The Fixer: A Book Review

“I have a passing fondness for explosions.”

Book: The Fixer
Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes

The Fixer

Blurb:

Sixteen-year-old Tess Kendrick has spent her entire life on her grandfather’s ranch. But when her estranged sister Ivy uproots her to D.C., Tess is thrown into a world that revolves around politics and power. She also starts at Hardwicke Academy, the D.C. school for the children of the rich and powerful, where she unwittingly becomes a fixer for the high school set, fixing teens’ problems the way her sister fixes their parents’ problems.

And when a conspiracy surfaces that involves the family member of one of Tess’s classmates, love triangles and unbelievable family secrets come to light and life gets even more interesting—and complicated—for Tess.

My thoughts:

This book is freaking fantastic. It’s the first mystery/thriller that I’ve enjoyed in a long time. This is three hundred and eighty-four pages of rebellion, sarcastic witticisms, determined girl heroines (who are more spice than sugar), well-rounded side characters, untraditional but caring families and an intense mystery.

There’s no way to make this clearer: I love Tess. Tough, determined, sarcastic, brave and protective- how could I not?

“There are a lot of ways to castrate a bull,” I said, my words deliberate and slow. “You can band the balls off, so they shrivel up and die. Or you can take a knife, and slide it just so.” I demonstrated with my free hand. “I grew up on a ranch. I know a lot about castrating bulls.”

I loved reading from her point of view. She was mature and passionate, but simultaneously relatable. She made you feel for her.

This is not a book where adults play no role (thus avoiding one of the major YA tropes)

Her ‘sister’, Ivy (I’ll leave you wondering why I’ve used single quotes) is an impressive woman with the power to get things done. She is so put-together, mysterious and effective. She’s a more badass version of Tess; it’s easy to believe they’re related. But at the same time, she brings different things to the table (not better, not worse- just different). To be honest, she sort of scares me, but mostly I am impressed as hell by her. I think I have a new role-model.

Adam, family friend and captain of defense, is pure awesome. There’s not really any romance in this book but, I ship Adam and Ivy together <spoiler> which is kind of weird since she was once in love with his brother </spoiler>.  I dunno, they just work. Brodie, Ivy’s chauffeur and bodyguard, is hilarious and makes surprising introspective comments. Potential love triangle here. I like him and all, but I like Adam better. (It’s cute that I think I get an opinion).

The teens are as cool as hell. I need to poach some of Ms. Barne’s magic. How else would she get the intricacies of getting such an eclectic bunch of kids to mesh so well?

Vivie is that friend that you always wanted to have. She’s plain nice, but she’s deceptively strong and brave too. She’s supportive, willing to lend you an ear or discuss something trivial to get your mind off things. And Tess is more than willing to return the favor. One of the best friendships I have seen in YA.

Asher is adorable. He’s a trouble-maker but he’s so much fun, charming and up for anything. I loved reading about him- especially when he was interacting with his twin (a college obsessed twin with a surprising skill with computers who loves her brother deep down) or with a person is a position of authority. I really hope there’s no love triangle with him, Tessa, and Henry because I would hate to see this bromance destroyed.

It’s your favorite person.”
“No. You’re not.”
“I won’t embarrass you by proving I am.”

Henry is intense, a bit bull-headed and charming in his own right. Again, I like him- but I like Asher more.

As for the plot itself, it is amazing. Priding itself on its’ political intrigue, it’s full of twists you’ll never see coming. YA needs more books like this!
Unfortunately, I had to pause in the middle of the book because the screen got really blurry. Okay, fine-I’ll admit it: this book wrung out a few tears from me.

I am unabashedly desperate to read the next book (too bad it doesn’t come out until 2016). There’s no other way to say this: this book was perfect.

Overall Rating: 5/5

Other Books Like This: Trust Me, I’m Lying, We All Fall Down (Embassy Row #1)

The Start of Me and You: A Book Review

Knowing what happens is different from knowing how it happens. And the getting there is the best part.

Book: The Start of Me and You

Author: Emery Lord

The Start of Me and YouBlurb:

Brimming with heartfelt relationships and authentic high-school dynamics The Start of Me and You proves that it’s never too late for second chances.

