Did Not Finish, Paranormal

Did Not Finish: The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

THE DREAM THIEVES by Maggie Stiefvater, reviewed at JalynEly.com
Image from Maggie Stiefvater

Title: The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2)

Author: Maggie Stiefvater

Genre: Paranormal

Ronan Lynch has secrets. Some he keeps from others. Some he keeps from himself. One secret: Ronan can bring things out of his dreams. And sometimes he’s not the only one who wants those things.

Ronan is one of the raven boys – a group of friends, practically brothers, searching for a dead king named Glendower, who they think is hidden somewhere in the hills by their elite private school. The path to Glendower has long lived as an undercurrent beneath town. But now, like Ronan’s secrets, it is beginning to rise to the surface – changing everything in its wake.

Read to: Page 362 (chapter 51)

Reason for stopping: Lost interest

Review:

This may be the most abrupt turnaround in my opinion in reading history. If you remember (and if you don’t, click here), I loved the first book, The Raven Boys. So much that I went so far to call it my favorite book – and I don’t have favorite books.

It’s really strange – while I was reading The Dream Thieves, I was interested in the story. But at one point, I put it down and then realized I wasn’t super thrilled about picking it back up again. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy the story, but it wasn’t begging me to read on. And if I hadn’t recently decided to make some changes to my reading habits, I probably would have finished it.

But anyway.

Ronan, I think, was the main character. I really enjoyed him in The Raven Boys, where he was important, but not majorly important, if that makes sense. He’s a dark, broken guy fighting a lot of demons (sometimes more literally than others). But I think he made a better slightly-less-main character. As the main character, his inner darkness was a little too much for me.

One of the hopes I had for this book was that Blue would get to be a more important character. But that really hadn’t happened by the time I put The Dream Thieves down. It still felt like her main purpose of the story was to add a threat to Gainsey’s life (if she kisses her true love, he’ll die) and to give the raven boys a connection to her psychic family.

Gainsey was my absolute favorite character last book. He was the quirkiest character, and probably not exactly sane, but he had a deep love for his friends and I loved him. I still loved him in The Dream Thieves, but he didn’t get as much page time as he did last book, and that disappointed me.

I liked Adam last book, but he got on my nerves this time around. He was bitter, angry, far too proud, and did something hugely important at the end of The Raven Boys that was messing up his head (I don’t even remember what, which kind of hampered my understanding of some parts). Sometimes he seemed so “woe is me” that I just wanted to scream at him, “get over yourself! You have friends who would be there for you if you opened your eyes and saw that!”

Yeah, plot … it’s actually really similar to The Raven Boys. All these characters want to find Glendower – and this time, somebody is opposing them for unknown reasons. But the characters themselves and their interactions with each other were the main plot. This is exactly what I loved about The Raven Boys, but since I didn’t love the characters as much in The Dream Thieves, it didn’t work as well.

I had two main problems with this book. One was language – Ronan swears a lot. This fits his character really well, but as a matter of personal opinion, I don’t like swearing. The other issue was with Blue’s psychic family. I’m all for psychic powers, but Blue’s family uses tarot cards, scrying pools, and other occult-ish feeling rituals and habits.

This is one of those weird sort of books to review.  It’s not like I hated it, or even that it didn’t hold my interest. It just wasn’t fascinating. And I think a lot of the reason I didn’t like it is I’ve changed. If I’d have read it in quick succession with The Raven Boys, I would probably be singing its praises right now.

So if you loved The Raven Boys, I’m sure you’ll love this one just as much. It just wasn’t the book for me.

The Raven Cycle:

  1. The Raven Boys
  2. The Dream Thieves
  3. Blue Lily, Lily Blue (October 21, 2014)
  4. Untitled (2015)

Report Card

For more on my grading system, click here.

THE DREAM THIEVES scored a 2.9 (C)

Did Not Finish, Science Fiction

Did Not Finish: The Game by Terry Schott

THE GAME
Image from Terry Schott

Title: The Game (The Game is Life #1)

Author: Terry Schott

Genre: Science Fiction

What if life as we know it was just a game? What if, instead of traditional schools, children learned by participating in a virtual reality simulation, one that allowed them to experience “life” from birth to death – multiple times? What if one player, on his final play, could change the world forever…?

Read to: Page 58 (chapter 13)

Reason for stopping: Portraying religious people as stupid for worshiping “god,” which is actually just a computer mainframe (in the book, Earth is a virtual reality controlled by a mainframe).

Review:

I picked up this book on concept – living multiple lives through virtual reality instead of going to school. I thought it sounded pretty darn awesome, and I was super excited to read it.

