Posts Tagged YA Romance

SBR 2-for-1 Special: “Station Eleven” and “Timebound”

Folks, I’m sorry about the length of time between reviews here at Shiny Book Review. There are a number of reasons for that, including a catastrophic hard-drive failure and putting the final touches on A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE while also trying to hash out editorial changes for CHANGING FACES. Both are due out within weeks of each other (no more than six weeks between them), so I’ve been completely focused on that to the detriment of much else — including book reviewing.

That’s why you’re getting a 2-for-1 special today. I’d hoped to review Emily St. John Mandel’s STATION ELEVEN on Thursday, but time did not allow. And I’d planned already to review Rysa Walker’s TIMEBOUND for our Romance Saturday at SBR promotion.

So, here we are…let’s get started!

Emily St. John Mandel’sStation Eleven STATION ELEVEN is a post-apocalyptic dystopia of an unusual type. Mandel postulates that a nasty flu, something thousands of times worse than the Swine Flu or even the Spanish Flu of 1918 has hit the entire world. This flu devastates the world economy, to the point that almost nothing can function. People are thrown back into barbarity, left without electricity, without phones, without computers. And must try to survive.

You’re probably rolling your eyes by now and thinking, “So, Barb, what’s so interesting about that? Other people have done that before. What gives?”

Well, Mandel uses an unusual device to structure her novel. She finds a way to revolve everything around one man — an actor, Arthur Leander. While he’s not the plague-carrier, and while he’s also not truly the protagonist, everyone at the heart of this novel knows something about him and are connected, in a weird way, to one another — whether they know it or not.

We start out in our world, as Arthur Leander is on stage for the very last time, performing as King Lear. The fiftyish Leander is about to have a heart attack — meaning he misses the plague and all its fallout — and several people try to revive him, including Jeevan Chaudhary. Jeevan comes into contact with a child actress named Kirsten Raymonde, who’s been standing by watching Leander die without anyone paying attention…then as we see Jeevan struggle to keep himself and his paraplegic brother alive during the next few desperate weeks, Kirsten fades to the background.

She’s next seen at the age of twenty-eight, still an actress, performing with the Traveling Symphony — a group of actors and musicians who travel about using horse-drawn wagons cannibalized from old pickup trucks. She’s grown old before her time, has lost teeth, has dealt with privation and even had to kill people who’d tried to hurt her or others in the Traveling Symphony. But she still believes in what she does, and feels it’s the only way she can make any sort of positive difference in the world.

See, in twenty years, the world has lost nearly everything. Medical care has devolved; if you step on a nail, you can die of lockjaw as no medicines are available to help you. If you get food poisoning, you probably will die, because you’re weaker than you should be due to the lack of decent food. If you have a fever, the only treatments that seem to work are holistic things like soaking rags in water (which maybe isn’t even cold, as most people can’t figure out how to make ice any more, absent electricity and refrigeration).

And groups like the Traveling Symphony are warmly welcomed as a way to break up the monotony.

Then Mandel shifts again to Leander and his three ex-wives. We see the first of them, Miranda, who’s an artist — it’s her graphic novel, not-so-coincidentally called “Station Eleven,” that Leander gives to Kirsten a day or two before he dies, as Leander was given it as a present by Miranda and he doesn’t know what else to do with it. And we view her life before and after Arthur — she becomes a powerful executive and dies in Malaysia of the plague.

And we see Leander’s best friend, Clark, who gets stranded in a regional airport in Michigan due to plague concerns, who eventually runs into Kirsten as well.

All of this sounds much more amorphous than it actually is. Mandel found a way to make this humane. She shows all of these people in a nonjudgmental way. They are all flawed, including Kirsten. But they all have their strengths, too — and what’s good about them, what’s creative about them, is what somehow survives despite the way the economy has collapsed and also despite the way many humans have actually seemed to embrace the barbarism.

Mandel looks at consumer culture — iPhones, laptops, even handheld book readers — with a jaundiced eye, but even there shows the good things about it. How it helps to connect us. How losing it suddenly actually makes the barbarism that follows even worse. And how some people in this new, post-apocalyptic world don’t even want their children to know just how far the human race has fallen — because they’re afraid if they admit it, they’ll have to deal with their own buried grief over what they have become.

All of this is told in a decidedly matter-of-fact way. This is just what life is, after the plague (a word Mandel doesn’t use by the way). This is how they all have to survive.

