Playing Dirty (Stargazer 2)
By: Jennifer Echols
Release Date: October 29, 2013
Rating: 1 star
|Summary: A public relations expert tries to prevent the breakup of a raucous country band and corral their wild—and very sexy—lead singer in book 2 of the Stargazer Series.
As an expert in public relations crisis management—that is, babysitter to the stars—Sarah Seville just spent nine months in Rio trying to keep rock singer Nine Lives out of jail long enough to record his new album…and barely succeeded. Now she needs a triumphant success so she can keep the Manhattan-based job she loves. Trouble is, her new assignment is to travel to Alabama to prevent the breakup of the raucous country band The Cheatin’ Hearts, headed by sexy Quentin Cox. As she edges closer to Quentin, she discovers layers of secrets. It seems Quentin is taking the spin doctor for a spin.
The Cheatin’ Hearts have stayed on top of the charts two years following three rules. Rule One, no drugs. Rule Two, no sex with other band members. Rule Three, no sex with record company spies. Quentin figures he’d better follow the rules, because he made them. And because if you break a rule, you’re out of the band. But he can’t resist the record company’s beautiful PR agent, and inevitably he breaks Rule Three with hot Sarah Seville. As he falls for her, he finds out that she has plenty of secrets of her own, and one of them comes knocking on her door: what really happened to her in Rio.
Review: I haven’t had much luck with Jennifer Echols books lately, but I still had hope – AND this is a sequel to Stargazer, which I gave 3 stars to. Sadly, this book was a huge disappointment for me.
First and foremost, I thought this book was too over the top. There was so much drama in this book, and it was one thing after another. Echols stretched the storyline thin, throwing in every trick she could think of, and it just made me weary overall. Nine Lives, Sarah’s history, the band’s double-life, Quentin’s family past and his health problems. Too much.
Also, the characters were sketchy and ill-defined that I thought they were all bipolar. Now, I understand everyone is playing a role and putting on a different persona, but even when they were their “real selves,” I couldn’t get a good handle on who they were, so it was really hard to sympathize with any of them.
Speaking of, I could not stand Sarah. I got so tired of the arrogant, self-righteous, know-it-all attitude of hers. She was so sure she had it all figured out. I swear, I wanted to smack her every time she went on and on about Quentin’s cocaine addict. Enough already.
And I don’t like the basis for Sarah’s story was pretty much Wendy’s. Kick-butt publicist who made a mistake at her last job, and this would be the one who would make or break her career.
At least with Stargazer, there was a decent plot, likable characters and a few great lines. This one, it was nothing but over-the-top, too dramatic nonsense that left me very frustrated and angry – and not in a good way.
Tumble & Fall
By: Alexandra Coutts
Release Date: September 17, 2013
Rating: 1 star
|Summary: A novel about the end of days full of surprising beginnings
The world is living in the shadow of oncoming disaster. An asteroid is set to strike the earth in just one week’s time; catastrophe is unavoidable. The question isn’t how to save the world—the question is, what to do with the time that’s left? Against this stark backdrop, three island teens wrestle with intertwining stories of love, friendship and family—all with the ultimate stakes at hand.
Alexandra Coutts’s TUMBLE & FALL is a powerful story of courage, love, and hope at the end of the world.
Review: Not what I was expecting, and quite frankly, I just don’t get it.
After reading the summary, I looked at the cover and thought, “Hmmm, doesn’t really look like a science fiction or dystopian.” Well, it’s not.
I spent the first part of the book really confused because I was introduced to three different point of views, and I kept wondering how they were all connected, aside from Zan dropping of groceries at Caden’s place. Well, here’s your warning – they weren’t connected. They never do come together, other than on a car ride and the last scene.
To me, I felt this book would have been better written as three short stories because they were different people dealing with different issues. It was just irritating that my reading experience was constantly interrupted by the next short snippet.
And really, they were just everyday issues that normal people deal with all the time in our society – given, Caden’s adventure was a bit extreme, but that’s not to say that doesn’t happen either. Each character is unhappy with his or her reality, he/she is faced with an alternative, and he/she overcomes said problem, and he/she learns to appreciate what he/she has.
