Archive for 5 Points: I would move in with this book.
Publisher: SoHo Teen
Publication Date: March 12, 2013
Source: Received from the publisher for review.
Status: According to the author’s tumblr, there will be at least two Keaton School Novels.
Genre: Teen, Psychological Thriller
Other Info: This is Margaux Froley’s debut.
Description and link from Goodreads):
Sixteen-year-old Devon Mackintosh has always felt like an outsider at Keaton, the prestigious California boarding school perched above the Pacific. As long as she’s not fitting in, Devon figures she might as well pad her application to Stanford’s psych program. So junior year, she decides to become a peer counselor, a de facto therapist for students in crisis. At first, it seems like it will be an easy fly-on-the-wall gig, but her expectations are turned upside down when Jason Hutchins (a.k.a. “Hutch”), one of the Keaton’s most popular students, commits suicide.
Devon dives into her new role providing support for Hutch’s friends, but she’s haunted by her own attachment to him. The two shared an extraordinary night during their first week freshman year; it was the only time at Keaton when she felt like someone else really understood her. As the secrets and confessions pile up in her sessions, Devon comes to a startling conclusion: Hutch couldn’t have taken his own life. Bound by her oath of confidentiality—and tortured by her unrequited love—Devon embarks on a solitary mission to get to the bottom of Hutch’s death, and the stakes are higher than she ever could have imagined.
Full disclosure: This is the second review I’ve done of this book. The first one got lost in the mists of the interwebs, never to be seen again. And while I might feel better after some wailing and raising of my fists to the sky, I shan’t subject you to any more than I already did on Twitter. The worst part is, I was really happy with the first review. I’ll try to recreate it, but you probably already know that feeling doesn’t usually come that second time.
To sum up my feelings about Escape Theory in a sentence: I adored it. As I look over the books that I’ve read in 2013 (so far), this has been my favorite. The best part? It lived up to my enormously high expectations. In retrospect, there wasn’t really any reason for me to have those high expectations. SoHo Teen is a new imprint, and this is Froley’s debut. I’ve no more read her short story in Who Done It than I’ve watched Privileged. Luckily, whatever smidgen of clairvoyance I possess proved to be right. This time.
I suppose it’s possible that Escape Theory was the right book at the right time but, honestly, I believe it was more than that. Froley’s writing was intense and engaging. She pulled me not just into the mystery, but into the Keaton School community. I felt I was inhabiting the world. So much so that it was with great surprise that I periodically realized the book was written in the third person. Escape Theory was the kind of story that was disorienting to disengage from. Pulling myself away was like trying to escape from a vat of saltwater taffy; a sticky, messy process that left a million small bits behind.
Escape Theory‘s strength comes from Froley’s writing, true, but it also reflected the connection I felt to the main character. Devon’s internal dialogue reminded me a lot of my teenage self, even down to the moments when I wanted to shake her and tell her to get off her high horse. I did think, however, that Froley’s expended so much energy on developing Devon (and the very much dead Hutch) that the other characters felt a little one-dimensional. Even this worked, though, because the book is told from Devon’s point of view, and she has a tendency to remain clinically detached. Or to try to, anyway. Hopefully the other characters will be expanded upon in further Keaton School novels. I also hope that future stories are also from Devon’s perspective.
If I’m honest, the main mystery didn’t interest me very much. What was far more fascinating was the exploration of boarding school life and the mystery of Hutch himself. Not how or why he died, but why he lived the way he did, and why he and Devon had such a strong connection based on one night spent together. Speaking of Hutch, he doesn’t stand up to my adult standards (he dealt drugs, but that’s okay because he regulated how much each person got), but I bet the teenage me would have been as in love with him as the rest of Keaton.
I think Escape Theory‘s greatest strength comes from Froley’s ability to inhabit the teenage world. I read a lot of YA, but I don’t read it looking for an authentic teenage voice. In fact, a lot of YA (Dystopians, in particular) features teens having to mature because of the circumstances, thereby making us forget how truly young sixteen is. Froley doesn’t let us forget it, and this is most evident in Devon’s role as a peer counselor. Training or no, Devon’s in over her head when she starts counseling the best friends that Hutch leaves behind. We know she’ll be a good therapist someday, just not yet.
I loved this book, flaws and all. Lack of romance and all (gasp!). I’ve already recommended it to my brother and I have no hesitation in recommending it to my readers as well. And when you’ve finished the last page, come back here to let me know your thoughts!
Come for the apocalypse.
Stay for cupcakes.
Die for love.
Madeleine Cost is working to become the youngest person ever to win the Archibald Prize for portraiture. Her elusive cousin Tyler is the perfect subject: androgynous, beautiful, and famous. All she needs to do is pin him down for the sittings.
None of her plans factored in the Spires: featureless, impossible, spearing into the hearts of cities across the world – and spraying clouds of sparkling dust into the wind.
Is it an alien invasion? Germ warfare? They are questions everyone on Earth would like answered, but Madeleine has a more immediate problem. At Ground Zero of the Sydney Spire, beneath the collapsed ruin of St James Station, she must make it to the surface before she can hope to find out if the world is ending.
