Saturday, June 19, 2010

My take On: The Dark Divine by Bree Despain (ARC)

  Grace Divine, daughter of the local pastor, always knew something terrible happened the night Daniel Kalbi disappeared—the night she found her brother Jude collapsed on the porch, covered in his own blood—but she has no idea what a truly monstrous secret that night held.
  The memories her family has tried to bury resurface when Daniel returns, three years later, and enrolls in Grace and Jude's high school. Despite promising Jude she'll stay away, Grace cannot deny her attraction to Daniel's shocking artistic abilities, his way of getting her to look at the world from new angles, and the strange, hungry glint in his eyes.
  The closer Grace gets to Daniel, the more she jeopardizes her life, as her actions stir resentment in Jude and drive him to embrace the ancient evil Daniel unleashed that horrific night. Grace must discover the truth behind the boy's dark secret...and the cure that can save the ones she loves. But she may have to lay down the ultimate sacrifice to do it—her soul.

  Firstly, I'd like to thank the Kirks, of Teens Read and Write for hosting that uber spectacular contest in which I won an ARC of the aforementioned novel and a handful of their really cool, personalized bookmarks. Thanks, y'all!
  Secondly, I'd like to apologize for my absence of late and tell y'all that my posts will continue to be as sporadic as they've become due to: A) a general lack of time; B) severe laziness; C) preparing for my becoming a Catechist in the fall at my church (I'll be helping with the 9th grade Confirmation class, wish me luck! A few prayers wouldn't be ill placed either as I'm rather nervous/skeptical about what I can actually contribute to them); and D) I am writing a book! *Hurray!* It's still in the primordial ooze phase, so there's not much to talk about, but I can tell y'all how much I've completed! So far I've got the whole story line and plots worked out and I'm polishing up my main characters and working out a few more points of conflict. This isn't the first book I've attempted to write, but it will be the first one I finish! (I have a tendency to write myself into corners, but this time I'm planning the whole thing out before I even start so that won't happen again! See, I realized while rereading Harry Potter this summer [as is one of my book wormier traditions] that Rowling is a master planner, there's not a single word in that series that doesn't serve a purpose, and while my book is nothing like hers, no magic or anything like that, I decided it wouldn't hurt to take some notes from such a smartly written series. But anyhoo!)
  Why am I on here again? Oh, yeah! My review...

  The up side: Grace was a very capable girl and I loved her interactions with Daniel and trying to figure out the mystery of their pasts (something I'm not very good at), as well as where the real danger lay. It had a lot more mystery than I usually go for, and that kept the pages a'turnin' at a fairly good clip.
  I could go on about how great of a character Daniel was and how moved I was by the story of his past (actually "moved" isn't quite the word, "disturbed" is much more accurate) and how much I loved the dynamic and tension between him, Pastor Divine, and Grace's brother, Jude, but what I really want to talk about is the reference to Of Mice and Men which occurs pretty early on in the book. Grace mentioned how much Don Mooney, a parishioner who once held her father at knife point before being reformed and is always talking about how his ancestors were famous monster hunters, reminded her of the character Lennie Small. Before continuing with TDD, I read OM&M and discovered how very much they were alike. I'm glad Despain pointed out the blatant similarities between Lennie and Don, because they were many. Certain scenes even played out the same way. It was interesting to see her take traits from such a seemingly random character and put them in another story and context.
  Now the down side: While I immensely enjoyed reading The Dark Divine, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I’d read this story before. The actual story as well as the monsterage was fairly original, especially the origin story of said beasty (and I very much liked the origin story), but… well, it was a bit like the structure of a house. Every house in my neighborhood has the same bones as the next one, and while they still look different because the rooms are arranged differently and they’re decorated to the homeowner’s taste, they’re still the same house underneath it all. And I’m beginning to feel that way about a certain branch of YA books. You know the one, a bad boy and a good girl fight monsters/become monsters/befriend monsters/etc. In this way, TDD was very similar to Hush, Hush, Shiver, etc. The build up to the ultimate conflict follows the same course at the same pace and has, more or less, the same conclusion.
  But still I must give The Dark Divine...
...Four zombies.
It was a thrilling ride, despite the predictable turns, and I am looking forward to reading the next book, even though I'm sure I've done so before.

Until next time, happy reading!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Giveaway: Hunger ARC

Eleni of La Femme Reads is giving away an ARC of Hunger by Jackie Morse Kessler, a book I am really looking forward to sinking my teeth into!
The contest is open internationally and ends July 7, 2010.
I really am excited to read this book which takes such an original look at the topic of eating disorders. I mean, making the protagonist, an anorexic teen, into Famine, one of the Four Riders, is pretty briliant.

Anyway, good luck!
Zombie Girrrl

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Guest Post! Titania86's Take On:The Forest of Hands and Teeth

Titania86 of Fishmuffins of Doom has kindly accepted my invitation to do a guest review! Titania is one of my favorite bloggers, her reviews are very insightful. So without further ado, I give you Titania's Take On: The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan.
Mary lives in a post-apocalyptic world, surrounded by the Forest of Hands and Teeth and the horrific Unconsecrated. Everything in her village is controlled by religious zealots called the Sisterhood. Marriage and having children have nothing to do with love and everything to do with continuing the human race. Both of Mary’s parents have become Unconsecrated and her brother will no longer allow her to live in his house. Her only choice is to join the Sisterhood unless a man expresses interest in marrying her. Her dreams are bigger than all of this. She longs to see the ocean her mother told her about, but that no one in her village has ever seen. She has a burning curiosity and a drive to be more than what her village will allow. Will she settle and accept her fate or will she somehow escape?

Carrie Ryan has crafted a completely unique zombie novel. When I think of the zombie apocalypse, I think of the breakdown of society and the government. This book goes past the initial phase with generations of people living with the zombies and creating a new way of life. This setting seems more suited to the medieval era. The oppression of women and the general backwards thinking of the villagers, coupled with religious fundamentalism really angered me. There were so many things that were kept from the villagers by the Sisterhood that I don’t know how they could stand to live like that. Most of the other people there were resigned to their less than satisfying existence in order to survive. The Sisterhood isn’t above leaving people in the forest to be eaten if they make too many waves. Through about the first half of the book, I really wanted to throttle some characters in the book. So many of Mary’s problems could have been solved if she could make her own decisions and decide what she wanted to do with her own life. I’ve read many reviews that complain that Mary is selfish and unlikeable, but I completely disagree. What teenager doesn’t dream of bigger and better things? In her society, it just seems unattainable.

There is no shortage of zombie mayhem in this novel. There are also both slow and fast zombies. The slow zombies are the ones seen in most movies that shuffle about. The fast zombies in the book are a new development, which makes sense because of how long it had been since the initial zombie uprising. Plus, the problems with muscles atrophying are addressed as well. It has always been my complaint with fast moving zombies that there would come a point when the zombie wouldn’t be able to move anymore. These zombies are also unique because of what they represent. In George A. Romero’s movies, they are frequently about the mindless consumerism that is popular in America. These zombies are a symbol for the oppressive social constructs that consume any happiness that Mary and her friends would have had.

I absolutely love The Forest of Hands and Teeth. A zombie fan might find the first half of the book slow, but the second half totally makes up for it. I was engaged for the entire novel, on the edge of my seat for most of it. I would recommend this to any zombie fan.   

My rating: 4.5/5 fishmuffins

Thanks, Titania for stopping by! It's been a pleasure to have you. :)
Happy, reading!

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