Review: Possession

I’m not really sure how to start this review. I was pretty excited to read Possession, but I was ultimately very disappointed by it. I feel like I got tricked into reading Twilight under the guise of a dystopian novel.

The premise of Possession involves a 1984-ish dystopian future, where everyone is controlled by the government’s “Thinkers”, down to their jobs and who they will marry.

We link to the transmissions, work the jobs we’re told, marry who They match us with. In return, we’re provided with a good life. Or so the Thinkers wanted us to believe.

It’s not immediately clear, but the Thinkers control people with their minds. Violet Schoenfeld is a teenage girl who gets arrested for breaking the law by being alone with her match, Zenn, and meets a rebellious dude named Jag in prison. She and Jag hatch an escape plan together, go on the run, discover they both have secret gifts, and of course, fall in love.

If that sounds relatively gag-inducing, well, it is. I generally love dystopian YA because the books feature themes of rebellion and people fighting against their oppressors. If there happens to be some romance involved, that’s cool. But in Possession, the actual conflict ends up being which boy Violet should choose. She’s not really concerned about what it would mean if she chose Zenn and became a Director and had to control the population of the city. Violet never thinks about what’s best for everyone and whether controlling people is right or wrong, and she only rebels against that system because Jag teaches her about things like sleeveless shirts and kissing and spiked hair, all of which are too fun to turn down. But Violet never considers what duty she has to her family or to the population in general, which in my opinion makes her a pretty lousy hero.

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Review: Blood Red Road

After reading an excerpt of Moira Young’s debut novel a few months ago, I was dying to read the rest of Blood Red Road. The first chapter introduces us to this stark epic landscape that exists sometime in the future, when our civilization is long gone, and yet some people manage to soldier on in the desert wastelands that remain. Among these people is Saba, who lives with her twin brother Lugh, their pa and their little sister Emmi. The family lives in isolation in the middle of the red dustlands, until the day when everything changes. Some mysterious men show up and kidnap Lugh, kill Pa, and leave Saba alone and in charge of Emmi.

Before you start this book, you should probably know that the whole thing is written in dialect. I loved it, because I felt like it helped me get to know Saba very quickly and connect to her on an emotional level. I felt like I could already hear her voice, and it made the story her own. Everything is written in a stream-of-consciousness style, in Saba’s dialect, and without any quotations to indicate someone else speaking. It really worked for me, but I know it drives some people crazy, so consider this your heads up.

Read more about how incredibly awesome Saba is, with minor spoilers, after the jump.

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Darkness Becomes Her

Darkness Becomes Her looks like your run-of-the-mill paranormal romance, right? It’s dark and gothy and you’re pretty sure the heroine is going to be a weepy emo princess. Well, color me surprised when I started reading this and the heroine, Ari, was swearing like a sailor from the first page and clearly did not let anyone fuck with her. This book is smarter than your average paranormal romance.

First, let’s talk about Ari. I fell in love with her from the first page just because of her attitude. Ari is awesome, okay? She grew up being bounced between foster homes and is currently being raised by a couple of bounty hunters, who are teaching her the trade. That means Ari kicks a lot of ass. (Though she’s not a superhero – the fighting is described pretty realistically, with Ari making up for her small stature by outsmarting opponents and kneeing them in the groin a lot.) I was a little skeptical when she described her odd appearance, though. Ari has silver Rapunzel-style hair which can’t be cut or dyed, teal eyes (not blue, TEAL), and a small tattoo of a crescent moon under her eye. That’s like every Mary Sue fanfiction character ever! Luckily, Ari’s personality and tenacity is enough to make up for it.

Oh, God. I’d just killed a man – my fingers flexed on the hilt of the blade – with a goddamn, fucking-ass, miniature sword.

How can you not love that?

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Cryer’s Cross

Cryer’s Cross is a paranormal mystery that takes place in a small rural town. Our protagonist is Kendall, a high school senior who has OCD and commitment issues. She can’t tell her best friend/boyfriend Nico how she feels about him, which she regrets later when he becomes the next victim in a string of disappearing teenagers. And of course, there’s a new kid in town: dark, mysterious, handsome Jacián Obregon, who Kendall inexplicably hates and then even more inexplicably falls for.

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Smells like a bad analogy

I am so sick of the “love interest smells like something totally implausible” trope in books. I’m reading The Unidentified by Rae Mariz — which is pretty good, and which I am enjoying — but sometimes the writing is just clunky and bad.

His shirt smelled like cotton and cinnamon, and something else. Like welded metal or outer space.

Is his shirt made of cotton? How would his shirt ever smell like cinnamon? Did he spill tea on himself? Couldn’t you just say that his breath smelled like cinnamon, or that his shirt smelled like it had just come out of the dryer (which makes sense and calls to mind a smell that all your readers will recognize)? Don’t even get me started on welded metal or outer space, things which mean nothing because the reader could not possibly have any idea what they smell like. Neither could the narrator in this book, for that matter. So why put it in?

He laughed. His laugh sounded like rain clouds clearing.

Really? “He laughed, and I thought of rain clouds clearing” might make sense. I get what the author is going for here: his laugh is like sunshine! Because the narrator loves him! But come on, his laugh does not sound like rain clouds clearing.

I actually like this book, I swear, but every now and then I read a sentence like the ones above (which occurred on the same page) and it’s just so bad that I’m completely distracted from the story.