The Perfect Detective

The bus lets out another groan and jolts. My feet press against the metal pole, bracing myself though if I press any harder, the pole would have a dent in it and possibly ruin my new shoes, courtesy of my last victim.

However, the Agency gave me strict orders not to make too much of a show. I can’t help but smirk.

What am I to do when each case ends up being such a bore? The Agency should have expected this when they hired someone like me. Still, it’s a great cover: Detective. What a joke.

At least they’re generous with their rewards: fresh souls.

One of the crime lord’s boys is just ahead, shuffling his feet. His fear hangs on him like a strong perfume, practically mouth watering. He’ll sing like a canary. And then?

The sunlight turns to darkness as we enter the tunnel and my eyes glow scarlet.

The perfect job for the perfect monster.

Book Review: The Host by Stephenie Meyer

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Well unfortunately the time has come I review a book by Stephanie Meyer, might as well get it over with. Now some of you may be scratching your heads thinking, “Critic reading a Stephanie Meyer book? Perhaps I should check the weather to make sure it’s not raining cats and dogs and that the horsemen of the Apocalypse haven’t come.”

Well here’s the truth: last summer, my friend lent me the book because I did intend to read it with the intention of doing a review. However, upon reading the first few chapters, I put it down and forgot about it. Actually scratch that, I put it down because by God, it was just headache inducing trying to get through the bad writing. However, eventually I managed to force myself down to finish it.

Now, before one calls me out for being biased, I have a confession. In my youth I did like the Twilight Saga. I thought it was enjoyable until when I was older and reread it to which, I still question why I liked the series. This is a phase most people go through when they read books they liked when they were younger. Now I never read The Host in my youth, so I couldn’t form an opinion on it. Some people said it was better than Twilight, other’s said it was worse. So I sat down and read it.

Unfortunately, I can’t argue that it’s better.

Plot

Without giving away too much spoilers, Earth has been invaded by an alien race of body snatchers known as Souls. One victim, our protagonist, is Melanie Stryder. After attempting to kill herself in order to avoid being captured, Melanie is implanted with a Soul who’s known as Wanderer or Wanda. However, despite having her body taken over, Melanie hasn’t completely left the building. This leads to Wanda trying to find out where the remaining humans who haven’t been taken over.

There’s also a romance between Melanie and Jared, which takes an awkward turn when he sees Wanda now in control of Melanie’s body.  Another romance that comes up is that of Wanda and Ian, a human who claims he loves Wanda and not Melanie.

Here’s the problem with the plot: while body snatchers have been done before, The Body Snatchers by Jack Finney in 1955, it is still an interesting idea to work with. However, there is a big reason as to why the whole concept of body snatching doesn’t work in this story: there is no real reason for the Souls to invade Earth. They claim that they invade planets to perfect them, in the case of Earth, it was because Humans were deemed too violent to have a planet. Now if Meyer was trying to comment about Humans and the way we treat our planet, and saying we don’t deserve, she didn’t exactly do a good job executing the idea.

The reason for the Souls invasion is a weak excuse. It would be one thing if the Souls were in need of resources, trying to populate on other worlds because they feared extinction or out of survival. In Dr. Who “Vampires of Venice”, the alien race that is living in Venice seek to turn humans into their own kind because their home were destroyed by the Silence, which led to much of their kind being killed. While it is seen as wrong, from a human perspective, the “vampire” aliens have logical justification as to why they invaded earth and can invoke sympathy.

Meyer’s Souls justification is not strong enough, even weakened by the fact that the Souls “perfect” the world, basically solving all problems that Humans are dealing with. It raises the question: is this invasion really that bad? Sure there is a lack of free will, however, the Souls do not really pose a threat or actual danger.

If Meyer’s Souls had stronger reasons as to why they invade other worlds, then the conflict within Melanie’s body between Melanie and Wanda would have been more interesting, causing readers to be torn with siding Melanie and humanity or Wanda and the Souls. It would also make Wanda’s confliction about aiding humans or remaining loyal to her own kind interesting and deep.

Now, tackling the whole romance issue, I have to admit that the romance between Melanie and Jared was actually creepy. Sorry to spoil this but this needs to be said, Melanie met Jared while she was trying to steal food from an abandoned house. He stumbles onto her, threatens to kill her but then discovers she is actually not possessed to which he forces a kiss on her. Even though she defends her self and runs away, they eventually “fall in love”. Now, if a guy threatened to kill me, I wouldn’t form a romantic relationship with them, even if they only did it because they didn’t know if I was possessed or not.