It’s been a year since it happened—when Paige Hancock’s first boyfriend died in an accident. After shutting out the world for two years, Paige is finally ready for a second chance at high school . . . and she has a plan. First: Get her old crush, Ryan Chase, to date her—the perfect way to convince everyone she’s back to normal. Next: Join a club—simple, it’s high school after all. But when Ryan’s sweet, nerdy cousin, Max, moves to town and recruits Paige for the Quiz Bowl team (of all things!) her perfect plan is thrown for a serious loop. Will Paige be able to face her fears and finally open herself up to the life she was meant to live?

My thoughts:

Right now, I am rooting around somewhere deep in my brain for the perfect word to describe this book. Genuine. People, there is nothing affected or unnatural about this book. It is the very honest, very natural story of a teenage girl. (Period, no semi-colon or ellipsis).
Yes, she was the girlfriend of the boy who drowned. But that’s not her whole identity. After all, they only dated for two months and the story begins a year after his death. Really, the only thing lingering about him is her swimming phobia, and random strangers in her small-town walking up to give her their condolences. Yes, she was sad for what could have been. And she felt it was a terrible tragedy to have someone close to you die in such a horrible way, but she’s moved on with her life. (Unlike some other YA protagonists I can think of after break-ups. *Cough*Bella Swan*Cough*).

If you’re looking for a book about a ‘broken’ heroine healing due to the love of a persistent white knight, look elsewhere. Paige isn’t broken. Sure, she has problems. For one thing, her happily-divorced parents are dating again (and Paige is too mature to hope for a Parent Trap ending). Another, her Grandmother is slowly wasting away due to Alzheimers. Three, she’s mildly jealous of her best-friend’s charisma and presence (especially since her long-time crush seems to be crushing on her). But there is no white-knight on the scene. Yep, Max is cute- but for the most part he acts in friend capacity.

And this is really the strong point of the book: the friendships. This book explores what friendship means, and the friendship between Paige, Tessa, Kayleigh and Morgan is one of the most natural ones I have seen. Sure, there are hiccups down the road (how could there not be when each and every one of them have such distinct personalities?). But, the girls always have each other’s back.

In friendship we are all debtors. We all owe each other for a thousand small kindnesses, for little moments of grace in the chaos.

I haven’t really talked about Max at all, have I? What can I say, Max is adorable. As a fangirl, I loved all the references he made. He encourages Paige to be more confident, to go-for-it (whatever it may be). I think one of the things I love about the romance in this book is how comfortable Paige is with Max.

Ryan Chase was my eighth-grade collage, aspirational and wide-eyed. But Max was the first bite of grilled cheese on a snowy day, the easy fit of my favorite jeans, that one old song that made it onto every playlist. Peanut-butter Girl Scout cookies instead of an ornate cake. Not glamorous or idealized or complicated. Just me.

Another thing I need to mention, the grown-up’s in this book are pretty awesome.
Ms. Peppers:She plays the role of the cool English teacher (as long as you don’t make jokes about Dr. Pepper and Mr. Salt in front of her).
Max’s mom is portrayed to be incredibly strong. And Grandma, Mom and Dad are all supportive and understanding. It’s really great to see such relatable adults in a YA book.

If you want a honest, sincere and genuine book- this is the one for you. This book will make you smile, and you’ll put the book down your heart a little bit warmer, and your head brimming with possibilities.

Overall Rating: 3/5

Other Books Like This: 45 Pounds More or Less, Fangirl, The Art of Lainey

Quotables:

“Our little nerd,” Kayleigh said, pretending to dab at her eye. “All grown up and competing against other nerds.”

Before I could tell them I was fine, Morgan’s arms engulfed me and Kayleigh was right beside us, pulling Tessa in, too. I could pick out their scents–the soft vanilla of Morgan’s perfume and the floral of Kayleigh’s hair and the spearmint gum that Tess chewed any time we were outside of school. With our arms around each other, I almost believed that strength could travel between us like the heat of our bodies. Nothing, not even sadness, could be greater than the sum of us.

Just One Wish: A Book Review

Book: Just One Wish

Author/Authoress: Janette Rallison

Just One Wish

Cover:2/5

No. Just no. I don’t like this cover at all. Maybe it’s because it’s so boring. Nah, that’s not it. It’s because the cover was purposely made boring. It’s hard to tell what the MC looks like because the author never said what she looked like. Author’s sometimes do stuff like this  because they want us readers to subconsciously project ourselves into the main character’s role. And it’s a nice idea and all – in theory.

