Another (#1) by Yukito Ayatsuji
Genre: YA Horror
Publisher: Hachette Book Group
English translation released March 19th, 2013
In the spring of 1998, Kouichi Sakakibara transfers to Yomiyama North Middle School. In class, he develops a sense of unease as he notices that the people around him act like they’re walking on eggshells, and students and teachers alike seem frightened. As a chain of horrific deaths begin to unfold around him, he comes to discover that he has been placed in the cursed Class 3 in which the student body head count is always one more than expected. Class 3 is haunted by a vengeful spirit responsible for gruesome deaths in an effort to satisfy its spite. To stop the vicious cycle gripping his new school, Kouichi decides to get to the bottom of the curse, but is he prepared for the horror that lies ahead…?
Another was originally written in Japanese and it’s obvious that this version is a translation. There are riddles that lack the natural flow of language, since I’m sure that there are some words/meanings in Japanese that don’t exist in English. I felt as if I was reading a water-down version of a masterpiece. That said, this must be one of the creepiest novels I have ever read. It has the aura of an old-school Hitchcock psychological horror blended with a modern Japanese horror such as Runju, which I had to DNF cause it freaked me out so much. There’s a rawness to the story that makes me believe that a child dictated to the writer rather than the writer inventing it. There are some instances that felt put in for ‘shock’ value that didn’t do anything for me. I think it was because Sakakibara was so emotionally distant from the other characters that it was difficult to get attached to them before they died.
The narrator’s purpose isn’t clear and first and by the end there are still many unanswered questions. I do think that some of the information presented in the narrative could have been left out, as it is re-explained in Sakakibara’s POV. Of course there are other things present in the narrative that without being mentioned would make what happens to Sakakibara seem much less spooky. I do like the blend of the two. I feel that they both were definitely needed to tell this story.
There is a few things that happen in this book that remind me that I’m dealing with a different culture. I wish there was even more emphasis on the culture because I found it nearly as fascinated as the storyline.
Even though this is a series, I felt that the ending was completely satisfactory as a standalone. I’ll probably read the next installment when it is translated. (B+)
(I received a copy of this book from the publisher/Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.)
(Picture and information borrowed from Goodreads.)
‘Yukito Ayatsuji’ is the original creator of Another.He is a famous mystery writer and japanese detective fiction. He is also one of the writer that demands restoration of the classic rules of detective fiction and the use of more self reflective elements. He is married to Fuyumi Ono ,author of The Twelve Kingdoms and creator of Ghost Hunt,Juuni Kokuki and and the author for the other few manga.
Gift by Andrea J. Buchanan
Genre: YA Paranormal
Publisher: Open Road Media
Released March 27, 2012
Daisy has an electrifying secret that could save her life—or kill her
High school sophomore Daisy Jones is just trying to get by unnoticed. It doesn’t help that she’s the new girl at school, lives in a trailer park, and doesn’t even own a cell phone. But there’s a good reason for all that: Daisy has a secret, unpredictable power—one only her best friend, Danielle, knows about. Despite her “gift” (or is it a curse?), Daisy’s doing a good job of fitting in, and a gorgeous senior named Kevin even seems interested in her! But when Daisy tries to help Vivi, a mysterious classmate in a crisis, she soon discovers that her new friend has a secret of her own. Now Daisy and her friends must deal with chilling dreams and messages from the beyond. Can Daisy channel the power she’s always tried to hide, before it’s too late?
I liked the concept of the novel, but there were some things about this book that completely failed. First off, the opening chapters were confusing. It felt like a romance brewing between Daisy and Vivi (because of Daisy’s obsession with the other girl) and then it abruptly switched to a very long explanation about Daisy’s powers. There were quite a few instances where the author said what was happening rather than letting the story reveal the plot. I felt very confused for most of the book, as the reader is left purposely in the dark about very important plot details. I would have rather had some of it revealed early on into the book so I had some inclination as to why the characters acted like they did.
I understood that Daisy wasn’t able to use electronic devices, but how could she have survived high school with the high usage of computers in the classrooms. Students today can’t avoid computers or televisions or calculators. Not in a public school. I don’t buy how someone could have not figured it out. How does she type up her reports? Pass a typing class? Research in the library (most documents are electronically recorded)? Also, it did bother me that Daisy could use a house phone. It was a normal everyday phone. If the author wanted to be somewhat plausible, then she would have made Daisy use a rotary phone. It’s still electronic, but it doesn’t run by a computer chip like every other gadget that Daisy messes up.