The other problem with the romance is that is basically the focus of the story. Wanda falls in love with Jared just through Melanie’s memories. Call me cynical, but normally most people (I’m pretty sure this even applies to aliens) do not fall in love with people when they haven’t met them before. A person who sees someone across the room may think they are attractive, but they know next to nothing about them. Even though Wanda is seeing Melanie’s memories about Jared, she’s only seeing him interact romantically with one person, and that person is the person Wanda’s taken over, not herself.

The second romance between Wanda and Ian, without wanting to spoil too much, is also problematic because even though he claims to love Wanda for her personality, the second body she inhabits is described as being very beautiful which then boils the relationship down to a purely physical attraction. It would have been interesting if Wanda inhabited a body that was not as attractive or even if she was in a guy’s body.

Overall, the plot is weak and drags on for way too long. It could have easily boiled down from 619 pages to 200. The ending was also anti-climatic, trying to make sure that everyone, and I mean everyone, gets a happy ending.

Characters

I’m really going to focus on Melanie and Wanda because I have more problems with them than the other characters. Will start with Melanie Stryder. This was my problem with her as a character. She is, or at least attempted to be depicted as a strong girl who is constantly trying to fight Wanda over her body. It’s the idea of showing she is going to fight to the end to reclaim her body. That’s fine but here is where I question her: she eventually forms a friendship with Wanda, her invader, and decides in the end that she would rather have Wanda in control of her body rather than herself. I’m sorry but this is classic Stockholm syndrome. Yes, the story is mostly told from Wanda’s point of view but still, even when Melanie is able to project her own thoughts, it reminds the reader that Melanie is essentially a captive. For her to have formed a friendship with her captor and even insisting that her captor lives while she loses everything is not heroic or noble. It makes the character inconsistent. If her priority was to fight for control over her body, even when Wanda appears to help the human survivors, Melanie would still try to fight for control. Now, lets forget about the Stockholm Syndrome like mindset for a moment, even if Melanie wanted Wanda to live, it would have been more logical for her to suggest ways Wanda could get her own body and not have to possess Melanie’s. However, she doesn’t suggest this, and I still  think that her decision to let Wanda keep control over her body is contradicting to her character.

Wanda as a character is okay, but the problem I have with her is that from the beginning, you can tell that Wanda is going to have to eventually make the choice between supporting the surviving humans and supporting her own kind. Yes, it can be interesting at times when she is struggling to take control over Melanie’s body, I will admit. Here’s where I had problems with Melanie: she doesn’t have real character flaws. She claims that she can’t lie because Souls don’t lie to each other. It seems that is the only problem with her, she’s just a bad liar. If Meyer didn’t make the aliens unable to lie or even commit violence (I don’t like violence mind you), then it would allow Wanda to be more interesting and deep as a character, along with having significant character flaws such as being deceptive or quick tempered. To me, she was just bland.

With regards to the other characters, specifically the human survivors, is that they are too trusting of Wanda. Yes, Melanie’s mind is still in partial control of her body. However, there is still an alien inside her, which should make people more suspicious of her because she could turn on them at any point. The other problem I have with Meyer’s characters is with Jared and Ian and that is mostly due to the “romance”. The way in which Meyer rights the characters, she depicts them as really having a physical attraction to Melanie and Wanda, the biggest indicator being in the end with Wanda and her new body.

Let me wrap up my thoughts with the characters, Meyer still needs to work on creating more in depth, complex characters as well as keeping them consistent. While most of the characters I didn’t really care about (if I don’t care about the characters, you’ve got a problem), Wanda was at the very least, not as bland as the rest but she was still bland.

Writing

Now onto the writing. Good Lord, the writing was abysmal and I’m being generous here. One rule with writing that’s a good idea to follow is to keep sentences short. It is possible to use few words to get a point across. Here’s an example of Meyer’s problem with this rule.

“Ford gave Darren a look that could only be described as a glare” (4).

You could have just said, “Ford glared at Darren.” Same message gets across.

Another problem is that Meyer put in pointless descriptions, some of them laughable at times.

“The human girl was the one with ears, and she still slept soundly” (6).

When I read that, I could not stop laughing. What was the point in describing that? Do humans possessed lose their ears? It’s pointless description that Meyer did not need to include and her editor really should have cut out.

