Book Reviews · Netgalley · New Releases

Book Review: I Killed Zoe Spanos by Kit Frick

I killed Zoe Spanos

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing,ย  via Netgalley for an honest review.

Genre: YA/Contemporary/Mystery/Thriller

Plot: What happened to Zoe won’t stay buried…

When Anna Cicconi arrives to the small Hamptons village of Herron Mills for a summer nanny gig, she has high hopes for a fresh start. What she finds instead is a community on edge after the disappearance of Zoe Spanos, a local girl who has been missing since New Year’s Eve. Anna bears an eerie resemblance to Zoe, and her mere presence in town stirs up still-raw feelings about the unsolved case. As Anna delves deeper into the mystery, stepping further and further into Zoe’s life, she becomes increasingly convinced that she and Zoe are connected–and that she knows what happened to her.

Two months later, Zoe’s body is found in a nearby lake, and Anna is charged with manslaughter. But Anna’s confession is riddled with holes, and Martina Green, teen host of the Missing Zoe podcast, isn’t satisfied. Did Anna really kill Zoe? And if not, can Martina’s podcast uncover the truth?ย 

Opinion:

“๐‘พ๐’‰๐’‚๐’• ๐๐จ ๐’š๐’๐’– ๐’“๐’†๐’Ž๐’†๐’Ž๐’ƒ๐’†๐’“, ๐‘จ๐’๐’๐’‚?”

“๐‘ฐ ๐’“๐’†๐’Ž๐’†๐’Ž๐’ƒ๐’†๐’“ ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’˜๐’‚๐’•๐’†๐’“. ๐‘ฐ๐’• ๐’˜๐’‚๐’” ๐’ˆ๐’“๐’‚๐’š ๐’‚๐’๐’… ๐’…๐’–๐’๐’, ๐’๐’Š๐’Œ๐’† ๐’‚๐’ ๐’๐’๐’… ๐’„๐’‚๐’“ ๐’˜๐’Š๐’•๐’‰ ๐’‘๐’‚๐’Š๐’๐’• ๐’˜๐’๐’“๐’ ๐’๐’‡๐’‡. ๐‘ฐ ๐’“๐’†๐’Ž๐’†๐’Ž๐’ƒ๐’†๐’“ ๐’Œ๐’๐’†๐’†๐’๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’๐’ ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’ƒ๐’‚๐’๐’Œ, ๐’”๐’•๐’‚๐’“๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’๐’–๐’• ๐’‚๐’„๐’“๐’๐’”๐’” ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’”๐’–๐’“๐’‡๐’‚๐’„๐’† ๐’‚๐’‡๐’•๐’†๐’“ ๐’”๐’‰๐’† ๐’˜๐’‚๐’” ๐’…๐’๐’˜๐’ ๐’•๐’‰๐’†๐’“๐’†. ๐‘ฐ ๐’“๐’†๐’Ž๐’†๐’Ž๐’ƒ๐’†๐’“ ๐’‰๐’๐’˜ ๐’„๐’๐’๐’… ๐’Š๐’• ๐’˜๐’‚๐’” ๐’•๐’‰๐’‚๐’• ๐’๐’Š๐’ˆ๐’‰๐’•, ๐’‰๐’๐’˜ ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’˜๐’Š๐’๐’… ๐’˜๐’‚๐’” ๐’”๐’‰๐’‚๐’“๐’‘ ๐’‚๐’๐’… ๐’˜๐’†๐’• ๐’‚๐’ˆ๐’‚๐’Š๐’๐’”๐’• ๐’Ž๐’š ๐’„๐’‰๐’†๐’†๐’Œ๐’”.

๐‘ด๐’๐’”๐’• ๐’๐’‡ ๐’‚๐’๐’, ๐‘ฐ ๐’“๐’†๐’Ž๐’†๐’Ž๐’ƒ๐’†๐’“ ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’ˆ๐’–๐’Š๐’๐’•, ๐’‰๐’๐’˜ ๐’Š๐’• ๐’„๐’“๐’–๐’”๐’‰๐’†๐’… ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’‚๐’Š๐’“ ๐’๐’–๐’• ๐’๐’‡ ๐’Ž๐’š ๐’๐’–๐’๐’ˆ๐’”.”

Damn.

What a whirlwind of wild this little beauty turned out to be.

I Killed Zoe Spanos is told from two POVsAnna Cicconi, the main lead and prime suspect in the disappearance and murder of Zoe after a shocking confession, and Martina Green, a friend of Zoe’s younger sister with aspiring journalistic dreams and a promise to find out what really happened. The story flips between the present and two months prior, before Anna confesses to killing Zoe. It documents Anna’s time in the Hamptons working as a nanny for the summer for a prominent family, how she discovers and learns about the disappearance of Zoe Spanos, and how she eventually confesses to killing her.

Confused?

As you should be.

“๐‘ด๐’‚๐’š๐’ƒ๐’† ๐‘ฐ ๐’•๐’‰๐’๐’–๐’ˆ๐’‰๐’• ๐’Š๐’•’๐’” ๐’˜๐’‰๐’‚๐’• ๐’”๐’‰๐’† ๐’˜๐’๐’–๐’๐’… ๐’‰๐’‚๐’—๐’† ๐’˜๐’‚๐’๐’•๐’†๐’…. ๐‘ด๐’‚๐’š๐’ƒ๐’† ๐‘ฐ ๐’˜๐’‚๐’” ๐’•๐’“๐’š๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’•๐’ ๐’Ž๐’‚๐’Œ๐’† ๐’•๐’‰๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ๐’” ๐’“๐’Š๐’ˆ๐’‰๐’•.”

Anna is from Bay Ridge in Brooklyn where she has spent way too much time drinking heavily and taking party favors, in the hopes that her mother might pay attention to her. But Anna wants to change. She wants a break from the relentless fog and partying, so she takes a summer job in the Hamptons. But upon arriving to this new place, she learns of the odd disappearance of a girl named Zoe Spanos. On New Years Eve, Zoe vanished without a trace. With little clues as to what had happened to her, and even less motive for foul play.

But what Anna quickly learns upon arriving in the Hamptons, is that she bares a striking and eerie resemblance to Zoe. Some would say, an almost identical resemblance.