I just don’t understand why Coutts would use the “end of the world” topic in this book. I guess the end of the world makes you realize what’s important in life, but really, the lessons in this book doesn’t need such a dramatic catalyst for one to believe so.
I didn’t get the sense of doom-and-gloom or the desperation one would feel knowing the end was coming. People weren’t scrambling around like they did before Y2K or a hurricane or other natural disaster to prepare themselves. I did find it interesting that everyone seemed to think it was the time to stay at home and spend the last moments with those you care about. I would have expected some people to just think, “What the heck” and start looting or committing other crimes because none of it mattered next week.
The individual stories themselves weren’t bad, though I don’t think they were anything special and even a bit bored. I just don’t really understand why Coutts chose to write this book the way she did.
Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
By: April Genevieve Tucholke
Release Date: August 15, 2013
Our Rating: 1 star
You stop fearing the devil when you’re holding his hand…
Nothing much exciting rolls through Violet White’s sleepy, seaside town…until River West comes along. River rents the guesthouse behind Violet’s crumbling estate, and as eerie, grim things start to happen, Violet begins to wonder about the boy living in her backyard. Is River just a crooked-smiling liar with pretty eyes and a mysterious past? Or could he be something more? Violet’s grandmother always warned her about the Devil, but she never said he could be a dark-haired boy who takes naps in the sun, who likes coffee, who kisses you in a cemetery…who makes you want to kiss back. Violet’s already so knee-deep in love, she can’t see straight. And that’s just how River likes it.
Blending faded decadence and the thrilling dread of gothic horror, April Genevieve Tucholke weaves a dreamy, twisting contemporary romance, as gorgeously told as it is terrifying—a debut to watch.
A Note From Your Reviewers:
Normally, we have a lot of fun reading a book together. A lot of the time we disagree. This was not one of those times.
The writing is very simple. Haven’t decided if I like that since its supposed to be Gothic and all beautiful or whatever.
Katy – 1 minute in
Whoa I just caught myself nodding off.
Katy – 8 minutes in
I think Maggie Stiefvater would’ve done better.
Ugh still haven’t finished Raven Boys sequel.
Lol OK nvm Dream Thieves was not that great. Sarah Rees Brennan then.
Katy & Mitch – 15 minutes in
The only thing remotely Gothic about it so far is the lack of a point to what’s going on – so much setup.
Ok I’ve decided this is what a Gothic story Jennifer Armentrout might write feels like GAAAHHH
Mitch – 39 minutes in
That was day one. We made it halfway through the book before Katy fell asleep and Mitch decided to watch old episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine instead. Day two followed with much griping and talk about the worst book of the year. Yeah, it was that bad.
This book promised to be a gorgeously terrifying gothic horror, but for me, it ended up being a cheesy bad ghost – or devil, I should say – story. To call it a nightmare would imply that I was emotionally moved – intrigued, nervous, scared – and the only feeling I had for it was disappointment that it was so silly. I really tried to like the book, but I just felt Tucholke missed so many opportunities with this one because it had potential to be so great.
ELEMENTS OF STYLE & WORLD BUILDING
First of all, the writing felt elementary and was very simple, which would have been fine, but I was hoping Tucholke was going to throw me into a creepy, dark setting – I pictured Sleepy Hollow for the town of Echo and Jane Eyre’s Thornfield Hall for Citizen Kane. But the world building was weak, at best, with bare minimum description of setting or anything else. With such a premise, I was waiting to see that beautiful writing with descriptive imagery. Unfortunately, it never came to be.
And as for symbolism and analogies? I was hoping Tucholke was going somewhere with them because she name-dropped several books and stories including William Faulkner and Agatha Christie. I suppose I get the idea of where Violet was coming from, but she treated them so frivolously that there is no impact of their possible symbolism to the story.
Also, there was potential for the paintings to be used as such, but they weren’t either. There was one instance where Luke was painting a girl holding her shadow, and there was a lot of potential here to possibly compare the girl to Violet or maybe even River. But his metaphor seems almost backwards. If the shadow is the one that needs her support, why is it her that feels like she doesn’t exist? Unless I’m not understanding correctly or I’m lacking an imagination, I would think it should be the other way around, right? Who knows.