Another problem is that Meyer tries to write intense, suspenseful scenes. The biggest scene that comes to mind is when Melanie tries to hide from the Seekers. Meyer shows Wanda living Melanie’s recent memories. The scene is suppose to be suspenseful, Melanie worried that she is going to get captured. The thoughts she has when she’s hiding are okay, but when she’s running, they are too long and the pacing loses any suspense or tension.

Other problems she suffered with in the Twilight Saga are still present in The Host, over use of adverbs, telling and not showing. This happens too frequently for me to say that her writing has improved. If anything it has declined.

Final Thoughts

Honestly, I can’t recommend The Host, even to Science Fiction fans. The story itself focuses on the romance and doesn’t really, aside from dealing with alien body snatchers, have many Sci-fi elements to it to justify it as Science Fiction. The plot is weak, the characters are bland and about as interesting as wet paint, and the writing is poor. Though it honestly boils down to what you prefer. If you don’t mind flimsy plot, flat characters and poor writing, then I would recommend The Host. If you prefer a complex story, compelling characters and decent writing, then I’d recommend other Sci-Fi books.

Final Grade: D

Book Review: The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima

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Now, while anyone who knows me understands that when I go to the bookstore, I shudder going past the Young Adult Section. However, I have been trying to see if there are some gems among the many pieces of shit that fester in the Young Adult section.

Is The Demon King a sparkling gem? Well…

It’s not crap, but it’s not perfect. If anything, it’s a flawed gem. There were some aspects about the book I did like, but there were a few things that did sort of old the book back from being the sparkling gem that it could have been. The first of that is that I really wish the book had a map in it. This might sound petty, but when the author creates a fantasy world, it helps to have a map especially when they reference landmarks and cities across the world. Now perhaps some books have maps in it, but mine did not so this made it difficult for me whenever places such as the Fellsmarch or the Marina Pines or Oden’s Ford, it gets difficult to figure out where all these places are in relationship to each other.

But now let’s get to the heart of it.

Plot

The plot is centered around two characters: Han Alister, a former street lord who left the street world, and Raisa ana’Marianna, “princess heir” of the Fells. The basic story of Han (no spoilers) is how he struggles to take care of his mother and sister, all the while having unraveling the secrets about the Demon King, due to him having stolen an amulet from a wizard family known as the Bayars, which affect his city life when a string of murders of his former gang rivals, the Southies, is pinned on the former Street Lord. For Raisa, her plot is centered around her life in the Fellsmarch Castle and how she takes a more active role in attempting to be a better ruler for the future when the time comes. She, like Han, also gets involved with the Bayar family as seem to be getting closer to her family politically.

Both plots are centered around two central pieces, as I mentioned, one being the history of the Demon King and also the history of the Fells first Queen, Hanalea. I will admit, this is an interesting concept, one character focusing on one part of the history between these two people, who, in the history of the world, were figures around the time known as the Breaking, where Hanalea killed the Demon King. The plot twists were actually interesting, especially about the history of the Demon King and Hanalea. However, I really was only interested in Han’s plot rather than Raisa’s for reasons I will explain. It was only at the end of the book that I became interested in what was happening to Raisa and it has tempted me to consider buying the sequel to the series. Yet as I said, Han story was really what had me on the edge on my seat and was primarily the one main reason I continued to read the book. I honestly was getting annoyed with Raisa when the book would bring up the romance subplots between Micah Bayar, the son of the Lord High Wizard, Amon Byrne, a member of the Queens Guard and yes, Han. I will address this issue in the character section. But honestly, I really couldn’t care less about Raisa’s relationship troubles.

Characters

Han Alister- Han was honestly the character I was cheering for throughout the book. He is a young man who was a former Street Lord of the Ragger Gang but turned away from that path to make a better life for his family, even though it would have been easier to continue to be a Street Lord. His reasons for quitting, when revealed, I have to admit are admirable. However, even though I like Han, I do feel like Chima is playing around with the typical Thief archetype; the witty, charming thief. Granted I’ve seen this done before, hell one of my favorite characters in the Fable series is this archetype but at least there is an interesting twist on his character. For Han, the twist about his character, I will admit is interesting and the ending especially is good, as not only do I feel sorry for Han but felt that he grows as a character throughout the book, knowing that what he discovers about himself, and brought upon himself by taking the amulet from the Bayars, does sort of make him realize that he can never return to the life he lived before because not only is it taken away from him, but because of what he is (no spoilers), he knows he will never be normal.

