Monday, January 31, 2011

Red Riding Hood by Sarah Blakley-Cartwright

The body of a young girl is discovered in a field of wheat. Her flesh mutilated by telltale claw marks. The Wolf has broken the peace.

When Valerie learns that her sister has been killed by the legendary creature, she finds herself at the center of a dark mystery, one that has plagued her village for generations. It is revealed that the werewolf lives among them, and everyone in the village immediately becomes a suspect. Could her secret love Peter be behind the attacks on her town? Is it her betrothed, Henry? Or someone even closer to her?

As the men in the village hunt for the beast, Valerie turns to her grandmother for help. She gives Valerie a handmade red riding cloak, and guides her through the web of lies and deception that has held her town together for so long. Will Valerie discover the werewolf's identity before the town is ripped apart?

This is a dangerous new vision of a classic fairy tale, the happy ending could be hard to find.

"A revelation struck Valerie as she stood alone looking up at the spire of the church. Those eyes, the second pair of eyes the Wof had revealed to her.
They had been familiar."

Word to the Wise: Before you read this review, or better yet, consider purchasing this book, I feel it right to give you all the warning I received before reading this. This novel has no final chapter; in fact, the mystery this novel revolves around is not resolved at all. Upon reaching the end of this book, readers are informed that the final chapter will be posted on on March 11 (which I think coincides with the actual film release) Either way, I felt you should know this, because most people who read this novel without knowing that fact were thoroughly disappointed/frustrated. In my personal opinion (since I already knew) there was no actual let down for me, and I rather like the fact that readers are left pondering for a little bit, prolonging the reading experience.

Okay, so onto the review. Let me first start by saying that I’ve been dying to see this movie. I think it was around summer that I read an announcement on this movie being made and I just loved the idea. And to top it off, I love Amanda Seyfried so that just sold me on going to see the movie when it hits theaters. Anyway, I didn’t know a book had been made on the premise of the movie (you heard right, the movie came before the book) until a friend of mine on Goodreads reviewed an ARC of it. So, ignoring the fact I would have to wait more than a month to fully finish the book, I purchased it the week it debuted on Kindle. Contrary to many negative reviews I’ve read, the novel was actually really good.

Though the characters presented in the novel and the storyline seem to land it in the young adult genre, I would have to say that the book is better suited for a much older young adult crowd. Some of the elements this book covers (such as the fighting and torture scenes) are a bit hard to stomach and I personally think the story would have too slow of a pace for some of the younger generations. Needless to say this is the kind of book you have to stick with before actually getting into the flow of the story. The book is divided into three parts and it starts out rather slow, picking up around half way into the second part. Even so, there’s something magical and enthralling about the way Sarah Black-Cartwright went about writing this book. Her descriptions were great (giving the reader vivid pictures of her story) and her almost lyrical way of writing the novel fit right in with this darker take on the classic Little Red Riding Hood. Some people were also bothered with Cartwright change of POV to many other characters, and though I would have liked her to only tell the story in Valerie’s POV, it isn’t something so bothersome to read.

Her characters were also nice. Valerie was literally the odd girl out. Not just her physical appearance sets her apart from the other villagers but her outlook on life and her unyielding determination put her at odds with a lot people. To me the only thing that I didn’t like about Valerie was her sudden love and devotion for her childhood friend Peter. Peter and Valerie had been best friends when they were kids but due to some circumstances (which are only hinted at but never revealed during the actual novel) he and his father are kicked out of the village. It isn’t until 10 years later, during her first harvest working, that Valerie sees Peter when he comes with other workers to help out. Upon seeing Peter, Valerie’s instantly knows she is in love with Peter and apparently Peter also shares the sentiment. To me it seemed absurd, they hadn’t seen each other in 10 years less had they even had a decent conversation, and already Peter wanted her to come away with him. The romance was weird. To me the author jumped to many steps in the development of this relationship and the feeling both Peter and Valerie had for one another seemed almost unatural since I couldn't comprehend were such strong feelings had developed all of a sudden.

But well, the rest of the characters were nice. I really like Grandmother, though her eclecticness and way of acting was suspicious. I also pitied Henry Lazar (Valerie’s supposed fiancĂ©e) at times, because really there was nothing truly wrong with him and yet Valerie didn’t give him the time of day. Still, where I felt Cartwright fell flat were with here secondary characters. I swear, there were times were I couldn’t tell the difference between Rose, Prudence, Roxanne and the people Father Solomon brought with him. Rather than adding to the story, the characters cluttered the scenes.

The Wolf was another interesting dilemma. The town has always been able to appease the Wolf with an animal sacrifice, but during a blood moon, the Wolf starts killing people. Apparently the Wolf is a shifter and Father Solomon (the werewolf hunter the local priests calls in) reasons he must be someone in the town. This theory is further proven when Valerie realizes the Wolf has a pair of eyes she is very much familiar with. This means that the Wolf is who is very close to Valerie, but then again in a village that small, who isn’t familiar. Not only that, the Wolf is obsessed with Valerie and will stop at nothing to have her. The good thing is that Cartwright keeps you guessing the entire time. You go from being completely sure the Wolf is such and so, to suddenly changing your guess when another detail is revealed. Either way, it will be interesting to see who the actual Wolf is in the end.

SPOILER it’s obvious that top two suspects are Grandmother and Peter, especially considering Valerie firmly believes Peter is the Wolf, but I’m not so sure. To me Peter too obvious of a choice. My bet is on Henry or on Grandmother (but I don’t think she is the real Grandmother, maybe someone in disguise). Still I’m not ruling anyone out. SPOILER

If you’d like to place your bets and reason out as to who the Wolf is, feel free to comment below. And on March 11 will see who guessed right!