In practice I find it really annoying. I’d rather have a character with a little bit of a description (but that does not mean huge tracts of poetry in an ode to her beauty) because otherwise I automatically keep changing the main character’s looks. And so the MC ends up constantly changing like Aphrodite’s. Or like a kaleidoscope. And believe me that’s annoying. As soon as the character does something new in the book, I have to adjust what I think the character looks like so I can fit in her looks with my preconceptions.

Sometimes I don’t even bother. I just let them look like huge question marks in my head. But believe me, it’s  hard to imagine a visual scene when you have no main character.

Plot:4/5

Seventeen-year-old Annika Truman knows about the power of positive thinking. With a little brother who has cancer, it’s all she ever hears about. And in order to help Jeremy, she will go to the ends of the earth (or at least as far as Hollywood) to help him believe he can survive his upcoming surgery.

But Annika’s plan to convince Jeremy that a magic genie will grant him any wish throws her a curveball when he unexpectedly wishes that his television idol would visit him. Annika suddenly finds herself in the desperate predicament of getting access to a hunky star actor and convincing him to come home with her. Piece of cake, right?

Janette Rallison’s proven talent for laugh-out-loud humor, teen romance, and deep-hearted storytelling shines in a novel that will have readers laughing and crying at the same time.

I didn’t really think I would like this book, because let’s face it- stalkers are creepy. And no matter how much I love the character, the truth is Annika is a stalker. Another reason: I hate books about cancer. They’re just too depressing and faux philosophical. For example, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green or . But somehow, Ms. Rallison managed to balance this book and make it non-creepy and even somewhat light. A huge part of that is due to the dialogue.

“No wonder he has such nice teeth. They probably pay him in dental floss.”

“That’s the thing about the internet. It’s really good at giving you pointless facts like how many horses a star owns, but not important things like how to invade his trailer.”

And I hate to say this, but maybe it was the implausibility of this story that made it so great. I mean I totally am against ambiguity and implausibility but it’s part of what kept this books so light and fluffy. I mean what kind of security guard would actually let two teenage girls on to a TV set? Even ones dressed as animal wranglers? And what kind of Holywood actor or actress can drop all of their plans to seea fan? Even if said fan is sick with cancer? But somehow it all made this book seem cute instead of stupid.

In the book, the whole stalker thing is kind of a novelty. Sure, it’s kind of weird and creepy but most time’s the girls’ ideas and their embarrassment when their plot inevitably fails is hysterical.

Characters:3/5

Annika: Right from the first chapter, I knew I loved the MC. For the sake of her sick younger brother, she woke up at 4:30 to  go to Toys-R-Us and pick up an action figure. Unfortunately getting the new Robin Hood toy is not so easy. While she’s over there a fat and mercenary creep shoves all of the action figures into his cart. He refuses to relinquish even one of them without a sum of $150. Of course, the MC is unwilling to pay the huge and unreasonable sum. What she does next is epic and the stuff movies are made of. Quickly distracting the creep, she grabs one of the action figure and runs all the way to the check in counter. Definitely a Robin Hood move.

Her determination and …creative ideas (most people use the other cr-word to describe her ideas) is basically what enables her to fulfil her brother’s wish. That and her ability (or maybe it’s a disability) to tell crazy lies with a straight face. Either way, she was a fun character to read about. If you used ‘spunky’ to describe Elizabeth Bennet, then you’ll have to use something like super-spunky to describe this character.

Miranda: Her best friend Miranda is pretty supportive too. She’s a whole lot more pragmatic and practical but she seems to have this motto: Best friends don’t let each other do stupid things…alone. She’s there for her friend through thick and thin (whichever is the bad one) and tries calming and convincing her friend not to do the stupid things. Tries being the keyword.

Steve: Steve is a character who yo-yo’s around quite a bit. Or at least Annika’s opinion of him does. But all in all (I can’t believe I actually used that phrase… my second grade teacher made us all promise to never use it), he’s a pretty intuitive guy who keeps his promises. He’s a nice guy. I hate the word nice; it’s so bland. But nice is the only real word to describe Steve because let’s face it, he’s a little bit bland. Just a little bit.

