl who is basically re-introduced to someone that she loves, but is really forbidden to love. Once her past is revealed to her, it quickly turns into two forces fighting for the girl and the girl desperately trying to find a way to stay with the one she loves.

Target Audience: Again, this is another paranormal romance novel in the young adult genre. It's not about vampires, but another supernatural force. If you want a book that deals with some biblical themes (don't worry, it's not a Christian book - obviously!) mixed with a little horror and romance, then you'll like this book.

Source of Book: This book was a purchase I made for myself during one of my many bookstore raids.

Other Books By Author: Lauren Kate has another young adult book out called The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove. However, you won't find any paranormal in this one - it's more of the mystery/suspense types. There will also be a sequel to Fallen, it's called Torment - though I don't think it has a release date yet.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Review: Evernight, by Claudia Gray


Title: Evernight (Book #1, Evernight series)
Author: Claudia Gray
Pages: 352
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: June 01, 2008

Genre: Young Adult
Themes: boarding school, forbidden love, paranormal, vampires

Synopsis: (From GoodReads) Bianca wants to escape.

She's been uprooted from her small hometown and enrolled at Evernight Academy, an eerie Gothic boarding school where the students are somehow too perfect: smart, sleek, and almost predatory. Bianca knows she doesn't fit in.

Then she meets Lucas. He's not the "Evernight type" either, and he likes it that way. Lucas ignores the rules, stands up to the snobs, and warns Bianca to be careful—even when it comes to caring about him.

"I couldn't stand it if they took it out on you," he tells Bianca, "and eventually they would."

But the connection between Bianca and Lucas can't be denied. Bianca will risk anything to be with Lucas, but dark secrets are fated to tear them apart . . . and to make Bianca question everything she's ever believed.


Additional Information: A sneak peek of the Evernight prologue can be read here.


My Review: The first chapter starts off with Bianca packing up a bag and planning to run away. Well, not so much run away ... but get away for a while to prove a point to her parents - she really doesn't want to attend Evernight. She's haunted by a dream that she has and that makes her literally start running from the school wants she sneaks out. During her run, she notices the figure of a man that starts running after her. Eventually, she is tackled and you are introduced to Lucas - who thought she was running from someone. They have a nice conversation and return back to school. From then until she meets him again, Bianca is pretty much obsessed with seeing Lucas again. She's the shy, quiet type that doesn't seem to know how to make friends, which makes her dependence on Lucas that much stronger. Bianca does eventually meet and make friends which includes Balthazar, who shows interest in Bianca. Bianca and Lucas eventually confess their feelings to one another, and then get in a fight on their first date away from Evernight. This leads into Balthazar taking Bianca to the Autumn Ball - where, for the first time, she feels like a part of the school. This leads into her thinking about Lucas and his unwillingness to fit it, which becomes too much for her and she asks to go outside with Balthazar. There, she tells him about her attraction to Lucas and Balthazar tells her they will remain friends. Enter Lucas, along with a twist that pretty much turns everything upside down for the reader. From here, I can't tell you much without some spoilers. However, I will say that you learn that Bianca fits more into the school than she admits, and her relationship with Lucas gets a lot more complicated as you continue to read on. Lucas also has a secret that is revealed later on that divides them even more. Well, for a little bit, anyways. ;)

I must say, I started reading this book with little hope because I wasn't all that impressed with the cover. Sure it's shiny and colorful, which is what attracted me to it, but after reading the book ... I honestly feel as though a cover like the one on Fallen might actually fit better. The prologue to the story doesn't give you a good start for the story, however it is an excerpt that is further along into the story - so it keeps you interested and wanting to read more. Your reading the story from Bianca's point of view, which is limited in some ways, but it's elaborate enough to let you know pretty much everything that is going on. The twist around chapter eight or so lets you know that Bianca knew something that wasn't told until then, but it did have that "OMG"-factor that made it worth it. The characters ... I loved them. They weren't too over-the-top, nor were they too vague. The only flaw I found was the whole neediness Bianca had for Lucas through about half of the book, but it did dwindle through the rest ... so, I'm chalking that one up to jitters of a new school. I also have a fond place in my heart for Balthazar, who is very mature and dependable throughout the whole book. The plot was decent and sets the series up well. The ending was very heart-warming and, again, set up for the next book. I don't think I can do this book justice with this review. I honestly can't believe that it's been out since 2008 and I have just now heard about it!

Rating: - In my heart of hearts, I have to give this book five stars. I know the book is cliche; yes it's another book about vampires and the forbidden teen love, yadda yadda yadda. The first 100 or so pages, while not really filled with any type of action and it's pretty predictable what type of school they're in, sets up the story well. Once the first big secret is out, you'll look back and think, "Why didn't I notice this?!" Maybe it should have been very obvious to me, but it wasn't ... and I absolutely love things that catch me off guard. After that, you have action, you get more background history, and you have a light read that keeps you reading until the very end. Ultimately, what made me give this book 5 stars is the one point in my rating system that was necessary for a 5 star book - after I was done, I immediately picked up my phone and sent my BFF a text to tell her she needs the book.

I told everyone from the beginning that I wasn't going to go into a book with comparisons to others, and hopefully I'm proving that with this first review. While I could have compared this to several books, I refuse to. It needs to be judged by what it is ... a book by a relatively new author that deserves a clean slate to start from.

Summary: This book is ultimately about a girl beginning a new school and finding that one true love that she knows she shouldn't love, but she cannot deny their attraction for one another. The story follows their struggles, along with revealing their true selves and what makes their love so forbidden.

Target Audience: People who love reading paranormal romances on a young adult level. If you like vampires and romance, you'll love this book.

Source of Book: This book was given to me as a Christmas gift.

Other Books By Author: Stargazer (Book #2 of Evernight series) is also available for purchase. As soon as I get through some other promised reviews, then I can promise that it will be added to my list as well. Claudia Gray also has a story in the Immortal: Love Stories With Bite and Vacations From Hell anthologies.

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