Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Prince William & Kate: A Royal Romance

Biographies or Autobiographies or even Non Fictions are not my thing but i do love to read them if the person in question is interesting and yes if the subject is the English royal family then they are pretty much included in the interesting faction and I chanced upon netgalley and got to read this ARC(advanced reader copy) of Prince William and Kate: A Royal Romance by Matt Deoden.

Here is the summary :

On April 29, 2011, the whole world watched as Prince William of Wales and Kate Middleton exchanged marriage vows. This royal wedding was one of the most anticipated events in England in recent years. Ever since the couple officially announced their engagement in November 2010, every detail of the wedding has captured headlines around the globe. Why all the excitement? William is second in line to become Britain’s king. William Arthur Philip Louis of Wales is the firstborn child of Charles and Diana, Prince and Princess of Wales. And through marriage to William, Catherine Elizabeth Middleton—known as Kate—turned from a commoner into a duchess. If William becomes king one day, Kate will be the Queen Consort. Follow the couple’s royal romance from their first meeting at the University of St. Andrews, through the ups and downs of their relationship, to the romantic wedding ceremony at London’s Westminster Abbey.

Although the entire details presented in the book was pretty much showcased on news channels around the world during their wedding preparations but most of audience to which this book is targeted wasn’t yet born when Diana’s death happened, so the short review within the first few pages was just perfectly sized, considering that this isn’t the story of Diana and her children, but of William himself and of his history with Kate. Not too long, not too short, and perfectly reverent.

The titular character - personality of the book are upon whom the whom the whole thing is based upon. The book goes on to chronicle William’s history up until he meets Kate, and then it’s a joint history leading up to their wedding. Considering that this is a middle-grade book that will probably be ending up in elementary and middle school libraries all over the States (and other places too), there is a lot of information contained within these few pages that will hold the attention of these readers quite easily. The glossy pictures and the articulated pages don’t hurt, either, especially when it comes to digesting all of this information.

The writing is straightforward, with very little in the way of speculation or gossip and the author has included definitions of some words that may be new to the intended audience. (Example: “perceptive” – able to see and understand things clearly.) The new Royals seem to have given hope back to the world, even though their power is more or less just constitutional anyway. Everyone roots for the underdog, and for a long time William was the underdog due to the obstacles thrown at him by life and his family.

While not for the seasoned royal watcher, Prince William & Kate: A Royal Romance is, all-in-all, a good introduction to the newlyweds for the pre-teen crowd. 


The Ultimate Sacrifice

New authors everyday and its was pleasure to read them giving new meaning to used concepts and even adding new points to the ever increasing and fantasizing young adult fiction bases. Read on about The Ultimate Sacrifice by Talia Jager.

Here is the summary :

Within our world exists a much darker world only known to a select few. Some are identified as "gifted" and brought to a special institute where they develop their own unique talent and understanding of this world within our world. It is here Kassia finds out her talent is both dangerous and difficult to control. She has the ability to inflict pain on an individual within her sight. It is only after a friend is being attacked that she realizes her talent is much more powerful when she brings death to the attackers. Little did she know that use of such a powerful talent alerted demons to her existence. Suddenly she is on the run with her best friend, who ironically is immune to her power, and a new kid at school she was falling for. Realizing she can't outrun the demons, she seeks the guidance of a local shaman. The shaman explains the only escape is through her own death. In order to protect her friends and institute, she sets out to do just that.

Think would you be able to give the ultimate sacrifice to protect your loved ones, your friends? 

The Glendale Institute students are "gifted." This story focuses on Kassia, a mind-blower, one who delivers pain with her mind and can even cause death. Her friends, Mira, Daxton, Noe, Auralee, and Zane all play equally important roles as they come together to stop an army of demons, disgustingly rotten creatures of darkness - of hell; from taking over and everyone being destroyed by them and their evil leader, Kern.

The plot was pretty easy to follow, there’s absolutely nothing complicated about it. Still, at the same time, I was longing for more details and challenges because it was such a good story with added twists. Nonetheless, I’m giving the author some kudos because after a few chapters, I was fixed to the book. I wanted to read more of it, but before I knew it, it’s over. The story took off a bit slow, revolving around school and romance, but as it progressed, everything started to go wild and quite thrilling. On top of that, the first person perspective worked well in bringing both Kassia and Mira to life. The voice was very teenage-like, matches their characters and their emotions were portrayed in convincing manners. All in all, the language used was simple yet flawless.

Although we don't have enough details about all the character but Daxton was interesting. Anybody would love a guy who can whisk you out of your troubles to fantasyland, literally without breaking a sweat. I'm sure every girl out there wants a Daxton too!

The author has a great why of capturing the readers attention. I almost felt like I was there with the characters in the action scenes. I just hope there is a squeal to this one. I highly recommend this book to anyone.


Pendragon: #10 The Soldiers of Halla

As expected I didn't like the end but i'm glad so now i can move onto another series, now that its the final book #10 The Soldiers of Halla of the Pendragon saga is complete. Lets find out why...

Here is the summary :

It has all been leading to this. Every victory. Every loss. All the thrills and sadness; the hope and despair. Bobby Pendragon’s heart-pounding journey through time and space has brought him to this epic moment. He and his fellow Travelers must join forces for one last desperate battle against Saint Dane. At stake is not only the tenth and final territory, but all that ever was or will be. Everywhere. This is the war for Halla. Every question is answered. Every truth is revealed. The final battle has begun.

The book exactly delivers all it promises, all the answers. The answers that have been missing since the book 1 but dumping the whole thing at once as well as adding dump load more - no good at all. In short an epic failure. All the preceding books have been following the same formula but Machale starts to change the game around from 8 and now in book 10 proves and epic downfall.

The Soldiers of Halla begins with the ten Travelers, including Uncle Press, meeting in a crumbling wasteland of a city. They are immediately attacked by a helicopter, forcing them to seek refuge in the buildings. Bobby and Loor are trapped in a pit and watch as a colony of people are caught by the helicopters in a nearby building. When the helicopters leave, however, the Travelers gather back together. The first generation of Travelers quickly appear, such as Osa, Loor's mother, and Seegen, Kasha's father, and lead the other Travelers away. Bobby is met by his family again, who tell him that the wastleand was in fact the New York City zoo on Third Earth.

His family leads Bobby to another place, that is filled with dark clouds and crumbling, gray earth. They confess that they know all that has transpired in Halla so far, including Bobby's murder of Alexander Naymeer on Second Earth. Moreover, they tell him that Solara is indeed the essence of Halla and thus the ten territories. Each victory and defeat inflicted by the Travelers and Saint Dane is reflected in the overall health of Solara. All of the souls of Halla are transferred to Solara after they pass on in Halla. They admit that Saint Dane was once a leader of Solara, along with themselves and Uncle Press, to maintain its health.