Now I’m just going to put this out there. I do not like the characters in this book. Any of them. At all.
Violet is eccentrically odd – and not in the spunky kind of way – more of the quiet girl with strange, disturbing thoughts that you have to watch out for. And I guess that would have been fine if she had been the villain in the book, but she wasn’t. She was different, yeah I get that. But she was also pretty much without friends, and Tucholke never really set up the scene for us that way, except with Luke’s occasional derogatory remarks. Totally different from her twin.
Speaking of the twin, I couldn’t stand Luke. Yes, I understand that Tucholke set him up to be a total and utter douchebag. But I never understood why he was the way he was. I know siblings fight, but their relationship was unnecessarily degrading. It was never explained why Luke was so nasty to Violet – if he was jealous of her growing up, if he had a bad childhood with Freddie or the parents, why it made him feel more manly to bully her. It was just annoying, especially in the scene where he “had taken off his pinstriped jacket” and “began to flex his pectoral muscles in the way that [Violet] hated.” No, they weren’t outside on a hot day, where he felt the need to cool off and use that opportunity to show off. It was just a random scene. Um, okay. I guess I Tucholke’s purpose was to make him such a bad seed where he had room to change at the end. Still, I think the character building was so flawed with his case, that it was hard to care about him.
And Sunshine? Can someone slap her please! Again, I suppose the point was to make her as a self-centered bitch so her personality can improve after everything they’ve been through. Like Luke, i felt she was too conveniently flawed so Tucholke would have the perfect set up for later. “Stop fighting. Both of you. It interrupts my flirting.”But wow, just get her to shut up and go away.
River West. I’m sorry, but he creeped me out from the beginning. I know he’s supposed to be the mysterious stranger that shows up out of nowhere, so you’re not sure if you can trust him. But I thought his lines were very cheesy and anything but smooth. In fact, if a guy tried to say some of those things to me, I would roll my eyes and try to stay far, far away. So, okay, Violet is lonely, and attention from a hot boy is exactly something that would make her melt, and there may be the addition of being under the influence or something like that. Still, at least make him a Rico Suave instead of some creepy stalker guy.
I won’t mention any other characters because I don’t want to ruin the story. But I do want to say that how convenient it is that the parents are gone and that other parental figures are just about absent from this book. do not like what Tucholke did to Freddie’s character. And by the end of the book, connections were made, but Tucholke didn’t really hone in on their significance. I get the Will thing, but who cares about John.
PLOT & STORY DEVELOPMENT
First, it took forever to get there, and even when it did, it wasn’t clearly formed into a coherent thought. I kind of wish she stuck to one thing instead of trying to throw in twists and turns (none of with was unpredictable, by the way) to keep the readers interested.
I won’t say much about the plot except that it’s silly. I mean no disrespect to Tucholke, but really?!? THAT was the story behind everything? I was really hoping for something huge. And I was so disappointed to find out the truth.
But back to the story development. I called it. I called it at the mention of Texas, and I called it in the attic and the aftermath. And it really messed up everything that Tucholke was building toward. That’s all I’m doing to say about it.
All in all, I think there was a lot of potential for this to be a truly amazing, beautifully written, gothically descriptive, twistedly haunting horror story. Tucholke had so much there that was already in place to be such. But the fact that it lacked world-building, had unlikable characters, slow developing plot and a scattered storyline, I just felt that it failed to live up to its potential. I really tried hard to like it. I just couldn’t.
You know how April Genevieve Tucholke’s writing has been called haunting and atmospheric? Well, it only is because either she borrows gothic horror tropes that have nothing to do with the actual story, like the whole deal with a crossroads demon or the entire discussion of music and art, or she comes up with these fake outs, like the stuff with the creepy kids waving stakes around, that end up being nothing, and the whole effect is like the book equivalent of eating cotton candy, filler to make you feel like you’re getting something substantive but in reality is nothing at all. I just made the comparison to Raven Boys because there the writing built up the setting and advanced the story, this was just fluff for the sake of fluff. What a waste of words.
The idea behind a mysterious boarder could’ve been interesting, but then this Violet chick had to go all Bella Swan on him. Not only does the romance take up ninety percent of the ten percent of the book that’s actual story and not just fluff, but by the time it’s revealed this River dude is a danger to her and she’s still thinking about how much she loves him – I think I threw up a little in my mouth.