But the hope is that if some — like Clark, who’s decided to make a museum out of the airport and collects the non-working technology of the early 2000s to show people what life was once like — can remember well enough, perhaps at least some of the “old world” can be restored.

Or at least kindness can continue, in its odd and disparate ways.

STATION ELEVEN is a phenomenal novel. It is strong, it is uncompromising, and yet it is somehow very hopeful.

The only thing Rysa Walker has in common with Emily St. John Mandel is that they both were once indie writers. (Well, they’re also both very good writers — but I’ll get to that.)

TimeboundCover_smallWalker’s debut novel, TIMEBOUND, was originally published independently as TIME”S TWISTED ARROW. (But as I didn’t read it or review it while it was an indie — shame on me! — I’m only going to refer it as TIMEBOUND from here on out.) It stars Kate PIerce-Keller, whose real first name is Prudence — but of course she hates it. She’s sixteen, a prep school student in Washington, DC, and is told two things very early on: Her grandmother, Katherine, is dying of cancer. And her grandmother is a time-traveler, marooned in time due to some deliberate machinations by other time-traveling bad actors.

Of course Kate doesn’t want to believe this. But Katharine shows Kate a medallion which glows blue; her parents can’t see it, but Kate can. And once Kate is nearly dragged somewhere in time by the medallion, Kate believes that it’s definitely out of the ordinary.

Then something happens to alter the timestream. Her parents never met each other, and Kate should not exist; she does solely because she wore one of these medallions (called a “Chronos device”) around her neck when the timestream shifted. And the school she’s been going to doesn’t recognize her, either. Even Kate’s best friend, Charmayne, no longer recognizes Kate.

Obviously, Kate is in big trouble. Time-traveling malcontents are out to stop her, because they believe that she can somehow stop them from perverting the timeline and doing whatever they want. And she has next to no allies.

Then, a young man, Trey, fortuitously comes into Kate’s life. (Trey would not have met Kate except for the timeline being muddled by the others using the Chronos device for their own gain.) And he decides he’s going to help her, because despite it all, he believes that Kate is telling the truth even though he can’t see the glow from the Chronos device any more than her parents could.

Kate’s only other allies are her grandmother and her grandmother’s “research assistant” (a younger man who lives with Katharine and wants the original timeline restored for reasons of his own). This is useful, because it means Kate isn’t entirely alone — but only Kate can use the Chronos device due to being genetically suited for it.

Then an attempt is made on Katharine’s life. And Kate must go back to 1893 to stop it.

Will Kate manage to survive long enough to save her grandmother? And will her new boyfriend, Trey, remember her if she does?

Also, what’s going on with the mysterious Kiernan — a dark-haired, enigmatic young man who seems to know Kate, even though Kate’s never laid eyes on him in her life?

All of these questions will be answered. But of course they lead to even more questions…which is just as well, as there are a number of sequels (and prequels) yet to be read and savored.

TIMEBOUND’s a fun, fresh, fast-reading YA novel. It has romance, intrigue, derring-do, excellent characterization and plot up the ying-yang.

My recommendation? You should grab both of these novels and read them as fast as you can. Then turn around and read them again. And yet again.

Grades: TIMEBOUND and STATION ELEVEN both get an A-plus.

Go read these impressive novels already!

–reviewed by Barb

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SBR 2-for-1 Saturday Romance Special

As it’s nearly New Year — and as I have two romances I keep meaning to review here at Shiny Book Review — I decided to make a virtue out of necessity, which is why tonight’s 2-for-1 SBR special features the work of two highly distinct authors — Sherry Thomas and Marie Lu.  Both are romances in one way, shape or form, but are set in wildly disparate milieus.

The first romance to be reviewed tonight is Sherry Thomas’ TEMPTING THE BRIDE.  This is the third book in her Fitzhugh trilogy that’s set in England during the Victorian era; the previous books, BEGUILING THE BEAUTY and RAVISHING THE HEIRESS, were reviewed here.  (I also reviewed four previous Thomas romances here.)  BRIDE features Helena Fitzhugh, a London publisher in love with a married man, and David Hillsborough, Viscount Hastings, who’s loved Helena for a long time but hasn’t been able to show it appropriately (partly due to Helena’s love for the married guy).

