Chicklit or Horror?

Gravity vs. The Girl by Riley NoehrenGravity vs. the Girl by Riley Noehren

Samantha Green has just spent an entire year in her pajamas, and she is beginning to regret it. What’s more, she is haunted by four ghosts that are former versions of herself. First up is the overachieving and materialistic attorney, who is furious with Samantha for throwing away the career she worked so hard to build. Second is the lackadaisical college student who is high on life but low on responsibility. Next is the melodramatic teenager, who is consumed with her social standing, teal eyeliner and teased bangs. Finally, there is the scrappy six-year old, whose only objective is to overcome gravity so that she can fly. Samantha’s ghosts alternate between fighting with each other, rallying around Samantha’s budding sanity and falling in love with a string of good-for-nothing drummers. Despite her reluctance to do so, Samantha must rely on these spirits from the past to repair the present and ensure her future.

Inbetween Sundays, one of the weekly podcasts I subscribe to, has this little fun little segment called Chick Flick or Horror Movie, where one of the hosts would say the title of a movie and its synopsis, and the other would have to guess if it’s a horror movie or a chick flick. Easy enough? Not for the hosts, both male, which is part of the fun: I find it hilarious to hear them think that Britney Spears’ first movie Crossroads is a horror movie. The thing that struck me about the game is the fact that there are few grey areas, since genres in Hollywood seem to be mutually exclusive. Most commercial movies are typically classified only under one specific genre: a comedy movie may be able to teach life lessons and bring some tears to but it won’t be classified as a drama, just like a horror movie cannot be a romantic comedy.

Books, however, are a different story. In literature more so than in cinema, genres evolve as more and more books are written and published. Nowadays, many books are a mixture of two or more genres. Of course, it’s not always easy to classify books into their respective mixed genres, especially if you’re rather broad and loose with classifications, as I am: I only really divide books into two genres, fantasy and non-fantasy. Anything that falls out of the ordinary is fantasy for me.

Which brings me to my conundrum with Riley Noehren’s Gravity vs. the Girl. This Whitney Award winner for Best Novel by a New Author in 2009 reads like standard non-fantasy chick lit right from the opening pages…click here to read the rest of the review.

Rating:

2010 Challenge Status:
* Book # 37 out of 100 for 2010

→ Get Gravity vs. the Girl by Riley Noehren from Amazon.com
→ Riley Noehren’s website

Dreamcatcher

Gone by Lisa McMann

OPEN YOUR EYES.

Janie thought she knew what her future held. And she thought she’d made her peace with it. But she can’t handle dragging Cabel down with her.

She knows he will stay with her, despite what she sees in his dreams. He’s amazing. And she’s a train wreck. Janie sees only one way to give him the life he deserves: She has to disappear. And it’s going to kill them both.

Then a stranger enters her life — and everything unravels. The future Janie once faced now has an ominous twist, and her choices are more dire than she’d ever thought possible. She alone must decide between the lesser of two evils. And time is running out….

I thought I reviewed the first two books in the Dream Catcher series on my personal blog, but I was mistaken, so the review of the third book would have to have some kind of recap of the first two.

The Dream Catcher series by Lisa McMann is about Janie Hannagan, who has the strange ability to get into other people’s dreams. The series deals with Janie and dealing with her strange ability, the people around her, her relationships and the uses of her powers. In the first book, Wake, we meet Janie and we get a glimpse of how her ability is a problem for her because she can’t stop entering other people’s dreams. It’s fine if the dreams were nice, calm ones, but nightmares were a different story. Janie tries to live her life as normally as she can with her ability and her alcoholic mother, until she meets and falls for Cabel, and realizes that her ability may be used as a gift to help other people.

In Fade, Janie starts to discover more about her abilities when she finds out that one of the elderly woman she takes care of in an elderly home (where knee walkers at rentakneewalker.com were a common sight) her job has the same abilities as she does. Janie and Cabel enter a relationship and a job that would secure their future and would give Janie more reasons to practice her ability. However, Janie discovers something horrifying about her future if she keeps on doing what she was doing: a future that she doesn’t know would make Cabel stay with her.

Now with Gone, Janie still thinks of her future if she continues using her ability. She and Cabel try to treat things normally, but she’s uncertain if Cabel would stay for the long run. And as if the emotional turmoil is not enough, she gets news that her biological father is in the hospital and dying. Janie prefers not to care, but something about her father draws her to him, and what she finds out could be the key to the future she found out about in Fade, that is if Janie is willing to make a choice.

