ARC Review: Exo by Fonda Lee

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review

It’s been a century of peace since Earth became a colony of an alien race with far reaches into the galaxy. Some die-hard extremists still oppose alien rule on Earth, but Donovan Reyes isn’t one of them. His dad holds the prestigious position of Prime Liaison in the collaborationist government, and Donovan’s high social standing along with his exocel (a remarkable alien technology fused to his body) guarantee him a bright future in the security forces. That is, until a routine patrol goes awry and Donovan’s abducted by the human revolutionary group Sapience, determined to end alien control.

When Sapience realizes whose son Donovan is, they think they’ve found the ultimate bargaining chip . But the Prime Liaison doesn’t negotiate with terrorists, not even for his own son. Left in the hands of terrorists who have more uses for him dead than alive, the fate of Earth rests on Donovan’s survival. Because if Sapience kills him, it could spark another intergalactic war. And Earth didn’t win the last one . . .

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**** Thank you to Scholastic for sending me a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review****

I was on and off with “Exo” a lot because there were many things I enjoyed and a few that I didn’t so I was debating between a 3 star and 3.5 star rating which in the end I decided 3.5 was a good rating since I did actually enjoy myself.

PLOT

“Exo” gets into the action immediately at the start of the book with Donovan and his partner going to capture some rebel humans and Donovan getting kidnapped instead. It really grabs your attention and makes you want to read more, however, that fast pacing does NOT last. The pacing (and my interest) slowed down considerably after Donovan is captured and it all seems really boring and pointless, it took a lot of effort to make it past this point in the plot for me. This actually happened a few times so the pacing overall was very uneven.

I was also left kind of wondering what exactly the main conflict was in this book because as stated in the description Donovan is kidnapped by human revolutionaries but this is actually resolved pretty early in the story. So after that I didn’t really understand what was happening and why. Is there going to be some war between humans and aliens? Aliens versus other aliens? Who knows? I didn’t really like this free floating feeling I had through the plot….

However, I did really like that what conflicts there were in the plot weren’t black or white they were all very much in a grey area. No side is strictly good or evil, they both have their reasons for doing what they do. So I thought that was very interesting and added a lot of complexity to the story.

Also the main reason I rated this book higher than I probably would have is because of the world building, which was absolutely excellent. Fonda Lee does an amazing job of building a very complex world in which humans have been “conquered” by an alien race and now co-exist with them. There’s a caste system, different technologies, and everything from the language to the biology of the aliens is provided. There’s a lot of imaginations and detail put into this world and I very much appreciated it, even though I wanted to learn so much more! Plus there’s no info-dumping!

characters

So we actually get a male POV in this book which I thought was a big plus since it isn’t something we normally see, especially in YA. Just a fun tidbit!

To start off I will say that all of the characters, including, Donovan were pretty flat and reading I felt very distant from them. I didn’t relate and I didn’t really care what happened to any of them because I felt I didn’t actually get to know any of them. That’s not to say I didn’t learn anything about the characters, I did learn quite a bit, I just felt that no one was really developed at all.

Donovan, however, I came to have a certain degree of respect for because he is put through absolute hell in this book but some of the actions he took were stupid and therefore annoying. That’s really all I can say for our main character.

I also found that all of the characters that received any degree of development all had a significant relationship with Donovan, any other secondary characters lacked any development or even “screen time” so to speak. Even the relationships weren’t depicted as being really strong either, they all felt really bland to me such as Donovan and his father and Jet (his BFF).

I especially felt that Donovan’s romantic interest Anya was completely unnecessary because of how underwhelming and underdeveloped it felt. I felt that this was only added for the sake of having some form of romance and I felt like asking “But why?” a lot.

in conclusion

Overall I did like this book even though there were times that I felt very bored and wondered if I would even finish. I think the world building is very unique and I liked the fact that this was alien-scifi because who doesn’t love aliens? I am excited to continue the series and see what happens next even though it hasn’t been confirmed yet that this is a series, with that ending there better be more though!

What I Liked:

  • The world building was amazing, detailed, and imaginative
  • No info-dumping
  • The action parts that were fast paced were awesome
  • No side in the conflict was black or white, everything’s a shade of gray
  • Male POV
  • Aliens!

What I Disliked:

  • Uneven pacing
  • Not much character development
  • Main conflict was confusing and obscure
  • Romance was very underwhelming and unnecessary

RECOMMEND

This is kind of “meh” as far as recommending goes I would say if your a fan of YA science fiction or want to try out a sci-fi book that involves aliens then give this a go! It’s overall a pretty decent read.