The main reason David and Helena don’t have a romance at the start of this novel is because David, to be blunt, was a very bratty teenager when he first met Helena and said some really obnoxious things to her.  Over the years, that pattern of behavior has continued even though everyone else in Helena’s family (sister Venetia, featured in book 1, and brother Fitz the Earl, featured in book 2) has known for a long time just how deeply David’s feelings for Helena lie.

But, of course, Helena does not know this.  She just thinks David is an obnoxious ass.  (Which, of course, he is.  Among other things.)

And, as previously stated, Helena is in a doomed romance with the very married Andrew Martin, one of her writers at the publishing house.  Which means David can’t do much of anything other than snipe at her and wonder what could’ve been . . . until one day, when Helena is nearly discovered en flagrante delicto with Andrew.  Quickly, David steps in and hides Andrew, then says smoothly that he and Helena have eloped and she’s the new Lady Hastings.  (Helena, being no fool, doesn’t contradict him even though she has no idea why David would do such a thing.)

Then they have to go explain things to Helena’s brother and sister, which is awkward and upsets Helena.  She ends up running out into the middle of the street, takes a head injury, and gets amnesia.

(I can hear you all now.  “Oh, no!  The dreaded amnesia plot!”)

I’m sure, thus far, anyone who’s reading this review that doesn’t know about Ms. Thomas or her writing skill is wondering why I’d bother with this, considering the hackneyed plot device employed.  Yet TEMPTING THE BRIDE, far from being an irredeemable mess, is by far the best of the Fitzhugh trilogy because it focuses on David and his doomed love for Helena and shows just how good a man David really is when he’s not behaving like a jerk.

So the two get to know each other without any of Helena’s preconceived notions (as she’s lost all of her adult memories, plus most of them from her late teens), and they fall in love.

But what will happen when she regains her memory?

And what is she likely to do with that married man who’s kept her on the string all this time?

While I can’t go into any of that (or I’ll blow any of your potential reading pleasure out of the water), I can tell you that I found it to be not only plausible, but highly engaging.

Put simply, TEMPTING THE BRIDE is Ms. Thomas at the top of her game, which is a welcome thing to read indeed.  Which is why if you love romances and you haven’t read any of Sherry Thomas’s books yet, you’re really missing out.

Next up is Marie Lu’s LEGEND, a dystopian romance set in what could be the very near future.  The United States has broken up into disparate parts, one of them being the Republic of California (called simply “the Republic,” possibly to save steps).  The Republic is a cold, cruel place that’s based off one thing: military achievement.  Everyone takes a test at age ten to find out what he or she is going to be, and the top-rated thing you can possibly do is to go into the military or work in military research — nothing else need apply.

Our two characters here are June, born into an elite military family, and Day, who comes from the bottom end of the economic ladder.  Both are military prodigies, but only June has been encouraged — Day was basically left for dead by the cold, cruel, corrupt elders running the Republic.

Both are in their mid-teens.  Both are extremely bright.  And both have many military skills that manifested at a surprisingly early age — Day’s out of necessity, June’s because she’s been pushed to become the best.

Normally these two would never meet as Day’s a fugitive and June’s already in the Republic’s military (albeit as the equivalent of a cadet).  But then June’s brother Metias is murdered, and Day becomes the prime suspect.

But there are secrets within secrets, wheels within wheels.  Things are not as they seem, which is why Day and June must meet, take each other’s measure, and possibly form an alliance in order to succeed.  Yet everything June’s learned has told her that Day is automatically the enemy, while Day, in turn, has learned that no one from the Republic — not even someone as young as June  — can be trusted.

What will happen to these two distinct individuals, especially if June cannot shake off her early conditioning?

Overall, LEGEND is an enjoyable and quick read.  It has a surprising amount of emotional depth — rare for the dystopian teen romance genre — and makes some good points about romances overall in that the best and most realistic romances occur when both people can understand one another or have similar skills and gifts.  June likes how Day looks, sure, but unlike other teen dystopian romances such as Lauren Oliver’s DELIRIUM (reviewed here), June is far more concerned about what’s going on in Day’s mind than she is about his looks.

That’s not only refreshing for a teen romance, but it’s also extremely realistic.

Don’t get me wrong.  I felt LEGEND‘s plot, overall, was plausible.  The milieu was appropriately dystopian and Ms. Lu didn’t shy away from showing the worst aspects of this.

But Ms. Lu also showed that people can survive the worst things with their humanity intact — something that made Suzanne Collins’ original THE HUNGER GAMES (reviewed here by Jason) so good, but otherwise has been rarely imitated — and shows recognizable human emotions and drives throughout.  I appreciated this greatly and wish more writers would emulate her example.

