09 November 2012

Review: Through To You

Through To You by Emily Hainsworth
Publication date: October 2, 2012
Publisher: Balzer + Bray

THROUGH TO YOU is a fascinating concept and I am all for a different kind of story and setting, especially in a YA novel. But (There's a but?), the main character kind of ruined it for me.

I didn't like Camden. I'm fine with teen angst, I understand his reasons for emoting, but not when it takes up the entire book and he doesn't change. Also, he doesn't seem like the brightest crayon in the box. Half the time, I wanted to smack him upside his head. It took him forever to figure out things that were happening. A book is not fun for me if I've figured something out chapters before a character and then have to read along as he comes to the incorrect conclusions, even when it was just explained to him. Yes, denial plays a big part in this, but I felt like it was there as a plot device that eventually became annoying. I just couldn't connect with him.

I also couldn't feel the connection that Camden had to Viv. About nine-five percent of the time, when Camden remembered Viv, it was about her body or a moment where they made-out, or a place or thing that reminded him when they made-out. It felt more like obsession and lust than actual romance. At one point, I thought maaaaybe that was the author's intention, but I still don't know. And even if that was the author's intention, why would I want to root for the protagonist, or feel pity for him, if it's not about love? Isn't that the point? It doesn't make sense, which is why I felt, and still feel, really stupid; like I translated his feelings incorrectly. I usually consider myself extremely empathetic (I cried during the movie Elf!!), but I just didn't connect. Who knows, maybe I was right the whole time. I don't know.

In spite of the disconnect I felt with Camden and his relationships, the book still had me reading until I got to the end. I may have guessed a lot of the twists, but I couldn't really predict some of the choices that would be made. Also, I really was fascinated by the idea of parallel worlds and enjoyed the author's interpretation of them (I'm kind of a quantum physics geek.).

On a side note: Cam's best friend, Mike. What a freaking amazing friend.

05 November 2012

Review: Draw the Dark

Draw the Dark by Ilsa J. Bick
Publication date: October 1, 2010
Publisher: Carolrhoda Books

There are things in Winter, Wisconsin, folks just don't talk about. The murder way back in '45 is one. The near-suicide of a first-grade teacher is another. And then there is 17-year old Christian Cage. Christian's parents disappeared when he was a little boy, and ever since he's drawn and painted obsessively, trying desperately to remember his mother. The problem is Christian doesn't just draw his own memories. He can draw the thoughts of those around him. Confronted with fears and nightmares they'd rather avoid, people have a bad habit of dying. So it's no surprise that Christian isn't exactly popular. What no one expects is for Christian to meet Winter's last surviving Jew and uncover one more thing best forgotten the day the Nazi's came to town. Based on a little-known fact of the United States' involvement in World War II, Draw the Dark is a dark fantasy about reclaiming the forgotten past and the redeeming power of love.

I love the ASHES trilogy, so I was expecting to love DRAW THE DARK, but I ended up being a little disappointed (Not too much, though.).

This is a “Bick” book, so don't expect rainbows and pony rides. Like ASHES, DRAW THE DARK takes place in a pretty dark environment: a murder mystery, deaths, blood, Nazis, intense bullying that borderlines on evil. Okay, it's not borderline. It's evil. Christian has the power to draw people's nightmares for crying out loud. I, for one, always enjoy a setting of a small town where everyone knows everyone's business and townspeople keep secrets secretive. Christian, the outcast of the town, due to a suicide he was blamed for as a child (and some other accidents), finds himself in the middle of an old murder case. It has apparently been solved and no one wants to talk about it. Through Christian's “special skill” he discovers clues piece by piece that tell him the murder is anything but a closed case. Now here is the only big issue I had with the book: when an information “bomb” would be dropped, I already knew what the information was before the characters discovered it. I'm not saying these discoveries were predictable in the sense of “Pssh, I figured that out pages ago.” The problem was that I was surprised, most of the time, that the big reveal was an actual big reveal. It was more like, when there was a reveal, I thought to myself, “Oh. I thought we already knew that.” It left me scratching my head because I knew those moments were supposed to make me gasp or raise my eyebrows in surprise, but I assumed the reader would already know this info from signs or previous conversations between characters. I wish I could give examples, but I like to keep my reviews spoiler free and that's the best way to enjoy this book. I just hope what I explained makes sense...

Other than that, I enjoyed the story and the characters. Christian is a good example of how to write teen angst and not over do it. He is also a very complex principal which adds something extra to the story. The secondary characters weren't so bad themselves; I found each of them just as interesting. Along with the main mystery, I liked the added mystery involving the sideways place and sometimes found myself wanting to learn more about it at the times when, well, we weren't.

It's a quick read with plenty of surprising moments (yes, I could be surprised!). If you're looking for a good, dark and grisly mystery, check this one out!