Friday, January 27, 2017

104. "The Selection" by Kiera Cass

Cass, Kiera. The Selection. New York: Harper Teen, 2012.

327 pages. 

Reviewed by J. d'Artagnan Love

SYNOPSIS: America Singer lives in a dystopian future where the nation is divided into castes numbered one through eight with ones being at the very royal top and eights being homeless nomads. When the prince of the nation is old enough, there is a "Selection" where names of eligible women and girls are drawn from each district and the "selected" travel to the capital to compete for the prince's hand in marriage.

WHAT I LOVED: The cover art.

WHAT I LIKED: What I liked about this book is that it's sort of like junk food--it did me absolutely no good but was just kind of tasty anyway.

WHAT I COULD DO WITHOUT: Hoo boy. I know that there are no truly "original" stories anymore, but this book was so obviously trying to cash in on the popularity of The Hunger Games and The Bachelor, it made me sick. Cass is capitalizing on hybridizing the success of work that isn't really hers and by feeding the lowest common denominator to her readers. I found the book entertaining enough but something just wasn't sitting right with me so I did a bit of research. Cass's agent was actually "rigging" her ratings of the book on Goodreads by going through every 4 and 5 star review and "liking" them to boost the rating. Supposedly Cass and her agent also weren't aware that their posts were public and said some unsavory things about their readers going so far as to call a reader who didn't like the book a "bitch." As a writer myself, I have no respect for that. None, whatsoever. You will never write a book everyone likes. That's how the world of reading and writing works. So...while I may be interested in reading the rest of the stories in the series, the writer and agent's serious lack of respect for readers has me wanting to boycott the rest. There is more I could say about some of the story's plot holes and character inconsistencies, but I'll stop here--heaven forbid I get called a bitch too.

RECOMMEND FOR: Readers who like teen romance and don't care if the author has any respect for her readers.

NOT RECOMMENDED FOR: Anyone who values the sacred relationship between writer and reader.

2 darts out of 3

Saturday, January 21, 2017

103. "Angels and Demons" by Dan Brown

Brown, Dan. Angels and Demons. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2000.

569 pages.

Reviewed by J. d'Artagnan Love

SYNOPSIS: This is the first of the Robert Langdon series. The second of the series is probably Dan Brown's most well-known work, The DaVinci Code. In Angels and Demons, Brown sets up Langdon's character with an adventure at the Vatican. The Illuminati have threatened the Vatican and infiltrated to set a bomb aimed at destroying the Vatican City and the Catholic church as whole. Landgon must work with a brilliant scientist, Vittoria Vetra, in order to follow a trail of symbols and mythology and stop the Illuminati from completing their mission. 

WHAT I LOVED: Dan Brown is a master of pace. His novels always seem to be perfectly paced to keep tension high. Some of the chapters' obvious cliff hangers were a bit cheesy (cue orchestral "dun dun DUN!"). The cheesiness is part of the appeal for me. I don't read Dan Brown to become a better person. I read Dan Brown to be entertained.  

WHAT I LIKED: I liked  the mythology. I am a sucker for fun, mystical, Catholic conspiracy. I'm not an historian and I'm sure historical inaccuracies abound in this book, but if you can suspend your disbelief and just enjoy the ride, the mythology is fun.

WHAT I COULD DO WITHOUT: The ending with the helicopter and the jacket. I won't go into detail and spoil it for anyone, but come on.

RECOMMEND FOR: Someone interested in a thrilling, fast paced, mystery that involves conspiracy theories and Catholic urban legends. 

NOT RECOMMENDED FOR: Any historian or scientist expecting accurate depictions of religious history or physics. 

3 darts out of 5. 

Saturday, January 14, 2017

102. "The Girl on the Train" by Paula Hawkins

SYNOPSIS: A woman struggling with alcoholism takes a train into town everyday so her roommate thinks she's going to work. She's actually unemployed, depressed, and lonely. She fantasizes about a couple she watches from the train everyday and in a desperate attempt to connect with someone, moves those fantasies into reality by showing up at the couple's house when she learns the woman has gone missing. From there, everything spirals into a murder-mystery, psychological thriller.

WHAT I LOVED: I loved the non linear timelines told from multiple perspectives. It was a unique way to create tension and suspense. I loved that the points of view were all women who had dealt with the same psychopath and how each of those voices was unique and compelling.

WHAT I LIKED: I liked the way Hawkins worked in alcoholism as a devastating disease. The explanation of black outs was scientifically accurate, for the most part.

WHAT I COULD DO WITHOUT: Honestly, I knew by the third chapter who dunnit. It wasn't because it was obvious who it was but it was obvious to me who it wasn't.

RECOMMEND FOR: Anyone who likes a fast-paced thriller along the lines of Gone Girl.

NOT RECOMMENDED FOR: Those who struggle with alcohol addiction--I could see this book being a trigger for relapse.

3 darts out of 5.