Wrapping up tonight’s 2-for-1 Saturday romance special here at SBR, here are tonight’s grades:



— reviewed by Barb

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2-for-1 SBR Special: Lauren Oliver’s YA Dystopian Romances

Tonight, Lauren Oliver’s two YA dystopian romances are on the table.  These, of course, are the critically-acclaimed DELIRIUM and its immediate sequel, PANDEMONIUM.  Both feature Lena Haloway, a teenage girl from a troubled background who lives with her aunt and uncle in Portland, Maine, as her mother is unavailable.  (At first, Lena believes her mother is dead, but later finds out that isn’t so.)  And both feature a world that’s nearly entirely unrecognizable due to one thing: love has been outlawed, and anyone who dares to love despite societal prohibitions ends up shunned at best, incarcerated or killed at worst.  This is because love is now called a disease, and goes by the name of amor deliria nervosa; it is not considered to be a benign ailment, which is why society continues to incarcerate and kill people who dare to love.

Worse yet, the world, or at least the United States, has become extremely regimented.  Your mate is picked for you (obviously, if you try to pick your own mate instead, you’ve shown that you’ve contracted the “disease” and must be removed from society).  Your choice of career is picked for you.  Your behavior is monitored, your associations (friends, family members, etc.) are not always freely chosen, either (though friendship still exists, true, deep, lasting friendships are quite rare), and everyone in polite society wishes for one thing: the Cure, otherwise known as unnecessary brain surgery that’s equivalent to a lobotomy.  A whole religion has grown up around this, and no one questions it because the older religions have all been swept away.  (This is a bit of a plot problem, but I’ll get into it later.)

So, for nearly seventy years, the U.S. has existed in a twilight state.  Anyone who loves is declared a criminal; the lucky ones manage to get away into “the Wilds,” areas around big cities that have been cleared of permanent habitation, while the unlucky ones get placed into mental institutions or are killed outright in the attempt to escape their terrible fate of an unnecessary lobotomy.

All of this is necessary in order to understand Lena’s problems in DELIRIUM, as she starts out knowing that her mother was not able to be Cured despite several procedures.  At first, Lena doesn’t question authority or orthodoxy, which made me want to scream and throw things; ultimately, she falls in love with a guy named Alex, who tells her many things she needs, but doesn’t want, to hear.  (Such as the fact that there are a number of resistance fighters out in the woods — excuse me, the Wilds — and that there are many people who disagree with the government’s official stance that everyone needs a lobotomy to protect them from themselves.  At this point, I muttered, “Thank God,” and kept turning the pages.)

One of the highlights of DELIRIUM is Lena’s true and strong friendship with a young woman named Hana.  These two met because they’re both runners; because their social standings are wildly different (Hana’s family is wealthy, which in this society means her TV actually gets seven channels), once they’re both Cured, they probably won’t have anything to do with one another.  Yet as they’re still in high school at the beginning of this book — and as neither of them has been Cured — they still care deeply about one another and want each other to be happy.

Hana, you see, is one of those people who rebel, but only within limits.  She will have a comfortable life if she submits to it, which she knows.  But she still doesn’t like the idea of that comfortable life; she just doesn’t have the inner fortitude to escape considering the massive problems escaping from their dystopian society will engender.

Yet Hana has lit a fire under Lena, and that fire can only be quenched by two things: freedom, and Alex.  And for the most part, I bought it, as Ms. Oliver’s storytelling ability is quite good. 

But one thing really bothered me: because this is a young adult dystopia, much emphasis is placed on Lena getting to know Alex body to body, even though they do not, technically speaking, have sex.  (In this society, touching one another and kissing deeply seems more illicit than merely having sex, which is something all of these societally approved couples must get around to now and again even considering they’ve all been effectively lobotomized for their own protection.)  Lena, of course, goes into raptures at Alex’s physical attributes (the broadness of his manly chest, how his muscles catch the light of the sun, even musings about Alex’s shoulder blades, for pity’s sake), and of course Alex is also stricken dumb by Lena’s physical beauty even though she’s 5′ 2″ and from her own musings isn’t considered to be a raving beauty by any standard. 

All of that lavish bodily description was excessive.  It detracted and distracted from the main plotline, which of course is this: how do these two young lovers successfully escape their dreadful society?  Or is that even possible?