Links: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository

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ARC Review: Once Upon A Dream by Liz Braswell

 

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description

What if the sleeping beauty never woke up? Once Upon a Dream marks the second book in a new YA line that reimagines classic Disney stories in surprising new ways.

It should be simple–a dragon defeated, a slumbering maiden, a prince poised to wake her. But when said prince falls asleep as soon as his lips meet the princess’s, it is clear that this fairy tale is far from over.

With a desperate fairy’s last curse infiltrating her mind, Princess Aurora will have to navigate a dangerous and magical landscape deep in the depths of her dreams. Soon she stumbles upon Phillip, a charming prince eager to join her quest. But with Maleficent’s agents following her every move, Aurora struggles to discover who her true allies are, and moreover, who she truly is. Time is running out. Will the sleeping beauty be able to wake herself up?

review

****Thank you to Disney Press and Netgalley for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review****

DNF @ 35%

This was a huge disappointment for me I was very eager to read a twisted retelling of Disney’s Sleeping Beauty and what I got instead was a snoozefest. I usually never DNF books and I feel terrible for having to do it to an ARC but honestly no one should have to force their way through this book.

I should have known better than to attempt reading through this when the first in this series of Twisted Tales got less than stellar reviews from reviewers I trust. Alas, the Disney lover in me could not grasp the idea that a twisted version of a Disney movie could be bad. “Once Upon A Dream” definitely proved me wrong on that.

My main problem with this book was the narrative and writing style it was dull and overly simplistic. There were far too many long descriptions of everything that went on longer than they should have. Dialogue between characters was few and far between and what dialogue there was, was very short and immature.

The plot was excruciatingly slow and boring, there was almost no story to even speak of within the 35% I read. Now if absolutely nothing is happening for 35% of a book then there’s no way I’m finishing it.

Everything about “Once Upon A Dream” (the plot, the characters, and the writing) were one-dimensional and flat. Nothing was developed and nothing was explained. You’re basically expected to have knowledge of Disney’s Sleeping Beauty before starting, which for the most part I’m sure isn’t a problem since why would you be reading a twisted version of it if you haven’t seen it, right? The only problem with that is if you haven’t seen Sleeping Beauty then you’d have zero idea of why or what is going on in this story. Even I was wondering what the heck was happening and why and I’ve seen the movie!

The most disappointing part of this book were the characters. Aurora was such a wasted character, she was way too boring and naive. Not to mention her favorite thing to do was sleep, I mean really? Sleeping is her favorite? Because she’s “Sleeping Beauty”? How original……

Maleficent was not nearly as wickedly evil as she could have been and Prince Phillip was foolish and a little spineless. Any other secondary characters were bland and expendable.

in conclusion

Overall I really liked the general idea of this boo, I mean twisted version of our beloved Disney movies? Come on, who wouldn’t get excited? Alas, it was executed very poorly and feel extremely short. “Once Upon A Dream” is a big disappointment and I won’t be reading any other books in this series unfortunately.

RECOMMEND

Nope, even if you’re a Disney fan I can’t recommend you this book. It doesn’t do Disney’s Sleeping Beauty any sort of justice. In fact, instead of reading this book just go watch the movie, you’re much better off.

Links: Goodreads / Amazon

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ARC Review: The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas

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description

The Darkest Corners is a psychological thriller about the lies little girls tell, and the deadly truths those lies become.

There are ghosts around every corner in Fayette, Pennsylvania. Tessa left when she was nine and has been trying ever since not to think about it after what happened there that last summer. Memories of things so dark will burn themselves into your mind if you let them.

Callie never left. She moved to another house, so she doesn’t have to walk those same halls, but then Callie always was the stronger one. She can handle staring into the faces of her demons—and if she parties hard enough, maybe one day they’ll disappear for good.

Tessa and Callie have never talked about what they saw that night. After the trial, Callie drifted and Tessa moved, and childhood friends just have a way of losing touch.

But ever since she left, Tessa has had questions. Things have never quite added up. And now she has to go back to Fayette—to Wyatt Stokes, sitting on death row; to Lori Cawley, Callie’s dead cousin; and to the one other person who may be hiding the truth.