I’ve never been so happy to be proven wrong about self-published books. And All the Stars is the kind of book I’m always searching for, regardless of who published it. Well-written, tightly plotted and titillatingly characterized, here lies a masterwork. In fact, I’m kind of surprised that this book hasn’t gotten more buzz. I heard about it on The Booksmuggler’s blog (it was featured on their Radar and then Ana reviewed it), but it was sheer happenstance that I saw it on NetGalley. I requested it on a whim–everyone probably knows by now that I’m on a NetGalley ban–and was lost in the story before I even knew it.
And All the Stars tells the story of Madeline Cost (not Maddie, Leina only to her cousin Tyler), and how she survives the apocalypse by shucking her loner status and binding together with a motley crew of teenage survivors. As the story opens, Madeline is in an underground station, at the center of the apocalypse. Unbeknownst to her parents, Madeline snuck away from home to meet her cousin Tyler at his Sydney apartment. Too bad this act of rebellion coincided with the apocalypse. All over the world, in the most populated cities, mysterious spires have erupted from the ground. These spires (which I imagine look like the Swiss Re building in London, left) are like ginormous mushrooms. They’ve sprouted from the ground and emit a thick cloud of dust (to continue the mushroom analogy, I thought of them like spores).
Madeline escapes the underground station and makes it to her cousin’s Sydney apartment only to experience dramatic changes as a result of inhaling the dust. Most of her body turns midnight blue, dusted with sparkling white stars (the cover makes sense now, doesn’t it?). Her metabolism drastically quickens and she discovers that she has new, frightening powers. Maddie’s instinct is to huddle up and wait, but it’s the hunger that drives her out, where she meets a string of teens also affected by the dust.
Among these teens, Madeline discovers the girl who will become her best friend and the boy who just may be first love. Unfortunately, they’re all on the run for their lives. Those spires, it turns out, are the work of an alien race intent on using humans for their survival. Though Madeline (as the one with the most “stain” on her body), is the aliens’ most-wanted human, the bewildered group of teens bands together and forms a close-knit group. This, perhaps more than the apocalyptic storyline, is the heart of And All the Stars.
Before I give anything else away, I better shut up. I couldn’t possibly unveil all the layers of this book in one review. I wouldn’t even want to. Like all good books, it’s a thing best discovered for yourself. There are a few curious elements (cell service and electricity during the apocalypse?!?!) and the epilogue is a bit schmaltzy and baby-studded, but well-deserved. Just trust me when I say that this is the book to cure your apocalyptic ennui. Think you’re over them? Think again!
Publication Date: September 4, 2012
Status: *GASP!* Stand alone!
Genre: Teen Science Fiction
Other Info: This is Khoury’s debut. She’s a mere 22 years old! (I don’t know when 22 became “mere,” but it totally has.)
Description and link from Goodreads):
I wasn’t much interested in Origin when I picked it up at BEA. My copy is signed, and I happened to be at the Penguin counter when Jessica Khoury was doing an in-booth signing. After that, it was kind of just another book in my BEA stack. Which may sound ungrateful, but there you are. When my father, after perusing my newly stocked shelves, picked Origin out of the crowd, I experienced that childish twinge one gets when someone wants something of yours that previously held little interest for you. I let him have it anyway. Then, last month, when I was house-sitting for my parents, I picked it up. Oh, Origin, how I wrong I was, thinking you wouldn’t interest me! I but hope you can forgive me my folly!
As the description explains, Origin tells the tale of Pia, a girl raised deep in the Amazon Rainforest. But Pia doesn’t live among the native peoples that inhabit the jungle. She lives in a compound of scientists, all of whom have the same purpose: to create and perfect Pia. Carefully bred (no, seriously!), and consciously reared, Pia is the center of her world. She’s been told she’s perfect so many times it has become fact rather than opinion. And though she has a mind of her own, her life has been so carefully censored that she has little interest in the outside world.
All of that changes with the arrival of a new, female scientist. At first piqued by the male interest in Dr. Fields (unused as she is to appreciation directed elsewhere), Pia simply resents the addition to her small community. Indirectly (and sometimes directly) Dr. Fields has an enormous impact on Pia’s worldview. For the first time, she wonders what is outside her borders, and what the scientists that raised her haven’t told her. Finally, on her 17th birthday, Pia leaves the compound for the first time and meets a boy named Eio.
While Pia is, at first, a hard character to connect to, I loved Eio the moment I met him. It’s hard to resist a handsome, smart, funny, and conscientious shirtless boy. Plus, he doesn’t hesitate to check Pia’s enormous ego. Pia’s ginormous self-respect is the result of her rearing, and while I understood that, it was a bit difficult to stomach at first. It’s important, though, because ultimately the concept of “perfection” is part of what Origin sets out to explore. In fact, while Eio and Pia’s budding love is sweet–and at times hot–it doesn’t play as large a role as the description suggests. Origin is not a love story, though it does contain one.