Romance:4/5

Opposites attract, right? Right. And the Annika and Steve pairing is clearly such a case. Annika is headstrong, stubborn and adventurous. And Steve is a movie star who’s pretty much Mr. Nice Guy most of the time. I didn’t really like Steve at the beginning but somehow Annika’s personality made him shine by the end. She challenges him and he challenges her right back. Plus, you have to love their banter.

Ending:4/5

Woah! Woah! Woah! Is it legal to do that? To leave us poor readers in the lurch and wondering if the sweet, innocent, 6-year old is going to die of cancer? And what’s going to happen next in that relationship? If so, it shouldn’t be. I need a sequel. And I need it now!

Too bad there’s never gonna be one. I love these type of books. Somehow, you get so into the book, you keep wondering what’s gonna happen after it’s all over.

Plotholes:3/5

Like I said, so many things in this book were implausible (look up at plot). But no, I don’t think I picked up any unhealthy messages  in the book. So 3/5 it is.

 Overall Rating:3.5/5

Parts of this book made no sense at all. And the love interest seemed to have no personality at all for half of the book. But somehow, the sheer novelty of the plot and the MC’s plan to get Steve to meet her brother made this an enjoyable book. The MC is amazing!

Also Known As: A Book Review

Book: Also Known As (Also Known As #1)

Author/Authoress: Robin Benway

Also Known As (Also Known As, #1)

Cover:3/5

Yikes! No offense (and we all know that when someone says that they really do mean offense ) but I can see why Maggie hates that uniform. And I only saw the shoes, socks and skirts. Having spent 5 years in private schools, she has my sympathy. Completely. But it’s not my sympathy which gives this cover a 3/5 rating. It’s all the spy terms that are subtly written. Espionage, mole, spy, detective, double agent… as Maggie would say.’ Not beige’. Definitely gives the cover some originality And that’s why the cover gets the (somewhat) salvageable score of 3/5. 3 marks for the cool words.  5 marks off for everything else.

Seriously, you should compare these two and since Also Known As was released later (2013) than I’d Tell You I Love But Then I’d Have To Kill You (2006), I’m going to have to say Also Known As is the knockoff.

Plot: 3/5

Which is more dangerous: being an international spy… or surviving high school?

Maggie Silver has never minded her unusual life. Cracking safes for the world’s premier spy organization and traveling the world with her insanely cool parents definitely beat high school and the accompanying cliques, bad lunches, and frustratingly simple locker combinations. (If it’s three digits, why bother locking it at all?)

But when Maggie and her parents are sent to New York City for her first solo assignment, her world is transformed. Suddenly, she’s attending a private school with hundreds of “mean girl” wannabes, trying to avoid the temptation to hack the school’s elementary security system, and working to befriend the aggravatingly cute son of a potential national security threat… all while trying not to blow her cover.

From the hilarious and poignant author of Audrey, Wait! comes a fast-paced caper that proves that even the world’s greatest spies don’t have a mission plan for love.

Yep, it definitely looks a little cheesy but doesn’t everyone like cheese? This was a super cute read and the little snippets of technical know-how on safecracking and spying that were slipped in made me feel like this was not a huge waste of my time. Not that I know how to pick a lock or anything…Nope, not at all. 

Characters:3/5

In these kind of books, it’s the narrator’s voice that can make it or break it. And in this case it was definitely make it. Robin Benway gave Maggie a quirky, sarcastic and witty style of speaking/thinking. You know how some authors make their characters (espescially in young adult novels) a whiny voice so that the narrating voice isn’t monotonous or flat? Yeah, this author doesn’t. She’s a drama queen but not whiny. Another thing that middle aged authors don’t seem to get? Despite what our text messgaes look like, we teenagers do not exclusively speak in abbreviations. We don’t say stuff like ‘brb asap ttyl bff’. And Robin Benway understands that. Or at least his characters do. 

I have a bone to pick with the parents in this story. Other than having a couple of cute lines and worrying themselves sick about their daughter, they barely seem to exist. I mean, hello, they’re supposed to be spies. Couldn’t they have done a little more than sit at home doing  crossword puzzles and discouraging their daughter from having friends? Couldn’t they, you know, actually hack? Or use their impressive language skills to do more than scold their daughter and make nice with her french teacher?

