Saturday, January 7, 2012

Incarnate by Jodi Meadows

Expected publication: January 31rd 2012

My Rating Scores:
Cover Art Rating: ***** 5 out of 5 stars
Overall Content: *** 3 out of 5 stars

Quoted From GoodReads:

Ana is new. For thousands of years in Range, a million souls have been reincarnated over and over, keeping their memories and experiences from previous lifetimes. When Ana was born, another soul vanished, and no one knows why. 

Even Ana’s own mother thinks she’s a nosoul, an omen of worse things to come, and has kept her away from society. To escape her seclusion and learn whether she’ll be reincarnated, Ana travels to the city of Heart, but its citizens are suspicious and afraid of what her presence means. When dragons and sylph attack the city, is Ana to blame? 

Sam believes Ana’s new soul is good and worthwhile. When he stands up for her, their relationship blooms. But can he love someone who may live only once, and will Ana’s enemies—human and creature alike—let them be together? Ana needs to uncover the mistake that gave her someone else’s life, but will her quest threaten the peace of Heart and destroy the promise of reincarnation for all? 

The book cover art:  Even on my black and white kindle it is gorgeous!

Even without the eye catching cover, I would have picked this one up!  Reincarnation, new souls, Utopian society, mythical creatures and romance-what's not to love??

Well...I'm still trying to figure out of I liked this book or not.  There were things I loved about this book and there were things that just didn't work for me.

What I loved:
The story concept-a new soul born into a society of reincarnated souls. What potential!

The world-centered around the city of Heart, I pictured the city of Oz, only with more of a si-fi feeling.  The heart beat within the walls of the city was strange and mysterious-is the city actually alive?

The fantasy creatures-dragons and syphs are the only ones we "meet" in this book, but there are hints of others within this world.  I can't wait to see what  other creatures reside in this world in the next two books.

The character of Sam-He is the romantic interest of Ana.  He's sweet, talented and caring, yet a bit mysterious.  He sneaks out of the house at night and has conversations with others that we aren't privy to.  Where is he going?  What does he know that he's not sharing?  He doesn't appear to be dangerous, just mysterious, yet safe.  The perfect mix for the romantic lead in a YA series. He also happens to be living in a hot body in this life-lucky Ana!

The Utopian theme- a refreshing change from all of the dystopian books that seem to be popular right now!

The opening scene of the book-The main character is on her way to freedom and a new life-what a perfect place to start.

Now on to the things that I didn't love. (Notice I didn't say "hate or even "dislike".)

Ana-I actually like the character of Ana, but I found her reactions to be inconsistent with her background story. Here's what we know about her: She has spent 18 years in abusive home.  She has no friends. She has had very little contact with the outside world, except what she was read.  The only person she really knows appears to hate her.

As the book opens she is leaving the only home she has ever known and going out into a world full of dangerous creatures in search of the reason for her existence. She sticks her tongue out at her mother, turns and wonders out into the world.

 Huh??  She just described being starved for days for doing her chores wrong, yet she casually wonders away?  Wouldn't you be terrified to leave, yet ecstatic to escape?  How about some feelings distrust that this might be a trick?  Would you really stand there and taunt your abuser?  These inconsistencies continued to haunt me throughout the book.  Ana would vacillate between bold and brave to timid and fragile.  I'm not saying that she couldn't have had those reactions, but the background information I had about her didn't usually support her reactions.

The inconsistencies continued to include the technology that this civilization possessed.  For instance; Sam and Ana go to a library filled with books and journals. They spend time searching for specific volumes and then Sam mentions that all of the books have been digitally archived.  Why didn't they start with the digital versions?  Why did they keep the actual books?  I can think of several explanations, but it is never addressed.

All the residents of Heart carry a gadget called a SED, which is like an advanced smart phone, yet Ana has use a hand drawn map and flashlight to navigate the city.  No GPS?  No street lights?  It just didn't work for me.