The first two or three chapters were a little bogged down in backstory, half of which I don’t think was necessary. But the chapters are really short, and it soon moved on. And I was absorbed.

Zack was the main character. He’s a prodigy in the Game, one of the highest-ranked players out there, and he’s about to take some huge risks on his last time playing, and he’ll either lose it all or graduate at number one. And to make things even more complicated, his ex-girlfrend who failed out of the game a while ago – and now pretty much hates him – gets to go back in.

So why did I stop reading when this was shaping up to be such a good story? Because by page 53, the very clear message was “there is no God.”

The Game‘s concept was kind of a Matrix-like thing – Earth is a virtual reality that kids plug into to learn stuff. Religion on Earth was explained as players recognizing the influence of the mainframe, and in Tygon, the real world, “intelligent people had agreed that no such creature [God] existed.” That’s a direct quote from page 52.

I flipped ahead a bit, and a lot of the plot hinges on the mainframe “god” influencing Zack and his girlfriend’s time in the Game. While the story was shaping up to be great, plot-wise, I think The Game‘s handling of religion makes it not worth finishing.

The Game is Life series:

  1. The Game
  2. Digital Heretic
  3. Interlude-Brandon
  4. Virtual Prophet

Report Card

For more on my grading system, please see this page.

I did not finish THE GAME, which scored a 3.4 (B)

Did Not Finish, Fiction, Romance, Young Adult

Review: Blaze by Laurie Crompton

Blaze book cover
Image from Laurie Boyle Crompton

Title: Blaze, or Love in the Time of Supervillains

Author: Laurie Boyle Crompton

Genre: Romance

Blaze is tired of spending her life on the sidelines. All she wants is for Mark the Soccer Stud to notice her. Not as Josh’s weird sister who drives a turd-brown minivan. And not as that nerdy girl who draws comics. What she gets is her very own arch-nemesis. Mark may have humiliated Blaze supervillian-style, but what he doesn’t know is geek girls always get revenge.

I seem to be reading a lot of what-possessed-me-to-pick-this-up books lately. I’m pretty sure I picked this one up on originality alone. A romance gone bad, the hurt girl gets revenge, and comic books? Sounds pretty good.

Unfortunately, I didn’t even finish it.

Blaze was okay. Her moral standards were a little lax, which was my biggest problem with her. Other than that, though, she was responsible and kinda lonely and generally a good character.

Besides being incredibly handsome, Mark (Blaze’s love interest) was a mystery – and not in a good way. He felt very underdeveloped. And besides the fact that he was handsome, I don’t know why Blaze liked him so much (of course, that could have been the only reason).

What really made me put the book down was the plot. The back cover promised me a romance gone wrong and revenge. By the 100-page mark, Blaze and Mark had kissed for the first time. The romance part was just starting, and honestly, I was bored. The first 100 pages was Blaze pining after Mark, and that frustrated me. If it took 100 pages for the plot on the back cover to start, there was no way I’d suffer through this to get to the revenge.

I’m honestly not sure how much of this was me and how much was the book. I’m not a huge romance fan, which might have had something to do with it. Who knows, maybe you’ll like it more than me. But I am not a fan.

Adult, Did Not Finish, Fiction, Historical

The Walking Drum

The Walking Drum book cover
Image from Shonari

Title: The Walking Drum

Author: Louis L’Amour

Genre: Historical

Warrior, lover, and scholar, Mathurin Kerbouchard is a daring seeker of knowledge and fortune bound on a journey of enormous challenge, danger and revenge. Across Europe, the Russian steppes and through the Byzantine wonder of Constantinople, gateway to Asia, Kerbouchard is thrust into the heart of the treacheries, passions, violence and dazzling wonders of a magnificent time. From castle to slave gallery, from sword-racked battlefields to a princess’s secret chamber, and ultimately, to the impregnable fortress of the Valley of Assassins, Kerbouchard is on a powerful adventure through an ancient world.

I had not planned on reading this book. Louis L’Amour writes westerns, after all. But my dad told me that The Walking Drum wasn’t a western, and he liked it. My father and I have similar tastes in some books, so I decided to give it a try.

Unfortunately, I didn’t end up finishing it.

Mathurin Kerbouchard wasn’t exactly a bad main character. He was brave and daring and chivalrous, and loved to learn. My main problem with him was his problem with women.

It seemed that every five chapters or so, Kerbouchard fell “in love” with a new woman. They were together for a few chapters. Then they separated for one reason or another. Next thing I know, he’s come across another woman.