Within this one book, so many difficult questions are addressed. Pia herself is a model to study for nature versus nurture. Her very existence gives rise to issues of scientific ethics. Dr. Fields makes us question the lengths we’ll go to protect those we love. But none of these thought-provoking issues are addressed in preachy, “Think about it!” fashion. That’s what makes it so awesome! I love books that make me think, whilst simultaneously providing me with a satisfying story. Origin was absolutely, definitely, one of those books for me. I can’t wait to see what Khoury has to offer next. If Origin is what she can accomplish at 22, I’m prepared to be blown away.
‘Scuze me, have you entered my 2nd Blogoversary Bonanza giveaway yet?
Source: Received from the publisher in exchange for review.
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Vampires, Shifters, other magical entities.
Other Info: There is enough Gabe in this book to keep me happy for dayyyyyyyyys. But probably only two of them.
Description and link from Goodreads):
This review includes major spoilers for books 1-5 in the Chicagoland Vampires series.
Without stopping to breathe, Biting Cold picks up the action where Drink Deep explosively left it off. Merit’s bestie, Mallory, made a shocking turn to the dark side with even more jaw-dropping results. Even as I was dramatically wailing over the death of one of the my favorite fictional best friendships, I was cheering because ETHAN WAS BACK!!! I mean, *scoffs* I knew he would be. I just didn’t know when. Or how far Ethan’s (temporary) death would set back his relationship with Merit.
I shouldn’t have worried. Chloe Neill is well aware that she can’t have Merit and Ethan walk the will they/won’t they line forever. And, she is one of those authors that realizes that the “prerelationship” (her word, not mine) isn’t the only phase that interests readers. The decision to commit doesn’t automatically solve all of a couple’s problems. (I’m so wise.) While Biting Cold will probably give readers a few frustrating moments, Ethan and Merit fans will no doubt be thrilled by the ending. Everyone, I hope, will at least be cheering that things do not stagnate.
Biting Cold‘s primary plot concerns Chicago’s former mayor Seth Tate, whom Merit has known since childhood. This was a relief to me, because the initial setup of the book suggested a rerun of the last half of Drink Deep. The grand reveal about Tate, and Merit saving Chicago once again, I could almost have done without. Though Merit doesn’t spend this installment chasing after Mallory, the outcome of her betrayal is very much a part of the story. The best bits–aside from Merit and Ethan trying to figure out what his resurrection means for the two of them, as much as it means for Cadogan–are Merit’s interactions with all the people she’s met since becoming a vampire. From shifter Jeff to sassy Lindsey, to the newly met Paige and even her erstwhile suitor, Morgan, it becomes apparent that, while Merit might have lost a best friend, but she’s gained a community.
For me, it’s rare to come across a series whose quality manages to match the number of volumes stride for stride. Chloe Neill’s Chicagoland Vampire books are one of those exceptions for me. So far, Neill has managed to imbue each installment of this series with something fresh, new, and compelling. It helps that her over-arching plot–GP’s displeasure with Cadogan House–never fails to add tension. As long as she keeps Gabriel in the mix, I’ll keep reading…
Giveaway Rules and Regulations:
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- To enter, you must leave a comment on this post, answering the following question: What is your favorite best-friendship? and fill out the provided Rafflecopter form below. Click on the “more” button to see the form.
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Publication Date: August 14, 2012
Status: First in the False Memory series. Book two has an expected publication date of August 2013.
Source: Snagged at BEA.
Genre: Teen Thriller/Science Fiction
Other Info: This is Krokos’ debut novel.
Description and link from Goodreads):
Part The Bourne Identity, part The X-Files, False Memory is a fast, fantastic read. Author Dan Krokos wastes no time getting started with the action, but neither does he pull any punches while introducing his characters. Miranda, our main character, woke up remembering two facts: Her name is Miranda North, and she’s 17. Other than that, her mind’s a complete blank. Well, except for those automatic responses she has–buying some clothes so she doesn’t stick out in the crowd, and searching for places to take cover. Miranda may not know much, but she knows these aren’t the actions of your average teenager.
Fortunately, someone in the crowded mall knows Miranda. Peter takes the bewildered girl home, and explains: she’s be trained from birth to be a lean, mean fighting machine. Things only get weirder from there, as Peter elaborates on her life as one of four teens raised together, and their strange, regulated, parent-less childhood. It’s a lot to take in, but Miranda doesn’t have the luxury of time. The remaining members of her team went missing when she did, and they’ve yet to be tracked down. Miranda has to process on the run, and reconciling herself to a life she doesn’t remember isn’t any easier when people are trying to kill you.
Usually, I don’t like it when authors write MCs from opposite genders. I nitpick and tear apart and whine about unauthentic voices. I didn’t have this problem with Miranda and Dan Krokos. In part, this is due to the fact that Miranda doesn’t have the time to be a girl, only a bewildered human being. However explosive the action is, though, Krokos doesn’t gloss over plot or characterization. Krokos does what The Lost Princessfailed to do–expands on the characters while the action is happening. How each character–from Miranda to Peter to Noah and Olive–responds to their many crises helps us to get to know them better.
False Memory evokes The Bourne Identity and The X-Files without ever feeling derivative. It takes the best of both creates and seriously enjoyable new tale. I had a lot of fun reading it, and I look forward to seeing more from Dan Krokos.