This book is more philosophical than any of the previous volumes. We realize that this has not been simply an adventure story, but the screenwriter MacHale has given us a saga that allows us to reflect on the essential reality of humanity: the freedom to choose good and to fight evil. All of the main characters of the earlier volumes make their reappearance here in the final fight for Halla and for the vindication of the human spirit.

I will admit I am a fan of the first few books and really have enjoyed the concept of the Travelers, the different worlds (territories), and the battle against Saint Dane. Unfortunately, the last few books started to feel very repetitive with little suspense. It was almost like the story was only fresh enough for 5 really compact books instead of 10 really drawn out volumes.

My biggest complaint with the final book was that I was expecting something different or new in the conclusion to the story. Instead we get the same opening letter from Bobby which then leads to a series of familiar feeling mini-adventures (bad guy attacks, overwhelming odds, surprise rescue - over and over again). 

The entire book is written like the end of every one of his other books. there is no end to the action and no real apex to the story because of it. I loved hearing about mark and courtneys journeys to help bobby and their feelings about it all spaced in between bobby's journals but McHale would have none of that in this book. Its all from bobby's perspective and makes all of the main characters incredibly flat feeling.

The ending was DEEPLY DEEPLY unsatisfying. All the travelers go back to the spirit world except bobby who somehow gets his uncles permission to keep living his life which somehow leads to an ending describing bobby's life if he had never been a traveler and is told in hindsight by bobby when he is about to die in what seems to be an old folks home. none of it makes sense i had to reread the previous two chapters trying to figure out what had happened, to try and find some reason for this ending. there was none im sorry to say.

I really dont know what happened with this book. McHale seemed to love to shout out the moral to the story every chapter or so. it made it a very shallow story. The ending was wrong. just wrong. i cant describe it in a better way. 


In My Dreams

Bookblogs is proving a wonder. You get to meet so many new folk - blogger, readers, reviewers, authors alike and I chanced upon In My Dreams by Cameo Renae and loved it.

Here is the summary:

It was happening again. The dreams. The nightmares. It was something seventeen year-old Elizabeth "Lizzy" Hayes thought she'd outgrown; dreams that would come true; detailed premonitions of how people would die. This time she dreams about her boyfriend, Michael Young, and soon discovers that he's been found... dead. Michael hasn't crossed over because he was murdered, and now his murderer is coming for Lizzy. His spirit won't rest until she is safe, and as a newbie spirit, the easiest way for him to make contact is through Lizzy's dreams. When she dreams, it's as if he hasn't died. Lizzy must learn to pull on her inner strength to survive horrifying events. Meanwhile, in the spirit world, Michael learns everything he can about his supernatural gifts to help. But will it be enough to save her?

A general element about a novel - it should be well paced. Well no questions asked In My Dreams is a well paced novel. Descriptions (especially of landscape) were atmospheric and breath-taking. And the plot points were well laid out. And most of all the language was simple nothing too modern and nothing too classy. But the best thing is - I was hooked from the beginning - normally whenever I read I make a point to stop after 4 or 5 chapters for a day but this had me hooked to the teeth and I knew I simply had to finish it at once. And I must also add Ms. Renae you made me cry with the last chapter of this book and that's saying something cause I'm not a very crying type of a person.

So, Lizzy Hayes is our protagonist here and much to her chagrin has grown accustomed to having dreams of how people will die - dreams that are actually detailed premonitions that eventually come true. So, when she has a dream about her boyfriend, Michael, Lizzy discovers soon thereafter - much to her horror - that his dead body has been found. Because he's been murdered, though, Michael's spirit has not crossed over to the other side, and he's determined to do whatever it takes to stop his killer - who now has his sights set on Lizzy. But can Michael save his endangered lover before it's too late...? - A fairy tale romance - the perfect boyfriend and a dependent gal - but don't go thinking about Bella Swan (Twilight) - Lizzy is way better than her (Bella is say was the most irritating protagonist is have read about....more so after Kristen Stewart began to play the role.....then she became pathetic - but don't go flaming me I like Bella-Edward saga and i'm just making a ref.) but yes Lizzy and Michael's relationship is way sweet and serene.

Although the main plot point is pretty common and has been done before but the author breathes new life in it and makes it so that we feel that we are the one experiencing it as it is happening and not just as a simply reader but we feel that we are a part of the story.

In My Dreams is quite the exciting supernatural thriller. Author Cameo Renae breathes intriguing new life into what has become a rather familiar concept. As the action of the novel unfolds, readers are sure to find themselves on a roller coaster of different emotions, including everything from sadness, tantalizing terror to joy - culminating in the desperate hope that Michael and Lizzy's efforts finally come together to prevent her untimely demise.

I Quote - It is a definite page turner, an engaging, attention-grabbing read from beginning to end. You Won't be able to keep it down until you read it till the .


The Woman in Black

I am an occasional horror reader and with the news of the release of the movie The Woman in Black starring Daniel Radcliffe and based on the said book by Susan Hill I knew I had to read it and I simply loved it.

Here is the summary of the book:

What real reader does not yearn, somewhere in the recesses of his or her heart, for a really literate, first-class thriller - one that chills the body with foreboding of dark deeds to come, but warms the soul with perceptions and language at once astute and vivid? In other words, a ghost story by Jane Austen. Austen we cannot, alas, give you, but Susan Hill's remarkable Woman In Black comes as close as the late twentieth century is likely to provide. Set on the obligatory English moor, on an isolated causeway, the story has as its hero one Arthur Kipps, an up-and-coming young solicitor who has come north to attend the funeral and settle the estate of Mrs. Alice Drablow of Eel Marsh House. The routine formalities he anticipates give way to a tumble of events and secrets more sinister and terrifying than any nightmare: the rocking chair in the nursery of the deserted Eel Marsh House, the eerie sound of pony and trap, a child's scream in the fog, and, most dreadfully, and for Kipps most tragically, the woman in black. The Woman In Black is both a brilliant exercise in atmosphere and controlled horror and a delicious spine-tingler - proof positive that that neglected genre, the ghost story, isn't dead after all.

With all the hosh-posh crude horror being published these days a pure classic horror forms a respite. What better way to spend the day than to read Ms. Hill's ghostly composition. Set in Victorian England, this atmospheric, supernatural tale of evil, terror and revenge sent chills down my spine on more than one occasion. It starts peacefully and builds up to a frightening crescendo that will "haunt" you long after you put the book down.

