Completion Compulsion

The series that I obviously had to complete.

A couple of days ago, my bookish Twitter list was buzzing with excitement, which left me a bit at a loss because I wasn’t paying much attention to that lately with the move back to the house and such. It didn’t take me long to figure out why they were excited — it was the release date for City of Fallen Angels, the latest installment in Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments series.

I was all: Oh okay.

City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare

I can still wait. I can still wait.

Don’t get me wrong here. I liked The Mortal Instruments series, and it was one of the books that got me reading again. I loved City of Glass, and I thought the ending was just perfect, so the idea of releasing another three more books after the trilogy has ended didn’t sit quite well. Still, I was curious, and that didn’t lessen the love I had for the original trilogy.

But in the time between reading City of Glass and now that City of Fallen Angels has been released, I have read so many other books in between, both good and bad, that somehow, the excitement and need I had to always complete a series has diminished, almost to a little disinterest over the entire thing.

Never mind that I am on book buying fast for Lent. I feel that even if I wasn’t on fasting, I still wouldn’t prioritize buying this. I haven’t even read Clockwork Angel yet — I don’t even have my own copy.

Again, this isn’t anything against the series or Cassandra Clare’s work. In fact, I am still curious about her books, and given the time and money, I’d get them. I’m talking about book series in general. You see, years before, I had this compulsion to complete everything. If it’s a trilogy, I must have all three books and I must read them in order. If a new book comes out, I must read it up to the end, even if some of the books weren’t really that good. I hesitate in buying books that I know are a part of a series because I know that I would need to get ALL books. Sometimes I won’t even read the first book if I know I don’t have the next books with me because I didn’t want to be left hanging. I don’t know why, but I must complete the books. I must see it all the way to the bitter end. (See, this is why I read the Twilight series all the way to Breaking Dawn and even The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner.)

Now, I don’t feel that need to complete. Maybe it depends on how much I liked the first two books (I’m setting two because sometimes the first book isn’t always that good and sometimes it picks up on the second book). Sometimes it depends on how much I like the author. Sometimes, it depends on the hype (but I’m very wary of hype nowadays). Maybe this is me being choosy, or growing up in terms of my choice of reading.

Cliffhanger endings are a different story, though, but again, it would depend on how much I loved the first book before I decide to get the next one, if there was a next one.

Have you ever felt the same need I used to, to complete a series no matter how bad it may be? Were there series you used to love but now you don’t feel the need to get them all? Or were you never a series person and you’re happy with just one?

Delirium

DeliriumDelirium by Lauren Oliver
Delirium # 1
Publisher: Harper Collins
Number of pages: 441
My copy: ebook review copy from Netgalley

Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn’t understand that once love -the deliria- blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the governments demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Halloway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy.

But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love.

* * *

I loved Lauren Oliver’s debut novel, Before I Fall, so when I found out that she was coming up with a new dystopian book, I was psyched. I saw this book first from The Book Smugglers and added it to my wish list, eagerly anticipating its release. The premise is intriguing, and as the release date got nearer, reviews are cropping up left and right. The mixed reviews kind of worried me, especially since some of my trusted reviewers were lukewarm on it, but I decided to carry on and find out for myself instead of just scrapping it because of the reviews.

Love is bad. It is a sickness that needs to be cured and you must be protected from it at all costs until you are old enough to get the cure. This is what Lena Halloway grew up with in a society that declares love as a disease – amor deliria nervosa — one that causes pain, clouds judgment and kills not only the person infected but the people around them. Lena grew up believing this and blaming the sickness for her mother’s eventual suicide and she looked forward to receiving her cure. She wanted a normal, safe, and predictable life with a person matched for her, to prove that she is not like her mother and she will not endanger anyone. As Lena counts the days to receiving her cure (a simple operation is all you need to get rid of love and you don’t need to drink anything like jack3d after), something unexpected and totally forbidden happens: she meets Alex, and she falls in love. What follows is a lot of secret meetings and stolen moments and learning about the truth that has been hidden from Lena for almost all her life.

One thing I realized while reading Delirium is that there are two ways to read this novel: the romantic side and the dystopian side. The side you’re more fond of will make or break this novel for you. I really liked the premise of the novel, and I was curious to how Oliver will make all of it work out. I’m not an expert in dystopia despite having read a lot of it (not as much as other people, though), so a world without something is already enough for me to classify it as such. I was kind of afraid there would be another love triangle in this, but figuring that this is a book where love is considered forbidden, there’s got to be some swoon-worthy and tingly romance in this book that I was willing to take on.