Now let’s get to Raisa. I have to admit, I wasn’t a fan of her. She was basically the Rebellious Princess archetype, she doesn’t want to be all dressed up and attend social events or do princess related tasks, which is a contrast from her sister Mellony. She is also the Princess Heir of the Fells, an idea I will talk about later in this review, which makes her not just a princess but first in line for the throne. This being a major part of the story, as once her name day comes she will be of marrying age. Naturally she doesn’t want to marry anyone out of political necessity, something that I’ve seen a bit too many times before. However, one thing that I will say is interesting is that she does interact with potential suitors and tries to handle politics when interacting with them. But here is where my opinion of Raisa started to go sour: her romances. Now I thought that the romance with Micah Bayar was interesting, albeit forbidden romance in Young Adult fiction is practically overdone. However I did like the idea behind this one because in the world Chima created, because of the Breaking, Wizards and the royal family are not allowed to marry each other, which is interesting and in the beginning it does seem like Raisa and Micah actually do love each other. Here’s where though it starts getting annoying, Raisa’s childhood friend Amon Byrne returns after 3 years of training. However upon returning, the two (spoilers) develop feelings for each other and now we’ve got the ever popular and annoying love triangle. But oh no, she also, while disguised as Rebecca Morely, begins to develop feelings for Han too, even though she meets him while he attempts to escape a temple by taking her hostage. I could handle one relationship, maybe even two but not three. To me it seemed like Raisa was basically falling for any good looking guy she basically looked at. Now at the end of the book, I will admit she does get better especially since the book takes an interesting turn on her relationship with Micah.

The Writing

The writing is all right. There are moments I saw the same lines repeated, even in the same chapter and also, Chima does sometimes seem to reference modern, or out of context objects when describing things, the biggest one I can think of being when she describes a dog to look like a golden retriever when the world she creates is based in a medieval sort of society (refer to my Research and Writers article for details). However, I do like the world that Chima creates. It is very detailed and sets the atmosphere up as a world that is on the verge of chaos in terms of what’s happening inside the Fells and outside of it too among the Spirit Clans, the Wizard Council and the other nations in the world. The world also, I find, is distinctive among the different peoples, the Spirit Clans sort of reminding me of Native American culture which does make it stand out. If there is one thing I will say however in terms of writing, while it is an interesting idea to work with, magic being seen as a dangerous thing that must be controlled, I will state that I’ve seen this done too many times before.

Final Thoughts

Well, while I like the Seven Realms series, The Demon King isn’t my favorite. That doesn’t mean it’s bad, it’s just not the best in the series. The first book really tries to establish the world and the characters and basic plot which it does do to its credit. It will certainly satisfy anyone I think who enjoys fantasy books, though it might take sometime to get into as the book really clicked in for me around the last quarter.

Final Grade: B

Book Review: Fable: Reaver (Short Story) by Peter David

ImageNow before I begin this book review, I should probably explain a few things. I’ve known about this short story for a while now since I frequently browse the online Barns & Noble store, as well as me being a Fable Fan. Now, while there are a few books about the Fable Series for sale, what prompted me to buy and read this story was for one simple reason: the story was about Reaver.

Now, for those of you who don’t know, Reaver is one of my favorite characters in the Fable game series by Lionhead Studios. He is arrogant, egotistical, hedonistic and a complete bastard. However, while normally one would come to despise Reaver for these qualities, you can help but like him as a character. He is a character whose amoral personality masks another nature that you catch glimpses of at times, glimpses that reveal that he made a dreadful choice, blind as to the consequences of what his choice would bring. Not to mention, in the games, he’s voiced by Stephen Fry.

But enough of that, lets get on to the review.

Plot

This short story is quite brief, only 43 pages (116 on an iPad) which I must admit surprised me because I would like to have read more about Reaver, however, this short story specifically centers around how Reaver earned the title “Pirate King”. The story itself is pretty fast paced so it goes by quickly. The action really picks up the pace in the second (and last) chapter when Reaver is brought aboard Captain Dread’s ship and makes his escape while taking down the crew and captain. However, the plot does build up suspense as the book goes one, starting with Reaver killing off members of Dread’s crew. One thing about the plot that did surprise me was the ending. The book built up this idea that there would be an epic sea battle but when Reaver surrenders, it was out of the blue. Yet Reaver’s escape not only fit his character but it actually provided an unexpected yet satisfying twist to the story.

