Book Review: Ultraviolet (Ultraviolet #1) by R.J. Anderson

8843789Title: Ultraviolet Author: R.J. Anderson Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction How I got it: I bought it Click here to buy this book from Amazon

SYNOPSIS: “Once upon a time there was a girl who was special.

This is not her story.

Unless you count the part where I killed her.”

Sixteen-year-old Alison has been sectioned in a mental institute for teens, having murdered the most perfect and popular girl at school. But the case is a mystery: no body has been found, and Alison’s condition is proving difficult to diagnose. Alison herself can’t explain what happened: one minute she was fighting with Tori — the next she disintegrated. Into nothing. But that’s impossible. Right?

Whoa. This book. I am beyond impressed.

I am terribly happy that I had the privilege to read this book unspoiled, knowing nothing at all about the beginning, middle, or ending of the story. That’s the best way to read it, in my opinion. So I should tell you now to stay away from Ultraviolet’s Goodreads page or at least don’t click any of the spoiler links. As for me, I will do my best not to give anything away in this review.

Ultraviolet’s main character and narrator is Alison. Her voice paired with Anderson’s beautiful writing was enough to make me fall head-over-heels with this book. I don’t quite know how to describe Anderson’s prose style because I’ve never encountered anything like it before. Granted, there were a few overkills, but the narrative was mostly rich and colorful, like my imagination’s favorite candy. I am also genuinely surprised with where the author took the story. I never would have been able to guess that this was a Science Fiction novel from the first pages. It reads like a paranormal suspense thriller, and all the better too, because this unique way of easing us into the Sci-Fi part of the plot intensifies the effect of all the major plot revelations when they happen. It’s so unique and different and honestly, I love it.

Aside from her gorgeous writing style, Anderson also wins plus points for her characterization. Every character in this book is solid, vivid, and important – in a way that all did something to move the plot along, they had significant roles to play to add volume to the story. Even now, I can actually imagine them as real people, going on about their business somewhere in the world. Additionally, I liked that Anderson dabbled at a medical/psychological condition that isn’t common. It added texture to the plot, and the role that it plays in the story is enchanting, to say the least.

All in all, I thought that this book was original. Anderson took the cliched and the stereotypical and twisted and bent those elements into something more – something worthy of note, something masterful. I really, really loved this book, and though I am not such a fan of the romantic subplot (hence, the 4 over 5), I still think that this is quite possibly one of the best books I’ve read this year. Engaging, unputdownable, entertaining, and intense, this book is definitely a must read in my opinion. I highly recommend Ultraviolet to everyone who loves a good YA novel. And now I can’t wait to begin reading it’s sequel, Quicksilver.




Book Review: The Sixth Power by Carol Nicolas

17285509Title: The Sixth Power
Author: Carol Nicolas
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal
How I got it: Provided my the author for an honest review.

Tania Westing, a high school senior, is one of the Gifted Ones, descendants of an ancient family with seven special powers. Some of the powers are common, and some are rare.

Until her geneticist brother Tom was murdered, Tania lived an ordinary life. Now hidden in her mind is a clue that will reveal Tom’s research, including secret formulas to unlock all seven powers. During spring break, Tania meets and falls in love with handsome Dan Maclean. When Tania reveals her rare power to heal, the evil Gifted Ones who killed Tom suspect Tania has his research and formulas and come after her. Tania must learn to use her powers to help save Dan’s sister in time to keep Tom’s secrets safe.

I was so disappointed by this book that I cannot even begin to properly explain it. When I first started reading The Sixth Power, I admit that I had no clue what I’m walking into, just that it involves super powers and genetic research. We all know how many books/comics, both good and bad, have attempted that kind of plot recipe before with a myriad of varying results, so I was wondering what would make this book stand out from the rest.

Nothing made this book stand out. In fact, I can name a handful of things that makes it sink under. First off, the writing. I’ve read better, I’ve read worse, but this one is just not good enough. Writing is kind of a tough industry to infiltrate, knowing that there are a lot of brilliant and promising authors out there  vying for the readers’ attention, so for an author to stand above the rest, they should be able to compete in terms of prose-quality. I’m not saying that Nicolas’ writing is bad, because it was okay. And that’s exactly the issue. It’s just ‘okay’.

The characters of this book also failed to impress me. We should begin with Tania Westing, after all, she is our main character. Tania is just a normal teenager with an abnormal amount of tragedy in her life. First, her mother dies, causing her father to fall into depression and social withdrawal. And then his geneticist brother commits suicide for no apparent reason. It’s really hard not to feel sympathetic about Tania, and I did at the very start. But as the story progresses, I could not help but notice her utter lack of self-preservation, which is odd for a girl who has gone through as much suffering as she did. She literally pore her heart out to Dan the moment they were alone without even much effort on his part. And then she pitches herself heart-first into the love cliff with shameless abandon within a few days of meeting him. Talk about mind-numbing events.