But other than the parents, we have a pretty cool, diverse cast in this book. Angelo, a retired forger and a elegant and calm man plays the role of god-father/ best friend for Maggie. Wanna know what’s so cool about that? He’s a LGBT. Bu what impresses me most about him? His Yoda like advice.

Roux is a lot like the MC and maybe that’s why they both get along well. They’re both sarcastic, quirky and outcasts. Maggie’s an outcast by virtue of being the ‘new kid’ and Roux’s one because she cheated on her ex-best friend. Roux has a lot of interesting dialogues (both while she’s drunk and sober). She has a way of ingratiating herself with everyone even though it would seem her boisterous and blunt personality should take away from that instead of contributing to it.

Jesse started off with a less than spectacular introduction. We/Maggie learns that he shoplifted a book. Worse (for Maggie at least), he got caught. In fact, I think she makes some remark about how meeting his golden retriever would probably be the best part of having to befriend him. But her opinion quickly changes after he helps her take the very drunk Roux back home. She realises he’s actually a  sweet and nice guy and not just a rebel-without-a-cause.

Romance:4/5

The romance is sooo adorable. The couple often has their awkward moments. But who gets texting and phoning etiquettes right on their first try? There was something easy and natural about their relationship (once you get past the fact that she met him solely because he was her assignment). There’s a slow, sweet pace to their relationship. You know, the whole friends and then more than friends thing?  I love, love, love how their conversations go. Definitely one of my favorite YA pairings.

Ending:2/5

This is something I’m not a fan of. It wrapped up too neatly with everyone finding out the villain was shot and that everything was okay. Also, I was annoyed that the villain shifted in the middle. All of the family conflict that would have been inevitable had it really been Jesse’s dad was avoided. What a copout!

Also, I was really annoyed with the epilogue. I mean it’s nice that the whole family stayed in New York for Maggie’s sake but it’s pretty unrealistic.

Plotholes: 2/5

Not a fan of the limited role of certain adults (ahem, Maggies’ parent’s I’m looking at you). Nor was I fan of the ending. Or the epilogue. 

Overall Rating:3/5

It was a sweet and cute read with quirky, interesting dialogue and cool characters but it was nothing really special. This is more of a beach read than anything else. Nothing thought-provoking or profound in here but it was a fun read while it lasted.

The Darkest Minds:A Book Revew

Book: The Darkest Minds

Author/Authors: Alexandra Bracken

The Darkest Minds (The Darkest Minds, #1)

Cover:2/5

There was nothing wrong with the cover …. But nothing really made it stand out (you would think that the orange on the cover would be like a flashing beacon, but no it actually isn’t). Combined with the fact that Disney was the publisher (I’m not really a Disney princess fan; not when they messed up the fairytales so much) , this book really didn’t look so appealing. So, I passed it up for a long time despite its good rating for other books with better covers (but inferior content). Moral of the story for publishers: Readers judge books by their covers. Moral of the story for readers: Trust your fellow readers and goodreads.com; seriously, they rarely guide you wrong.

Plot:5/5

When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that gets her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that’s killed most of America’s children, but she and the others have emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control. Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones. When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. Now she’s on the run, desperate to find the one safe haven left for kids like her-East River. She joins a group of kids who escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents. When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at a life worth living.

The plot in this book deserves more than 5 stars. It was attention grabbing and I’ve definitely never seen something like this before in this genre. If any such book exists, it’s a cheap knockoff (even if that book was written earlier)

Characters:5/5

The characters in this book were amazing. From Ruby, the main character to Chubs (I guess his designation is the sidekick but he was too smart for me to think of him as one) to Zu, the adorable little girl who was mentally traumatized enough into not speaking. Most books have one character (if they’re lucky) who stands out. But the awesome thing about this book is that there are many such characters.