Characters

The first chapter of the book starts out from Captain Dread’s (the current Pirate King) perspective. Captain Dread is a pirate who, despite his appearance which many pirates including Reaver, controls practically all of the seas and ports of Albion. He is established as a pirate who has earned a reputation of being a ruthless, cruel but cunning pirate lord who keeps pirates and sailors beneath him under his thumb. Yet, Peter David gives Captain Dread a sense of loyalty to his crew, which gives him more depth to his character rather than just making him a stereotypical evil pirate. Peter David also provides the history of Dread which explains what made him turn to piracy, the Captain having been a doctor in his village when it was attacked by pirates and his wife was taken and raped and came back to him but died shortly after she told him what happened to her. Because of this, Captain Dread hunted down the pirates, killed them and took over their ship, renaming it Marianne after his wife. As a character, with the information about his past in mind, you get the sense that while he became a pirate because of the lose of his village and wife out of anger, he has become the very man that he sought vengeance upon because he is fueled by his anger.

The second chapter switches to Reaver’s perspective. Peter David, I got to hand it to him, does a very good job of keeping Reaver’s established character and voice in check. When Reaver starts to kill off members of Captain Dread’s crew, Reaver’s notes that he leaves do reflect his cocky and arrogant tone, while exposing through the mutilation and death he inflicts upon the Pirate King’s crew his cruelty and complete disregard for life. When captured, he asks if he is going to be killed or if the Captain will, “have his way with him”, highlighting Reaver’s pleasure seeking nature, which he often likes to boast of, as well as boast anything about himself (as Captain Dread notes Reaver likes to hear himself speak). Reaver’s wit is very amusing and does sound like something you would hear him say. there were moments I swear I could hear Stephen Fry reading aloud Reaver’s dialogue.

The author does also show just how cunning Reaver is by having him surrender to Captain Dread, only to single handily take down most of the crew, destroy the Marianne, and kill the captain. Reaver also displays his power of manipulation by instilling fear among the people of Albion as well as Captain Dread’s crew which not only demoralizes the crew a bit, but it also damages Captain Dread’s reputation. The best example is when Captain Dread places a bounty on Reaver’s head. Rather than go into hiding, Reaver in fact does the opposite. He puts up posters throughout all of Albion with the reward price as well as noting that for one to put a bounty on someone’s head means that they are too much of a coward and and are afraid to deal with the wanted person themselves. Captain Dread sees that not only is his reputation being undermined by Reaver, but also the faith his crew has in him, as well as his own confidence in his abilities. Reaver manages to damage this without using violence, he uses his wits to out-smart his opponent.

Now, before one asks if he has a moment of redemption or compassion, there is one moment, however, unless one played Fable 2, it might fall through. When Captain Dread explains what happened to his wife, Reaver does sympathies with him as he too lost someone he loved. For those of you who don’t know, Reaver is blessed with eternal youth. While he can still die from the sword, he never ages, but it comes at a price. At certain times, he has to offer up young people to the Shadow Court, the forces who provide Reaver with eternal youth and beauty, who steal the sacrifices youth. When Reaver made this pact, he didn’t realize it would come at the cost of the village of Oakvale and the people he loved, including a lover he had. I have to admit, I was glad Peter David referenced that.

The Writing

The writing was decent, not perfect, but good. Reaver’s dialogue was the highlight of the writing. One thing I have to criticize is that the dialogue among the pirates was a bit off. The pirates sounded too proper and yet would sometimes say words in a dialect but only rarely. I feel that Peter David should have at least kept them consistent and maybe dumb down the  proper talk. I’m not saying that the pirates have to sound like illiterate cockney men, but it would have at least made them feel more like actual pirates if they weren’t speaking properly. Another thing I have to note is that sometimes the descriptions were a bit confusing, especially at the end of the story when Reaver was escaping. At times I couldn’t tell where on the ship he was and what exactly he was doing. I was a bit thankful I could look up some of the words online (yes I had do, deal with it) because some parts of the ship that Peter David mentions were lost on me.