“๐‘ด๐’‚๐’Œ๐’† ๐’•๐’‰๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ๐’” ๐’“๐’Š๐’ˆ๐’‰๐’•?” ๐‘ป๐’‰๐’† ๐’…๐’†๐’•๐’†๐’„๐’•๐’Š๐’—๐’† ๐’“๐’†๐’‘๐’†๐’‚๐’•๐’” ๐‘จ๐’๐’๐’‚’๐’” ๐’˜๐’๐’“๐’…๐’” ๐’ƒ๐’‚๐’„๐’Œ ๐’•๐’ ๐’‰๐’†๐’“.

And as Anna begins to learn more about Zoe through locals who mistake her for the missing girl, friends and news articles, Anna begins to fall deeper and deeper into the intricacies and mysteries surrounding the case. And to a point where secrets, truth, lies and blurred lines begin to reveal themselves.

“๐‘ฐ๐’ ๐’”๐’๐’Ž๐’† ๐’”๐’Ž๐’‚๐’๐’ ๐’˜๐’‚๐’š. ๐‘จ๐’‡๐’•๐’†๐’“ ๐’˜๐’‰๐’‚๐’• ๐‘ฐ’๐’… ๐’…๐’๐’๐’†. ๐‘ฐ๐’• ๐’˜๐’‚๐’” ๐’‚๐’ ๐’‚๐’„๐’„๐’Š๐’…๐’†๐’๐’•, ๐’ƒ๐’–๐’•…

๐‘ฐ ๐‘ฒ๐’Š๐’๐’๐’†๐’… ๐’๐’๐’† ๐‘บ๐’‘๐’‚๐’๐’๐’”.”

This shit gets a liiiiiittle crazy.

From the beginning, Anna starts dropping little hints about her life back home. It consists of a lot of partying and activities that fuzzy up the mind, and gives the reader an overwhelming sense that she is running from something. Murder, you say?! Hmmm…maybe so. But what’s really interesting about Anna’s character is that you never really get a solid read on her. She’s a bit of an enigma shrouded in hazy darkness, and it seems as if only the top few layers of her are pulled away. She’s like an onion…you know the saying.

But what really started to intrigue me about Anna, besides her need to leave her past behaviors behind, was her constant forgetfulness.

Here is a girl who obviously isn’t a hardcore drug user, and sure…she seems to have a bit of a pull towards the bottles of alcohol that she notices, but nothing to suggest she has a serious problem with substances. Which is the only reason I was coming up with for why she would be forgetting things randomly, to the point where the little girl she was nannying was constantly reminding her of conversations and clearly exasperated for having to do so. Obviously there’s a rhyme and a reason for this odd behavior, but the way it is executed had me swooning.

Kit Frick was meant to write mystery thrillers. She knows how to create an eerie yet familiar personality in a character that feels authentic, but has ever so slightly had sprinkles of slight paranoia and hysteria woven in to make the reader question the sanity of the MC. And not only does she make the reader both trust and question Anna, but she adds in other multiple characters that feel innocent and guilty all at once.

“๐’€๐’๐’– ๐’”๐’‰๐’๐’–๐’๐’… ๐’ˆ๐’,” ๐‘ช๐’‚๐’…๐’†๐’ ๐’”๐’‚๐’š๐’” ๐’‚๐’” ๐‘ฐ’๐’Ž ๐’‚๐’๐’“๐’†๐’‚๐’…๐’š ๐’•๐’–๐’“๐’๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’•๐’๐’˜๐’‚๐’“๐’…๐’” ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’…๐’๐’๐’“, ๐’“๐’†๐’‚๐’…๐’š ๐’•๐’ ๐’๐’†๐’‚๐’—๐’† ๐‘พ๐’Š๐’๐’…๐’†๐’“๐’Ž๐’†๐’“๐’† ๐’‚๐’๐’… ๐’๐’†๐’—๐’†๐’“ ๐’“๐’†๐’•๐’–๐’“๐’. ๐‘ด๐’‚๐’š๐’ƒ๐’† ๐‘ท๐’‚๐’Š๐’”๐’๐’†๐’š ๐’˜๐’‚๐’” ๐’“๐’Š๐’ˆ๐’‰๐’•. ๐‘ป๐’‰๐’Š๐’” ๐’‘๐’๐’‚๐’„๐’† ๐ข๐ฌ ๐’‰๐’‚๐’–๐’๐’•๐’†๐’…. ๐‘ต๐’๐’• ๐’ƒ๐’š ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’…๐’†๐’‚๐’…, ๐’ƒ๐’–๐’• ๐’ƒ๐’š ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’‡๐’๐’Š๐’๐’•๐’š ๐’”๐’†๐’„๐’“๐’†๐’•๐’” ๐’๐’‡ ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’๐’Š๐’—๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ.”

I’ll be honest, I had no idea who in the hell the murderer was until the murderer was actually revealed. And even then, I didn’t believe it. There are SO MANY characters who are perfect suspects and have clear motives. SO MANY characters who act strangely and suspiciously. Who seem to always be covering things up or sweeping clues into a rolled up rug and throwing it into the ocean.

Its all.

Very.

Suspish.

But isn’t that what we love? To be hit at the knees and have a bag pulled over our heads? And in true murder mystery form, we get to play detective alongside the characters. Throughout the story the POV switches over to Martina Green and her podcasts episode transcripts where she is trying to find out what happened to Zoe. She discusses police reports, insider information from the family, possible suspects, and even points the finger at the boyfriend.

Because it’s always the boyfriend.

“๐‘ป๐’‰๐’Š๐’” ๐’ƒ๐’๐’š ๐’Š๐’” ๐’‚ ๐’”๐’•๐’“๐’‚๐’๐’ˆ๐’†๐’“, ๐’ƒ๐’–๐’• ๐’‡๐’๐’“ ๐’‚ ๐’”๐’๐’Š๐’‘๐’‘๐’†๐’“๐’š ๐’Ž๐’๐’Ž๐’†๐’๐’• ๐‘ฐ ๐’„๐’‚๐’ ๐’”๐’†๐’† ๐’๐’–๐’“ ๐’๐’Š๐’—๐’†๐’” ๐’Š๐’๐’•๐’†๐’“๐’•๐’˜๐’Š๐’๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ, ๐’๐’–๐’“ ๐’…๐’‚๐’“๐’Œ๐’†๐’”๐’• ๐’”๐’†๐’„๐’“๐’†๐’•๐’” ๐’‚๐’๐’… ๐’…๐’†๐’†๐’‘๐’†๐’”๐’• ๐’‡๐’†๐’‚๐’“๐’” ๐’๐’‚๐’Š๐’… ๐’ƒ๐’‚๐’“๐’† ๐’Š๐’ ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’”๐’•๐’Š๐’๐’ ๐’๐’Š๐’ˆ๐’‰๐’• ๐’‚๐’Š๐’“.”