Ruby: Ruby starts off at the beginning of the book knowing almost nothing about the world she lives in. But she has a good reason for this. Ever since she turned 10, she’s been stuck in a rehabilitiation camp (the concentration variety) because the adults are scared of her awesome super powers. So far this sounds like the plot to a cheesy comic, right? Wrong. Let’s just drive the stakes a little bit higher. Majority of the children in America had succumbed to a mysterious illness and died. The rest…developed super powers. Naturally everyone was scared. So they stuck their kids in camps which were designed to make the powers go away. That’s one brilliant thing about this book: The government and adults acted almost exactly like you would expect them to act in such a situation. However because this is dystopian fiction, the camps are horrible. The children in them are mistreated- the most dangerous ones are killed, the rest are treated brutally, not allowed to talk, forced to do hard menial labour, etc. Disturbingly,there are several parallels between the ‘rehabilitation camps’ and the Jewish concentration camps set up in Nazi Germany during WWII. But this really didn’t set in for me until Ruby tells us how her mom had told she would be allowed to shave when she was 12 but she didn’t actually do so until she was almost 16. In this book, Ruby is special because she is one of the last ‘oranges’ (that’s a code name for her power level and basically means she can mess with people’s minds- literally! ) and also dangerous for that reason. But here’s the catch: She has no idea to control her powers. Right from the beginning we can see how much her powers scare her. With one touch, she erased her best friends memory. <spoiler> somewhere in the middle we learn that she also erased her parent’s memory and in the end she erases Liam’s memory.<okay, relax spoiler’s over>. Ruby’s a good character. She’s nice without being too sugary. Scared enough without being a total coward. Powerful but not invincible and awkward enough without being cringe-worthy.

Liam: If Ruby’s a good character, than Liam is an even better one. Having come from a less notorious camp, he’s less troubled than Ruby and much nicer, sweeter and more naive for it. Liam is the kind of guy who has an actual personality. As soon as he meets her, Liam is all for travelling with Ruby. However this is not because of some twisted love-at-first-sight thing (thank god!) but more a reflection of his personality. He’s not the type of love interest whose life would revolve around his love for the MC. Ahem, Malcahi from Sanctum, I’m looking at you. No, Liam had much more going for him such as his need to help others and his  loyalty to his friend. Definitely a swoon-worthy romantic love interest.

Zu: It’s hard to learn about a character who doesn’t talk. I mean, can’t talk. Although no one ever says what, it’s implied that Zu was tortured and tested upon in the camp and was so affected she stopped speaking. Despite the fact that she doesn’t talk, it wasn’t exactly hard to learn about her. She’s a yellow (that means she can make stuff explode) but more importantly, she’s a loving little girl who’s interested in dressing up, needs a serious dose of self-confidence and fiercely loyal to her family (whether they’re related to her by blood or just bound together by necessity).

Chubs: Chubs is a character I really enjoyed. Annoyingly assured his intelligence was superior, a little bit (okay, actually a lot) distrustful and insecure- he’s the type of character who grows on you. And he didn’t just grow on me as a reader, he grew on Ruby too. As he came to trust her more, they had surprisingly insightful and profound discussions.

Clancy: This is a character who oozes charisma (not surprising, since he is the President’s son). At first I was kind of annoyed with him for appearing because I really didn’t want a love triangle. But there’s a lot going on underneath the polished and charming exterior of this boy. I guess you could call him the villain of the piece but I was never really able to muster up any real hatred for this character (By the way, Ruby wasn’t able to either). Sure he was petty, arrogant and jealous with a strong cruel streak. But that somehow added to his charm (believe me, I know how messed up that sounds) but somehow he managed to make it all up with a short letter to Ruby.

R-

I lied. I would have run.

-C

 

Romance: 5/5

The romance in this book was surprisingly good. It wasn’t too heavy, neither was it too light. It didn’t hurt that the characters involved in it were so brilliant either.

Plotholes: 4/5

 This book was surprisingly realistic. I mean if a virus such as IANN did exist I could imagine the world (or at least America) going to Hell in a handbasket like this. Of course there were some unhealthy messages in here. For example, Ruby’s whole relationship with Clancy but the book made it clear that the relationship was unhealthy.

Overall Rating: 5/5

No, I’m not surprised I gave this book a five star rating and you shouldn’t be either. It was amazing, I promise you and totally deserves this rating. Buy this books as soon as possible so that you can read it over and over and over again.

Sanctum: A Book Review

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Book: Sanctum (Guards of the Shadowland #1)
Author/Authoress: Sara Fine

Cover:4/5
The colours seem dark and moody but that’s a good thing since that’s what the book promises to be. The cityscape looks desolate and depressing but the girl’s pretty and fit’s into the cover perfectly.