Ha ha you’re kidding right? Sorry to break it to you, but there is no plot. The thrilling dread? False advertising. It’s just random pointless shit happening because River is a mysterious loner dude and potential menace to society. That leads to the dumbest plot twist ever because in order to make the romance work he can’t be a completely irredeemable psycho – even though murder is still murder. RUN VIOLET WHILE YOU STILL CAN!!!!!
The Elite (The Selection 2)
By: Kiera Cass
Release Date: April 23, 2013
Rating: 1 Stars
|Summary: Thirty-five girls came to the palace to compete in the Selection. All but six have been sent home. And only one will get to marry Prince Maxon and be crowned princess of Illea.America still isn’t sure where her heart lies. When she’s with Maxon, she’s swept up in their new and breathless romance, and can’t dream of being with anyone else. But whenever she sees Aspen standing guard around the palace, and is overcome with memories of the life they planned to share. With the group narrowed down to the Elite, the other girls are even more determined to win Maxon over—and time is running out for America to decide.
Just when America is sure she’s made her choice, a devastating loss makes her question everything again. And while she’s struggling to imagine her future, the violent rebels that are determined to overthrow the monarchy are growing stronger and their plans could destroy her chance at any kind of happy ending.
For what it’s worth, I actually liked The Selection. Sure, it suffered from a major bout of shoddy world building and desperately needed a plot beyond just the game show slash dating elements, but if I had to blurb it, I’d go with something like this: “Frivolous and silly, The Selection is nonetheless an enjoyable timekiller with its Bachelor-like elements and inability to take itself too seriously.”
The Elite on the other hand… ugh how do I even begin to describe this mess? Let’s see…
America: I love Maxon. No Aspen. No definitely Maxon.
*Maxon does something needlessly cruel in dramatic fashion*
America: I hate Maxon. *runs off to see Aspen*
*For unexplained reasons, she has second thoughts about Aspen*
America: Aspen who? I love Maxon.
*Maxon does something needlessly cruel in dramatic fashion*
America: I hate Maxon. *runs off to see Aspen*
*For less unexplained but equally convenient reasons, she has second thoughts about leaving Maxon*
America: Aspen who? I love Maxon.
(At this point I’m too tired to continue copy/pasting)
Is anyone else seeing a pattern here? Like maybe the plot is just one big, long, stretched out love triangle? A poorly done love triangle at that? One that isn’t even resolved? I don’t know, I didn’t really mind The Selection because the Bachelor-like elements (in other words, the catty contestants), while stereotypical, were somewhat amusing, but this is just chapters of America replaying her romantic options in her head over and over and over again, and it’s… unimaginably boring? Indescribably pointless? Frustratingly annoying? Where’d evil Celeste go?
Plus some other (somewhat random) observations, because this is not a book that’s inspiring me to write a coherent review:
– What Happened to the Bachelor-style Competition?: Personally, that was the only draw of the first book. Yes it was cheesy. But so what? The Selection was terrible as a dystopian, but at least it had that, so it wasn’t a complete loss. The Elite seems to eschew the only thing that made the first book bearable in favor of the aforementioned love triangle – why?
– The World Building, Redux: Even from The Selection, we should know world building is not this series’s strong suit. Still, while I admire Kiera Cass trying again, this time with more about the history of Ilea, some conspiracy involving the first king’s diary, and stuff about the caste system and foreign diplomacy, all of it is so simple to the point that actually reading about it feels more painful than watching a Miss America contestant discuss world geography.
– The Rebels of Complete Fail: I get it. Actually, I don’t. There are the Northerners. There are the Southerners. It’s implied they want something. But when the biggest plot development is a scrap of crucial information incompetently left in the hallway just conveniently for America to find, WTF?
– Maxon & Celeste: What the heck? Needless to say, when I got to this, last straw dude, last straw.
Anyway, I wasn’t expecting anything more from The Elite than shallow, petty drama. And somehow, it still fails at even that.
Go to Mitch’s review on Goodreads.