Final Thoughts

Overall I liked this short story, it satisfied my curiosity about Reaver as well as answered a few questions I had about him. Not only that it was a good read and rather exciting. As for recommendation, a fan of the game series would enjoy this, but I think someone who hasn’t played the game might enjoy this however some of the details about Reaver might be lost onto the reader if they don’t really know much about the character (the lover being the biggest one).

Final Rating: B+

Research and Writers

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Try to these questions without doing research: What is a lunar eclipse? When was the Bronze Age in Britain? When was it in Germany? What does the word “hemina” mean?

Can’t figure this out on your own? Well, this means that research is needed to answer these questions. As a writer, the old saying, “write what you know” should probably not be taken seriously. If, as an 18 year old, I wrote what I only know, my story would not be deep and complex as I’d like and most likely just bore my readers. Through research I would be able to add more depth to my writing and make the world I create in my stories seem more real.

However, based on some books I’ve recently read, authors seem to think that they can get away with not doing any research through what I’d like to call “Bullshitting”.  Now I could rip on Stephanie Meyer for doing this because she has said that she “doesn’t like research because [she’s] lazy” and that “when writing fantasy, research rarely applies” but I won’t, at least not yet Instead I’ll use an example from a book I’m currently reading and am trying to like. The book is The Demon King by Cinda William Chima. Image

Now this is a fantasy story that takes place in another world. The world, based on what I’ve read (up to chapter 11), seems based off of medieval society. However, there are moments that when I read them, that indicate Cindi didn’t do much research. The one that sticks out in my mind was when Chima describes how a dog looks similar to a Golden Retriever. Bing! It took me out of the story because Golden Retrievers are not an ancient breed.

Now this might sound like a petty complaint but normally when fantasy writers describe dogs, usually they are not specific with breeds, unless they make the breeds up, like with George R.R. Martin’s dire wolves (yes they are technically not dogs, but my point still applies). Golden Retrievers were not really bred until the mid 18th century and not officially recognized until the early 1900’s. Now, I understand that some of you may be thinking, “Well, she’s really describing what they look like.” That maybe the case but imagine this: you are writing a novel set in 1920’s Britain and you have your protagonist buy a new car but when you describe it, compare it to a modern car. You see what I mean? It is a small little error like that, despite how minor it is, can take a reader out of the story.

Now, I’m going to take you back to Stephanie Meyer’s comment about research not being important. I’m laughing because this person, who believes erroneously that Rio de Janeiro is on the West coast of Brazil, thinks research doesn’t matter. Image

Research does matter to fantasy, just as much as it applies to all genres. Don’t believe me? Well answer these questions: what are the signs of arsenic poisoning? What’s the difference between that and lead poisoning? What kinds of mushrooms are poisonous? What would an apothecary use in his trade? I think you get the point.

However, my original point was not to bash authors who don’t do research (well maybe just to note some people who do and don’t) but to show to writers who do want to stories that they hope to publish, a key part of writing a book is the research behind it. Believe me, I understand that it can be a pain at times, but it is vital. You want your story to be polished and as perfect as you can make it. You don’t want readers stopping and scratching their heads and saying, “Huh? That doesn’t sound right.”

If you want your world to sound real, you have to build it, and that takes a lot of time and research. Maybe you’ll get lucky and get published anyway, but it won’t make your book a better read.

What Do You Think Is Wrong With Young Adult Books?

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Now recently I went to the bookstore to look for some books that would A) Help inspire me to write, B) help me in terms of specific aspects of my novel, and C) for my own personal leisure. Yes I am a book nerd, not ashamed to admit it.

Now here is where my rant begins. When I got in the store, some of the staff working there tried to offer me some books on sale, most of which were young adult books. I decided to take a look at them (come on, in this day an age, a book that has a good discount on it is hard to resist) and I couldn’t believe it.

I read some pages of the following books:

Fallen + Torment + Passion by Lauren Kate
Reread House of Night Marked by P.C Cast
Evermore from the Immortal Series by Alison Noel
Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

Now, it’s books like these that make me cringe every time I so much as look at the Young Adult Section of the bookstore. These “books”, and I’m using the term very lightly, follow a generic formula regarding plots, rendering them unoriginal. Even the covers are the same, having someone standing all alone holding something like a rose or some sort of flower, with dark colors all around. The titles are practically the same as well. They basically are the bastard offsprings of the Twilight Series, from plot to characters.