Yet the road into the Wilds is perilous; will they make it out alive?  (Hint, hint: at least one of them does, otherwise the second novel under review, PANDEMONIUM, wouldn’t have been written.)  Even if they do, will their relationship grow, change, or . . . die?

Next, we move on to PANDEMONIUM, where Lena is now in the Wilds.  Alex is not with her, so Lena has to endure the Wilds on her own.  She meets up with a resistance group led by a tough young woman, Raven, and several tough young men, including Tack, who seems to be Raven’s boyfriend though this is never really explored.

After a number of travails (mostly having to do with the lack of electricity, food, and medical supplies), Lena ends up relocated to a different city and becomes involved with the influential DFA group — DFA standing for “Deliria Free America” — as Raven and Tack have come along to pretend that they’re Lena’s relations.  (There’s no way Raven and Tack would be old enough to be Lena’s parents, so they’re posing instead as her Aunt and Uncle.)

Of course, there’s yet another handsome young man in Lena’s future, with this young man being the son of the head of the DFA, Julian Fineman.  Julian has had seizures his entire life, and believes that if he’s allowed to have the Cure (he’s had many operations, as he’s also been stricken with some form of brain cancer), he may truly end up medically cured.  Or he’ll end up dead, which to him is an acceptable risk — and because he’s a politician’s son, Julian’s been groomed to tell everyone in this overly polite society that he’s willing to die for the Cure, which of course is a strong societal message.

Then, as the plot progresses, Lena and Julian end up getting kidnapped by a hostile bunch of thugs called the Scavengers.  These aren’t like the freedom fighters, who just want to live in peace and love whomever they want; instead, the Scavengers are anarchists, who glorify violence in the name of upsetting the current “natural order of things” in the U.S.  Lena ends up confessing to Julian that she’s not really Cured as he thinks she is; instead, she’s part of the resistance, what Julian thinks of as “Invalids” (this concept, of course, has been done before by movies such as Gattaca), with the normal run of zombie-like sheep — er, Cured human beings — being the Valid citizens.  And eventually, she manages to get the two of them free of their nasty captors, oddly enough without a single seizure from Julian to gum up the works.

But of course that’s not the end; along the way, Julian falls in love with Lena, while Lena slowly grows to like touching Julian the same way she touched Alex in the past.  (Once again, there is no sex going on; the closest these two get to intimacy is when they kiss, or one of them sees the other half-naked.)  Lena convinces herself that she must be in love with Julian — after all, he’s a good guy, has stood by her throughout all their trials and tribulations, so what’s not to like about that? — because she does, after all, like touching him.  That she doesn’t seem to realize that touching someone and truly loving someone are not the same seems oddly naïve.

Anyway, just as Lena and Julian think they’ve gotten away scot-free into the Wilds, they end up getting recaptured.  But Lena doesn’t end up incarcerated; instead, a member of the resistance gets Lena away.  This member of the resistance acts oddly, too, in a way reminiscent of Lena’s long-lost mother (hint, hint), but Lena has no time for it as she must get Julian free as he’s about to be put to death.  The fact that he’s a politician’s son doesn’t save him under the circumstances, nor does the fact that he and Lena nearly died several times in their escape from the brutal thugs because  this is an extremely inflexible, unforgiving society.  Because Lena knows that, her focus shifts toward getting Julian away; anything else will just have to wait.

So, the cliffhanger here is, does Lena save Julian, or not?  And if she does, will she realize that she doesn’t really love Julian (instead, she just likes him and likes how it feels when he touches her)?  And note, while one of these two questions is resolved by the end of PANDEMONIUM, there’s still a great deal left outstanding — which probably is why the third book of this trilogy, REQUIEM, is due out in 2013.

While there are many things to like about both of Oliver’s books, there are some major problems here. 

  • First, the “new,” zombie-like society that the DFA-types have created has only been in existence for about seventy years, which isn’t long enough to have expunged every trace of any other religion besides the state-sponsored one. 
  • Second, there’s way too much time spent on how gorgeous these people are; even when Lena characterizes herself in a deprecating fashion, somehow it comes off a bit overdone. 
  • Third, while I believed Alex was truly in love with Lena, I was never sure if Lena loved Alex or loved the idea of being in love with him; this went double for Lena’s odd relationship with Julian. 
  • Fourth, I do not buy that a young man like Julian, who’s had seizures all his life, can be beaten and nearly killed yet not have one, single seizure while doing his level best to escape.  (Or afterward.) 
  • And fifth, it’s nearly impossible to imagine how any form of a society could function when everyone in polite society, effectively, has been lobotomized in order to “take the Cure for their own protection.”

