Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith

"Quincie Morris has never felt more alone. Her parents are dead, and her hybrid-werewolf first love is threatening to embark on a rite of passage that will separate them forever. Then, as she and her uncle are about to unveil their hot vampire-themed restaurant, a brutal murder leaves them scrambling for a chef. Can Quincie transform their new hire into a culinary Dark Lord before opening night? Can he wow the crowd in his fake fangs, cheap cape, and red contact lenses — or is there more to this earnest face than meets the eye? As human and preternatural forces clash, a deadly love triangle forms, and the line between predator and prey begins to blur. Who’s playing whom? And how long can Quincie play along before she loses everything? "-GoodReads

No one recommended this book to me, I found it at the library. I read on the back it took place in Austin and was about a vampire themed restaurant. I though, "eh, how bad can it be?". Oh. I had no idea. There's a damned good reason no recommended this book. First off, it's about a teenage girl named Quincie Morris, yup, like the one from Dracula, but a 17 year old girl. Who, at 17 is left in charge of her families restaurant following the death of her parents, even though she has an older late 20-something uncle who helps her and who SHOULD be in charge. But really, that's no reason to complain. And this book has many.

Quincie hires this new chef for her restaurant and spends most of the book sitting around with this really boring guy talking about boring stuff and drinking wine. LOTS of wine. Now I'm not a prude, I'm not going to hate a book because there's some underage drinking in it, BUT this was excessive. It was very much highlighted every time it happened. There was an eventual explanation, but it was just stupid.

Throughout the book Quincie talks about her BFF Kieren, the back of the book calls him her "first love", that's not true. Quincie is in love with him, he treats her like one of the guys, until the very end where everything is SUDDENLY different. Which brings me to the end...

The end tumbles out quickly and messily, like ripping a bag of potato chips down the middle, though I'd rather clean that up then read another sentence of this book. The "villain" is revealed in the last 20 pages, then the whole "big bad situation" we've been reading about for 300 pages is defused and the villain voluntarily leaves town in 2 sentences and the book is over. The "romance" resolved in a sentence. Seriously. It is literally the worst ending I have ever read. This book makes "Dead Witch Walking" look complex (remember the rodent fighting ring? More interesting than this). The only thing that prevents this book from getting an F rating is the fact that I could finish it, and it wasn't offensive (unless extreme ridiculousness is considered an offense...).

Bottom Line: Started out less the average and devolved into terrible and ridiculous. Don't waste your time. Grade: D-.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Summary: Beatrice "Tris" Prior has reached the fateful age of sixteen, the stage at which teenagers in Veronica Roth's dystopian Chicago must select which of five factions to join for life. Each faction represents a virtue: Candor, Abnegation, Dauntless, Amity, and Erudite. To the surprise of herself and her selfless Abnegation family, she chooses Dauntless, the path of courage. Her choice exposes her to the demanding, violent initiation rites of this group, but it also threatens to expose a personal secret that could place in mortal danger. Veronica Roth's young adult Divergent trilogy launches with a captivating adventure about love and loyalty playing out under most extreme circumstances. -From GoodReads

Review: Though I very much enjoyed it, Divergent did remind me of a couple of other book I've read in the past few years, the first is, of course, The Hunger Games, the second, to my surprise was Vampire Academy. Similarities between Vampire Academy and Divergent kept coming up as I was reading this. The young prodigy falling in love with her instructor, the mother who holds a mysterious secret, the young couple going on the run to avoid authority. It's not exactly the same, but it's certainly similar, though in the case of Divergent, it's better. I found Tris to be a far more likable character than Rose from Vampire Academy, and thankfully the supporting characters were better as well, no weak characters to protect, no one holding Tris back.
The comparison between Divergent and the Hunger Games are far more obvious, but the details are certainly different. They're both young adult, dystopian novels, they're both about 17 year-old girls training to be strong and fight. Katniss is however, nothing like Tris as a character. Tris is more relate-able and for me and therefore, easier to like. Their upbringing and families are totally different as well, which leads to the difference in their characters.
Saying that either Vampire Academy or The Hunger Games is the same as Divergent, however is like saying Harry Potter is like Harry Dresden because they're both wizards, named Harry, who do magic. They aren't the same, and in the case of Divergent, it's a better spin on the similar ideas.

The book is not perfect, there are a few scenes and situations that could have been better. As with any dytopian novel, if you think too hard about the "world" they live in, it's easy to poke holes and find unanswered questions. It's told through the eyes of a teenager, who doesn't question the way the world works, or how it got that way, therefore as the reader, we're left wondering how our world devolved into theirs. Another complaint was the description of the "test" that determines the factions. It was the determining factor for the rest of the book, and an event much referenced. It was far too simple. As a reader I found it hard to believe that this test could determine anything much less how these teenagers will spend the rest of their lives. That being said, it was easy to overlook these things and as you get caught up in the action and adventure of rest of the story.

Bottom Line: A blend between Vampire Academy and The Hunger Games, but easier to read and better. Grade: A-.