Ms. Hill begins her well-written narrative happily enough in the home of Arthur Kipps, who is surrounded by his loving wife and family for the Christmas holidays at their country home, Monk's Piece. Kipps is a full partner at a prestigious London law firm. Esme is his second wife. He lost his first love as a very young man. It is Christmas Eve and the grandchildren are all in bed. Their young parents, the Kipps' grown children, gather around the fire for a cozy ghost story session. At one point Kipps, obviously agitated, gets up, leaves the room and goes outside. He has hidden something significant about his past from his wife and family for years now - a tragically real ghost story of "haunting and evil, fear, confusion and horror" - of which he was a part. These events will certainly effect him all the days of his life. Kipps realizes that for his own peace of mind it is time to write his experience down and exorcise the demons, at last. He had hoped this inextricable part of his life would never have to be consciously recollected...but it is time. He decides that, at least during his lifetime, the tale will remain for his eyes only, and so he begins to write. He is our narrator.

At the very beginning of his career, many years before, Arthur Kipps, an energetic, idealistic junior solicitor was sent by his employer to attend the funeral of an elderly widow woman, Mrs. Drablow, one of the firms former clients. As the deceased owned property, including her home on the salt marshes near the town of Crythin Gifford, and had no heirs, no children or extended family, Kipps was asked to go and sort through her papers, and generally tidy-up the old woman's affairs.

The Drablow mansion, called Eel Marsh House, is quite isolated, situated in the middle of an estuary, connected to the mainland only by the Nine Lives Causeway, a small pathway barely visible through the marshes and quicksand, and only navigable a few hours a day. The road is underwater the rest of the time due to the strong tides.

It was at the funeral that Arthur Kipps first saw the tall, emaciated woman dressed in black. Despite his many questions to the locals, they refused to discuss the woman or address his concerns surrounding the Drabnow house, although they were extremely amiable and ready to speak out on every other topic. Suffice it to say that at the funeral, Kipps was the only one to see the woman in black. No one else even glimpsed what was so apparent to him.

Obviously, as his work led him to spend time at Eel Marsh house, there were to be be many more surreal episodes, each more frightening and dangerous in nature. Although these encounters are really scary, there is a mystery here also. Who is this mysterious woman...and if she is a ghost, why can she find no peace?

But as Arthur journeys across the treacherous causeway at low tide to explore the dark and brooding Eel Marsh House, things begin to shake up a bit. Not only did the late Mrs. Drablow keep every scrap of paper that ever crossed her twisted path, but she also harbored several dark, sinister secrets. But as you well know, secrets have a way of coming un-done and as would be the case for dear Arthur, he gets smack in the middle of a real doosey.

There's a mysterious locked nursery door, buckets full of eerie moonlight and a terrifying, recurring sound of a pony and trap (wagon) clip-clopping into the darkness always ending with a child's desperate scream as he is heard drowning in the marsh--over and over again. But there is also an evilness; a sheer hatred of anything remotely human at Eel Marsh House and it follows Arthur. And it waits for Arthur. And it strikes him in a way that truly will take your breath away.

The author packs this novel with twists, turns and the unexpected at almost every turn of the page. The description of the brooding countryside, the house and surrounding marshes is at times beautiful, but always spooky. There were a few occasions when I wanted to shut my eyes - but unlike a scary movie, if one shuts one's eyes while reading, well it gets too dark to continue.

I Quote - what a small and frightening thing! I am not prone to bouts of depression, but I will say this - once I began to read about the lawyer's forays into the marsh, the house and even the town - the atmosphere was so thick with darkness that I began to feel depressed. I'd have to put the book down, do something else and then continue. How I held my breath each time he investigated a sound! And the carriage falling into the marsh over and over...the end haunted me for days. It was such a simple, neat, tidy unexpected and abrupt end that I had no choice but to sit there speechless.


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Pendragon: #9 Raven Rise

The long Pendragon series is about to end. Its the penultimate book #9 Raven Rise and its getting ugly and its also getting dystopic. Which is my kind of good. Lets read,

Here is the summary of the book:

This is where it begins. The showdown for Halla. At stake is nothing less than all that ever was and all that will be. There's only one thing missing--Bobby Pendragon. While Bobby remains trapped on Ibara, the battle moves to his home territory: Second Earth. Mark Dimond and Courtney Chetwynde are left on their own to defend Second Earth agsinst the forces of Saint Dane. They must face off against a charismatic cult leader who has risen to power by revealing a shattering truth to the people of Earth: They are not alone. The Convergence has broken down the walls. The territories are on a collision course. The final phase of Saint Dane's quest to rule Halla is under way. And Bobby Pendragon is nowhere to be found.

The story starts after Bobby trapped himself and demonic Saint Dane on the tropical Ibara, yet it seems that his sacrifice was pointless for the Convergence has already begun. On Third Earth, Patrick wakes up to a dystopian future Earth. He meets up with Mark and Courtney in 1930 and they go to Second Earth to try and stop Saint Dane's plans. Nevva is disguised as Telleo (trying to get Bobby to fall in love with her; no luck) and lets a few minor details slip. Bobby then finds out that Saint Dane has escaped Ibara, and goes after his to his home territory Second Earth. A cult leader named Alexander Naymeer (an English idealist, brainwashed by Saint Dane) is creating chaos with Ravinia (the name of the cult). Bobby, Alder, Mark, and Courtney try to avoid the Ravinians while looking for the leader of the rebellion. In a giant battle known as the Bronx Massacre almost half the characters die or at least seem to be dead (leaving clinchers for the next book), and Saint Dane seems to have won. Yet the ending gives readers hope for Bobby and the travelers.

So literally all hell has broken loose. Although the previous book should be called for "where-all-hell-started-to-break-loose". D. J. Machale has completely discarded all the formula he used in the previous books and its chaotic and to some extent I've been expecting it since I began reading it, we'll take of this later. 

Bobby Pendragon is now grown and his decisions have not gotten any easier. The bond of friendships are still what make him such an endearing and flawed character. Halla is pretty chaotic and things are not as they are meant to be. That premise drives the book, shakes up former realities and brings us one step closer to understanding what is really going on in this Matrix-like world of adventure. (Just a ref. matrix is way better than this whole stuff)

Although the first few (I said few since this series is not my favourite) books were amazing and real pageturners, this one was a bit hard to keep up with. machales writing style was not top quality and quite repetitive. it was like the entire series led up to this one book and everybody was expecting it to go out with a bang but it turned out to have a quite weak plot and did not live up to the reputation of the series. This installment of Pendragon is both exhilarating and disappointing all at the same time. There is so much going on and so much to take in from the past books that the bulk of adventure from any one territory is muted, which disappoints me because I love the individual experiences on each of the territories. I still am lingering on the past descriptive genius of unique territories such as Cloral and Eelong! The cool part is that the story line all still works well and I could not put this book down.