And for the most part, it seemed his romances were the main plot. Sure, I knew he wanted to find his father and get revenge on the guy who killed his mother. But he got his revenge before the halfway point, and at page 250, where I gave up, his quest for his father had just started in earnest. Page 250 was just over halfway through the book.

One thing I did like was the historical details. For the most part, they were worked into the story so it didn’t feel like the author was mentioning facts for the sake of mentioning facts. And they were actually interesting. I’d never really thought about this time period – I believe it was second-century Europe – before.

But overall, The Walking Drum was a super-long book with hardly any plot. I am not a fan.

Adult, Did Not Finish, Fiction, Suspense/Thriller

House

House book cover
Image from The Random Reads of a Brown Girl

Title: House

Author: Ted Dekker and Frank Peretti

Genre: Thriller

When a strange accident leaves Jack and Stephanie stranded on a back road in Alabama, they seek shelter in the eerie Wayside Inn.  Also at the Wayside Inn are Stewart and Betty and their son, Pete, who run the place, and Randy and Leslie, victims of a similar accident and also stranded.  The four of them are victims of some backwoods pranksters, but they’re safe.  Or so they think.  They are in the middle of a killer’s game, and it becomes dreadfully clear when a tin can is tossed in with rules scratched on it.  Rule number two: He will kill everyone who comes to his house.  Rule number three: One dead body might persuade him to let rule number two slide.  One house, seven players, three rules.  Game ends at dawn.

This is one of those books I had the intention of picking up…sometime.  I’d enjoyed Frank Peretti’s Veritas Project books, and also Ted Dekker’s Skin and Blink, so I figured a book by them together would be good.  I finally ended up reading it when my mom wanted to know if she would like it.

And I didn’t even end up finishing House.

My absolute one and only problem was with the characters.  I hated them all.  Randy was a reckless hothead.  Leslie was a wimp.  Stephanie was a selfish brat.  Jack couldn’t take responsibility for his actions.  And the other three were certifiably insane.  Jack was the only character I even mildly didn’t mind, but I didn’t like him enough to finish the book.

House‘s main bad guy, I guess you would call him, was a very Dekker-esque psycho with delusions that he killed God, and he can kill anyone else who comes to this house.  The house itself was disturbing and had a mind of its own, and would rearrange itself to prevent escape.  The whole story had a creepy atmosphere – in my opinion, it’s more horror than anything.  Which automatically makes it something that I’m not going to be a huge fan of.

Honestly, even though I’m not a huge fan of horror and psychos aren’t really up my alley, but the house itself would have been enough to keep me reading – if I had liked any of the characters.  But, like I mentioned before, there wasn’t a one of them I wanted to spend a whole book with, let alone a book whose plot isn’t exactly the kind of thing I go for.

My main problem with House was me, not the book.  It strikes me as something that people who like horror/thriller books would enjoy.  It just wasn’t my thing.

Did Not Finish, Fiction, Paranormal, Young Adult

Shiver

Shiver book cover
Image from Other Worlds

Title:  Shiver (The Wolves of Mercy Falls #1)

Author:  Maggie Stiefvater

Genre:  Paranormal

Grace has spent years watching the wolves in the woods behind her house.  One yellow-eyed wolf – her wolf – watches back.  Sam has lived two lives.  As a wolf, he keeps the silent company of the girl he loves.  And then, for a short time each year, he is human, never daring to talk to Grace…until now.  For Grace and Sam, love has always been kept at a distance, but once spoken, it cannot be denied.  Sam must fight to stay human – and Grace must fight to keep him – even if it means taking on the scars of the past, the fragility of the present, and the impossibility of the future.

I had not planned on reading this book, because of both the romance plot (I don’t mind romance, but I rarely like a straight romance book) and the fact that werewolves are second only to vampires on my list of least favorite paranormal creature.

But after the awesomeness that was The Raven Boys proved that the fantastic The Scorpio Races wasn’t just a fluke, I decided I’d be up for trying something else by Maggie Stiefvater.

Unfortunately, it was exactly what I was afraid it would be.  I gave it a hundred pages, and then I gave up.

There were some interesting takes on werewolves, sure.  I liked the unique idea that the change from werewolf to human is affected by temperature, not the full moon.  But Sam the werewolf himself was pretty bland.  I expected him to have some sort of personality quirk or something, what with him being a wolf most of the year, but he didn’t.  In fact, he didn’t have much of a personality at all.