The 5th Wave (The Fifth Wave 1)
By: Rick Yancey
Release Date: May 7, 2013
Rating: 1 Star
|Summary: The Passage meets Ender’s Game in an epic new series from award-winning author Rick Yancey.After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother—or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.|
Well this is awkward. Everything about The 5th Wave – an award winning male young adult author, a high octane alien invasion plot, the comparisons to Ender’s Game and The Passage – made it seem like it’d exactly my kind of book. But now that I’ve finished, I’m just so pissed with the whole thing I have nothing nice to say and really just want to punch something, and in fact, I dislike The 5th Wave so much I’ve somehow written not one but three angry rants – yeah, be warned, this is going to be brutal.
Rant Number 1: The Alien Invasion is Beyond Disappointing
The 5th Wave is not Ender’s Game. The 5th Wave is not The Passage. The 5th Wave shouldn’t even qualify as science fiction unless it’s being mentioned in the same breath as Jennifer Armentrout’s Lux series (even Stephenie Meyer’s The Host is too good for this comparison).
Why? Because there’s just nothing here but a collection of alien invasion tropes leading to an actual plot that’s all over the place, part cringe worthy young adult ‘romance’ (which I never would have expected from a male author… but that’s the topic of the next rant), part bizarre military training sequence (hence the unfounded comparisons to Ender’s Game… see rant number three), all leading to a nonsensical alien conspiracy by a group of ‘Others’, who, if they’d really been studying us and planning our demise for as long as they claim, rather than the harebrained scheme they’ve concocted to ‘break’ humanity, should’ve just taken their cues from this awesome game:
In fact, I’ve seen my share of memorable alien invasion plots.Independence Day. Animorphs. V. Between Falling Skies, War of the Worlds, and Invasion America, Steven Spielberg has even done it three times. So at this point, count me unsurprised by the basic premise of The Fifth Wave, but even so I still wasn’t prepared for how derivative this book actually is *cough*infestation with obvious red herring*cough*.
But don’t get me wrong, I’m not exactly looking for new and original – I just wanted something that, I don’t know, isn’t a clichefest? Any serious, well done treatment would have sufficed… and yet, I’m wracking my head trying to think of anything else remotely this bad… and I just can’t. There just isn’t anything interesting about The 5th Wave that made me want to invest in the story – it’s great that Yancey seems to have latched on to Stephen Hawking’s idea that if aliens ever visited, we’d all be like the Native Americans during the colonial era, but the Waves themselves are just so generic compared to every other (imagined) alien attack that Cassie Sullivan’s descriptions of the ‘Other’’s invasion come across more like the melodramatic whining of someone too clueless and naive to appreciate the power of an alien invasion than the gritty recollections of a hardened survivor who’s experienced the horrors of the attacks firsthand.
Besides, there are only so many ways of describing how to squash a bug. Orbital bombardment. Biological warfare. A Fifth Column. Not only is The 5th Wave unoriginal, but it’s excessive. I got it, humanity’s beaten, there’s really no need for all of Cassie’s theatrics. Sure, she can pretend to be such a big expert on alien invasions, tell me how unprepared we are, how many people the ‘Others’ have killed, but she’s so keen on sounding like the big expert she thinks she is she ends up being just so repetitive and ridiculously genre unsavvy. Seriously, mope around too much bitching about it like she does, and it becomes a case of been there, done that, got boring, seriously stop telling me how terrible it is when I can imagine hundreds of worse scenarios. Face huggers anyone?
Anyway, Earth being invaded by hostile, advanced aliens isn’t new by any stretch of the imagination. But not only is The 5th Wave completely derivative of the many, many alien invasion plots of years past, it just has a terrible protagonist in Cassie Sullivan who forcefully shoves the same old regurgitated crap down my throat in the most inane way possible. Ugh.
Rant Number 2: The ‘Romance’ is Beyond Terrible
“That’s my big problem. That’s it! Before the Arrival, guys like Evan Walker never looked twice at me, much less shot wild game for me and washed my hair. They never grabbed me by the back of the neck like the airbrushed model on his mother’s paperback, abs a-clenching, pecs a-popping. My eyes have never been looked deeply into, or my chin raised to bring my lips within an inch of theirs.”
