Cruel Crown by Victoria Aveyard
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Overall Rating: 4/5
Cruel Crown is actually a novella consisting of two short stories that are prequels to the events of Red Queen (my review for which may be found here.) Both stories can also be purchased individually on the kindle as well, and they are under the story names, NOT under the title Cruel Crown.
The short stories are as follows:
Queen Song, Individual Rating: 3.5/5
This short story is about Queen Coriane, Cal’s mother, before she became the queen. Although a Silver from a high house, her house was not as high as others. A chance encounter with the prince of Norta leads him and her to fall in love. Normally, a Queenstrial is held to select the most powerful queen to sit next to the king of the country, but with Coriane, there was no Queenstrial, which enraged many of the potential participants and candidates for queen. Because of this, Coriane has many enemies, eventually leading to her death as revealed in Red Queen.
Steel Scars, Individual Rating: 4.5/5
While I thought Queen Song would be the better story, I was actually surprised at how interesting Steel Scars was. This short story is about Captain Farley and how the Scarlet Guard came to be, how they plan their missions, and how they infiltrate the cities of Norta. The thing that makes this story interesting is her interaction with Shade Barrow, Mare Barrow’s (the protagonist of Red Queen) brother. Farley learns that Shade has an interesting ability to appear and disappear, or move so fast that he seems to vanish. Farley thinks he is a Silver because of this, but when she cuts him, his blood is “as red as the dawn,” leading her to a whole new mission for the Scarlet Guard.
Jinx by Meg Cabot
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
This novel by Meg Cabot is about a girl named Jean, called “Jinx” by everyone, including her family, because of all the bad luck that happens to her. She relocates to New York to live with her cousin’s family due to a stalker issue, which turns out to be a guy she put a spell on. That’s right, Jinx is a witch! But her cousin, Tory, thinks she was the one who was supposed to be the witch. Their great-something grandmother foretold of a great-something granddaughter who would be a witch, but not both of them. Tory has it out for Jinx when the boy she likes, Zach, shows interest in Jinx upon her arrival. Jealousy that Jinx is a witch and Tory isn’t drives Tory to do hateful things to her cousin, inducing a ritual to try and steal Jinx’s powers!
The story itself is okay, but the reason this novel only scored a 3/5 is because of the repetitiveness of the writing and some of the style. There are a lot of long dashes–and don’t get me wrong, long dashes are great–but too many is very distracting. The naivete of the narrator to the feelings of Zach was also rather annoying, because she continues to bring up the same idea over and over again that he couldn’t possibly be interested in her. Too much repetition is just too much!
All in all, I would say it is worth reading the first three chapters or so, and if you aren’t interested by then, then lay it down and move on.
The Devouring by Simon Holt
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal/Light Horror
At first I couldn’t really get into this book and as I was reading, I was going to give it a lower rating, but once you get three or four chapters in, things start to pick up. This book was actually rather interesting, especially because there are not that many horror novels (although this one is somewhat on the lighter side) out there for a young adult audience.
Reggie finds a hand-written journal among the books in the store she works at, and this journal is entitled The Devouring. Reggie reads some of it to her little brother, Henry, who lets the fear of the Vours take him. Vours feed on fear on Sorry Night, and they take over the human body, leaving the soul to drift into a realistic fearscape. Reggie is responsible for her brother’s deVouring and seeks the writer of the journal to find out what happened in the past in order to see if there is some way to kill the Vours.
There are a lot of well-written horrific images in this novel including spiders, drowning, clowns with bloody axes, and decapitation, which is a little more gruesome than most young adult novels go. This is the first book in a series and I would recommend this one for the lovers of paranormal and horror. This book is otherwise not something I would highly recommend.
Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz
Genre: Paranormal Mystery
I originally found out about Odd Thomas through its movie counterpart. I absolutely loved the movie and thought it was the best thing I had seen in quite awhile, and then I found out there was a whole book series.
Unfortunately, the book wasn’t as fantastic as the movie, but it was still good. Odd Thomas is the name of the main point-of-view character who can see ghosts and spirits. Through his associations with the dead, he is able to solve murder mysteries. He can also see things called bodachs, which are spirits drawn to massive death and destruction. By following the bodachs, Odd is able to tell when and where a crime might occur. He also has psychic magnetism, a gift in which Odd can sort of find things without looking; dreams can detail an event that may occur.
While the novel is interesting in terms of story, the writing style, whether it is Koontz or meant to be a quirk of Odd’s, drags and takes the reader out far too often. The imagery isn’t as vivid in the words as a novel of this caliber should be, and the character goes off on tangents about this or that, such as the spirit of Elvis. Odd sees Elvis frequently, and this leads to various tangents that have nothing to do with the dire circumstances at hand. Therefore, I would suggest just watching the movie over the book. It has the same elements, and then you can read the next books in the series, if you are interested (although they have the same dragging elements as the first novel).
Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles
Genre: Young Adult Romance
This book was absolutely fantastic, one of the books that keeps you up all night wanting to finish it (hint: that means you SHOULD read it.)
This is a young adult novel told between the perspectives of Alex and Brittany. Alex, or Alejandro, only knows the gang life of Latino Blood and violence, a life he has chosen in order to protect his family. Brittany is the perfect girl with the perfect boyfriend, but it is a mask to hide her home life: a raging mother and a sister with cerebral palsy that Brittany cares about more than anyone else in the world.
When these two are matched up to be chemistry partners, Alex accepts a bet from a friend in the gang that he can get her to have sex with him before Thanksgiving. His antics toward her turn into actual feelings, and it’s not just about the bet anymore. When Brittany learns of her feelings for him as well, she must find a way to get Alex out of the gang life, or give up on their romance. It is the classic tale of Romeo and Juliet, a character form the north side of town and a character from the south side, their world collapsing because of their love.