 Maybe I was just thinking too much, but I found myself being distracted from the actual story by the things that just didn't seem to fit with what I knew about this world and it's inhabitants.  It really effected my ability to just sit back and enjoy the book.

Looking at the number reviews floating around in cyberspace this book is generating a lot of chatter-both good and bad.  It seems like readers either love it or hate it.    I'm still in the middle of the road, but I'm not ready to give up on the series just yet. The parts I like still outweighed the parts I questioned.  I'm still looking forward to the next book!

Thanks to the author and publisher  and NetGallery for providing me with an  ARC and the opportunity to read and review this book.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Cinder (Lunar Chronicles #1) by Marissa Meyer

Cinder (Lunar Chronicles, #1)

Expected publication: January 3rd 2012 by Feiwel & Friends

My Rating Scores:
Cover Art Rating: ***** 5 out of 5 stars
Overall Content: ****.5  4.5 out of 5 stars

Quoted from GoodReads: Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . . 

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future. 

In this thrilling debut young adult novel, the first of a quartet, Marissa Meyer introduces readers to an unforgettable heroine and a masterfully crafted new world that’s enthralling.

I was so excited to get this ARC in the mail! I loved the book cover, it grabbed my attention right away.  I would have picked this one up in the book store based on the cover alone.   It was perfect reading during the busy holiday season.  Lite and fast read that was thoroughly entertaining. (One of the many reasons I love the YA genre.)

Cinder is based on the Cinderella fairy tale, but with a unique spin.  It's set in a futuristic si-fi type environment in "New Beijing" of all places!(There is not much of an Asian feel to the book and I do wonder about the author's choice of  this setting.)  The strangest part of all is that Cinder is cast as a cyborg. She has some really cool abilities as a result of being a cyborg.  Even one of her feet is mechanical.  That gives the glass slipper part of the fairy tale a whole new set of problems/possibilities.

Cinder has a wonderful "R2D2 type" of android sidekick with loads of personality. It seemed that personality in an android is considered an undesirable trait by this society and the personality of Cinder's android was considered a programming glitch making the android an outcast worthy of Cinder's company.

The defective android is Cinder's only friend until she meets Prince Kai.  That's when the story takes off.  Some of  the plot is predictable, but isn't that what why we love fairy tales in the first place?  This story does have some characters that are cast a bit differently from the original Cinderella tale, so don't expect a  si-fi regurgitation the original story.  The Cinderella tale is just a starting point for the plot.

My only criticism of this book is that New Beijing has many rules, laws and concepts that are presented as fact, but not fully explained to the reader.  The idea that cyborgs are considered  to have less rights than humans seemed to be a law that had a big impact on the plot of the story.  This was just presented as a fact. There is potential for some really  thought provoking situations within this story.  I say potential, because none of them were fully examined in this book. The author, Marissa Meyer, does lay the ground work to do so in the future books. I look forward to seeing if the other books in the series will take advantage of this. Did this affect my enjoyment of the book? No.  I really did have fun reading this story!

Now I have to admit that I peeked at some of the reviews already out there (and there are A LOT of them) before I wrote this review. It seemed to me that some of the reviewers forgot that this is a YA book. Not that YA is a genre to be discounted or considered less valid than any other genre of books. Just meaning that you need to remember the intended audience here.   It seemed like some reviewers were expecting more from this book.  Even though many adults are reading YA, it is still meant for young adults.

 My 15 year old daughter saw this book come in the mail and was begging to read it.  I handed it off to her as soon as I finished reading it.  She loved it and finished it in one day.  It is important to note that my daughter reads, but she has never read a book in one day.  I anticipate that my copy will be passed among all of her friends and coveted by others that are not lucky enough to be her list.  She and her friends ARE the intended audience. I predict that this book (and the others in the series) are going to be considered  a  "Must Read " among this group, and many of us more mature readers as well!

****1/2  ( 4 1/2 out of 5 stars)

Thanks to the author and publisher for providing me with an  ARC and the opportunity to read and review this book.