Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

About Jia

Jia is an avid reader who loves fantasy and young adult novels. She's also currently dipping her toes in the new adult genre but remains unconvinced by the prevalent need for traumatic pasts. Her favorite authors are Michelle West and Jacqueline Carey. YA authors whose works she's enjoyed include Holly Black, Laini Taylor, Ally Carter, and Megan Miranda. Jia's on a neverending quest for novels with diverse casts and multicultural settings. Feel free to email her with recommendations at [email protected]!

Posts by Jia :

REVIEW:  Vengeance by Megan Miranda

REVIEW: Vengeance by Megan Miranda


Dear Ms. Miranda,

I loved your first novel, Fracture. Part medical mystery and part psychological thriller, I admit it was the shifting relationship between Delaney and Decker that caught and held my attention. I adore the friends to lovers trope, and it was done so well in that book. Even though I thought Fracture was an excellent standalone, I was happy to see there was a sequel. To say I jumped onto the request button on NetGalley is an understatement.

Vengeance picks up a few months after the events of Fracture. Things have settled down but the aftermath is obvious. Rumors of a curse circulate around town. Delaney fell through the ice and was saved, but not before being declared clinically dead for 11 minutes. And after she came back, an old lady passes away, a beloved friend dies in Delaney’s arms, and yet another boy perishes when he falls through the ice covering the lake. Delaney cheated death and death is unsatisfied.

It’s easy to dismiss these occurrences as coincidences. People die every day. Natural causes, epilepsy, recklessness… There are reasons. But when a series of unfortunate accidents begin to happen, all centering around Delaney, those coincidences become hard to explain away. Is death really retaliating for being cheated of Delaney’s life or is it something more sinister?

This is an odd book. I don’t have any other way to put it. I enjoyed it. It’s moody and atmospheric and I eat that stuff up with a spoon. That said, it doesn’t really live up to the tight package that was Fracture. Maybe that’s not a fair comparison but there it is.

Vengeance is told from the POV of Decker and while I’m not sure I liked him as a narrator, it was a necessary change for the story. Decker lives on instinct and feelings. Delaney, on the other hand, is all logic and facts. The kind of story Vengeance tells can only be told through Decker’s eyes. It’s his narration that plants the seeds of doubt that a curse could actually exist. After all, Delaney can tell when someone is going to die. Why wouldn’t it be possible for death to be angry about being cheated? I realize it’s very Final Destination but it’s the doubt that breathes life into the plot.

If Fracture was about the many ways traumatic events put pressure on relationships, revealing their weaknesses, Vengeance is about how grief over losing someone can transform a person, revealing the ugliness hidden beneath the surface and driving them to do terrible things. I actually thought the depiction of Decker’s grief was spot-on. When you’re in the middle of it, you don’t think clearly. You don’t see clearly. You think you’re acting fine when you’re really being an asshole to the people who love and support you most.

The mystery of the curse was a little muddled. While the red herring was killer and did a good job masking the truth, it also added to the lack of cohesion in the narrative. In fact, when the truth is revealed, it’s rather underwhelming. You see, there’s Decker’s grief and the way it strains his relationship with Delaney. Then there are the bad things happening to their group of friends. Then there’s Delaney’s attempts to look into her strange ability. So many threads that just needed to come together better. It’s just not as tight a story as it could be, which is a shame.

I don’t regret reading Vengeance. I’m glad to revisit Decker and Delaney’s relationship and how their lives have changed after. But I also can’t help but think this is a sequel that doesn’t really need to exist. B-

My regards,

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REVIEW:  Erased by Jennifer Rush

REVIEW: Erased by Jennifer Rush


Dear Ms. Rush,

While your debut, Altered, left me underwhelmed, the fast-paced action of the plot stuck with me. I wanted to see if the second book improved. Sometimes it takes a book or two for a series to find its legs. (Hey, I started out a fantasy reader. Believe me, I know about series that take a while to get going!) So I picked up Erased with those hopes in mind. Maybe they were misplaced.

After the events of Altered, Anna and the boys — Sam, Nick and Cas — remain on the run from the Branch, the organization that made the boys into super soldiers and Anna into their control switch. But the time away from the Branch has had other results. Without the drugs constantly pumped into their system, old memories are resurfacing — memories that were once suppressed.

Anna struggles to make sense of her memories, trying to put together the pieces in a way that makes sense. Then she discovers that her beloved sister, Dani, may still be alive. Every sign points to a trap set by the Branch, but the truth may be even more surprising.

Much like Altered, Erased is action-packed and zips along at a fast pace. Because of this, it’s a quick read but once the last page is turned, the flaws come tumbling out one after another. This is a novel with lots of flash but not much substance.

First of all, Erased deals with lots of heavy topics: identity, suppressed memories (whether by natural means or no), estranged family members, and abuse. But not enough time is given to these subjects and I can’t help but think that’s to the novel’s detriment. Maybe it’s the length of the novel. I don’t know if you can balance these themes and the plot and do them both justice in less than 300 pages.

Secondly, I’m forced to admit that Anna is a very reactive character. I don’t know if this is a holdover from the Hunger Games school of “strong” female protagonists but from page 1, Anna is reacting. Every decision she makes is in reaction to an event that happens. For a protagonist, she doesn’t really control her own fate, even in a small way. You don’t notice this immediately while reading the novel — or at least I didn’t — but having finished the book, I’m left feeling distinctly unsatisfied.

Some of the problems from Altered carried over. I’m still not entirely comfortable with the fact that Anna and Sam are in a relationship, when Sam was once in love with her older sister, Dani. Yes, the same older sister who returns in this book. While I’m relieved there are no awkward love triangles in Erased, I still think that aspect should have had more impact on the present-day relationships. Sure, everyone’s memories have been tampered with in some way but still, wouldn’t you feel awkward when you were reunited with the sister you lost… who also used to date your current boyfriend? I’m sorry. Anna is a teenager. There’s no way a simple conversation can put all those worries to rest.

I’m also disappointed by the relationship between the sisters. Yes, they’ve been estranged and yes, Anna’s memories have been altered and gaps are missing but this is a sister practically come back from the dead. Shouldn’t there be more impact? It just seemed underdeveloped and lots of missed opportunities abounded. In many ways, I wondered if Dani even needed to be Anna’s big sister. She could have been a best friend based on the ways that part of their relationship affected the plot and its implications.

Finally, the romance between Anna and Sam bored me. I know it’s hard to keep an established relationship interesting. That’s why so many awkward love triangles get introduced after the couple has gotten together. This isn’t me saying I want that. The opposite, actually! But Anna and Sam are on the run. Anna is learning survival skills and Sam is the perfect soldier-assassin. Shouldn’t there have been some friction in their relationship under this conditions? That’s a lot of stress!

Ironically, I found myself wanting Anna to get together with another character (Nick). Their dynamic is more interesting and after some revelations in Erased, I’d almost say them getting together makes more sense. Or maybe that’s just my favorite tropes affecting my judgment. (I’ll refrain from saying more because that’d be a spoiler.)

While I’d hoped for some interesting developments in the second book of this series, I realize now those expectations were misplaced. If you enjoyed Altered, I suspect you’ll like this book. But if you were left dissatisfied by the previous book, I wouldn’t bother picking this up. It’s more of the same. C-

My regards,

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