And I was right: the romance between Lena and Alex was surely swoon-worthy. I liked how Lena’s feelings were described as she learned of love with Alex. Oliver sure had a way with words and these were reminiscent to how she wrote Before I Fall. I related to Lena in the same sense that I’ve never been in love — never felt the rush, the sparks, the exhilaration of knowing that someone thinks you are perfect no matter how plain looking you know you are. The symptoms listed for the disease accurately describes (as much as I know, anyway) how it feels to have a crush and to fall in love if things don’t stop. It could be a symbolism of sorts in real life: the disease could be something that people who are afraid of falling in love are avoiding, and cured people are those who have decided never to love again after they have been hurt by love. Lena’s innocence about love was pure and kind of sweet, albeit tainted with fear of the deliria. But I guess that’s what love is, right? It’s scary and beautiful all at the same time, and choosing to live with or without it will kill you either way. The only difference between them is what dies in you if you choose to love or not.

But as far as the dystopia factor is concerned, I didn’t feel it. To be honest, I felt like Delirium reads better like a contemporary novel instead of dystopia. I may be biased because I really liked Before I Fall and I think the author is better at contemporary. There were just too many why’s that doesn’t make sense. Why is love considered a disease? What happened? I would understand if it’s too far off into the past that people hardly remember it, but it was only sixty-five years ago, and something that big shouldn’t be too easy to forget. What are the instances that made love the bad guy? And in their world that is controlled by the government, the big bad government didn’t feel like such a threat. They didn’t really strike much fear into me, unlike the Peacekeepers from The Hunger Games. Who led this totalitarian government? And for such a strict one, why can people get away with going to underground parties and breaking curfews. How? Delirium‘s world feels a bit hazy compared to the other dystopian books I’ve read. I guess it would be explained more in the next book, but I believe that for dystopian novels — especially books in series — to work, the world should be built solidly from the start, not in the next books because that’s what readers will be looking out for first. At least, that’s what I am looking for.

Overall, Delirium is kind of a mixed bag for me. I liked the romance, the dystopia was just kind of so-so. I liked it, but not as much as the the author’s debut. This is one of those books that people either really loved or really disliked, but I’m kind of in the middle ground. It’s just…okay. Read it and decide for yourself if you like it or not.

Oh and that ending? I have no words. :O

Rating:

Other reviews:
Janicu’s Book Blog
The Book Smugglers
Presenting Lenore
Bart’s Bookshelf
GReads!
Forever Young Adult
Attack of the Book

Where She Went

Lately, I’ve been feeling kind of iffy about sequels, and series, in particular. It’s not that I don’t like them, it’s just that I always feel pressured to get the entire series when I find out that the book I’m reading is a part of a series. I like having more time with fun characters, but I am finding standalone books more and more attractive lately that I’d really rather read those than start reading a series that I’m not even sure I will like. Except maybe for the highly recommended ones.

However, I may make an exception for this one. If I Stay by Gayle Forman is one of my best reads for this year. It’s that kind of book that left me almost wanting for more, but also quite satisfied with how the story ended. I really wouldn’t mind leaving the story that way, but I also won’t think it’s an overkill if there would be some kind of sequel. Imagine my surprise and delight when I found out from Adele of Persnickety Snark that there will be a sequel for this book entitled Where She Went. :) Squee!

First, let’s look at the cover:

Where She Went by Gayle Forman

Gorgeous, isn’t it? It perfectly complements the paperback cover, and Mia looks so different and so…I don’t know, free?

And then the jacket copy (if you haven’t read If I Stay yet, major spoiler warning ahead):

My first impulse is not to grab her or kiss her or yell at her. I simply want to touch her cheek, still flushed from the night’s performance. I want to cut through the space that separates us, measured in feet—not miles, not continents, not years—and to take a callused finger to her face. I want to touch her to make sure it’s really her, not one of those dreams I had so often after she left when I’d see her so clear as day, be ready to kiss her or take her to me only to wake up with Mia just beyond reach.

But I can’t touch her. This is a privilege that’s been revoked.

It’s been three years since Adam’s love saved Mia after the accident that annihilated life as she knew it . . . and three years since Mia walked out of Adam’s life forever.

Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Julliard’s rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia’s home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future—and each other.

Told from Adam’s point of view in the spare, powerful prose that defined If I StayWhere She Went explores the devastation of grief, the promise of new hope, and the flame of rekindled romance.

This is absolutely…wow. I’m guessing this will be told in Adam’s POV this time? I wonder what exactly happened that made Mia walk out of Adam’s life? Did she do what Adam told her at the end of If I Stay? What happened in between?

So many questions, and such a long wait until this gets released. Where She Went will be out on April 19, 2011. In the meantime, there was a Where She Went blog tour, which provided teasers for this book. The complete list can be found in Gayle Forman’s blog. This will definitely be one of the books I’ll be looking out for in 2011. :)