Thursday, July 19, 2012

Review | Dust Girl by Sarah Zettel

Dust Girl
Sarah Zettel
The American Fairy Tale Trilogy #1
Published June 26, 2012 by Random House Children's
YA urban fantasy
Review copy from NetGalley
3 stars

Bite-Sized Review
Dust Girl stood out from the YA crowd by virtue of its unusual setting and interesting characters. Several of the fairies were truly creepy, and there's plenty to keep this story going.

King-Sized Review
I think this might be the first book I've read that was set in the Dust Bowl. I can't really speak to the book's historical accuracy, since what I know about the period is pretty much "lots of dust, no rain, and no money," but it seemed like it could be accurate. I appreciated the very strong influence the setting had on the story as well – sometimes it seems like many books could really take place anywhere and be more or less the same, but that definitely wasn't the case in Callie's story.

The story begins in the tiny and shrinking town of Slow Run, Kansas, where Callie lives with her mother. Callie would love to leave the doomed town and move to somewhere she wouldn't choke on dust and struggle to find food, but her mother insists that they must wait there for Callie's father – who vanished before she was born. When Callie's mother disappears in a dust storm, several mysterious visitors convince Callie to leave the town to find her mother, along with Jack, a boy she met during the storm. Along the way, Callie learns about her heritage and her family.

Dust Girl was a fairly short, quick read, with decent characters and a good pace. Callie is a likable main character, though nothing about her stands out particularly. The story itself was the best part, with some interesting takes on fairies and several well-written, suspenseful scenes.

One aspect of the book that I particularly appreciated was the lack of the angsty romance that's such a YA staple. While the potential for romance clearly exists, it definitely took a backseat in this book. It may actually have been locked in the trunk. It was a nice change from one of the things I frequently dislike about YA books.

Overall, Dust Girl was a good start and definitely made me want to read the next book in the series.

Quality: Good
Enjoyability: Good

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Review | Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown

Lies Beneath
Anne Greenwood Brown
Lies Beneath #1
Published June 12, 2012 by Delacorte (Random House)
YA paranormal romance
3 stars
Egalley from NetGalley

Bite-Sized Review
For the first few chapters, I thought I would hate this book, but in the end I actually enjoyed it. It was a good light read, and the male narrator was enough of a change from Everything Else to make it a bit more interesting.

King-Sized Review
Lies Beneath is basically the same book as about a dozen others I've read in the past year. Dangerous boy with superpowers, semi-normal girl, issues, etc. The only differences are that Calder is a merman rather than a vampire or nephilim or werewolf or whatever else is out there, which isn't really a lot, and that he's the narrator, which is a slightly more interesting twist but still wouldn't have been enough to make me like the book on its own. However, in the end, it turned out to be a pretty good book.

When the Hancock family moves back to Lake Superior, Calder and his sisters see it as the perfect opportunity to exact their revenge for the death of their mother. Calder is elected most likely to be able to get close to one of the two daughters, but finds himself falling in love with Lily Hancock. As you can see, it's definitely a rather cliched storyline, though on the plus side, no vampires. (I'm tired of vampires.) The story doesn't really provide surprises, but it is pretty well-written and well-paced, and Calder's perspective, while a little angsty, is an unusual take on the story – one that, happily, doesn't involve him falling head-over-heels in love the first time he sees Lily.

I do have a couple of issues with the book. It's a little overly moralizing in places; any moral a story contains should always be implicit, or you risk alienating your audience. Luckily this is only a small problem in a couple of places, and not bad enough to be really annoying. I wasn't terribly impressed with one or two of the plot decisions – once again, I feel I must point out that the plot serves the characters and not the other way around. Anything else is jarring and wrecks the whole suspension of disbelief thing. Again, not a huge issue in this book, but enough of one that I feel compelled to point it out.

Otherwise, if you're looking for a light beach read, Lies Beneath would be a good choice, because who wouldn't want to read about killer mermaids while sitting next to a large body of water. It's a fun book, with a story typical of YA, and if you like that sort of thing you'll certainly enjoy this book. However, if you're bored with the standard YA paranormal romance, Lies Beneath probably isn't for you.

Quality: Acceptable
Enjoyability: Good

In the same aisle
Die for Me by Amy Plum
Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini