Sunday, 17 December 2017

Book Review: The Stray, by Amanda Geisler

The Stray (The White Wolf Trilogy, #1)The Stray by Amanda Geisler

A young adult novella in the same stream as Vampire Diaries, Teen Wolf and New Moon, The Stray follows the perspective of a number of supernatural teens living in small-town New Jersey. Rya Garcia, a werewolf and the heir to position of alpha to her pack, makes a bold move when she insists on breaking a stray werewolf out of captivity in order to help preserve the secrecy of their existence. She uses her influence with Zac, the son of the town's resident werewolf researcher, to gain entry onto the compound where the stray is kept, but quickly discovers that interest in her kind is much more prolific and advanced than any of them had known.

Geisler begins her story with impact, straight into the action of a wolfpack meeting out in the forest at night. Rya attends with her trusty sidekick Toby, and puts forward her suggestion about the stray to Erik, the bitter, angry black wolf who has forced his way into power over the rest of the werewolves in the absence of Rya's parents. The lore of werewolves is clearly significant to the author, and is woven throughout the story.

From here, some of the pacing was a little off, meaning that significant characters weren't consistently present throughout the story or were introduced quite late in the piece, undermining some of their impact, leading to some confusion and sometimes lacking in adequate consequences for total satisfaction of storytelling. Though not my favourite of the wide cast of characters, I appreciate what Geisler was aiming for in her creation of Rya, an independent, strong young female lead. Her aggression got the better of her several times throughout the story, and I hope this will backfire on her in future stories to create more drama and conflict as she attempts to assert her dominance. I connected more with Toby, who I thought was fun and loyal, very much depicted as the friendly puppy at Rya's side, and Colby, though I wish he was in the story sooner. His mildness and togetherness gave some balance to the rash cast of younger characters whose recklessness gets the story started. There were also some questions left unanswered about how the human population had become aware of the wolves in the first place, and Erik's human backstory. With two more books in the series yet to be released, and with Geisler just starting out in her authorial career, it can be hoped that these characters and subplots are more fully developed in coming stories.

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Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Book Review: The 100, by Kass Morgan

The 100 (The Hundred, #1)The 100 by Kass Morgan
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I'm a big fan of the show and I understand that it's unfair to compare the two due to the differing strengths and opportunities of each medium, but I don't think this novel lived up to its potential. Such a shame! I wanted to like this, and I wanted it to delve more into the relationships and the true depths of the characters in the way only a novel can. But alas. This novel is more teen than young adult, with a lot of focus on best friends and boyfriends and feeling betrayed and left out, though with a couple of YA elements thrown in to age it that could have been utilised more powerfully.

Introducing the same premise from which the show was spawned, young space-dwelling characters Clarke, Wells and Bellamy find themselves stranded on an unfriendly post-apocalyptic Earth, fighting for survival. They set up camp and instinctively follow the lead of Wells, the son of the Chancellor who damned them all by sending them down to a possibly radioactive world, because he's the only person who seems to have his act together. A ragtag group of 100 juvenile delinquents, there's a bit of infighting and power struggle, as one would expect between such extreme characters in such an extreme circumstance. Only, sadly, it doesn't feel all that believable. The characters are underdeveloped and flat. Their reactions to events are let down by the lack of description, feeling or build-up, resulting in character deaths that could go unnoticed, their impact minimal. It's a pity, because this book reads like a first draft script for the pilot episode of the show, following the same events for the most part, and there was so much more that could have been done with these diverse characters in this extreme setting. As the show proved.

Probably the highlight of the book for me was Glass, a character left out in the show, or rather, amalgamated with Clarke to give her some substance. Glass escaped the dropship just as Bellamy boarded, and tells the story of events that transpire on the arks in the days and weeks following. Her main focus is on her boyfriend, which didn't entertain me all that much, but I was interested by her day-to-day life, showing how people truly live on board the life-saving arks, such as exchanging and recycling materials at a market because there's nothing new, ever, to work with when you're an isolated space community. I liked that concept, and how it (and other technologies we don't have today but which could conceivably exist by that time in the future) was normalised into her society.

Unsure if I'll read the rest of the series. I don't think I'm the right audience. This book would suit a younger reader looking for angst and romance over science fiction.

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