Grace was a pretty “vanilla” character, too – not really unique, not really interesting.  At the beginning, what came across most was that she was obsessed with wolves, and by the hundred-page mark, she was…obsessed with wolves.  Sam seemed to think she had a personality, but try as I might, I couldn’t find one.

Overall, though, my major problem with Shiver was the insta-love.  Grace knows Sam only as “her” yellow-eyed wolf, and Sam has never talked to her before, then they finally meet and all the sudden they’re kissing and sharing the same bed (no sex, thankfully) and completely and totally in love.  Even if I get over how boring they are as characters, I still find it completely impossible that they’re so in love after meeting for the first time (with Sam as a human) earlier that day.

I really, really wanted to like this book.  Everything else I’ve read by Maggie Stiefvater was amazing.  But as much as I wanted to enjoy Shiver, I couldn’t.  With bland characters falling in love way too fast, and no major conflict in the first hundred pages, I couldn’t make myself care.

I’m sure there’s somebody out there who loves not only Shiver, but the next two books in the series (Linger and Forever).  Unfortunately, Shiver just didn’t cut it for me.

Did Not Finish, Science Fantasy

The Merman and the Moon Forgotten

The Merman and the Moon Forgotten book cover
Image from fantasysink. blogspot.com

Title:  The Merman and the Moon Forgotten (Nikolas and Company #1)

Author:  Kevin McGill

Genre:  Fantasy

Yeri Willrow thought he was performing a simple stagecoach drive and drop, until he’s attacked by horrid red-eyed creatures.  He soon learns that his passengers are a family of merfolk, and he is their only hope.  Nick hates the overpopulation and rampant consumerism of his world.  Then he starts hearing voices, and his grandfather tells him that the Moon is not just a satellite – it’s a whole magical world.

If the synopsis sounds a little disjointed, well…it fits the book.  I was going to give The Merman and the Moon Forgotten the hundred-page rule, but it’s only 170 pages.  So I gave it 75.  And then I gave up.

The story opened with Yeri driving a stagecoach chased by those red-eyed creatures.  I had three impressions from this scene – one, that Yeri was a placeholder character to follow until we found the main ones, two, that the red-eyed creatures were a common threat along that certain part of the road, and three, that this took place in some sort of fantasy world.

Then, we all the sudden jump to Nick, who I’m assuming lived in futuristic Earth.  He’s working on an invention to go back to the moon, and a bunch of details about the world are thrown around in a “hey, you already know this” kind of way.

And then we jump back to Yeri and some merpeople, and they need help with something (couldn’t quite figure out what) so they ask Yeri to take a message of some sort to someone.  And a bunch of terms are thrown around in a “hey, you already know this” kind of way.

And then it’s back to Nick, who destroyed his dad’s car (maybe?) and there’s something about a virus and his parents want to sedate him or something…

And that’s when I gave up, completely baffled as to what was going on. I wasn’t sure what the problem was, or which characters were important, or why I should care.

The basic idea that I gathered from the back cover – a lost magical world on the moon – sounded interesting. But the book was so confusing, I lost track of what was supposed to be going on. Overall, not worth the read.

I received a free copy of The Merman and the Moon Forgotten from the author. His generosity in no way influenced, or sought to influence, this review.

Did Not Finish, Science Fiction

Turnabout

I’ve been reading so many books lately, my regular Tuesday-Thursday-Friday schedule isn’t cutting it.  So I’ve decided to add Wednesday reviews to the regular mix.  Enjoy!

Turnabout book cover
Image from haddixbooks.com

Title:  Turnabout

Author:  Margaret Peterson Haddix

Genre:  Science Fiction

Melly and Anny Beth had reached the peak of old age and were ready to die.  But when they are offered the chance to be young again by participating in the top-secret Project Turnabout, they agreed.  The experiment worked, and Melly and Anny Beth actually began growing younger every year.  But when they learned the final treatment would be deadly, they ran for their lives.  Eighty-five years later, they’re teenagers again.  They have no idea what will happen when they reach age zero, but they do know they need to find someone to take care of them when they become too young to take care of themselves.

I’ve read quite a few Margaret Peterson Haddix books, and enjoyed them.  So when I found this at a secondhand store, I bought it.

And, unfortunately, I didn’t even end up finishing it.

Melly was the main character, but she didn’t really have much of a personality.  I didn’t know anything about her, her likes or dislikes, or anything.  Anny Beth I liked more, if only because of her cantankerous side.  She had more of a personality than Melly, but it still wasn’t much.  Her witty wisecracks were about the only thing that differentiated her personality from Melly’s.