Though of course, nothing is ever as it seems, is it?

And without giving anything away, I just need to comment on the ending. Sure I was totally blindsided, but do I realllyyyyyy believe that ending?

Meh.

It’s questionable.

I felt like some conversations and relationships weren’t tied up. I wanted a convo between the murderer and…a prominent character to take place, but it didn’t. I wanted to see the TRUE feelings and thoughts of the murderer, but all I got was the confession and facts. But then again…that is the most authentic way to end a story like this, isn’t it? When do we ever really get the full details on murders and heinous crimes?

Maybe if it involves Ed Kemper, but he’s a unicorn.

Anyways.

This mystery kicked ass and finally got me out of my reading slump. It may be because there was murder in it, which seems to be my happy place lately (don’t you fucking judge me) and the only genre to keep me interested. But I will say, that little situation with Star and the conclusion of that was a bit…anti-climatic, no? Like realllyyy? That’s how that ties up? With a slapped on band-aid and a shrug?

Oh okay.

 

4 Stars

 

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Bloomsbury · Book Promo · Book Reviews · New Releases

Book Review: Accidental by Alex Richards

Accidental

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, Bloomsbury, for an honest review.

Genre: YA/Contemporary

Plot: Johanna has had more than enough trauma in her life. She lost her mom in a car accident, and her father went AWOL when Johanna was just a baby. At sixteen, life is steady, boring . . . maybe even stifling, since she’s being raised by her grandparents who never talk about their daughter, her mother Mandy.

Then he comes back: Robert Newsome, Johanna’s father, bringing memories and pictures of Mandy. But that’s not all he shares. A tragic car accident didn’t kill Mandy–it was Johanna, who at two years old, accidentally shot her own mother with an unsecured gun.

Now Johanna has to sort through it all–the return of her absentee father, her grandparents’ lies, her part in her mother’s death. But no one, neither her loyal best friends nor her sweet new boyfriend, can help her forgive them. Most of all, can she ever find a way to forgive herself?

In a searing, ultimately uplifting story, debut author Alex Richards tackles a different side of the important issue that has galvanized teens across our country.

Opinion:

“๐‘จ๐’๐’ ๐’˜๐’†๐’†๐’Œ ๐’๐’๐’๐’ˆ, ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐‘จ๐’Ž๐’†๐’“๐’Š๐’„๐’‚๐’ ๐’‡๐’๐’‚๐’ˆ ๐’๐’ ๐’๐’–๐’“ ๐’‡๐’“๐’๐’๐’• ๐’๐’‚๐’˜๐’ ๐’‡๐’๐’‚๐’‘๐’” ๐’‚๐’๐’ˆ๐’“๐’Š๐’๐’š ๐’Š๐’ ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’˜๐’Š๐’๐’…. ๐‘พ๐’†๐’Š๐’“๐’… ๐’‰๐’๐’˜ ๐‘ฐ ๐’๐’†๐’—๐’†๐’“ ๐’–๐’”๐’†๐’… ๐’•๐’ ๐’๐’๐’•๐’Š๐’„๐’† ๐’Š๐’• ๐’–๐’‘ ๐’•๐’‰๐’†๐’“๐’† – ๐’•๐’‰๐’Š๐’” ๐’‰๐’–๐’ˆ๐’†, ๐’…๐’–๐’“๐’‚๐’ƒ๐’๐’† ๐’‚๐’… ๐’‡๐’๐’“ ๐’๐’–๐’“ ๐’‘๐’‚๐’•๐’“๐’Š๐’๐’•๐’Š๐’”๐’Ž.
.
๐‘ฐ ๐’˜๐’๐’๐’…๐’†๐’“ ๐’Š๐’‡ ๐’Ž๐’š ๐’ˆ๐’“๐’‚๐’๐’…๐’‘๐’‚๐’“๐’†๐’๐’•๐’” ๐’๐’˜๐’๐’†๐’… ๐’•๐’‰๐’‚๐’• ๐’‡๐’๐’‚๐’ˆ ๐’ƒ๐’†๐’‡๐’๐’“๐’† ๐’๐’“ ๐’‚๐’‡๐’•๐’†๐’“ ๐‘ฐ ๐’”๐’‰๐’๐’• ๐’‚๐’๐’… ๐’Œ๐’Š๐’๐’๐’†๐’… ๐’•๐’‰๐’†๐’Š๐’“ ๐’…๐’‚๐’–๐’ˆ๐’‰๐’•๐’†๐’“.”

“๐‘ฉ๐’๐’Š๐’๐’Œ ๐’•๐’˜๐’Š๐’„๐’† ๐’Š๐’‡ ๐’š๐’๐’–’๐’“๐’† ๐’•๐’“๐’‚๐’‘๐’‘๐’†๐’… ๐’Š๐’ ๐’‚ ๐’‰๐’๐’”๐’•๐’Š๐’๐’† ๐’”๐’Š๐’•๐’–๐’‚๐’•๐’Š๐’๐’.”

Johanna has been raised by her grandparents for most of her life, due to her father bailing and her mother dying in a car accident when she was almost three. But at sixteen, Johanna feels like she’s beginning to forget her mother entirely and it doesn’t help that her grandparents refuse to talk about her. But life for Johanna isn’t so bad. She has two amazing best friends who are more like sisters, and the new kid at school seems to have his eye on her. But when Jo gets a letter in the mail from her father who is wishing to reconnect, her seemingly ordinary life implodes. With her father’s sudden reappearance in her life comes the truth of her childhood and the real cause of death of her mother. Because it wasn’t a car accident that killed Johanna’s mother…

…it was her.

Deep breath, baby angels.

It’s a heavy hitter.