Only the closer Tessa gets to the truth, the closer she gets to a killer—and this time, it won’t be so easy to run away.

review**** Thank you to Random House Children and Netgalley for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review****

“Every now and then another answer to what happened that night sneaks in from the darkest corners of my mind…”

Wow, this is dark, twisted, and creepy for a YA book but boy did I love every page of it. There’s a lot of depth and maturity to the story it also lacked any of the usual YA tropes, which I was very glad for. It’s a murder mystery and a psychological thriller all rolled into one and Kara Thomas, quite simply, nailed it.

I think that the fact that this is YA makes it all the better, as I said it’s quite dark and it’s really surprising to see such an ominous setting in this genre.

PLOT

“The Darkest Corners” is a character driven book so it does make for some slower reading, the pacing isn’t super fast and there isn’t tons of action happening all the time. This made for a very interesting read for me but also has the potential to bother other readers, so if you like fast pacing and lots of action this may not be for you.

I found the plot to be very intriguing, there were a lot of plot threads you had to pay close attention to and follow and many, many details. I actually really enjoy having a lot of information to keep track of, I feel it engages me more as a reader, but I can also foresee it as being a little overwhelming if not confusing at times as well. Although I do think it made the book more interesting and really added to the creepy atmosphere.

Kara Thomas does a fantastic job of setting the atmosphere, as I said it’s creepy and absolutely gave me the chills. Real monsters are human and you certainly get that feeling in this book, it’s downright eerie. There were moments where I was so scared and freaked out I had to take a break from reading.

The mystery itself is believable as well, there wasn’t anything I rolled my eyes at or said “Oh yeah right!”. The way Tessa and Callie got their information was perfectly practical for a couple of teenagers. I really enjoyed this since most of the time I don’t buy teenagers getting away with so much in books.

There are also many twists and turns in the story-line, you’ll be pointing your finger at someone and by the next chapter you’re thinking it’s someone else entirely. I honestly did NOT see the ending coming at all, Kara Thomas throws in a couple red herrings to distract you from putting the real pieces together. I loved how unpredictable the story ended up being but I was also very satisfied with how it ended as well. Sure there were some things that I would have liked explained or explained a little more, but overall I enjoyed the ending.

Another wonderful thing about this book and why it isn’t your typical YA book: no romance. Now, for me, that’s a big plus. It means there’s less time spent on a (more than likely pointless) romance and more time spent on actually making a great mystery filled with suspense. It also does away with other YA tropes such as: love triangles, insta-love, special snowflakes, and Mary-Sues. Nope, none of that here!

Also the writing was wonderful, I was highlighting quotes left and right. It really helped with setting that creepy atmosphere I mentioned earlier. Usually if I’m taking the time to pause my reading and highlight quotes, I KNOW that it’s damn good writing. I’ve plucked a couple new favorite quotes from “The Darkest Corners”.

“There are worse things in this world than monsters, and somehow, they always manage to find me.”

characters

Like I said earlier, this is a character driven book. It’s ALL about the characters, without them this book wouldn’t be nearly as chilling or thrilling (hey I made a rhyme!). We get deep into the minds and relationships of these characters, you can’t quite believe anything they say or do, but being there in their heads is what drives this book forward. There’s a lot of insight gained into the plot by the intensity of the characters.

I really loved Tessa’s character, she was pretty down-to-earth and relatable and a little pessimistic. I just really enjoyed being inside her head-space, she was a believable character. She matures quite a bit throughout the book and it was really fun to see how her perspectives on people and depending on others change.

Callie, on the other hand, was a little different but she does show a lot of growth in the story. She starts out being pretty rude and distant from her former best friend, Tessa, but as the story progresses they regain and strengthen their friendship. I really loved the whole girl-power/friendship dynamic in this book.

There are a slew of other secondary characters but none are as important as Tessa and Callie, honestly the story could have done with a few more prominent characters but it was also fine without them.

in conclusion

I loved how dark and twisted the story became and how much attention to detail there was. I was definitely never bored and am very impressed with the mystery itself as well as the writing. Needless to say I just overall loved this book and am very thankful I got the opportunity to read it!

RECOMMEND

Definitely, I would go out and buy friends and family a copy of this book and force it upon them. That’s how much I recommend reading this bad boy.

I’d also like to say that it would probably be an enjoyable read for any fans of Gillian Flynn, while it may not be as dark and twisted as Flynn’s books, it is definitely comparable considering that “The Darkest Corners” is YA and therefore aimed at younger ages and not as graphic.

Links: Goodreads / Amazon

The Sassy