I think the characters are the main reason I didn’t want to finish the book.  They were bland and unremarkable.  I can’t even think of one of Melly’s personality traits, and I can only think of one for Anny Beth.  By the time I hit the hundred-page mark, I found all the characters thoroughly boring.

My second problem with the book was the way it jumped around.  It opens with Melly as an old person, agreeing to be part of Project Turnabout.  Then the next chapter is Melly and Anny Beth as teenagers.  Then it jumps back to elderly Melly.  And since the chapters were labeled with dates, instead of “Chapter Whatever,” I was almost always a little disoriented and trying to remember what happened last time I switched away from the other plot.

The premise was interesting – aging in reverse.  And I think, when I stopped reading, there might have been an element of danger somewhere.  But in the beginning, there wasn’t any danger at all, and the characters were completely bland.

I think this could have been good if the stakes were ramped up in the beginning and the two main characters had more interesting personalities.  But as it is, it couldn’t hold me past a hundred pages.

Did Not Finish, Fantasy, Fiction, Middle Grade

Keeper of the Lost Cities

Keeper of the Lost Cities book cover
Image from bookden.blogspot.com

Title:  Keeper of the Lost Cities

Author:  Shannon Messenger

Genre:  Fantasy

Sophie Foster can hear the thoughts of everyone around her – an unexplained talent that she hides from everyone.  Then she meets Fitz, a mysterious boy who also reads minds.  Suddenly, Sophie is forced to leave behind her old life and come “home” to live with other people like her.  But there are secrets buried deep in Sophie’s memory…secrets others would kill for…

Besides the amazing cover, I picked this book up because of the premise of telepathy.  Unfortunately, I only made it to page 141 before realizing that I didn’t care a bit about what happened next.

When I started the book, the only thing that kept me reading was the question, “why can Sophie read minds?”  I didn’t know Sophie well enough to care about her.  By page 17, I still didn’t know Sophie well enough to care – but my question had been answered, and no more were raised.

I would have stopped reading right there, but I figured page 17 was too early, and I decided to give it the hundred-page rule.  But when I finally put it down for the night, I felt no desire to pick it up again.

Sophie and Fitz were, really, good characters.  Sophie, even though she was scared and confused, was still brave, and very capable of getting frustrated when people wouldn’t tell her anything.  Fitz, though slightly mysterious, was more like an awesome big brother than anything.

I think in any other plot, I would have enjoyed Sophie and Fitz immensely.  But I’m not even sure there was much of a plot in this book.  Once the original telepathy question was answered, there were no more questions (no danger either, for that matter) to make me want to keep reading.

Overall, the characters were good, but the plot was terrible.  I’m glad this was a library book.

Did Not Finish, Fiction, Steampunk, Young Adult

Boneshaker

Image from Chamber Four

Title:  Boneshaker (Clockwork Century #1)

Author:  Cherie Priest

Genre:  Steampunk

In the early days of the Civil War, stories of gold in the Klondike brought hordes of newcomers to the Pacific Northwest.  Anxious to find the gold, Russian prospectors commissioned inventor Leviticus Blue to create a machine that could mine through ice.  On its first test run, the machine went awry, unearthing a vein of blight gas under downtown Seattle.  The gas turned anyone who breathed it into the living dead.  A wall was erected around the toxic part of the city.  Blue’s widow, Briar Wilkes, lives outside the wall with her son Ezekiel (Zeke).  Life is hard, but Briar can manage – until Zeke goes under the wall in an attempt to rewrite history.

This is one of the few books I didn’t finish.  I gave it a hundred pages to make me want to keep reading, and it didn’t.  I hate it when I get all excited about reading a book and it turns out to be not very good.

I picked it up on the premise of zombies, looking forward to reading a good adventure.  What I got was a slow story about an crazy boy who goes into the heart of zombieland to prove that the zombies aren’t his father’s fault.  And to make it worse, his mom is trying to save him.

What kind of zombie adventure story has the hero’s mommy come after him?

The characters I didn’t really have a problem with, although I do think Zeke was a little too impulsive.  My problem was with the plot.  Boy goes into an area teeming with zombies to prove that his dad (who caused the zombie problem in the first place) is innocent, and his mom has to go save him?  Come on.  What kind of adventure story is that?  Who wants the main character’s mom to save him?

The plot could have been much improved if Briar had stayed home and not played such a big part in the story.  If it had focused on Zeke, I might have actually cared how it ended.

I’ve seen some blogs rave about this story, about how it explores the bond between a mother and son and all that.  I didn’t really see that.  But then, I was focusing on how disappointed I was that it wasn’t a zombie-action-adventure story.