Now that we’ve gotten the recaps in order (and I tried to be as spoiler-less as possible), let’s get on to the review.

I have very mixed reactions with the last book in the series. I liked Wake, and I liked the concept that McMann introduced. Janie isn’t a particularly lovable character, but she wasn’t all annoying either. One would tend to sympathize with Janie’s situation — no one wants to see other people’s nightmares, let alone experience them. In Fade, we see Janie making use of her abilities and it was fun, although it wasn’t that impressive in terms of story. The revelations of what could happen to Janie, however, was interesting, and it provided enough suspense to the story and the characters to make me want to know what’s going to happen next.

With Gone, I’m at my own crossroads. I liked how McMann wrote Janie’s emotional turmoil about her future, and bringing in a person from the past is an effective way to face them. I also liked how the author made Janie’s heart soften towards her father, and how she faced her problems without really thinking of what other people will think. She knew she had to put herself because she was the one who’s going to deal with everything, not others. People may say that they will always support her, but she knew that they can only go so far. I also liked that McMann introduced more of Janie’s past, and how she executed the “conversation” Janie had with her father. That part teared me up, and I felt that it was fitting that I read the book during Father’s Day.

What’s really making me indecisive about how this book fared for me was the ending. I think that’s what most of the readers of this book would face. When I got to the ending, I thought there was more. I wanted to know more, I wanted to see what Janie would pick. But it ended where it did, and while it was frustrating to be left hanging like that, I also feel like the ending was just right. I mean, there is no real good choice — both of Janie’s possible choices would lead to undesirable outcomes. What she needed to choose was which was the lesser evil, which frankly, even I don’t know what.

I have always had a penchant for ending stories with a sort of cliffhanger, one that doesn’t tie up all loose ends and makes the reader wonder what happened next. I think Lisa McMann executed that beautifully here. I can’t say it’s satisfying, but I can say that it might be the proper — if not the best — ending for this series.

It’s not my favorite book or series, but I’m glad I read it.

Rating:

2010 Challenge Status:
* Book # 46 out of 100 for 2010

→ Get Gone by Lisa McMann from Amazon.com
→ Lisa McMann’s website

Meridian (Amber Kizer)

Meridian by Amber KizerHalf-human, half-angel, Meridian Sozu has a dark responsibility.

Sixteen-year-old Meridian has been surrounded by death ever since she can remember. As a child, insects, mice, and salamanders would burrow into her bedclothes and die. At her elementary school, she was blamed for a classmate’s tragic accident. And on her sixteenth birthday, a car crashes in front of her family home—and Meridian’s body explodes in pain.

Before she can fully recover, Meridian is told that she’s a danger to her family and hustled off to her great-aunt’s house in Revelation, Colorado. It’s there that she learns that she is a Fenestra—the half-angel, half-human link between the living and the dead. But Meridian and her sworn protector and love, Tens, face great danger from the Aternocti, a band of dark forces who capture vulnerable souls on the brink of death and cause chaos.

My teammates and I saw this book while browsing around Fully Booked and the concept of the book got me hooked immediately. After vampires comes angels and I think angels are more interesting than vamps, right? (Feel free to disagree haha)

So when I finally got a copy of this book, I was excited to read it. The first few pages were really interesting, as Meridian tried to explain the deaths around her and why she was always alone. It was a very captivating start for a novel, good enough to get me hooked and try to find out what was up with Meridian.

But that was it. It was a good start, but as the story went on, it wasn’t that good anymore. I felt like I wasn’t really into the story, like I was watching it from the sidelines. I liked the idea of the Fenestras and the Alternocti and the Sangre, but there wasn’t enough explanation on the background of things. I just know that the Fenestras are good and the Alternocti are bad and that was it. There were some references to religion and a possible background or mythology of why they were that way, but it still lacked.

I liked Meridian as a character, but I wished there was more depth shown to her. Tens as a protector is a good character too, but his background wasn’t explored either. He was called a prophet, but there wasn’t much of him being a prophet in the story except for his dreams. And the romance between Meridian and Tens? Sorry, didn’t work for me.

I still liked the concept of the story, though, and I hope it gets explored more if there is a companion novel coming out.

Rating:
→ Somewhat disappointing. Could have had a lot of good concepts to explore, but it failed to live up to expectations. I won’t stop you from picking this up, but I’m not recommending it, either.

2010 Challenge Status:
* Book # 2 out of 100 for 2010
* Book # 2 out of 20 fantasy books in 2010

→ Get Meridian by Amber Kizer from Amazon.com
→ Amber Kizer’s website