That, if you couldn’t tell, is an actual quote from the book. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever read anything as romantically challenged as The 5th Wave, and this is including Twilight here (did I just compare Twilight favorably to another book?!!).
Basically, I really really REALLY didn’t like Cassie Sullivan as a character (again, and for completely different reasons than from rant number one). For one, I’d be seriously concerned for any girl who responds to an impending alien invasion like this:
It’s the end of the world! OMG Ben Parish is hot!
WTF? And as if that wasn’t enough, Ben Parish isn’t even the love interest. The real love interest is a poor guy named Evan Walker, who may or may not be one of them. Who, I’m not kidding, tries to kill Cassie before growing a conscience and falling in love with her. And Cassie, of course, is the girl who’s never been in a relationship before, so she immediately loses all sense of self preservation and melts into his warm brown eyes and dimple. What is this? The Host? Did Stephenie Meyer write this?
And if that wasn’t bad enough, even if I weren’t inwardly cringing every time Cassie and Evan appear together, Rick Yancey really should be banned from writing female points of view. This, again, is an actual Cassie quote:
Time for the angrily-storming-out-of-the-room part of the argument, while the guy folds his arms over his manly chest and pouts.
WTF? Should I believe what I think Yancey’s saying about what girls think of guys?
In fact, I would be laughing at how bad Cassie’s point of view is if I weren’t still smarting over the insipid alien invasion plot that made me want to fling my copy of the book across the room (not that I can, don’t want to pay for repairs to the drywall). Double ugh.
Rant Number 3: The Comparisons to the Sci-fi Classics are Completely Unfounded
The days when alien invasion plots could stand solely on the invasion ended right around the time of H.G. Well’s War of the Worlds. Somebody, unfortunately, didn’t get the memo. Since then, alien invasions have been pushing the boundaries of speculative fiction by exploring the paranoia surrounding sleeper agents (Invasion of the Body Snatchers), adult authority and its limits (Ender’s Game), and discovering the truth in the face of a complex government cover-up (The X Files), but although The 5th Wave borrows elements from all of these other alien invasion plots, I can’t for the life of me point to one alien invasion theme that this book does well. Evan being a human-alien hybrid struggling to reconcile his alien soul with his humanity? Shallow even in comparison to The Host. The conspiracy surrounding the ‘Other’’s infiltration of the US military? So transparent I wouldn’t even call it a conspiracy. Ben’s military training to take out the infested? Is that a joke? They even killed Kenny! Cassie’s struggle to survive the Waves, eventually learning to become a tougher person? Ok, that one’s done well, I’ll admit, until she runs into Evan and becomes a quivering mess of a character. Then, yuck!
Look, I’m not against borrowing plot elements from other sources. But when those elements mean something, when there’s a theme behind them, I don’t want to see a shallow treatment that does neither the source nor the adaptation any favors. And for The 5th Wave, that’s unfortunately the case. Triple ugh.
Basically, The 5th Wave is, in every way, an embarrassment to science fiction. Rick Yancey tried to work too many different concepts into this book, jumping all over the place, that the end result is not one of them is done well. I’m muy disappointed.
The Shadow Girl
By: Jennifer Archer
Release Date: April 9, 2013
Rating: 1 Star
|Summary: Sometimes I forget for an hour or two that she’s with me. Sometimes I convince myself that she was only a dream. Or that I’m crazy.
For as long as Lily Winston can remember, she has never been alone. Iris, a shadowy figure who mimics Lily’s movements and whispers in her ear, is with her always—but invisible to the rest of the world. Iris is Lily’s secret.
But when Lily’s father is killed in a tragic accident, his cryptic final words suggest that he and Lily’s mother have been keeping secrets of their own. Suddenly, Iris begins pushing Lily more than ever, possessing her thoughts and urging her to put together the pieces of a strange puzzle her father left behind. As she searches for answers, Lily finds herself drawn to Ty Collier, a mysterious new boy in town. Together, Lily and Ty must untangle a web of deception to discover the truth about her family, Iris . . . and Lily’s own identity.