“๐‘พ๐’๐’“๐’…๐’” ๐’‡๐’๐’š ๐’๐’–๐’• ๐’๐’‡ ๐‘น๐’๐’ƒ๐’†๐’“๐’•’๐’” ๐’Ž๐’๐’–๐’•๐’‰ ๐’‚๐’๐’… ๐’ƒ๐’๐’ƒ ๐’‚๐’“๐’๐’–๐’๐’… ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’“๐’๐’๐’Ž ๐’๐’Š๐’Œ๐’† ๐’ƒ๐’‚๐’•๐’”. ๐‘ป๐’‰๐’†๐’š’๐’“๐’† ๐’‡๐’‚๐’Ž๐’Š๐’๐’Š๐’‚๐’“ ๐’˜๐’๐’“๐’…๐’” – ๐’…๐’Š๐’„๐’•๐’Š๐’๐’๐’‚๐’“๐’š ๐’˜๐’๐’“๐’…๐’” – ๐’ƒ๐’–๐’• ๐’๐’๐’๐’† ๐’๐’‡ ๐’•๐’‰๐’†๐’Ž ๐’‡๐’Š๐’• ๐’•๐’๐’ˆ๐’†๐’•๐’‰๐’†๐’“ ๐’Š๐’ ๐’‚ ๐’˜๐’‚๐’š ๐‘ฐ ๐’„๐’‚๐’ ๐’–๐’๐’…๐’†๐’“๐’”๐’•๐’‚๐’๐’…. ๐‘ฐ๐’•’๐’” ๐’‚ ๐’”๐’•๐’๐’“๐’š ๐’ƒ๐’†๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’•๐’๐’๐’… ๐’•๐’ ๐’Ž๐’† ๐’Š๐’ ๐’‚ ๐’๐’Š๐’ˆ๐’‰๐’•๐’Ž๐’‚๐’“๐’† ๐’๐’“ ๐’”๐’๐’Ž๐’† ๐’‘๐’‚๐’“๐’‚๐’๐’๐’†๐’ ๐’–๐’๐’Š๐’—๐’†๐’“๐’”๐’†, ๐’‚๐’๐’… ๐’Ž๐’š ๐’—๐’Š๐’”๐’Š๐’๐’ ๐’”๐’†๐’†๐’Ž๐’” ๐’•๐’ ๐’ƒ๐’๐’‚๐’„๐’Œ๐’†๐’ ๐’Š๐’ ๐’“๐’†๐’”๐’‘๐’๐’๐’”๐’†.”

The gun control topic is a controversial one, and with this being a book that centers around gun violence, be prepared for moments that may differ from your personal opinions. But for those of you who are weary that this will be a “preachy” YA Contemporary, rest assured that both sides to this debate are represented and it’s dealt with in a delicate manner that doesn’t take away from what this story really is – a coming-of-age tale about trauma, forgiveness, growth and self-love.

Accidental is an emotional and surreal story that centers on how common it is for children to come across easily accessible guns in their homes. At two and a half, while her father was out of town, Johanna and her mother were taking a nap when Johanna awakens and begins to wander. She finds her father’s gun under her parent’s bed, and ends up pulling the trigger and shooting her mother in the chest – killing her.

But upon the reader meeting Johanna, we learn that she has no idea of what took place when she was a toddler. At sixteen, Jo is a typical teenager living in Santa Fe and going to a prestigious high school. She has two quirky, spirited and vivacious best friends and she spends her time sewing her own clothes and slinging sassy comebacks at idiotic guys in her class. She’s a lively and charismatic character from the start, describing the pains of living with her very religious grandparents, but also expressing a deep love for them both.

But the ease in Jo’s life quickly changes with the reemergence of her estranged father, and his confession of Jo and Amanda’s truth.

“๐‘ป๐’˜๐’ ๐’„๐’š๐’Ž๐’ƒ๐’‚๐’๐’”, ๐’„๐’“๐’‚๐’”๐’‰๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’๐’ ๐’“๐’†๐’‘๐’†๐’‚๐’• –

๐‘ญ๐‘จ๐‘ป๐‘ฏ๐‘ฌ๐‘น!
๐‘ญ๐‘จ๐‘ป๐‘ฏ๐‘ฌ๐‘น!
๐‘ญ๐‘จ๐‘ป๐‘ฏ๐‘ฌ๐‘น!”

The reason this story packs such a punch, is because the situation could have happened to any of us. It was incredibly easy to slide into Jo’s shoes and understand the confusion, sadness, regret, hurt, horror and anger she felt when the truth of her mother was revealed. How devastating it is when something so horrible can become your reality, and the hurt that comes with it when you don’t have a support system at home to guide you through it.

“๐‘บ๐’, ๐’Š๐’๐’”๐’•๐’†๐’‚๐’…, ๐‘ฐ ๐’ˆ๐’. ๐‘พ๐’Š๐’•๐’‰๐’๐’–๐’• ๐’”๐’‚๐’š๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’ˆ๐’๐’๐’…๐’ƒ๐’š๐’†, ๐’˜๐’Š๐’•๐’‰๐’๐’–๐’• ๐’•๐’†๐’๐’๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’•๐’‰๐’†๐’Ž ๐’˜๐’‰๐’†๐’ ๐‘ฐ’๐’๐’ ๐’ƒ๐’† ๐’‰๐’๐’Ž๐’†. ๐‘ฐ ๐’”๐’Š๐’Ž๐’‘๐’๐’š ๐’”๐’‘๐’Š๐’ ๐’‚๐’“๐’๐’–๐’๐’… ๐’‚๐’๐’… ๐’”๐’•๐’‚๐’๐’Œ ๐’‚๐’„๐’“๐’๐’”๐’” ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’‘๐’‚๐’“๐’Œ๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’๐’๐’• ๐’•๐’๐’˜๐’‚๐’“๐’… ๐’Ž๐’š ๐’„๐’‚๐’“, ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’˜๐’‰๐’๐’๐’† ๐’•๐’Š๐’Ž๐’† ๐’•๐’“๐’š๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’๐’๐’• ๐’•๐’ ๐’•๐’‰๐’Š๐’๐’Œ ๐’•๐’๐’ ๐’‰๐’‚๐’“๐’… ๐’๐’ ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’‡๐’‚๐’„๐’• ๐’•๐’‰๐’‚๐’• ๐‘ฎ๐’“๐’‚๐’ ๐’”๐’ ๐’˜๐’Š๐’๐’๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ๐’๐’š ๐’๐’†๐’• ๐’Ž๐’† ๐’ˆ๐’. ๐‘ป๐’‰๐’† ๐’‡๐’‚๐’„๐’• ๐’•๐’‰๐’‚๐’• ๐’Ž๐’‚๐’š๐’ƒ๐’† ๐‘ฐ’๐’Ž ๐’๐’๐’• ๐’˜๐’๐’“๐’•๐’‰ ๐’‡๐’Š๐’ˆ๐’‰๐’•๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’‡๐’๐’“ ๐’‚๐’๐’š๐’Ž๐’๐’“๐’†.”

 

When Jo reveals to her grandparents that she knows the truth about her mother, they still refuse to speak about it. They brush it under the rug, preferring silence and forced indifference. And though it is shocking that they lied to her about how her mother died…I don’t blame them for the decision they made in protecting her.