I felt that this whole book was the lets watch the hero be stupid so that when he gets his act together later it will be more impressive part of the story. Now I can stand that for a chapter or two, but not a whole book. It got very old for me very quickly. All that you need form this book to get to the last one is a page or two on the few actions important to the plot. I do hope that the next book, the "hero has his act together". The battle is on in RAVEN RISE. The battle for Halla. The internal battle of Bobby Pendragon. The battle of the people of the territories. And the battle between Saint Dane and Pendragon. This is what it is all coming down to.

Bottom line is its good but don't waste your money borrow it from a friend.


Friday, June 24, 2011

Super 8

Its time again for kid adventures. With ‘Super 8′, J.J. Abrams pays homage to kid adventure and sci-fi mystery films of the ’70s and ’80s. J.J. Abrams Super 8 is an echo. It echoes the innocence of Steven Spielberg’s Amblin films of the 1980s, it echoes the imagined purity of small town America, and it echoes the innocence and coming of age through the lens of aspiring filmmakers.

The film takes place in 1979 in the fictional town of Lillian, Ohio (all these new sci-fi movies happening in ohio recently). Joe Lamb (Joel Courtney) recently lost his mother in an industrial accident and struggles to connect with his distant father Jackson (Kyle Chandler), a sheriff’s deputy who is a good guy but doesn’t know how to relate to his son. With school out for the summer, Joe and his friends Charles (Riley Griffiths), Martin (Gabriel Basso), Cary (Ryan Lee), and Preston (Zach Mills) work on a zombie movie to enter into a local film fest. Charles asks Alice (Elle Fanning) to act in their movie and Joe clearly has a crush on her, which is problematic since she’s the daughter of Louis Dainard (Ron Eldard), the guy Jackson holds responsible for his wife’s death.

Despite all of its creature-feature promises, the story of the film is classic Spielbergian drama: in 1970s small-town Ohio, young Joe Lamb (newcomer Joel Courtney) loses his mother in a tragic accident. Joe’s father, deputy Jackson Lamb (Kyle Chandler), is broken by the loss, and buries his pain beneath his role as the town’s stalwart protector. Alone and neglected, young Joe finds his own ways to displace his grief -- mainly by clutching onto a locket his mother wore, and by aiding his friend Charles (Riley Griffiths) in making an amateur super 8 movie called “The Case,” which the boys hope to submit to a local film festival.

One night, Joe, Charles, and the rest of their crew (Cary, a pyro, Martin, a worry-wort, and Preston, a goody-two-shoes) decide to sneak away to film a pivotal scene out by the train station. The boys are joined by a girl (of course): Alice Dainard (Elle Fanning), a skilled actress who happens to be the rebellious daughter of the town drunk…and Joe’s secret crush.

But their personal troubles fade into the background when the group, while shooting a movie near the train tracks, witnesses a massive derailment. Certain charges can be leveled against J.J. Abrams but the man is a master of action. The derailment is the film’s big set piece and it’s absolutely spectacular. It’s loud, hectic, but well-shot and well-edited so you can always follow what’s happening and where characters are in relation to each other.

The kids are told to keep quiet about what they’ve seen by the man who caused the wreck, their science teacher with a secret past, Old Man Woodward (not the movie’s strongest plot point). But Charles’ Super 8 camera was running the whole time and its footage holds the secret to a mysterious creature that is abducting people and their electrical appliances. A suspicious military force led by Commander Nelec (Noah Emmerich) arrives, tries to cover up the incident, and recover what has escaped from a sealed train car.

Super 8 is not the sci-fi monster movie that some people may be expecting. There is indeed a strange creature terrorizing the kids’ town, but this plot thread is mostly used for narrative drive, and the creature itself is seldom shown in the film (until the climax, of course). What the movie chooses to focus on instead, is how this group of kids bond and develop during this extraordinary event -- especially Joe and Alice, whose budding romance (and all the problems it causes) is more of a “Romeo & Juliet” story.

The kid characters in Super 8 are pretty thinly drawn -- sad kid, crazy kid, egotistical kid, scared kid, etc. -- however the young actors playing them are pretty solid. The kids are at once ’70s vintage and very modern, using old slang (“mint!”) combined with a modern edge (some profanity, but nothing too offensive). Several of the kids are very charismatic (Griffiths as Charles and Ryan Lee as pyromaniac Cary steal just about every scene they’re in), and the two leads (Courtney and Fanning) are downright talented. Their puppy-love romance has many layers of grief, guilt, loneliness and longing bubbling under the surface, and the movie’s best moments come from watching Joe and Alice connect over their pain.
As a newcomer, Courtney isn’t the greatest when it comes to nuance and subtlety -- but thankfully the script calls for Joe to be mostly numb and blank-faced instead of openly emotional; his feelings are instead expressed through symbolic means, such as the locket he clutches for comfort. Elle Fanning (the sister of Dakota Fanning) is leagues ahead of the boys, and Abrams wisely puts most of the heavier moments in the film on her shoulders and lets her carry them home. Definite star potential there.

The adults in the film (like the creature) are mostly used for backdrop and filler moments in the story. Kyle Chandler continues to be one of the better actors working today, and pulls off a character arch that is so understated you have to watch his eyes and the very lines of his face to pick out the complexity of what’s going on in deputy Lamb’s troubled head. Ron Eldard similarly does well playing Alice’s dad, Louis Dainard, who he manages to lift out of the realm of cliche (the town drunk / abusive father) up to an equally complex and nuanced performance.

Other faces also pop up here and there. But they are not of much significance.

I wish that the other young actors were up to Courtney and Fanning’s level. Granted, the movie doesn’t make a lot of demands from Lee (Cary is fire-obsessed comic-relief, the end) and Basso (Martin is nerdy, the end), but it desperately needed Griffiths to step up. He can play a young teenager naturally enough, but when the script calls on him for comic timing or deeper emotions, his performance becomes uneven. Sometimes he’ll hit his mark and other times his readings come out stilted. Furthermore, when the scene is just Charles and Joe, there’s not much chemistry between the two and you struggle to believe that they’ve been friends since kindergarten.
The downside is that the final act of the movie devolves into a standard sci-fi action chase, complete with a Spielberg-brand, gooey feel-good ending that does away with a lot of the great foundation built beneath it. However, this is often the case with stories that hinge on some kind of central mystery: the revelations are rarely as satisfying as the anticipation. The creature (for all the mystery surrounding it) isn’t all that impressive, and for some, the character transitions will feel rushed or unearned (I found them to be subtle and nuanced, but that’s just me).