My problem with Tania’s personality does not even come close with my problem with ALL the characters in general. You know how sometimes when you read a book with a mediocre plot but you can’t seem to put it down because you started to care deeply for the characters? Yeah, that did not happen in this case because I felt absolutely nothing for any character in this book, except maybe some slight irritation. Everyone, from Tania to the Maclean Siblings, to El Calavera – they all seemed dull to me. It would have been good if I liked them, and it would have been bad if I hated them, but I was indifferent to them, which was worse. Not that I didn’t understand any of their collective or individual issues, because I did. It’s just that they lacked personality and were too two-dimensional for my taste, thus you can only imagine how difficult it was for me not to drop this book in the middle of reading.

Did I mention that this book also features a love story? Yes I did! Another case of insta-love with no chemistry involved at all. Allow me to just set this straight once and for all: there are rare cases where insta-love works because somehow, the author manages to conjure enough spark to keep the love story aflame, but these instances are the exceptions, not the rule. That’s why I can’t understand why authors continue to shower us with insta-romances when we clearly do not want them that much. As readers, we need foundation, we need that slow, impossible torture of watching two people fall in-love while they deny it, and that crippling agony of anticipation as we yell at them to just kiss already. You’re not going to find anything like that in The Sixth Power. Dan and Tania’s love story seemed too hurried to me. There was no build-up and no magic. Also, the storyline where both characters didn’t have anyone for a long time before they met each other and suddenly they feel the need to be together is getting REALLY OLD. Someone needs to figure out something new already.

Another thing is that this book’s narrative tends to be dragging at times. For someone who is used to fast-paced stories, I found myself not adjusting very well with the slow-moving plot. In my opinion, the author failed to provide minor plotlines that managed to hold my interest as I wait for the main plot to be revealed. Some dialogs also bordered on preachy and annoying, which did not sit well with me.

I gave this book 2 out of 5 coconuts because I thought that this is one of those ‘could-have-beens’. Could have been better if the plot was well cultivated, because I honestly think that there’s some promise behind the author’s idea. Could have been better if the author invested more, way more, in character development. Could have been better if the romance wasn’t an insta-love. All in all, could have been better but just isn’t. I realize that I’m the only person in Goodreads to give The Sixth Power a low rating, but keep in mind that I’m not trying to be rude or offensive, just honest and impartial. Some people might like this book, I guess, as evidenced by it’s 4.12 GR ratings. Sad to say, I’m not one of them.


Book Review: The Adoration of Jenna Fox (Jenna Fox Chronicles #1) by Mary E. Pearson

1902241The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Person
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction

Who is Jenna Fox? Seventeen-year-old Jenna has been told that is her name. She has just awoken from a coma, they tell her, and she is still recovering from a terrible accident in which she was involved a year ago. But what happened before that? Jenna doesn’t remember her life. Or does she? And are the memories really hers?

This fascinating novel represents a stunning new direction for acclaimed author Mary Pearson. Set in a near future America, it takes readers on an unforgettable journey through questions of bio-medical ethics and the nature of humanity. Mary Pearson’s vividly drawn characters and masterful writing soar to a new level of sophistication.

I did not enjoy this book as much as I thought I would. I had no problem with the writing and I thought that the idea behind the plot was genius, but I felt as though these assets weren’t utilized to their full potential. I also have this vague feeling that this book was supposed to be thought-provoking, and maybe it is to an extent, but it kinda felt flat to me. Nor did I feel any connection whatsoever with Jenna herself.

Although this novel is set in a near-future America and has dystopian elements, it’s really more of a Science Fiction. The idea of a way to preserve human organs over an indefinite period of time was very intriguing. The technicalities were well explained and the medical-future of the world according to Pearson painted a very enthralling high-definition image on my mind. However, this element of the story was overshadowed by Jenna and her plight, which I guess was intentional on the part of the author. Still, I can’t help but feel that it was wasted. It could have helped to emphasize the plot to create maximum impact, but it didn’t.

As for the characters, I wasn’t able relate to any of them. I guess I sympathized with Jenna on a level, but not enough for me to like her. Sure, she was strong and admirably so considering her situation, but there just wasn’t any spark. This is probably the part where I say it’s not her, it’s me. I also felt like there were characters in this book that could have expanded the story’s dimension but were not able to, which is quite a shame, really. Dane, for example, the hot guy with mental issues, could have been used as a powerful anti-hero just to create an atmosphere of tension, but instead he was just making cameo appearances here and there, not making that much of an impression at all. In the end, he did have a significant contribution to the story, but I found it completely lacking and flimsy in it’s construction.

Overall I would say that this book was an interesting read. Mary Pearson’s writing style is laid back yet very powerful and the setbacks that I’ve suffered while reading Jenna’s story wasn’t quite enough for me to drop it. That is to say, it wasn’t the best book I’ve read, but it was compelling enough to keep a firm grip on me until I turned the last page. If only the author went for that extra-mile and supplied what was absent in this story (character building aside from the main character, utilization of plot potentials, etc), this would have been a better book. As it is, it’s not that bad. But it didn’t quite leave me with that giddy feeling that great books usually do.