The Lovely Reckless: A Book Review

“Some things, and some people, are written across your soul in permanent ink.”

Book: The Lovely Reckless

Author: Kami Garcia

 

The Lovely RecklessBlurb:

Seventeen-year-old Frankie Devereux would do anything to forget the past. Haunted by the memory of her boyfriend’s death, she lives her life by one dangerous rule: Nothing matters. At least, that’s what Frankie tells herself after a reckless mistake forces her to leave her privileged life in the Heights to move in with her dad—an undercover cop. She transfers to a public high school in the Downs, where fistfights don’t faze anyone and illegal street racing is more popular than football.

Marco Leone is the fastest street racer in the Downs. Tough, sexy, and hypnotic, he makes it impossible for Frankie to ignore him—and how he makes her feel. But the risks Marco takes for his family could have devastating consequences for them both. When Frankie discovers his secret, she has to make a choice. Will she let the pain of the past determine her future? Or will she risk what little she has left to follow her heart?

My thoughts:

To be honest, my first thought after reading this book was about Katie McGarry’s Crash Into You (Fabulous book, by the way). From the surface, the books look similar. Rich girl who doesn’t get along with her family meets rough, promiscuous, “dangerous” boy who’s a great racer. She stops being judge-mental about him and his friends,and family. They bond and friendship turns into something more complicated.  The star-crossed lovers get involved in crime.

To make this different, Garcia covers much more. It doesn’t work well.  Along with romance, this book attempts to tackle issues like mourning, moving on and unhealthy relationships (as may be obvious from the blurb). Somewhere in between, she slips in standard warnings about addictions and praises close girl friendships. The resulting novel seems cliched, almost insultingly simple analyses of issues that deserve more thought and sensitivity.

Each character is a stereotype. There’s the main character, Frankie,  a rich, traumatized girl with a family that doesn’t understand her, and friends who have drifted apart.  The inspiration for the love interest probably came from a stock-photo labelled “hot bad-boy”. Of course, he has an instantaneous soft-spot for  Frankie. Obviously, he has a cute, traumatized sister that makes Frankie realize that she has it good and that she and Marco ‘belong together’. I kept waiting for the twist because I thought I knew what it was: Since, Frankie  blocked out the memory of her ex being beaten to death in front of her for drug related issues, and Marco had friends who were involved in drug related crime, I thought the conflict of the story would have been Marco knowing who killed Frankie’s ex and not telling her about it.
Yeah, no such twist came.

The romance was frankly super unhealthy; my head’s still spinning from the insta-love.  Though this book supposedly features street-racing, the fastest thing in this book is the romance. Frankie and Marco went from zero to hundred in about 2 seconds flat. Like most spontaneous teen relationships in YA books, it’s not very healthy. Marco’s awfully possessive and Frankie seems to be okay with it, even flattered. Considering these characters are high-school students, I want to scream at them; high-school boys really shouldn’t be so domineering.

Moving onto story-line. If you’re excited about reading this book because you saw the words “street”and “racing”, you will be disappointed. There’s maybe two scenes and they’re not very descriptive. This book has a terrible plot and it deserves to be spoiled. But, just in case the hundreds of favorable reviews on Goodreads have convinced you to read this book (I maintain that I received a different copy of the book), I won’t spoil it for you. Instead, I’ll just tell you that the main conflict in this book revolves around the “Adults are clueless/evil” trope that’s pretty standard to the YA genre.

Now that I’ve complained so much about this book, you want to know if there is anything redeemable about this book. Well…I liked Cruz. She’s Marco’s friend and befriends Frankie. Though raised by an abusive father, she makes sure she protects her sisters (even if she has to do some stupid, dangerous stuff to do that). She’s so confident about her place in the world, I am amazed by her strength. Garcia probably should have written about Cruz. The writing style wasn’t too bad either. Despite all these issues, I managed to make it to the end of the book.

Overall rating: 1.5/5

Sanctum: A Book Review

13482750

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.