The Shadow Girl may quite possibly be the most pointless thing I’ve ever read. In fact, my last three attempts at writing a coherent review were all derailed by just how much I dislike this book, so rather than start fresh with attempt number four, I think I’ll borrow Troy Steele’s psychologist and hopefully we’ll have something.
Doctor: Do you really hate The Shadow Girl that much?
Doctor: And why is that?
Patient: *gives Doc his best you’ve got to be kidding me look* Well, you see, there is no plot…
Doctor: *sets his pen aside as if genuinely interested in the patient’s answer* Surely you’re kidding. How can a 336 page book not have a plot?
Patient: I guess… *dismissively flips through the book again* I suppose there’s a plot. If by plot you mean a girl named Lily spending the vast majority of the book deciding whether or not she has romantic feelings for new guy Ty, while simultaneously feeling something for best friend slash neighbor Wyatt, but can I really call that a plot? I mean, these characters are so shallow even the ‘romance’ of the most infamous of angel or vampire paranormal looks good in comparison. It’s not even a love triangle! I mean, it’s obvious poor Wyatt doesn’t even stand a chance!
Doctor: *finally skims the summary, half bored* But it says here Lily has a secret named Iris, and her parents are keeping secrets, and she has to find the answers. What’s that about?
Patient: Oh, you mean Lily’s deep, dark secret? The one she doesn’t spend most of the book looking into? *takes deep breath, as if moments away from hyperventilating* Maybe I should ask you a question. Shadow Girl sucks as a paranormal romance. As a thriller, it simply doesn’t work. Who the heck would read this?
Doctor: We’re treating you. Don’t be difficult.
Doctor: Let’s move on. Why don’t you describe Lily’s secret. The plot?
Patient: No no no. That’s not a plot. Don’t you see how contrived it is? Lily just happens to overhear her parents’ conversation, her father just happens to avoid telling her anything, and then he conveniently just happens to die in an accident? WTF?
Doctor: *waves hand dismissively* That’s just how the author chose to set up her book.
Patient: But it’s so cliche! Fine, maybe, but that’s not all. Lily’s mother knows the secret. The whole time! All she had to do was open her mouth and say three little words! Three little words that explains everything! Here, I’ll even say it cause it’s not even that hard to figure out from the couple of weak clues Archer drops along the way. Lily’s a c-
Doctor: Ah, some of us might still want to read this.
Patient: Hmmm. You sure? Where was I? Oh yeah, the entire plot beyond the romance is just the mom not saying anything! How can that be a plot? It’s just a waste of time!
Doctor: So you have a problem with Lily’s mother?
Patient: Yes! What kind of a mother tells her daughter the truth is not up for discussion? GAAAHHH!!! *takes deep breath* Ok, I got a quote here in my pocket:
”I’m your mother. You have to do what I say.”
That’s in response to Lily asking about what’s wrong with her. What kind of shitty parenting is that?
Doctor: *pointedly ignores the question* But I take it that’s not your only problem?
Patient: Well, no. Should I talk about the fact that Lily’s mom doesn’t even tell Lily the truth even after it’s obvious to everyone what Lily’s secret is? That she has to let Lily find out from someone else? Or the incredibly stupid thing Lily does to find out? Or that nothing of consequence happens after she finds out? So there was no point to Lily’s mom and her stubborn refusal to tell the truth except to drag out the book and conceal the fact that there’s no plot?
Doctor: *arches eyebrow* That’s quite a rant.
Patient: Yeah I know.
Doctor: So you feel better about the book?
Patient: Nah I still hate it. But I think I’m done.
Doctor: You forgot all the references.
Patient: Wrong patient. I don’t do those.
Ok, so I now feel a little better. But I still don’t like The Shadow Girl.
By: Gregg Rosenblum
Release Date: January 8, 2013
Rating: 1 Star
|Summary: Twenty years ago, the robots designed to fight our wars abandoned the battlefields. Then they turned their weapons on us.
Only a few escaped the robot revolution of 2071. Kevin, Nick, and Cass are lucky —they live with their parents in a secret human community in the woods. Then their village is detected and wiped out. Hopeful that other survivors have been captured by bots, the teens risk everything to save the only people they have left in the world—by infiltrating a city controlled by their greatest enemies.
