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Did Not Finish Reviews

Saturday, August 10, 2013
by Chris Matthews

Genre: Fantasy   Ebook: 430 Pages
Publication: July 1, 2013 by Momentum Australia

On the outskirts of the city, a young orphan boy, Lark, is forced to scavenge the muddy flats of the river for treasure in order to survive. When he finds a magical box that cannot be opened, his life changes forever. Lark soon learns that he is destined to battle the Capposeign the corrupt and evil theocracy that rules the city of Perous with fire magic.

However, Lark soon discovers that he has his own sort of magic, earned through a childhood spent in the water. He must quickly learn how to use his power or die trying. In his quest to take down the Capposeign, Lark must ally with a witch, an artist, a revolutionary, and a strangely familiar and beautiful courtesan. Facing the powerful fire mages will push Lark and his friends to the very limit as they fight to save the city but will their efforts be enough, or will it all go up in flames?

The first third of this book went pretty well for a debut novel. The writing is solid and engaging, and I like how the story switches perspectives to give readers an idea of what is happening on multiple fronts. I also like how seemingly random incidents become part of a larger picture later on. At the same time, however, not enough time is given with each character to fully develop them properly, and over time it felt as though I didn't really know the characters and their thoughts. The perspectives also go back and forth in time, making it hard to piece the events in chronological order. On top of that, it feels as though the plot isn't really moving forward. I understand the need for certain things to happen for character development, but it's a problem when it feels as though the plot isn't moving right in the midst of the supposed action.

Content: Sex, Torture, Violence

(Contributor #1), by Nicole Ciacchella

Genre: YA Sci-Fi Fantasy   Ebook: 216 Pages
Publication: September 2012 by NPC Books

One of only three students chosen for an elite, year-long apprenticeship, seventeen-year-old Dara Morrow is eager to excel in the high-stakes competition and prove herself a devoted Contributor. Success means a prosperous future with her Job Creator. Failure means losing her standing in society.

But Dara’s competition is ruthless, and her exacting master has little patience for her. When her mother is injured, Dara’s prospects become even more uncertain. If she can’t learn to navigate the hazards of the system, she risks not only her own safety, but that of all those she loves.

The story jumps right into the plot with Dara taking the test for the elite apprenticeship. While I appreciate how the plot starts moving right away, it could have taken the time to introduce us better to the characters (at least Dara) and the world. As it is, the story starts moving without taking the time to give at least the rudimentary world building. Yes, I know that Dara has been selected for an elite program, but I'd understand just how impressive it is had the story taken the time to show what place the Heads of Departments have in society. I also couldn't really connect to the characters. Dara tells us her opinions about characters, but it would have helped to see more interaction amongst them so I could observe their behavior around each other.

Content: N/A

The Lost Sun
(The United States of Asgard, #1) , by Tessa Gratton

Genre: YA Fantasy     Hardback: 368 Pages
Publication: June 25, 2013 by Random House BFYR

Seventeen-year-old Soren Bearskin is trying to escape the past. His father, a famed warrior, lost himself to the battle-frenzy and killed thirteen innocent people. Soren cannot deny that berserking is in his blood--the fevers, insomnia, and occasional feelings of uncontrollable rage haunt him. So he tries to remain calm and detached from everyone at Sanctus Sigurd's Academy. But that's hard to do when a popular, beautiful girl like Astrid Glyn tells Soren she dreams of him. That's not all Astrid dreams of--the daughter of a renowned prophetess, Astrid is coming into her own inherited abilities.

When Baldur, son of Odin and one of the most popular gods in the country, goes missing, Astrid sees where he is and convinces Soren to join her on a road trip that will take them to find not only a lost god, but also who they are beyond the legacy of their parents and everything they've been told they have to be.

I was really looking forward to this because of the Norse Mythology, but the story isn't well developed. The first chapter jumps straight into the story with little world building. I had to try and work out the world as the plot moved along. The first couple chapters do little to introduce the characters as well, and I couldn't connect with them.

Content: Violence

Imperfect Spiral
by Debbie Levy

Genre: YA Contemporary   Hardback: 352 Pages
Publication: July 16, 2013 by Walker Childrens

Danielle Snyder's summer job as a babysitter takes a tragic turn when Humphrey, the five-year-old boy she's watching, runs in front of oncoming traffic to chase down his football. Immediately Danielle is caught up in the machinery of tragedy: police investigations, neighborhood squabbling, and, when the driver of the car that struck Humphrey turns out to be an undocumented alien, outsiders use the accident to further a politically charged immigration debate. Wanting only to mourn Humphrey, the sweet kid she had a surprisingly strong friendship with, Danielle tries to avoid the world around her. Through a new relationship with Justin, a boy she meets at the park, she begins to work through her grief, but as details of the accident emerge, much is not as it seems. It's time for Danielle to face reality, but when the truth brings so much pain, can she find a way to do right by Humphrey's memory and forgive herself for his death?

I really love Danielle's memories of Humphrey. He's such a fun kid, and I can see why Danielle would grow so close to him. However, the story keeps alternating between flashbacks through the first quarter of the story. (I can't speak for the rest because I stopped reading around here), and it really irked me that the story wasn't moving forward. I know that Danielle needs time to wallow in grief, but I don't think we need to have all the flashbacks--at least, not all at once, and certainly not at the beginning when we're trying to get to know the characters and see where the plot is heading.

Content: Death

Things I Can't Forget
by Miranda Kenneally

Genre: Contemporary   Paperback: 320 Pages
Publication: March 1, 2013 by Sourcebooks Fire

Kate has always been the good girl. Too good, according to some people at school—although they have no idea the guilty secret she carries. But this summer, everything is different…

This summer she’s a counselor at Cumberland Creek summer camp, and she wants to put the past behind her. This summer Matt is back as a counselor too. He’s the first guy she ever kissed, and he’s gone from a geeky songwriter who loved The Hardy Boys to a buff lifeguard who loves to flirt--with her.

Kate used to think the world was black and white, right and wrong. Turns out, life isn’t that easy…

I appreciate how the story shows the realistic struggle of a girl trying to figure out her beliefs and how to compromise with others. It's actually something I went through late middle school and early high school. However, I just can't connect with Kate. I'm also uncomfortable with how quickly her relationship with Matt is progressing, though this relationship seems important for her to be able to eventually reconcile with Emily. I stopped reading at 50%, but I might try and finish this later because I do want to know what happens. At the moment, however, I just can't read on.

Content: Language, Religion, Sex, Teen pregnancy

*** Content warnings are based on the parts of the novels that I read 
and may not reflect the whole of the novels ***
2 comments on "Did Not Finish Reviews"
  1. Man other than the last one- I haven't even heard of any of these! (That doesn't bode well). Thanks for sharing- I always find DNF posts interesting!

  2. Sorry The Last Sun didn't work for you. I found the action enthralling but I've seen a lot of reviews where people wanted more from the world building so I see where you're coming from.


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