Zoey Redbird from House of Night and Ever from Evermore (try not to make a joke with it, I dare you, it’s tempting to make fun of) are Mary-Sues that are just as bad as Bella, possibly even worse. Seriously, the characters are described as “plain” or “social outcasts” but these “qualities” are then ignored when the protagonist is with the “mysterious” man who turns out to be some supernatural creature (vampire, werewolf, fallen angel etc.) because they are so “perfect” and can do anything. Which is the definition of a Gary-Stu, the male equivalent of a Mary-Sue. Basically the characters have as much depth as a puddle with a rock in it, even the minor characters lack the depth necessary to make them believable and most of the time, they are stereotypical caricatures. An example of this can be found in the House of Night Series. In the first book, Zoey describes her family as the following, her brother the Troll who plays video games all of the time (Internet or Gaming Troll), her sister a Barbie Clone (Hot girl who acts like a slut) and her father a “Step Loser” (Stereotypical stepparent is evil) and her mother being completely dependent on and partial to her husband.

Another issue that most of these books suffer from is too many purple prose, specifically with regards to the female’s love interests looks. Unless their looks are central to the story, it isn’t necessary to continue describing them to make them look like they’re God. My comment about looks being central to the story, here’s what I mean. In Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, Dorian Gray is depicted as a young handsome man. However, his beauty is what motivates him to sell his soul to the devil in the hopes that a painting of himself, which captures his beauty, will age while he doesn’t. Now, throughout the book, Dorian is still described by others as a handsome man, but his beauty is a mask for his hedonistic and sinful nature, which his friend Basil, the man who painted the portrait, points out. He believes that Dorian when he first met him was a handsome, naive man but was pure. Though still beautiful, Dorian is now corrupt. Vanity is a key theme.

The love interests of these female protagonists (I am not using the term “heroine” because these girls are NOT heroines) basically treat the protagonist like they’re inferior, creating an abusive relationship, which more or less follows the Twilight view on relationships. According to Stephanie Meyer, true love is ripping your girlfriend’s car engine out when she wants to see her friend, true love is about attempting suicide after your boyfriend dumped you, true love is about getting married just after high school and not even thinking about what to do in the future (career, college etc.), true love is about watching her while she is sleeping before your even together. I think I’m getting the message across. If you want to know how this connects to the other books, in House of Night, Stark sacrifices himself so he can rescue Zoey’s soul after it’s been shattered because her human boyfriend (she’s had a record of 3 boyfriends at once, or was it 4? one of them was a teacher) is killed who, if I recall correctly said he would die for her.

The love is also not two people who are attracted to each other because they have similar interests, connecting with each other and having a relationship that grows over time. All of the books have relationships built on lust due to looks, not personality. I’m serious and they happen in an instant that it makes the relationship unreal. In House of Night, Fallen and Evermore, they all fall in love in less than a school year. There is no chemistry between the characters who are supposedly falling in love. The writers just decides that those two characters will be together, but does not let the relationship grow over time and experience both ups and downs in the relationship.

The other things is, while reading them, the writing was so bad, I wanted to chuck the books out a window and hoped that something would flatten them so I could throw as a Frisbee for someone’s dog which they would eventually chew to pieces. I can understand the occasional adverb (for those of you who don’t know what adverbs are here’s an example: quickly, lightly, softly, sharply etc.) but most of these writers use adverbs in every sentence. Don’t believe me? Well I did a tally mark of the number of adverbs in the first chapter of Twilight, and the total was 112 adverbs. Way too many.

Another aspect of the writing that is a problem, mostly for the books written from a first person perspective is that the authors do not know how to write from that perspective. When you write from a first person perspective, unless your character is God, your perspective is limited. What does this mean? It means that your protagonist does not know what other people around them are thinking or what they are feeling. Many of the writers of the series I have been using as examples do not know how to write from a limited first person perspective. Their protagonists know what everyone is thinking and feeling, when they have no indication as to what they are truly thinking (such as saying what is on their mind).

Seriously what’s with all of these books? They teach horrible lessons that are going to stick with the generation, having a bad sense of what love is. Now granted not all young adult books are bad, yes I like Harry Potter, but still The Abhorsen Series is very good, Hunger Games (first one was good, second one not bad, third one ehh…) and the Girl of Fire and Thrones are examples of decent paranormal and fantasy young adult books. An example of fiction based young adults are Speak, a book I think that everyone should read in their lifetime.

Now here is where you all come in: what is your opinion on Young Adult books now?