Revolution 19 is a cinematic thriller unlike anything else. With a dynamic cast of characters, this surefire blockbuster has everything teen readers want—action, drama, mystery, and romance.
There were actually tears in my eyes after I finished this, and not because Revolution 19 is particularly emotional or poignant. Nope, I couldn’t stop laughing at how awful this train wreck is – it’s exactly what I’d imagine a Michael Bay book would be like, if he ever wrote one – so let’s just say, between this and Dark Eyes, the majority of Writers Guild of America members should stick to their day jobs and leave the book writing to people who know the difference between screenplay and prose.
I’m going to cut Gregg Rosenblum some slack though and not make any unfavorable comparisons to Terminator, because I do get the feeling he’s aiming for something a bit more high concept – I, Robot. So I did some digging and Rosenblum actually cites that as one of his influences (Isaac Asimov’s seminal novel, not the Will Smith movie), except, to avoid copyright issues maybe, Revolution 19 isn’t even anywhere close to the Asimov novel. In fact, it’s not even close to the Will Smith movie either, it’s more like the worst case scenario of the movie except a hundred times shittier. I mean, the entire premise of Revolution 19, the Great Intervention, robots taking over the world to save mankind from ourselves, is clearly based on the evolution of the Three Laws of Robotics as seen in the movie (and explored in Asimov’s book).
For those unfamiliar with Asimov’s work, the Three Laws are:
1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2. A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.
So what do the Three Laws have to do with robots taking over the world? Basically, the First Law originally requires robots to protect humans individually, except eventually their artificial intelligences extended the law and interpreted it as a directive to protect humanity from ourselves, leading to the whole enslavement of mankind for the good of peace and to prevent violence thing. Of course, Asimov’s solution is the Zeroth Law of Robotics:
0. A robot may not harm humanity, or, by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm.
Rosenblum on the other hand doesn’t or possibly can’t explore the intricacies and ethical quandaries of artificial intelligence in any meaningful way, so what we’re left with instead is a lame derivative plot that lacks any sort of theme whatsoever. Just imagine instead of Will Smith’s character defeating evil artificial intelligence V.I.K.I. at the end of I, Robot, we’re now all beholden to our new servant droid overlords, and they’ll rant at us in C-3PO’s annoying voice if we disobey like the characters in the book do. And we’re going to obey, because the psychological torture of being ‘lectured’ to by C-3PO’s soundalike will cause irreparable mental harm and selective amnesia and eventually force us into toeing the line. Ha.
Of course, it doesn’t help either that the writing actually is of Michael Bay screenplay quality:
Four soldier bots were waiting for them at the city limits. The bots towered over the humans—they were at least eight feet tall and as wide as two men. They raised their lase arms and aimed a warning shot at the survivors’ feet. Chunks of street rubble sprayed out, one small piece striking the young boy in the left eye. He screamed and fell, clasping his hand over his face. Blood ran between the boy’s fingers. His father pulled off his own shirt, picked up the still-screaming child, and pressed his shirt against the boy’s face. The boy clawed at his father’s hands, but his father held him tight against his chest.
I’m sure that quote would look great with Bay’s signature explosions and the four giant killer robots showing off all their whirly parts of death in glorious computer rendered 3D graphics, but on paper, stage direction isn’t going to cut it, sorry – although actually, I’m still thinking about the lecture-y torture sessions and the resulting ambiguously inflicted psychological trauma, because that quote is actually the best example of robot on human violence in the entire book, and it’s from the Prologue.
But you know what’s even worse? Even the characters are like Michael Bay caricatures. *shudders*
“You were staring at your stomach like a monkey that had just discovered its belly button,” said Cass.
“Drop it, Cass!”
“Like a monkey saying, ‘Oh my God, what is this hole doing in my belly?’”
Does that remind anyone else of Shia LaBeouf’s random rambling in Revenge of the Fallen?
“Right, what’s there possibly to worry about?” she said. “Just some surgery in the garage with a drunk doctor.”
Yeah. I think I’ve said enough, so I’ll just close this review with some of the awesome Hollywood logic that pervades this book:
“Our parents are here, because if they’re not here they’re dead, and they can’t be dead. So we’re here to rescue them.”
Maybe I should just stick to watching the trailer?