Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Double Review: Riders by Veronica Rossi and The Last Place on Earth by Carol Snow

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Series: Yes, #1 in the series
Release date: February 16th, 2016
Publisher: Tor Teen
Length: 364 pages
Source: borrowed ARC
Rating: DNF

Oh, man, this kills me to do. KILLS ME. I love Veronica Rossi's Under the Never Sky trilogy--I binged the entire thing, novellas and all, in a single weekend and walked around in a haze for days afterward. But I just could. not. get into Riders. I was intrigued by both the concept--a guy dies and comes back to life as War, one of the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse--and the conceit--the novel opens with Gideon, our MC, strapped to a chair and being interrogated. The novel is the tale he spins his torturer/kidnapeprs, explaining how he got his powers and how he got tangled in this mess.

Alas, I never made it far enough to figure that out, because I couldn't for the life of me lost myself in this book. The main reason was Gideon. The only times I felt him was when he was talking about his dad, but even then his grief felt a bit more intellectual. I liked his character, and his reasons for joining the army, but I somehow never was affected by them. Mostly, Gideon is a capital D Dude. He likes sports, and running, and joins the Army, and of course I can sympathize with Capital D Dudes. I know a whole bunch. I'm related to a bunch. They all have compelling stories to tell (well, some of them). And hey, I like sports! I do! Yay for dudes! But Gideon's voice just wasn't gripping to me. He read...Argh, it sounds so mean to call him painfully average, but to me, his voice was. There was nothing about him as an individual that compelled me. I loved the writing in Under the Never Sky, but Gideon was almost dumbed down and jocked up to a point where I was no longer interested.

God, it sounds like i'm ragging on jocks (and dude narrators in general). I swear I'm not. I like jocks. I was a jock. I prefer books narrated by ladies, but obviously I don't auto-hate dude MCs, but... somehow, I couldn't connect with him. Every element is all just a bit flat, from pacing to character to prose.

I had a feeling the romance wouldn't get to me either, but to be honest, I didn't make it that far. I had a few issues with the way the female characters in Riders were written, and upon learning (through Goodreads reviews) that all four Horseman were dudes... I don't know. Maybe I'll try Riders again some day, but I just have a feeling that it wasn't meant to be. *sobs*

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Series: No
Release date: February 16th, 2016
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (Macmillan)
Length: 304 pages
Source: ARC from the publisher
Rating: Uneven, weird, random, and surprisingly enjoyable in parts

Daisy's best friend is missing . . . and not for the reasons she thinks.

Henry Hawking is sixteen years old, brilliant, funny, and sly--and now he's missing. But no one seems worried except his best friend, Daisy Cruz, who knows that Henry's security-obsessed parents would never leave town without taking proper precautions. And Henry would never go away without saying good-bye.

Daisy considers all the obvious explanations for Henry's disappearance (federal witness protection program, alien abduction) before breaking into Henry's house. In his room, she finds a note that pleads, SAVE ME.

Desperate to find Henry, Daisy follows his trail deep into the California wilderness. What she finds there makes her wonder if she ever knew Henry at all . . . and if the world as she knows it will ever be the same.

Well, if that rating isn't damning with faint praise, but honestly this book is so strange. I don't mean tot be mean about it, because, to be honest, I couldn't stop reading. The voice hooked me right in, and I ADORED the main character, but boy was this book NOTHING like I was expecting.

Overall, reading TLPOE was an enjoyable experience, and that's almost entirely because of how much I liked the main character. Daisy had a funny, casual, sarcastic but never cruel voice, and I could have stayed in her head all day. In fact, Snow has a real gift for character, and I'll definitely read other books from her.

The rest of it is a mixed bag. Firstly, because what this story is ACTUALLY about is not in the summary at all. Which means I can't actually TELL you what it's about, which means you can't really know if this is a book you want to read or not. There is a SURPRISE PLOT, essentially.

Daisy's best friend Henry--another character I liked but would have liked to have liked more--is missing. This book feels a bit like two books, with the first 100 or so pages all about Daisy's attempts to find her friend, who has seemingly vanished along with his parents. The last 200 pages...well, i can't really tell you. Unless you want to highlight for a spoiler:

[So, Henry's parents are PREPPERS. As in, for the apocalypse. And they've gotten word that there's about to be an outbreak of some kind of virus, so they've gone into hiding at this compound full of other preppers. Henry tricks Daisy into coming to find him so that she'll be safe too, and most of the book is Daisy at this crazy hideout in the wood surrounded by VERY ECCENTRIC people, dealing with the possible end of the world. TALK ABOUT A SURPRISE PLOT. ]

But anyway, despite its unevenness, I liked this book. In fact, it's hugely readable, and I sped through it. I LOVE Daisy Cruz. She's half-Mexican, she dies her hair with Kool Aid, she makes jokes nobody ever gets, and I adore her. She's a delightful character. The other characters are colorful and funny and bizarre. Some are quirky, some are downright bizarre. I like moments when the book dipped into deepness--if you read the highlighted spoilers, you know this book dips into some Serious Topics-- but I also found it a bit abrupt in places---particularly in the romance-ish thing, and boy, not to mention character exits. (We parted with with the SPOILERs so quickly! Blink and you miss it and they're gone form the book! And we never find out what happened!!) As for the romance, I quite liked the glimpses we got of Henry and Daisy as friends--they have an easy, funny rapport--but felt the romance was' as deep as I would have liked.

I would have liked the whole book to linger on certain moments and emotional beats. Give them impact. When it DID, the writing was really strong, but other things feel hurried. I definitely still felt for Daisy... and I have to say, I ended up liking the "surprise story" I got in The Last Place on Earth, though I have to say I was unprepared for it (pretty much like Daisy) (I WOULD BE TERRIBLE AT DOING THE THINGS SHE IS FORCED TO DO) (she's terrible at it too, which is hilariously relatable).

Overall, a strong if flawed book. Trigger warning for some animal stuff.


  1. Goooorgeous reviews Gillian :D Ahhh. The Last Place on Earth seems pretty amazing :D I'm just waiting for my pre-order. <3 It sounds so good. And I'm glad you ended up enjoying it :D YAY! But uuugh. I am so sorry about Riders :( Hugs. But I fully understand. I gave it two stars. But I feel like maybe I should have given it one stars. Ugh. It was so disappoiting :( And awful. And I feel so bad about it. Sniffs. Because it is GORGEOUS. But.. I have still pre-ordered it. Because damn it. GORGEOUS :) Anyway. Thank you for sharing sweetie. <3

  2. Oh no! That's so disappointing about Riders *cries*


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