Consensus: Red Riding Hood is most definitely not the light read its counterpart suggests. For those looking for a good fairytale remake, nice characters and an even better mystery, Red Riding Hood will definitely be the novel you’ll come back to until you’re desperate to finish it. But be warned, until March 11, none of us will now what really happened.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Across the Universe by Beth Revis

A love out of time. A spaceship built of secrets and murder.

Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.

Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone-one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship-tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn't do something soon, her parents will be next.

Now Amy must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there's only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming.

"Many won't. They won't care to know, they won't seek any kind of truth. Some will-and they will not believe the truth. But others will need the truth, and crave it, and they will seek it..." - Amy

Okay, so as I write this, I’m a little bit conflicted as to what my review is going to say. I’m gonna start off though by saying this debut novel has one of coolest/prettiest cover and title. This, plus the very intriguing plot synopsis quickly drew me in like a moth to flame, getting me to go as far as pre-ordering this eBook on kindle. With that said, I’m not so sure whether I loved it, or just simply liked it.

This book, as shown by the description, is clearly dystopian. I’m not a big Y.A. dystopian book reader (other than The Giver and the Uglies Series) but from what I can tell, this genre is a rising favorite among the readers these days. As far as being a dystopian novel goes, I thought Beth Revis did a splendid job. When I feel the need to hurl my Kindle against the nearest wall because people just can see what a lying and manipulating society (under the guise of the collective good) their living in, then you know you’re on the right track. Revis incorporated great descriptions on life aboard the Godspeed and everything from the metal walls crashing in, to the fake light bulb they call sun, to how un-really “perfect” everything was felt real. And even more, Amy’s despair at her situation was more than palpable. With that said, I think it was the characters that ruined the story somewhat for me

Before I even get into the characterization, I must pause and say that I hated how much the perspectives changed between the two main characters. Normally, I really love books that present both the female and the male lead’s point of views. Yet in Across the Universe, I felt Revis went a little overboard in this aspect. I had not read more than a page or two, and bam, another character was narrating. There were times where I even got confused and had to go back a few pages just to see who was talking in the first place. Basically, the constant change of perspectives damaged the flow of the story and for me it was hard sometimes to get into what the novel was saying.

Now, onto to the characters. Starting off with Amy, I have to say that out of the two leads, I sympathized more with Amy’s character. It could be due to the fact that were both from Sol-Earth, but I think the main reason was that her character was more developed than Elder’s. Amy and her parents are all frozen aboard a ship called Godspeed in hopes that in 350 years, Godspeed will reach Centauri-Earth (a new habitable planet) were Amy’s parent’s skills (in genetic modification and the military) will be put to use. She is (as Eldest classifies her) a nonessential. It is due to her parents that Amy is on board, yet something goes wrong and she is unplugged ahead of schedule. To me, Amy’s reaction to life on Godspeed and the reality of what her new life entails was heart wrenchingly genuine. Even so, I enjoyed her strength among all the adversity she faced. No matter what new detail or horrors she discovered on the ship, her resolve to live and tell others the truth about how life is supposed to be never wavered.

It’s Elder’s character that I had problems with. To me, I never got a sense of who Elder was. He’s supposed to be the ship’s future leader but even before Amy’s arrival, Elder is questioning how things are done and why. It just takes Amy to push him in the right direction. You could say he and Amy were close, and there were definitely strong feelings between the two, but I wouldn’t classify what they had as a romance. Even so, for most of the book, I thought I had Elder pegged (strong, sweet, smart, loyal) but as we reached the end and new things were revealed about Elder, it was like I never knew him. And not only did that throw me, but it disappointed me upon completing the book. Secondary characters were a tad stronger. Eldest was definitely a controlling tyrant and Doc was willing OCD participant in his schemes. Harley, on the other hand, was a good character to contrast with Amy and Elder. He was quirky and curious and it broke my heart any time I saw him suffer.

All in all, the book was pretty good. The mystery aspect combined with the "who done it” was well done without overpowering the dystopian theme. Also, the book raised some tough questions about the human nature and what difference between right, wrong and survival is. The last few pages left the space for a possible sequel, and though it would be nice to see how things progressed after, I think Beth Revis should leave this one be. The writing and story were beautiful unto to itself and some books are better off being left as they are.

Consensus: Beth Revis creates a pretty rocking debut to start of 2011 Y.A. series. If you’re interested in good dystopian read to start you’re year off, Across the Universe is it.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

2011 A-Z Reading Challenge

I know that at the start of the new year, everyone makes resolutions. Whether it be to cut back on the sweets, to getting the job of your dreams, to trying everything on the menu at your favorite restaurant; we all have goals we set for ourselves to fufill throught the year. Which then brings me to the order of business. As an avid reader, I always like to challenge myself to read not only new thins, but the books I keep pushing back in my TBR list. As part of the new things I'm incorporating into the blog, I've decided to create a challenge of my own. As the banner states, it will be an A-Z young adult book challenge, including new and old novels.

If you're interested in participating, check out the 2011 Challenge tab in the menu above!

Happy Reading!


Blog Revamp

So as some of you may have noticed, the blog is going under serious reconstruction. This is mainly due to the fact that my other template was so frecking difficult to work with. Even so, I was incredibly reluctant to change it seeing as though, being my first template, I was seemingly attached it. Yet, as I look at the blog now, I really love the new look and feel. It's cleaner, inviting and a lot more a tune to my personality than the one before. Hopefully this will keep me motivated to update the blog more oftenly.

Also, as you can now see in the newly added main menu, there are various new facets to Young Adult Page Turners which are still under construction. If you have any suggestion as to what you may like to see in the blog (in terms to features or reviews on Y.A. books) don't be afraid to leave a comment below. I hope you like the new format!


Next Review: The Lost Saint by Bree Despain

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