Overall, though, Super 8 is a pretty enjoyable movie experience and the young characters at its center are pretty entertaining. The story is nothing new or revolutionary, but the element of nostalgia is a favorable one. Oh, and for those wondering: And yes Abrams manages to put in his signature "lens-flare" in here as well. Go figure.

Finally, Super 8 is a loving homage to the early directing and producing work of Steven Spielberg. Abrams struggles to evoke a feeling rather than making direct references to E.T., The Goonies, etc. It’s an honorable goal and I respect Abrams for attempting to make a film that stands alongside those beloved movies. When it comes to creating a spectacular action film that’s filled with humor and honest performances he comes close to achieving his goal, but numerous missteps turn inspiration into imitation. It’s a sincere form of flattery, but no one would confuse it for the real thing.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

POTTERMORE is finally revealed: "Just Follow the owls"

Through an artfully designed treasure hunt, the coordinates to a new website have been revealed An article in Publisher's Weekly described the treasure hunt like this:
"Rowling gave coordinates to 10 Harry Potter fan sites, which were posted yesterday. Fans could enter the coordinates at another Web site, which uses Google Maps technology; when sitegoers zoom in on each coordinate, a letter from the [Pottermore.com] URL can be found. Fans who found the letters at all 10 coordinates could then piece together the name of the new site."
They go on to say that Rowling's PR agency has said it's not another Harry Potter book, but they won't reveal any more, other than to say - "keep an eye on the website."
You can be sure of that! Also, I found when you click on one of the owls - it takes you to a YouTube site which says "the owls are gathering....find out why" and has a countdown until JK Rowling announces (approximately 5 days!) 
A screen shot of www.pottermore.com


And Pottermore is definitely not a game site as many had been saying......read on -

Pottermore, a mysterious new site by J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter book series, is an online hub for everything Harry Potter-related, Rowling revealed on YouTube moments ago.
Pottermore will include an interactive reading experience of the Harry Potter books, but fans will also be able to buy audio books and, for the first time, Harry Potter novels in ebook format.
The site goes live in October, but some users will be able to enter early. Additional details about that will be revealed on the site on July 31, but Rowling dropped a clue for those aching to enter the site early: “follow the Owl”, she said.
Check out the video of the announcement below.

Some teaser images of pottermore posted by mugglenet :

(Maybe the rumour of an interactive gaming site is actually true)
Pottermore Explainer of the Day: So J.K. Rowling’s mysterious “Pottermore” project was (mostly) unveiled today, and it seems early reportsthat it would be an online gaming experience were only partially correct.
While Pottermore is indeed an “online experience,” which revolves around the premiere of the Harry Potter books in eBook form, its “gaming” aspect appears to be limited to interactive “Moments” users can engage with while reading the books online.
“On entering,” says the press release, “you choose a magic username and begin your experience. As you move through the chapters, you can read and share exclusive writing from J.K. Rowling, and, just as Harry joins Hogwarts, so can you. You visit Diagon Alley, get sorted into a house, cast spells and mix potions to help your house compete for the House Cup.”
The site will contain “extensive new material about the characters, places and objects in the much-loved stories,” written by Rowling herself — so that’s something.
Additional details on early admission will be revealed July 31st, and the site is expected to open to the public in October. Until then, “follow the owl.”


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Iron Druid Chronicles: #2 Hexed

Our favourite Druid is back, book #2 Hexed of the Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne is here before we actually had the time to digest the first books. But i'm not complaining. Come on Atticus is hot and he is the only druid left. I definitely loved the second book as well as the first book.

Here is the summary of the books:

Atticus O’Sullivan, last of the Druids, doesn’t care much for witches. Still, he’s about to make nice with the local coven by signing a mutually beneficial nonaggression treaty—when suddenly the witch population in modern-day Tempe, Arizona, quadruples overnight. And the new girls are not just bad, they’re badasses with a dark history on the German side of World War II. With a fallen angel feasting on local high school students, a horde of Bacchants blowing in from Vegas with their special brand of deadly decadence, and a dangerously sexy Celtic goddess of fire vying for his attention, Atticus is having trouble scheduling the witch hunt. But aided by his magical sword, his neighbor’s rocket-propelled grenade launcher, and his vampire attorney, Atticus is ready to sweep the town and show the witchy women they picked the wrong Druid to hex.

Atticus O'Sullivan is a modern day druid, the last of his kind. And lately the crazies have been coming out the woodwork. You would think that defeating a couple of Celtic Gods, exorcising a few demons, and killing half a coven of witches would earn a guy some Rest & relaxation. Think again. Tempting Tempe, Atticus' little Arizonian oasis is starting to look ripe for the picking to some pretty nasty supernaturals.

Atticus here is in a rather strange position in this latest installment. His success against Aenghus Og has left him a marked man. Everyone is seeking him out to try and convince him to help them with their own God problems. The entire paranormal world now seems to have his number, which leads to some intense demon battles, some fierce sex, and a steep learning curve for his new apprentice. Most of the characters are back from Hounded, and we get to know some a little better this time around. The only Druid left in the world, all he wants to do is live a quiet life under the radar, grow the herbs he sells in his store, train his new apprentice and heal the large area of earth that was destroyed in the fighting from the last book. But demands from the coven of local Polish witches as well as Coyote, have him fighting to take out the escaped demons and destroy the others that have come to town to cause harm. And he's being bombarded with requests to take out Thor.

Demons released by the bad witches in the last book need to be dealt with, a group of Bacchants come to town wanting to take over the territory, as do a group of demon-casting German witches who announce their presence by trying to kill Atticus and the polish witches using a spell from afar. The police have become suspicious of Atticus as he matches the description of a guy with a sword at different scenes, and a priest and rabbi are getting way too noisy. If that weren't enough, two goddesses want to claim Atticus as their own personal weapon.

Kevin Hearne gives us another funny, action-packed tale. Atticus develops as a character, too. He has survived the centuries by being paranoid, but now he's forced by circumstances to make alliances and put himself in a position to owe favors. Looks like the biggest one is coming due in the next book, Hammered.......... Not going to advance any further on that all will be pretty clear after July 5th when the last book releases.

Hexed is on account even funnier than Hounded. Some scenes and quips had me howling with laughter. Wait till you see how Atticus explains a singed kitchen cabinet to the police, or what Oberon becomes obsessed with now that he's over his Genghis Khan kick, or what happens when an a stuffy vampire tries to learn modern slang. In addition to the humor, there are some touching moments. As the owner of an aging dog, I sniffled a bit when Atticus talked about the usual lifespan of an Irish wolfhound and the measures he has taken to keep his best buddy Oberon by his side.