But the way they handle Jo’s trauma and their own is…suffocating.

There are no pictures on the walls or in photo albums of Jo’s mother. None of her mementos are displayed and she is never brought up or talked about. So Jo is left feeling as if she cannot speak about this woman she has so much love for, but is starting to forget. This woman she so desperately craves was in her life and guiding her through her teenage years.

This woman who she believes she murdered.

“๐‘ฏ๐’† ๐’”๐’„๐’๐’๐’‘๐’” ๐’Ž๐’š ๐’“๐’Š๐’ˆ๐’Š๐’… ๐’ƒ๐’๐’…๐’š ๐’•๐’๐’˜๐’‚๐’“๐’… ๐’‰๐’Š๐’Ž, ๐’•๐’Š๐’ˆ๐’‰๐’• ๐’Š๐’๐’•๐’ ๐’‰๐’Š๐’” ๐’„๐’‰๐’†๐’”๐’•. ๐‘บ๐’ ๐’„๐’๐’๐’”๐’† ๐’•๐’‰๐’‚๐’• ๐‘ฐ ๐’„๐’‚๐’ ๐’‰๐’†๐’‚๐’“ ๐’‰๐’Š๐’” ๐’‰๐’†๐’‚๐’“ ๐’ƒ๐’†๐’‚๐’•๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ, ๐’†๐’‚๐’„๐’‰ ๐’ƒ๐’–-๐’ƒ๐’–๐’Ž ๐’ƒ๐’–-๐’ƒ๐’–๐’Ž ๐’ƒ๐’–-๐’ƒ๐’–๐’Ž ๐’•๐’–๐’“๐’๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’Š๐’๐’•๐’ ๐’‚ ๐’ˆ๐’–๐’๐’”๐’‰๐’๐’•. ๐‘ถ๐’๐’† ๐’‚๐’‡๐’•๐’†๐’“ ๐’‚๐’๐’๐’•๐’‰๐’†๐’“.

๐‘ฉ๐’‚๐’๐’ˆ.

๐‘ฉ๐’‚๐’๐’ˆ.

๐‘ฉ๐’‚๐’๐’ˆ.”

Thankfully, Jo has two epic best friends that I wish upon all wishes and stars that I could have in my life.

“๐‘ป๐’‰๐’† ๐’…๐’๐’๐’“ ๐’„๐’๐’Š๐’„๐’Œ๐’” ๐’”๐’‰๐’–๐’•. ๐‘ป๐’˜๐’ ๐’ˆ๐’†๐’๐’•๐’๐’† ๐’”๐’†๐’•๐’” ๐’๐’‡ ๐’‡๐’†๐’†๐’• ๐’•๐’Š๐’‘๐’•๐’๐’† ๐’‚๐’„๐’“๐’๐’”๐’” ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’“๐’๐’๐’Ž, ๐’Ž๐’‚๐’๐’ˆ๐’ ๐’ƒ๐’๐’…๐’š ๐’Ž๐’Š๐’”๐’• ๐’‚๐’๐’… ๐‘ซ๐’‚๐’Š๐’”๐’š ๐’‘๐’†๐’“๐’‡๐’–๐’Ž๐’† ๐’˜๐’‚๐’‡๐’•๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’Š๐’ ๐’˜๐’Š๐’•๐’‰ ๐’•๐’‰๐’†๐’Ž. ๐‘ณ๐’†๐’‚๐’‰ ๐’„๐’–๐’“๐’๐’” ๐’–๐’‘ ๐’๐’ ๐’๐’๐’† ๐’”๐’Š๐’…๐’† ๐’๐’‡ ๐’Ž๐’†, ๐‘ฎ๐’‚๐’ƒ๐’ƒ๐’š ๐’๐’ ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’๐’•๐’‰๐’†๐’“. ๐‘บ๐’˜๐’†๐’‚๐’•๐’†๐’“๐’” ๐’˜๐’‚๐’“๐’Ž, ๐’”๐’Œ๐’Š๐’ ๐’„๐’๐’๐’…. ๐‘ด๐’š ๐’•๐’“๐’–๐’”๐’•๐’š ๐‘น๐’๐’•๐’•๐’˜๐’†๐’Š๐’๐’†๐’“๐’” ๐’…๐’๐’’๐’• ๐’”๐’‚๐’š ๐’‚๐’๐’š๐’•๐’‰๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ.”

These girls are the rocks that keep Jo from slipping down a river of depression and deep self-loathing. They are fiercely loyal and understanding, go out of their way to ensure that their friend is cared for and heard, and refuse to leave her side. Their love for one another had me hardcore tearing up and cooing throughout the story. These two girls make this story.

“๐‘ฐ ๐’”๐’’๐’–๐’†๐’†๐’›๐’† ๐’Ž๐’š ๐’†๐’š๐’†๐’” ๐’”๐’‰๐’–๐’• ๐’‚๐’๐’… ๐’•๐’‰๐’†๐’ ๐’๐’‘๐’†๐’ ๐’•๐’‰๐’†๐’Ž ๐’˜๐’Š๐’•๐’‰ ๐’‚ ๐’”๐’‰๐’‚๐’“๐’‘ ๐’Š๐’๐’‰๐’‚๐’๐’†, ๐’๐’๐’•๐’Š๐’„๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’‚ ๐’ˆ๐’–๐’-๐’”๐’‰๐’‚๐’‘๐’†๐’… ๐’„๐’“๐’‚๐’„๐’Œ ๐’‚๐’ƒ๐’๐’—๐’† ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’„๐’๐’๐’”๐’†๐’• ๐’…๐’๐’๐’“. ๐‘ฌ๐’—๐’†๐’ ๐‘ด๐’Š๐’๐’’๐’” ๐’„๐’†๐’Š๐’๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’Œ๐’๐’๐’˜๐’” ๐’˜๐’‰๐’‚๐’• ๐‘ฐ’๐’—๐’† ๐’…๐’๐’๐’†.”

“๐‘ด๐’Š๐’๐’ ๐’‡๐’“๐’๐’Ž ๐’‰๐’Š๐’”๐’•๐’๐’“๐’š.”

Another big character in this story is Milo – the new boy in school and Jo’s new boyfriend. Their romance is sweet and their chemistry is sizzling, but more importantly, Milo is another person in Jo’s life that she can lean on for support. Though he doesn’t have as big a role as Leah and Gabby, and his personality doesn’t shine through as much as the girls, his own troubles with his father gives a level of understanding to Milo and Jo that can’t be emulated. And no matter how dark Jo’s life gets, Milo is always there to help her see the light.