Setting: 5/5
It was dark, gritty, and imaginative- a horrible Wonderland you could say. The city was a shadowy, hellish place. To give you a perspective on the city, let me tell you about the dark tower. The dark tower had the ability to bring back your worst fears and nightmares. And it was smack dab in the middle of the city-impossible to circuit around. If this doesn’t sound creepy and creative to you, I don’t know what will.


Plot:  4/5
(Taken from goodreads.com)

A week ago, seventeen-year-old Lela Santos’s best friend, Nadia, killed herself. Today, thanks to a farewell ritual gone awry, Lela is standing in paradise, looking upon a vast gated city in the distance—hell. No one willingly walks through the Suicide Gates, into a place smothered in darkness and infested with depraved creatures. But Lela isn’t just anyone—she’s determined to save her best friend’s soul, even if it means sacrificing her eternal afterlife.

As Lela struggles to find Nadia, she’s captured by the Guards, enormous, not-quite-human creatures that patrol the dark city’s endless streets. Their all-too-human leader, Malachi, is unlike them in every way except one: his deadly efficiency. When he meets Lela, Malachi forms his own plan: get her out of the city, even if it means she must leave Nadia behind. Malachi knows something Lela doesn’t—the dark city isn’t the worst place Lela could end up, and he will stop at nothing to keep her from that fate.
 
Characters: 3/5
Lela’s backstory would wring sympathy out of anyone: she has  overcome a lot in her short life. Shuffled from one foster home to another, she has suffered abuse from her foster parents. Lela almost succeeds in killing herself after being repeatedly assaulted by foster parent but is able to overcome her past with the help of the unexpected friendship of Nadia.

Nadia is the golden-girl with a couple of hidden secrets. Even though she’s beautiful reasonably intelligent, popular and affluent, she has a dysfunctional home life. This is what brings her closer to Lela. The girl’s unlikely friendship, while baffling to the outside world, makes sense to the two girls. Nadia goes against the pressure to only maintain friendships within her own clique to specifically keep this friendship alive. She constantly  Lela to hope for more in life than just getting-by. In her turn, Lela cars deeply for Nadia. When Nadia gets bogged down in despair and starts using drugs, Lela does her best to help Nadia save herself. She doesn’t succeed and Nadia eventually  commits suicide. The friendship between the two girls is fresh and beautiful. I can actually feel Lela’s pain when she hears that Nadia committed suicide. But then Malachi makes an appearance and Lela just starts slipping out of character. It becomes harder to empathize with her. She just is so different.  He’s bad ass but his roughness and toughness just seems to be too forced. I think ths story would have been better without the romance angle at all. Seriously, falling in love in hell is a bad idea.

Romance: 1/5
It wasn’t really insta-love but the gradual attraction between Lela and Malachi felt wrong to me. Overall, Malachi seemed drawn to Lela by her strength and tenacity in the face of a daunting situation. Which is not bad… until he dropped all his responsibilities to do everything in his power to help this “fascinating” creature. Malachi  was perfect to the point of being a Gary-Stu. He seemed to exist for the sole purpose of protecting and loving Lela .  Malachi seemed drawn to Lela by her strength and tenacity in the face of a daunting situation. Which is a good thing but then he  dropped all his responsibilities to do everything in his power to keep this creature in a safety bubble.Without Lela, he barely has any character in the book.  He knew very little about her and repeatedly had to clean up her mess, and yet he was willing to sacrifice and throw away everything for her like none of it mattered anymore now that she was in his life. Disgusting.

Action: 3/5
I know a lot of people like the action in the book but to me it was at most mediocre. More chilling and easy to visualize were Lela’s flashbacks and travel through the tower. But I guess that’s action of a different type.

Technical Terms: 3/5
The world building uses a lot of new terms and almost all of it is in the form of an info dump. It gets tedious to read and kind of detracts from the main plot. Almost everybody who reads this book tells me that they didn’t completely understand the world. I completely empathize. Sarh Fine has created an amzing world; she just didn’t describe it well.
This was probably the biggest flaw in the book after the messed up romance.

Plotholes:
Just look at the Romance and Character section.

Overall Rating: 3.5
This book has all the problems that YA books usualy have. i.e. a messed up romance and info dumping but Sarah Fine does create an amazingly dark new world with straightforward, creepy villains. The characters have a lot of potential to grow. I’d say wait until the third book comes out to start reading this series. It’s not worth the long wait for the other books.

P.S. The sequel Fractured has already been released.