There's plenty of action, humor, negotiations, myth, history and even his hospitality is loaded with political fencing. I've got a better appreciation for his new apprentice, Granuaile as she proves to be quick thinking. And of course Oberon, Atticus' telepathic dog, gives us more comic relief as well as show us how much respect Atticus has for his dog's feelings and happiness.

What I like most about Atticus is that he's so earth based. His relationship and responsibility to nature make Atticus a large part of who he is. Having 2100 years of experience, I find his reasoning, manners and maneuvering when dealing with others in positions of power to be both clever and savvy while remaining respectful. His philosophy speaks to me. The mythology covers a number of different pantheons and the history in this book deals with WWII.

Hexed has something of an episodic feel. There are several different plots here, and their structure is more sequential than interwoven. There are links between Atticus' adventures, but for the most part, he deals with one threat, and then either that leads to a new problem or else the new problem arises while he's trying to relax after dispatching the previous one. The overall effect is that of reading several shorter Atticus stories. Looking for the perfect mix of humor and thrills with a twist? These are the Druids your looking for. Hexed after Hounded definitely doesn't disappoint. Now on the look out for Hammered which comes out next month.

P.S. Mr. Hearne if you read this I would like to congratulate on a job well done again with Hexed....and want to ask "When are these chronicles getting made into movies?"


Monday, June 20, 2011

Pendragon: #8 The Pilgrims of Rayne

As we saw last in the previous book, it has started to become messier. And i'm finally nearing the end of the series. But I have to say after books 2, 3, and 4 of the Pendragon series #8 The Pilgrims of Rayne would be added in my list of books in the series that I actually liked. Lets find out why,

Here is the summary of the book:

When Bobby Pendragon first arrives on the tropical world of Ibara, he finds paradise. As he works to uncover clues about the turning point this seemingly idyllic territory will soon face, all he can determine is that the people of Ibara are blissfully happy. It’s not long before Bobby discovers, however, that they are blissfully . . . oblivious. The leaders of Ibara are keeping a devastating secret from their people, one that gives Saint Dane all the opportunity he needs to launch his final assault on Halla.

Bobby Pendragon is back and he is older, more passionate and Halla is more complex than ever before. What else is new in this series. We know that the territories all have a turning point, but we have never seen anything like what happens in the latest installment. Do you miss Loor and Gunny and Spader? How about Alder? The Pilgrims of Rayne does not disappoint. MacHale gives us everything we want this time around. I mean everything. If you ever thought, "Why doesn't Bobby do this, or that?" It is all in here. The territories have been mixed and nothing is what it once was. It would feel like everything is calm but then a twister is thrown in the mix and all hell - okay not hell but halla breaks loose - literally a chaos.

Bobby Pendragon's next territory in Halla is called Ibara. Ibara is a tropical paradise. It's sunny, warm, colorful, and the perfect place to go on vacation. Seeing as this is Saint Dane's next targeted territory, Bobby figures there's more to this utopia than meets the eye. After conversing with the Ibara inhabitants, Bobby realizes that everyone is very happy with the way they live, but later finds out that if you do not go by what the government (aka the tribunal) rules, you and your family will disappear. There is a secret in Ibara that the leaders are not telling everyone. A secret that involves Ibara's past, other territories, and an opportunity for Saint Dane to conquer another territory.

Pendragon has always been focused on the little things while Saint Dane was more about the big picture. Should've worried about the big picture. Oops. By the end of the story, things begin to heat up. Saint Dane comes a smidgen away from revealing the "big secret" and Bobby decides to stop playing by the rules, despite his fellow Traveler's skepticism.

The books have unfortunately become somewhat routine: go to the territory, figure out the turning point, make sure it goes the right way, stop Saint Dane, learn something new, and begin the whole process all over again. I'm proud to say that this book deviates from that formula in a few ways. For starters, Courtney and Mark become more and more involved in the events occuring in Halla. It starts to become less and less about the individual territories and more about everything in existence. And Saint Dane (more or less) puts the finishing touches on his convoluted yet incredibly devious and brilliant plot. It seemes that no matter what Bobby Pendragon does, it seems to play into Saint Dane's hands the entire time. If you thought he was winning the war, you may change your mind after reading this installment.

The best part to me was that when it switched back and forth to Courtney and Bobby, there was action on both sides. The past books have had some good but few GREAT instances of action from Courtney and Mark. But this book has great action on both sides. As well as the utopia vs dystopia factor that is slightly prevalent in this book. MacHale has really improved a lot in here. Although the details are much too long and practically the large size of the book is due to the unnecessary details in here but still it was a page turner. But again the obvious flaw in here we have next to actually no details besides the 2-3 lined something new in here as in the previous book. I'm serious dumping a whole lot of background in the final book is not good at all.

But still don't let my views discourage you all. I suggest my readers that they try it out particularly book 2, 3, 4 and 8 of the pendragon saga as they are my favourites. Hobey ho!


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Follower Appreciation Mega Awesome Giveaway!!!

been wanting to win books from giveaways. hope i'm lucking for this. choosing b/w 5 books i huge.


Thursday, June 16, 2011

X-men: First Class

I don't know why i took so long to write this but dunno i wanted to watch it at least three times before i could get my head straightened out for the review. Yup I saw it long time back. And X-men: First Class was unexpectedly AMAZING.

Here is the deal with superhero flicks. Do we ask that they be faithful? Do we demand they be grittier so we can argue that they’re more mature and therefore better? Or do we ask that they be fun, disposable entertainment? That answer probably depends on the property, although the tone and plot of the most famous superhero comics have varied so widely over the years that there’s no single answer. Keeping this in mind, Matthew Vaughn’s X-Men: First Class forges its own path, not just in terms of the X-Men franchise, but in the superhero genre. The film is stylish and exhilarating, but it’s also darker, more intense, and all the better for it.

X-Men: First Class has been a controversial film ever since it was first announced. Comic book purists said that the filmmakers were straying too far from the source material with their interpretation. Film purists said that the production was being rushed and the movie would suffer – while fans of summer blockbusters remained unaware (or unmoved) by all the missteps in the movie’s flawed marketing campaign. Well, whether you’re a fan of the comics, the movies, or just summer blockbusters, X-Men: First Class has something to offer you. After two poor entries (X-Men: The Last Stand andWolverine) this franchise is getting a much-needed injection of life from director Matthew Vaughn and all the talent surrounding him.

