Thursday, August 11, 2011

Debut Challenge 2011: Complete

So that's it - the 12th and final book done for The Story Siren's 2011 Debut Author Challenge! If you want to see my complete reading list, just look at "debut 2011" under the Genres sidebar tab.

I don't know if there was a lot of it published, or just what I gravitated toward, but this seems to be a year for sci-fi. Five of my twelve were dystopian novels, and wow are there some scary scenarios of what the world could become.

My favorite of all 12 was Divergent for its extraordinary society-building and compelling writing. Explanations cannot live up to the book itself, so just know that you should read it.

And the best part of this Challenge for me? I reviewed a bunch of books! Which means I ought to start looking for more reading/blogging challenges. I like reviewing - it just takes some motivation. If you know any challenges, or have debut recommendations, please leave a comment ^_^

Warped by Maurissa Guibord

Tessa doesn't believe in magic. Or Fate. But there's something weird about the dusty unicorn tapestry she discovers in a box of old books. She finds the creature woven within it compelling and frightening. After the tapestry comes into her possession, Tessa experiences dreams of the past and scenes from a brutal hunt that she herself participated in. When she accidentally pulls a thread from the tapestry, Tessa releases a terrible centuries old secret. She also meets William de Chaucy, an irresistible 16th-century nobleman. His fate is as inextricably tied to the tapestry as Tessa's own. Together, they must correct the wrongs of the past. But then the Fates step in, making a tangled mess of Tessa's life. Now everyone she loves will be destroyed unless Tessa does their bidding and defeats a cruel and crafty ancient enemy.

I'd like to start with how jealous I am that Tessa lives above a bookstore and basically has a library for her living room. All right. On to the review.

I expected this to be a unicorn story, but it's really more of a modern mythology. The POV jumps between Tessa, dream-past-Tessa, the Fates themselves, and the ebil woman searching for the tapestry. Guibord does a wonderful job of balancing all those personalities and making each one vital to the overall story.

While Tessa's race to protect the tapestry (and the haughty but kindhearted Will who came out of it) made for a good story, my favorite part was the Fates themselves. They are absolutely creepy, and they have little patience for mortal troublemakers. Because of this, they become pseudo-villains even though both they and Tessa have essentially the same goals. Very cool.

The Final Word: An enjoyable fantasy

Monday, August 1, 2011

Ashes, Ashes by Jo Treggiari

Epidemics, floods, droughts–for sixteen-year-old Lucy, the end of the world came and went, taking 99% of the population with it. As the weather continues to rage out of control, and Sweepers clean the streets of plague victims, Lucy survives alone in the wilds of Central Park. But when she’s rescued from a pack of hunting dogs by a mysterious boy named Aidan, she reluctantly realizes she can’t continue on her own. She joins his band of survivors, yet, a new danger awaits her: the Sweepers are looking for her. There’s something special about Lucy, and they will stop at nothing to have her.

This book was slow going at first. Not that it wasn't well written; Jo Treggiari steeps her prose in description that makes Lucy's post-apocalyptic world incredibly vivid. But for the first couple chapters, there was only description of how Lucy goes about surviving, with the occasional break for how this world came to be. Things got much better once she met Aidan and his band of survivors, because we get actual dialogue. And here's where the story kept me reading.

What does it take to survive? What keeps this motley band of old timers and younglings together, keeps them resisting the Sweepers that attack and kidnap? Lucy, after half a year without speaking to another soul and years life was normal, allows herself to be folded into their camp and their way of life. And when that way of life includes facing off against Sweepers....there are implications that go all the way back to when the plague first started killing people off, and Lucy remained completely healthy.

The Final Word: A good premise, but rather predictable and heavy on the details.