The Merciless by Danielle Vega

 Title: The Merciless

Author: Danielle Vega

Published: June 12th, 2014

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Goodreads 

Forgive us, Father, for we have sinned

Brooklyn Stevens sits in a pool of her own blood, tied up and gagged. No one outside of these dank basement walls knows she’s here. No one can hear her scream.

Sofia Flores knows she shouldn’t have gotten involved. When she befriended Riley, Grace, and Alexis on her first day at school, she admired them, with their perfect hair and their good-girl ways. They said they wanted to save Brooklyn. They wanted to help her. Sofia didn’t realize they believed Brooklyn was possessed.

Now, Riley and the girls are performing an exorcism on Brooklyn—but their idea of an exorcism is closer to torture than salvation. All Sofia wants is to get out of this house. But there is no way out. Sofia can’t go against the other girls . . . unless she wants to be next. . . .

In this chilling debut, Danielle Vega delivers blood-curdling suspense and terror on every page. By the shockingly twisted end, readers will be faced with the most haunting question of all: Is there evil in all of us?

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Scorched by Mari Mancusi

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Title: Scorched

Author: Mari Mancusi

Published: September 3rd, 2013

Rating: 3/5 stars

Goodreads:

Trinity
Don’t leave me here… It starts with a whisper. At first Trinity thinks she’s going crazy. It wouldn’t be a big surprise—her grandpa firmly believes there’s a genuine dragon egg in their dusty little West Texas town. But this voice is real, and it’s begging for her protection. Even if no one else can hear it…

Connor
He’s come from a future scorched by dragonfire. His mission: Find the girl. Destroy the egg. Save the world.

Caleb
He’s everything his twin brother Connor hates: cocky, undisciplined, and obsessed with saving dragons.

Trinity has no idea which brother to believe. All she has to go by is the voice in her head—a dragon that won’t be tamed.

Review:

With a crazy grandpa obsessed with mythical creatures and a crumbling Museum business, Trinity Foxx has a lot going on. Things only worsen when he brings a beautiful egg he believes belongs to the last of the dragons home. This leaves the two of them with next to no money and Trinity with quite a bit of anger.

This book just barely missed being four star worthy. A number of its aspects got on my nerves.

– Trinity Foxx – The name Trinity gets on my nerves enough by itself, but Trinity Foxx sounds like some preppy girl who thinks she’s above everyone else. Her character was also a bit too dependent on others for my liking. Even though she kept the museum business alive and helped her grandpa with his financial problems she still let herself rely on Connor and Caleb throughout the majority of the novel. For someone depicted as so strong she should have been more willing to make her own decisions.

– The dialogue – These characters are supposed to me in their late teens and they go around thinking and saying things like “I’m the good guy,” he wanted to add. “The one they sent to save your world” and “There were men,” she said at last. “They barged into my house. I freaked out and ran here to hide before calling 911. I think one of them might still be in the house.” The dialogue also indicates that the author is a beginner and not the best author in the over use of “said bookisms.” There were way too many she demanded, he muttered, she hissed, and she joke type dialogue tags as opposed to just saying she/he said, a technique that would have made the book seem more professional. Instead it seems like the author thought the “said bookisms” were necessary and in turn it made the book less interesting, and the characters sounded even younger than they would have with just the more simple dialogue.

Despite its many faults Scorched had a number of characteristics that made up for it’s faults. The number one thing that made me like it was the dragons. I’m pretty much incapable of resisting dragons and these ones were cute (especially Trin’s dragon who we saw most of) and I enjoyed their playful mannerisms. Also Fred the female dragon amused me to no end.

Caleb and Connor also had me constantly entertained. Unlike Trinity they kept me guessing for the majority of the book – with Trin it was more of a fifty/fifty chance she’d follow what either one said – they interacted with the world with much more intuition than Trinity seemed capable of.

Between the dragons and the twins I mildly enjoyed this book. Though it was much too simple for my liking as I was hoping it would do better to mentally engage me in the story. But oh well. If you are in fact looking for a quick easy read with dragons and romance then you will more than likely enjoy this book.

Visit the Mari Mancusi on twitter @marimancusi or at her website here.

The Artful by Wilbert Stanton

22019704 Title: The Artful

 Author: Wilbert Stanton

 Published: May 26, 2014

 Rating: 3.5/5 stars

 

Goodreads:

New York City, 2025: Everything is changed. The city that never sleeps is now a land of death and decay. A rampant virus has taken over and the survivors have become carriers, quarantined from the rest of the world.

Twist and Dodger grew up in the streets, the sewers and underground tunnels – their playground. They aren’t heroes. They just like attention; and stealing meds from the rich and giving them to the poor is their golden ticket.

On their latest raid, they unknowingly steal a cure that puts them square between the ailing Emperor of Manhattan and the war hungry Governor of Brooklyn and forces them on a quest into the darkest shadows of their putrefying world.

Review:

*Thanks to the publisher, Curiosity Quills Press, for the free review copy via Netgalley.*

Possible Spoilers of a Minor Nature

The Artful by Wilbert Stanton has become one of my favorite books of the year so far. It features as it’s main characters Twist and Dodger, two thieves who call themselves the ‘Gutter Punks’ and act like a post-apocalyptic version of Robin Hood. They take medicine from the privileged Tower Babies and give it to the poor, who are forced to live on the streets. Its set in Manhattan and Brooklyn in 2025, anyone who is still around is unable to tolerate the sun’s rays and burn much to easily without shelter and protection. The story picks up when the two boys rescue a girl named Gia and Dodger is injected with a lethal virus only their enemies have the cure to. They’ll have mere days to take back something their other friend stole before Dodger dies a painful death.

Twist was by far my favorite character. Unlike so many scores of YA main characters, he not only saw his flaws but also embraced them. He didn’t whine and moan about his imperfections and he didn’t over or under look them to any extreme. They were simply there and a fact of life.

He also really grew as a main character. In the beginning he resented the fact that everyone thought he was Dodger’s shadow, but it was sort of true, by the end he realized his own strength. He neither needed or wanted Dodger’s assistance because he had become his own person, Dodger’s illness really forced him to see his potential as it was.

One of the things I love about YA books with male main characters is the lack of drama. In particular girl type drama, evil in the clever disguise of words when it’s overused, so I also appreciated how there were no real frivolous type problems in the book. All of the issues the main characters faced were realistic and understandable. It was a lovable novel about the true pains of survival in a futuristic world that has been destroyed through something realistic. But some things still got on my nerves. Whenever Dodger and Twist were separated, Dodger would tell Twist what happened to him while he was gone. That doesn’t seem like a bad thing, but everything Dodger said during those times was a big block of text that told what happened just about word for word with no details omitted. Too many words were used at these times and it happened all at once, leaving the reader with no question as to what happened to Dodger during those times. It got to be quite annoying. Not to mention the whole mystery surrounding why Dodger was sick was too easily fixed, even though the characters had trouble reaching a conclusion it all seemed a bit too simplified by the end.

Although not everything about the book pleased me, The Artful was a pretty enjoyable read which I would recommend to dystopian lovers. In particular those who enjoyed Andrew Smith’s The Marbury Lens, some aspects of it really reminded me of that.