“๐‘ฐ๐’• ๐’˜๐’‚๐’” ๐’‡๐’–๐’, ๐’ƒ๐’–๐’• ๐‘ฐ’๐’Ž ๐’Œ๐’Š๐’๐’… ๐’๐’‡ ๐’…๐’‚๐’Ž๐’‚๐’ˆ๐’†๐’… ๐’ˆ๐’๐’๐’…๐’”.”

“๐‘ต๐’๐’• ๐’…๐’‚๐’Ž๐’‚๐’ˆ๐’†๐’…,” ๐’‰๐’† ๐’˜๐’‰๐’Š๐’”๐’‘๐’†๐’“๐’”. “๐‘ฑ๐’–๐’”๐’• ๐’ˆ๐’๐’๐’….”

For the first half of this book, the reader watches Jo slowly spiral into anger and a sort of manic state as she tries to cope with her past. And at sixteen, it’s not exactly easy to have control over your emotions. But the person Jo turns into in the second half of the book was irritating. She was aggressive and constantly throwing tantrums, stomping her foot and having explosive reactions to the littlest things. Of course, this does feel authentic to a young teenager going through some serious trauma – but it was still exhausting and a turn-off.

And how Johanna works towards getting a mural painted at her school to shed light on gun violence was also…cringey. By this point Jo is full-blown immature and slightly ridiculous, so it was a bit harder to get through. And though this was a gut-flipping story, I was really wanting more emotion from Jo because I didn’t feel like I got a true sense of the chaos that was brewing inside her. She had huge reactions and panic attacks, but I wanted more description into how hurt and lost she felt inside.

But the real driving force in this story is obviously gun safety, but also self-acceptance and the need to work through trauma.

When Jo’s father renters her life, he brings a few secrets with him that he slowly reveals along the way, and they’re tragic. It broke my heart how Jo was constantly let down by these really big parental figures in her life. But, imagine it. Not only are you the cause for your mother dying, but you are also the spitting image of a daughter and lover that has been lost. Nothing about this situation is easier or less horrible for anyone involved.

Accidental is a powerful and heartbreaking story, but a necessary one.

No matter what stance you take on this topic, trust me when I say, you need to read this.

“๐‘ฐ ๐’๐’๐’—๐’† ๐’š๐’๐’–, ๐’Œ๐’Š๐’…๐’…๐’. ๐‘ฉ๐’š๐’†.”

“๐‘ฐ ๐’๐’๐’—๐’† ๐’š๐’๐’–, ๐’Œ๐’Š๐’…๐’…๐’.”

“๐‘ฐ ๐’๐’๐’—๐’† ๐’š๐’๐’–.”

 

4.5 Stars

 

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Book Reviews · New Releases

Book Review: Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust

Girl Serpent

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, Flatiron Books, for an honest review.

Genre: YA/Fantasy/Retelling

Plot: There was and there was not, as all stories begin, a princess cursed to be poisonous to the touch. But for Soraya, who has lived her life hidden away, apart from her family, safe only in her gardens, itโ€™s not just a story.

As the day of her twin brotherโ€™s wedding approaches, Soraya must decide if sheโ€™s willing to step outside of the shadows for the first time. Below in the dungeon is a demon who holds knowledge that she craves, the answer to her freedom. And above is a young man who isnโ€™t afraid of her, whose eyes linger not with fear, but with an understanding of who she is beneath the poison.

Soraya thought she knew her place in the world, but when her choices lead to consequences she never imagined, she begins to question who she is and who she is becoming…human or demon. Princess or monster.

Opinion:

“I am both the Sleeping Beauty and the enchanted castle; the princess drowses in the castle of flesh.”

-Angela Carter, Vampirella

Girl, Serpent, Thorn is a heavily Persian influenced mythology retelling with elements from classic fairy tales like “Sleeping Beauty“, “Rapunzel” and โ€œRappacciniโ€™s Daughter.โ€ It tells the story of a young Princess who was cursed with the touch of poison after her birth, and has since been hidden away in one of her family’s castles to keep her ailment secret. But when the royal family returns to her castle for the season, they bring with them a captured div – a demon who tried to kill the princess’s brother – whom they are keeping locked in the dungeons. For Princess Soraya, this is her only chance to find a way out of the curse that has caused her to live a life without human contact. But Soraya quickly learns that nothing is given for free, and consequences weigh heavily.

“There was and there was not.”

 

This unique retelling has been at the top of my TBR list for months. I originally found it on Goodreads while in one of a 3-hour book pit of browsing and knew it was going to be a top read of 2020. And though this story started out great, with rich culture spilling through the pages and a luscious world wrought with magic and danger, I felt myself begin to drift about 25% in.

It was an enjoyable read, but I was expecting an extra emotional punch and a little more excitement.

I hate to say it, but I was a bit bored for the middle and end of this book. I have been having trouble with YA Fantasy lately, so maybe it’s just me, but I just wasn’t as invested in the story as I wanted to be. I think a big part of this could be that the story went in a direction I wasn’t initially expecting it to. I guess I was expecting a “Throne of Glass” meets “Ash Princess“, and got more of a “Damsel” vibe that I wasn’t really feeling.

Soraya was an intriguing character at first, but her ‘doe in headlights‘ act started to get old pretty quickly. It bothered me how fine she was with her family practically shunning her and shoving her into a castle like Quasimodo, barely visiting her or even trying to communicate with her. I wanted her to show some semblance of anger or a grudge for her treatment, but it seemed innocence and being too trusting were her only major driving traits.

I also wanted her poisonous curse to be portrayed a bit darker.

Obviously this story is going to be written how the author wants and with their own preference to overall lightness or darkness in terms of overall theme, but I was hoping this was going to be a grittier and more raw tale. I wanted to really dive into the way this curse made Soraya feel. How the solitude and isolation has contributed to her personality and thoughts, and what flaws it causes her to develop. Yes, the girl is naive. But this book left her feeling like a Disney princess, rather than a relatable female who has been thrust into horrible circumstances.

The romance is a love triangle, and it was sweet and exciting in parts, but the original start between Soraya and Azad was…odd. I have a really hard time with insta-love and insta-intimacy. Upon their first actual meeting Azad basically professes his love and is shockingly not at all freaked out that one touch from Soraya will kill him instantly. He starts touching her hair (how did you know that her hair wasn’t also poisonous?!) and basically tells her how he’s always imaged being/rescuing/marrying her…? And Soraya instantly meets him halfway. What? This just felt so unbelievable for me.

I think the best part of this book is the world building and nod to Persian culture. Though this world isn’t as crazy outlandish and complex as some other YA Fantasies, it is perfectly detailed and the Arabian styled setting is described beautifully. Though of course more would have been so appreciated, the amount given is perfect for the reader to visualize and enjoy the tale.

By the end of Girl, Serpent, Thorn I was pleased with what happened, but I did find it a bit boring and somewhat predictable. I think I was just expecting a different story than what I got. It seems the majority of readers really loved this, so I would definitely read it and come to your own conclusion.

3 Stars

 

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Book Reviews · Netgalley · New Releases · Upcoming Releases

Book Review: The Anti-Virginity Pact by Katie Wismer

The AntiVirginity Pact

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me via Netgalley for an honest review.ย 

Genre: YA/Contemporary

Plot:

Preachersโ€™ daughters arenโ€™t supposed to be atheists. Theyโ€™re also not supposed to make pacts to lose their virginity by the end of the year, but high school senior Meredith Beaumont is sick of letting other people tell her who to be.

Spending the last four years as Mute Mare, the girl so shy just thinking about boys could trigger panic attacks, Meredith knows exactly what itโ€™s like to be invisible. But when a vindictive mean girl gets her manicured claws on the anti-virginity pact and spreads it around the schoolโ€”with Mareโ€™s signature at the bottomโ€”Mareโ€™s not so invisible anymore. She just wishes she was.

Now the girls mutter โ€œslutโ€ as they pass her in the hall, and the boys are lined up to help complete her checklist. When she meets a guy who knows nothing of the pact, their budding romance quickly transforms from a way to get her first time over with to a genuine connection. But when the pact threatens to destroy her new relationship and the fragile foundation of her seemingly perfect family, Mare has to decide whatโ€™s more important: fixing her reputation and pleasing her parents, or standing up for the person she wants to be.

Opinion:

“For the record, I don’t normally have a predisposition for making bad decisions.”

Cause girl,

yeah you do.

The Anti-Virginity Pact is a YA Contemporary about two senior girls who make a pact to lose their virginity before the end of high school. As the closet-atheist daughter of a preacher, Meredith’s anxiety has always made her shy and kept her in the shadows. Wanting to finally gain experiences, she and her best friend sign a contract to lose their virginity. But when the pact gets leaked and the entire school sees that Mute Mare signed it, she is suddenly descended upon by every guy in school who wants a turn.

This had so much potential to be an emotional, gut-wrenching, femi-empowering YA about familial expectations and self-exploration. It could have showcased the overwhelming guilt and obligation we feel to please our parents, and how our own wants and desires can be obliterated in doing so. Or put a blinding spotlight on rape culture, bullying and the endless double standards that exist in our society. Or the crippling fear and physical ailments that come with extreme anxiety. The panic, shortness of breath, feelings of drowning or being buried alive. The sheer peril that one experiences.

It had all the potential in the world to be deep, beautiful, raw and authentic.

But instead of my heartstrings being yanked and my tear ducts overflowing, I felt

not much of anything.

The Anti-Virginity Pact has a fairly slow start that continues until about halfway, where it switches gears drastically and becomes a book with zero direction. The first 55% actually wasn’t bad, even though the banter between Meredith and her best friend was a little eye-roll inducing, I was enjoying the slow buildup.

Meredith is a senior in high school and the daughter of a preacher. But for years, Mare had began rejecting the idea of religion and now considers herself an atheist, unbeknownst to her family. Due to growing up in a highly religious family and also having severe anxiety, Mare has always kept to herself – blending into the wallpaper and speaking to few people. So when her best friend Jo suggests a pact to lose their virginity by the end of high school, as a means to experience everything they missed out on (sex, parties, sports) she signs her name on the dotted line. And then the girls go about picking the lucky guys, and of course…

one of them HAS to be a teacher.

Honestly, this angle didn’t bother me that much, probably because of the countless YA Thrillers I’ve binged. But the execution of this trope was odd. It’s a lot of Jo swooning over their teacher and expressing plans on how to seduce him, Mare telling Jo it’s a horrible idea, and then Jo stomping her foot because Mare isn’t jumping for joy and celebrating her wanting to SEDUCE A TEACHER.

But honestly, this and Mare’s anxiety are about the most and only emotional follow-through in this entire book. Every time a BIG moment happened (because yeah, there’s a lot of them shoved in here) Mare and Jo just brush over it and move onto the next tragedy. Moments that would cause a person to break down in sobs, scream at the sky and start shattering things are let go with a “this is shitty or this sucks”, and thrown away. And it’s not like they are being brave or strong and can just handle what’s being thrown at them.

It’s that all that happens in this story are “hot topic explosions.

One explosion detonates, and before it can be dealt with or dissected, three more explosions go off, making it a ticking time-bomb of craziness that keeps falling from the sky in the most unrealistic way possible.

In a Middle Grade book, the story is set up to have the “and then, and then, and then” format to keep the young reader’s attention. That is exactly how this book is formatted. It’s a series of dramatic and controversial topics smashed together, without proper time and care being spent on each tragedy. Religion, bullying, sexuality, rape, anxiety, animal abuse, religious camps. It’s all here. But instead of each issue adding to the story or making an impact on the reader, it made it inauthentic and ridiculous. As if any detailed description and emotional focus would deter the author from checking off the mention of these “hot topic” issues.

I just couldn’t handle how Mare could experience crippling anxiety, and it being described in such a relatable and clear way, but then not having any strong reaction to the BIG situations that happen at the party, with Sam or with her parents. Mare’s life literally implodes, and instead of there being even a SINGLE moment of her having a reaction to it, her character is more concerned with talking to Sam about ignoring his phone calls.

Am I in 7th grade again?

But the WORST moment for me in this story, was the allude to a rape that…wasn’t a rape? Or…was it? I’m still not even sure. But the fact that I don’t even know, leaves such a bad taste in my mouth for how this was even done.

Firstly, it was ONE paragraph. And it wasn’t even a long paragraph. But I reread it about 15 times trying to figure out what actually happened, and honestly, I still have no idea. And with how the incident is then brought up, with Mare’s reaction to it being the same as if she was talking about what kind of sandwich she would like to have for lunch…well.

I just don’t even have words.

But just like every other moment of trauma in this story, the main character brushes it under the rug because I guess she’s just a robot.