So despite Oliver’s excellent storytelling abilities, the foundation on which these stories stands is a bit rocky.  That’s why despite two decent YA romances set amidst a convincingly grim milieu (the back story is weaker than I’d prefer, but the ambience is superb), the better of these novels rated a B.

Bottom line: the ambience is excellent.  The milieu is distasteful, appropriately dystopian.  The romances work to a degree, at least considering very young, untried people are involved.  But the back story did not convince.

Because of this, while I’ll still do my best to read REQUIEM when it comes out next year, it’s not likely to be at the top of my list.  (Sorry.)

Grades:  DELIRIUM — B, mostly because of the Lena-Hana relationship, along with the convincing Alex-Lena romance. 

PANDEMONIUM — C-plus, mostly because Lena doesn’t seem to realize Julian’s just a guy — albeit a hot-looking one — and that being willing to touch someone does not necessarily mean that you love him.  Not even in this society.

— reviewed by Barb

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War of the Seasons: The Human

It’s April Fool’s Day, so we decided to (okay, decided) to go ahead and skip about a dozen books I had in the “To Be Reviewed” queue so I could review a book I first heard about (and received) last weekend, Janine K. Spendlove’s War of the Seasons: The Human (Book One of the series), a fantastic story set in a world where humans don’t really exist.

Our heroine Story is a young teenage girl who is dealing with the loss of her entire family. Her father and her younger twin siblings died in a car crash the previous winter, and her mother disappeared long before, leaving Story alone in the world. She has withdrawn from her friends and society as a whole, and only her best friend/ex-boyfriend Josh has remained loyally by her side. Story, though, wants to push everything away so that she can escape from the pain. One of the ways she does this is to go to an old cave out in the wilderness, where her father had taken her spelunking years before. An area filled with happy memories and not the ones which seem to be crushing her at every chance it gets.

Story ditches Josh as she slips through a narrow crevice that her father had warned her previously not to enter and she falls, disappearing into the darkness and lands… somewhere.

She awakens to find herself in a strange land where her father’s old Ka-bar knife he had while in the Marines is her only protection. She has unwittingly fallen into the magical land of Ailionora (note: yes, I cringed when I reached the names. I always cringe when fantasy names come out… that didn’t take anything away from the story, though).

Upon stumbling out of a partially buried cave she runs into a beautiful young man who is named Morrigann. He gives her a “look” before he, his harp and surrounding fairies disappear into the forest. Naturally Story is attracted to him (she’s a teenager with a huge hole in her soul…) but she is distracted as she hears a cry for help. She responds and (sort of ) saves a young elf man named Eirnan. However, they don’t exactly get along and soon Story is on her way (by herself) to Stoneybrook, a town where she might be able to find help and figure out just what is going on here.

Eirnin rejoins her after she has a strange dream about Morrigann (pretty boys have that effect of people, apparently) and Eirnin corrects her (she’d been heading in the wrong direction again, her compass doesn’t seem to be working). On the way, he fills Story in on where she is (he thinks she’s a bit deluded at this point because, really, a “human” girl?) She, of course, is convinced that either the elf is delusional or she hit her head harder than she anticipated.

A good portion of this book is dedicated to Story becoming convinced that she is in a magical land and no longer home, which makes sense in a way because she is an almost-typical girl who is dealing with grief. The author does a tremendous job of showing this, and even does a better job showing just how hard grief can hit you when you let your guard down. Story never truly grieves until much later in the novel, leaving her dangerous bottled with her emotions.

The world itself is big, though Spendlove doesn’t break Rule 3 (Thou Shalt Not Have Worlds Bigger Than Tolkien) with her map and lands. The characters are completely believable, and while the romance is a bit on the heavy side (I’m a guy with limited sensibilities, of course the romance is on the heavy side), it really fits with the story well. I enjoyed the portrayal of both Morrigann and Eirnan, though my favorite character is the spastic young Adair, who is so full of life and energy that she allows Story to forget some of the pain she’s dealing with.

This book is a worthy addition to anyone library, especially for anyone who is sick of reading Twilight and not having any viable options elsewhere in the Teen/YA romance section. I would highly recommend picking this one up.

–Reviewed by Jason

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