By going right back to basics, First Class not only finds interesting things to say at the very beginnings of the X-Men story, but it might just make you believe in origin stories all over again. And while it doesn't quite sustain itself across its entire running time in the manner that Nolan's Batman reboot managed, director Matthew Vaughn come far closer than you might expect. Make no mistake, it's a triumph.
First Class is a prequel that takes us back to the origins of not only the X-Men, but between its founders Charles Xavier aka “Professor X” (James McAvoy) and Erik Lehnsherr aka “Magneto” (Michael Fassbender). We witness how both men are mutants by nature (Xavier a telepath and Lehnsherr a master of magnetism), but their attitudes towards man are based in their nurture. Xavier grows up pampered in a mansion in Westchester, New York and develops an early friendship with a young Raven Darkholme aka “Mystique” (Jennifer Lawrence). In Europe, Erik is placed in a Nazi concentration camp where he’s forced to develop his powers under the auspices of a cruel officer (Kevin Bacon).

Flash-forward to 1963 (an homage to the year the first X-Men comic book was released) and Charles (James McAvoy) and Erik (Michael Fassbender) are two young men on very different paths. Charles is now a prominent academic, while Erik is a haunted man, touring the world on a quest for revenge against Nazi war criminals and the mysterious Shaw. Meanwhile, the Cold War between America and the Soviet Union is intensifying, threatening to annihilate humanity in a nuclear holocaust – which is exactly what Sebastian Shaw and his cabal of evil mutants want. While a weaker script may have rushed the meeting between Charles and Erik, the film keeps them apart for the majority of the first act. It’s a smart move because it gives us a chance to better know the individual characters and how deeply they believe their own views regarding mutant-human relations. The two are eventually thrown together serendipitously as Charles is recruited to hunt down Sebastian Shaw (Bacon) who has his own band of mutants—telepath Emma Frost (January Jones), teleporter Azazel (Jason Flemyng), and tornado-conjurer Riptide (Álex González)—and at first glance is working as a communist spy. When CIA agent Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne) catches wind of Shaw’s plan, the CIA tasks Xavier to gather a team of mutants to battle Shaw and his henchmen, setting in motion a chain of events that will inevitably create the X-Men, as well as the lifelong rivalry between Charles and Erik.

Why does Shaw want to nuke the world? Because he believes mutants will survive and they will then rule the planet with Shaw as their leader. It’s a dumb plan but it’s convincing that Shaw would do it since he’s arrogant enough to believe that every mutant would agree with him and those who didn’t would cower in fear. He also works as a villain because his power is almost unstoppable (he absorbs energy and then dishes it out) and because Bacon comes off as absolutely terrifying. He’s played villains before, but this is him at his malevolent best.
Matthew Vaughn moves this multifaceted story at a brisk, controlled pace. With a runtime of more than two hours there’s a lot that happens, but thankfully the time passes quickly. Most of the attention is focused on developing the characters of Charles and Erik, their friendship and eventual falling out, and this is the glue that holds the film together. McAvoy and Fassbender are excellent in their respective roles and have awesome chemistry together; the most moving and interesting scenes in the film belong to them alone (so much so that tumblr is overloading with a #McFassy strong-hold - take a good look at my tumblr here). Despite complaints from comic book purists about the liberties this film takes with the source material, it manages to present both Xavier and Magneto as fresh and rich characters who are both worth exploring. 

Shaw’s plan is almost the exactly the same as Magneto’s plan in the first X-Men (but with nuclear annihilation instead of genetic obliteration). It’s a cool twist that Erik shares his mortal enemy’s beliefs and eventually takes his plan. And First Class is full of these cool twists. The film simply doesn’t say “Charles = Good, Erik = Evil”. The audience is forced to reconsider the beliefs of both these men. Charles’ faith doesn’t seem to be placed in humanity, but rather a celebration that mutants can be “the better men.” It’s part of not only his naivety but his astounding arrogance. It’s not a mistake that the last thing we see Charles do in the film is underhanded, patronizing, and ultimately ineffective. (One of the many reasons why i took so long in reviewing it)

By contrast, Fassbender consistently draws us into the badass charisma of Erik. We shouldn’t side with his methods and his hatred towards humans, but he’s just so damn cool. McAvoy does a terrific job as does the majority of the cast, but this movie truly belongs to Fassbender. This is where he becomes an A-list star and viewers will be rushing out to see his previous films (start with Hunger!). He plays every side of Magneto and plays it honestly. We completely believe in his anger, his pain, his aloofness, and most importantly, his inability to forgive humans. Because the plot owes so much to spy flicks and their 1960s style, it almost feels like Erik and Charles are two sides of James Bond. Erik gets to be the brutal ass-kicker who uses a license to kill to his full advantage while Charles gets to be the suave “shaken-not-stirred” man. (and if any of the two get the offer to play james bond i'll definitely pay more attention of the james bond movies just because of that)
However, while the Charles/Erik storyline is the main focus (and is worth the price of admission in and of itself), the title of this film would imply a story about a larger team coming together. This aspect of the film (the actual X-Men team) is not as developed or interesting, and some fans will have a major problem with that. We do meet a group of mutants in the film, but with the exception of the pivotal role of Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), the rest of the mutants (good and bad) are mostly just there to fill out the action scenes – or in the case of Emma Frost (January Jones), fill out some ridiculous outfits (which the film does manage to justify… sort of).

The hero of the piece, though, has to be director Matthew Vaughn. His directorial career is now four out of four from where I'm sitting (following Layer Cake,Stardust and Kick-Ass), and X-Men: First Class can't help but leave you wondering just what he'd have done with X-Men: The Last Stand, had he not walked away from that particular project. The Last Stand's loss, though, is ultimately First Class' gain. Vaughn juggles ensemble character development, a dose of comedy (the film's one F-bomb will bring the geeky house down) and some generally terrific actions sequences, rarely letting the momentum of the film drop. X-Men: First Class is, at it turns out, only five minutes shorter than Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, yet it feels half the length, so energetically does it move along.

Like most origin or prequel films, the nature of the story inevitably results in a truncated ending. The climax of First Class must fit all the players into their predetermined places, and the speed with which these transitions occurred felt rushed, even though Vaughn does capture some powerful moments in the dissolving of Charles and Erik’s relationship. The rest of the characters (literally) stand aside and then take sides, which again shortchanges them in terms of development or interest.

Ultimately, part of the reason that X-Men: First Class feels so fresh and enjoyable is perhaps because this is a franchise that's long since appeared to run out of steam. Part of it, also, is that it remembers to inject a sense of fun alongside the underpinning messages that it so skilfully gets across. But all considered, the main reason is that, at the sheer heart of it, X-Men: First Class is a compelling, interesting, entertaining and very, very good piece of big screen entertainment. Following hot on the heels of Thor, and against initial expectations, 2011 may just go down as a very strong year for the comic book movie. Whether that happens or not (and the gauntlet has been firmly thrown down for Green Lantern and Captain America), Matthew Vaughn has just managed to make X-Men, once more, one of the most compelling movie franchises on the planet.