Bottom line, don’t waste your time with this.ย 

1.5 Stars

 

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Book Reviews · Netgalley · New Releases

Book Review: The Boundless (The Beholder, Book 2) by Anna Bright

The Boundless

(See my review for Book 1 – The Beholder, here)

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, HarperTeen, via Edelweiss+ for an honest review.ย 

Genre: YA/Fantasy/Retelling

Plot: When Selah found true love with Prince Torden of Norway, she never imagined sheโ€™d have to leave him behind. All because the Beholderโ€™s true mission was a secret Selahโ€™s crew didnโ€™t trust her to keep: transporting weapons to the rebels fighting against the brutal tsarytsya, whose shadow looms over their next port of Shvartsvalโ€™d. A place Selah hoped sheโ€™d never go.

But gone is the girl who departed Potomac filled with fear. With a stockpile of weapons belowdecks and her heart hanging in the balance, Selah is determined to see the Beholderโ€™s quest to its end.

Opinion:

Assuming you read my review of The Beholder (book 1), you will have quickly realized how much I was LIVING and BREATHING for this world.

The messy romances, the adventure, court politics and gowns, propriety, sensibility, duty, folklore and fairy tales

AMAZING!

But when I was knee-deep in The Boundless and sloshing around in enemy territory with a very odd tension/competition dynamic, and a heroine that seems to have blossomed into a badass over night, I was just a bit…

…well…

Le sigh.

After being rushed out of Norway and back onto The Beholder, Selah and the crew are forced to continue the tour to find Selah a husband. But the next stop on the list is the one place they have all been dreading since they embarked on their journey – Shvartsvalโ€™d. Within the territories of the Imperiya Yotne and the feared tsarytsya, whom they refer to as Baba Yaga, dangers are lurking around every corner and their moves are closely monitored. The crew plans to get in and get out as quickly as possible, but with Lang having trouble contacting the rebels to unload their weapons, Selah must take matters into her own hands. But even after having to leave the boy she fell in love with, and a confusing romantic spark growing, Selah knows that one wrong move could bring her entire world crumbling down.

This wasn’t horrible by any means, but it was just a little too dull and I was rolling my eyes a liiiiiittle too much.

The intense and emotional roller coaster I was on in The Beholder didn’t cross over into The Boundless, by any means. In the first book, I had practically ever other sentence highlighted, I was overwhelmed with feelings and dazzled by the constant misleading directions the author threw me into. I was smiling like an idiot one moment, squealing like a schoolgirl the next, and gasping like a nun at the sheer audacity and turmoil ensuing. But with The Boundless, I was left feeling like the author missed the mark.

In comparison with book one, these are pretty different books. The Beholder focused on the Selah’s stepmother shipping her off to various countries and eligible Prince’s, so it was very much a Bachelorette styled story that felt like The Selection series, with pirate-like vibes. There was court politics, wooing, and romance. But in The Boundless, the story shifts focus more towards the rebellion and the Imperiya Yotne – the “bad guys” of this tale.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love a rebellion series and the shift in the focus isn’t what is irking me about this installment. It’s that the shift between YA Romance to YA Fantasy-Rebellion-Badass Female Lead felt…bumpy? In book one, Selah is SO new to being courted. She had only one crush her entire life, and she had never even kissed the guy. So obviously our girl is shy, awkward, innocent and sort of fumbling through what is expected of her. She has no idea what she’s doing, is too trusting of those around her, and seems to just rush headfirst into every emotional situation.

So when we get to The Boundless, it’s like she suddenly just figured everything out and is now wholly confident, strong, brash, forceful and a master schemer?

I know, I know.

“Those experiences helped her unlock her potential.”

Maybe so, but the transition just didn’t feel organic, and I think it’s because there wasn’t enough focus on building Selah’s character. These books are LONG and there is a lot that happens, but what I was really needing was some extra attention put towards molding Selah so that we, the readers, could actually form a strong connection with her.

After reading book 1, I didn’t completely love Selah but I felt like I had a good understanding of who she was. But now? I can’t really stand her. Her strength felt forced, her wit and quick-thinking seem to have appeared out of nowhere, and she suddenly knows how to put her emotional entanglements aside and focus on taking a dictator down?

Her “I’ll do it myselfattitude wasn’t consistent with who the author had been writing about. In one instance Selah just takes charge and says she doesn’t need anyone. But then she is always waiting to be saved. Waiting for “you know who” to come and save her. Well, which is it? Are you wanting to be saved, or are you doing your own saving?

And speaking of emotional entanglements

Wtf was going on with that weird little almost, but not quite, love triangle?

I don’t want to give away any spoilers, so I’m going to keep the details on the DL, but I will say this: it felt like the author was trying to emulate a Bella-Edward-Jacob situation, but the execution was just weird and left my face all scrunched up and stuck in a state of annoyed confusion. There was no connection between Selah and “he who must not be named“. In The Beholder, I was hardcore panicking about them getting together, especially after I fell in drooly love with the “you know who” guy. But the fear of it going the way I didn’t want was exciting, and he had an allure and bad-boy/NAGC/mystery sort of aura about him.

But in The Boundless, I just wanted to smack him.

Their relationship got competitive and made even less sense than before, and I was hating every second of it. He was NOT a desirable character in this sequel, and I found their banter and interactions totally strange. THANKFULLY, things turned out how I hoped. But even so, those romantic reunions were so anti-climactic. I wanted to be punched in the face with emotion, not gently handed my wishes on a silver platter by a butler.

Like c’mon, make me beg for it!

Anyways. Once again the names of places and people’s names were confusing and I had a horrid time trying to connect things. I was hoping that was going to be ironed out in this sequel, but it wasn’t. But I am pleased with the book’s outcome and the added levels of intricacies that the author wove in. I just wish there would have been more of this type of plot in the first so that there could have been a seamless transition between the books, but even so, it works.

One of my favorite aspects of this series has been the blending of this new fantasy story with a few other classic fairy tales. We had mentions of The Odyssey, similar elements to Cinderella, and the obvious comparison of Baba Yaga. In Boundless, we get a few extra tales as well. There are a few Little Red Riding Hood mentions, but my favorite was the ode to the The Twelve Dancing Princesses. This gave the story intrigue, mystery and a means to connect certain plot points.

Overall, I liked it, but I definitely didn’t love The Boundless as much as I loved The Beholder. I was riding high on swoon clouds in book 1, and sitting in an even-paced horse and carriage in book two. It was a great story that had a ton of exciting adventure and turmoil happening, and even blended in some new fairy tales that readers will recognize. I guess I just wasn’t ready for the switch in story style, and was expecting a bit more focus and attention on the romance.ย 

3 Stars

 

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