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Razorland: #1 Enclave

The blurp on the cover "For the fans of The Hunger Games - Publishers Weekly" doesn't do Ann Aguirre's new young adult dystopic trilogy Razorland book #1 Enclave.

Here is the summary:

In Deuce’s world, people earn the right to a name only if they survive their first fifteen years. By that point, each unnamed ‘brat’ has trained into one of three groups–Breeders, Builders, or Hunters, identifiable by the number of scars they bear on their arms. Deuce has wanted to be a Huntress for as long as she can remember. As a Huntress, her purpose is clear—to brave the dangerous tunnels outside the enclave and bring back meat to feed the group while evading ferocious monsters known as Freaks. She’s worked toward this goal her whole life, and nothing’s going to stop her, not even a beautiful, brooding Hunter named Fade. When the mysterious boy becomes her partner, Deuce’s troubles are just beginning. Down below, deviation from the rules is punished swiftly and harshly, and Fade doesn’t like following orders. At first she thinks he’s crazy, but as death stalks their sanctuary, and it becomes clear the elders don’t always know best, Deuce wonders if Fade might be telling the truth. Her partner confuses her; she’s never known a boy like him before, as prone to touching her gently as using his knives with feral grace. As Deuce’s perception shifts, so does the balance in the constant battle for survival. The mindless Freaks, once considered a threat only due to their sheer numbers, show signs of cunning and strategy… but the elders refuse to heed any warnings. Despite imminent disaster, the enclave puts their faith in strictures and sacrifice instead. No matter how she tries, Deuce cannot stem the dark tide that carries her far from the only world she’s ever known.

The background is pretty easy to understand. Its dystopic. The world as we know is now dead. Instead of some horrifying cirumstances which controls the lives of the people now, we see the people now live underground - kind of like Jeanne DuPrau's Dystopic saga "The Books of Ember". But take every possible terrible scenario you've ever considered for the future and throw it out the window, Zombies. Yes instead of underground giant monsters (liability here - i haven't read the books - i saw the movie) like DuPrau's dystopic world we have flesh-eating zombies or Freaks as they are called in the book. 

I'm a huge fan of dystopian fiction, with Enclave, Ann Aguirre proves that there is still plenty of creative and terrifying stories to tell about society and how it will end (not with a bang, but with a growl of hunger in this case).

Enclave takes place sometimes after the second holocaust of the Earth. Humanity has suffered immensely from some unknown catastrophe that has occurred. (Most likely an atomic World War III). We're introduced to this world through the eyes of Girl15 who becomes Deuce on her naming day, her birthday. Deuce lives underground and has never gone up to the above. Everyone has a role in the enclave and Deuce's role is to become a Huntress. She will hunt for food in the tunnels. Deuce lives in a dark and dank world both literally and figuratively. Disease is rampant and hygiene is not the best. Some women are solely used to breed children, known as brats, while others keep their fortress strong and safe from the Freaks (Zombies). Freaks are monsters who feed on the flesh of the living and even themselves. They roam the tunnels looking for their next meal. Hunting for food can be dangerous, but Deuce is strong and fast.

Fade, her new partner, is a strange combination of lethal skills and smartass defiance. He isn't from the enclave, he was born topside (above the tunnels where the land is dead and burning rain falls or so the elders say), but no one really believes him. They think he must be from a far away enclave and became lost in the tunnels (which is a miracle in and of itself because of the Freaks who roam around). Wherever he comes from, he is a great fighter and Deuce gradually begins to trust him and is glad he is her partner after they encounter increasingly dangerous stuff.

With post-apocalyptic novels, the settings are for the most part similar. Some sort of disaster has struck, and the survivors live in small pockets, defending themselves against the outside world. Enclave is no different in the general setting, but what fascinated me most about it is what little we're told of the world and what happened to it. The book begins in an enclave underground, a little fortress in the tunnels beneath New York City and eventually takes the reader aboveground, into the ruined world.

The underground world is intriguingly alien, a smoky, cloistered world in which anyone who lives to twenty-five is considered old, and everyone expects to die young. The people of Deuce's enclave live under tight rule that's comforting and oppressing at the same time. It was really interesting to watch Deuce come to the realization that the leaders of the enclave are doing terrible things in the name of protecting the group. As the reader, we come into the story knowing that leaders of little dystopian enclaves tend to do terrible things to keep their society going, but Deuce, having been raised there, is completely naive to it. Even though I knew this as a reader, I was still scared alongside Deuce when she and Fade are exiled to Topside.
Topside is nothing like what Deuce was told. Something terrible did happen in the past, as is evidenced by the ruined city and its ruined citizens, but the air is not deadly. The world, however, is just as deadly as underground, with gangs ruling their territories with violence and Freaks, who are no longer the mindless horde she knows from underground but who seem to be thinking and plotting against humans, roaming the streets.

While Topside, Deuce and Fade pick up two more companions, a gang leader called Stalker and a girl named Tegan, who helps Deuce and Fade escape from the gang. Together, they set out north, for a place Fade's father said was clean and healthy, where they could grow food. The introduction of Stalker and Tegan bring sort of a love... er, square into the story. I'm getting very tired of teen novels with love triangles, mainly because most of the ones I've read recently have felt very artificial.

Luckily, the complex relationships and attractions in Enclave don't feel forced at all; it felt more like the natural progression of feelings, especially for Deuce. She was raised to never think of herself as a sexual or romantic creature, and now that she's free of the enclave's structure, she's finding herself confused about the feelings that have surfaced. At the same time, though, I'm still not a fan of the mixed up love story here. I definitely preferred just Deuce and Fade by themselves.
The romance in this story was also masterfully done. If you are looking for a love story first and foremost, you will not find it here. The adventure comes first and romance second, which, I think truly makes this novel that much more convincing. And, while I hate to say this (because I am a Deuce/Fade supporter all the way), I loved the way Ann kept everything open-ended by the novel's conclusion.

Unfortunately, Outpost (book #2 in this series) does not come out until Fall of 2012 (I kind of died inside when I first saw that on Ann's website). It's a long wait. I know I will be rereading Enclave later in the year. Add Outpost to your "to read" list folks, because you're going to be salivating for the next book in this series.

Overall, Enclave is a fabulous YA debut from Ann Aguirre and if you are a fan of grittier dystopian, check this one out!

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