The subplot involving Mr. Terry wasn’t handled logically. There is no way that a male teacher would ever house a female student in his home, especially without getting explicit permission from the principal. I have several family members who are teachers and if these exact circumstances happened to them, they might house such student over-night if that student was on the street. But only a single night and come morning the principal would immediately be made aware of the situation. If the student wouldn’t return home, then CPS would be called. And even if the teacher was stupid enough to house a student of the opposite sex at their home for a prolong period of time, once the principal was informed of the situation, the teacher would immediately be suspended fired for not notifying the principal. It doesn’t matter what the person who ‘told the principal’ said. The simple fact is that the teacher was not acting appropriate.
I just don’t think that there was enough research done to make sure that the events that happened in the book were plausible. And for that reason alone, I think I have to give this book a very low rating. It’s not the worst book I’ve ever read, but it’s one that I surely won’t ever recommend. Still, the author does show potential to write a much better book. I might still check out another book by Andrea Buckanan. (F+)
(I received a copy of this book from the publisher/Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.)
(Picture and information borrowed from Goodreads.)
Andrea J. Buchanan is a New York Times bestselling writer whose newest book is the young adult novel GIFT. Her work includes The Daring Book For Girls, Mother Shock, and six other books. Before becoming a writer, Andi was a classical pianist; she studied at the Boston Conservatory of Music, where she earned her bachelor of music degree, and continued her graduate studies at the San Francisco Conservatory, earning a master’s degree in piano performance. Her last recital was at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall. She lives in Philadelphia with her family.
Fairy Tale Giveaway Hop
You may have a copy of any book on my fantasy review list. This is an ebook giveaway for INT, but if you live in the US you may choose a paperback instead. Urban fantasy and paranormal romance books from my review list can be chosen too. You can find the full list HERE. Any book that I review that’s fantasy related between now and the end of the contest can also be selected. And you may pick any book in the series as long as I’ve reviewed as least one of the series books.
US residents win a print copy!
Here’s a sample of what you can pick!
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Prophecy of the Most Beautiful by Diantha Jones
Book One of the Oracle of Delphie Series
Genre: YA Fantasy
Release March 1st, 2012
She has a destiny so great that even the gods fear her.
Constant hallucinations and the frequent conversations with the voices in her head, have earned eighteen-year-old Chloe Clever the not-so-coveted title of “Whack Job” in her home town of Adel, Georgia. With the onslaught of prescription medications and therapists threatening to push her over the edge, she wishes for a life far away from the one she has, a life where she is destined to be more than the butt of everyone’s jokes and mockery.
Be careful what you wish for has never rung more true.
After living through an attack from her worst nightmare, she awakens to find herself far from home, surrounded by glorious riches and servants…and a few demigods who enjoy killing things. Upon learning that her favorite rockstar is an Olympian god, she is thrust into her new life as the Oracle of Delphi, the prophesier of the future, and the great Pythia that the gods have been anxiously awaiting to arrive for centuries. Setting out to fulfill the prophecy she has been given and to keep her family safe from a demigod Princess that wants her dead, Chloe learns of how great she is to become, all the while fighting mythical monsters, evading divine assassins and trying to outwit the ever-cunning Greek gods who harbor secrets of their own. In the hopes of discovering the Most Beautiful and the truth of her destiny, she strives to uncover the mysteries of the demigod Prince who has sworn to protect her with his life…and threatens to win her heart in the process.
There are two things that I didn’t like about the book. The romance was way over the top. I was pelted with both sides of the love sick coin with both Chloe and her love interest proclaiming in the narrative upon first sight how much they really wanted the other. If it was written only from Chloe’s POV, then I probably wouldn’t have minded as much. The mythology is borrowed directly from Greek legends, which I love, but I can’t help but compare it to Percy Jackson. The Gods and demigods just weren’t as creatively portrayed as they were in Percy Jackson.
I did like how the fates were introduced, although I wish that their limits and powers were more clearly defined. They surprised me later in the story when certain things happened that I didn’t think were possible.
The plot had some good twists, but the action scenes were very unbelievable When Hades’ offspring invaded Apollo’s home, it made no sense how only a handful of people could completely decimate like they did and without injury. Both are half gods and yet it was a very one-sided fight. The prophecy itself was very well done and I like how it did tie into one of the most-well known myths and yet I didn’t have a clue what it was until Chloe said it. If you’re better at clues and solving mysteries, then you’d probably guess what the prophecy involves.
I think that if you love romance and you love mythology, then this would be a great book for you to read. It reminds me very much of Aimee Carter’s Goddess series, only Prophecy of the Most Beautiful has less whiny characters. It’s a little too lighthearted and “safe” for me to love, but a decent book overall. I’m not sure if I’ll read the next book in the series. It all depends on how many mushy romantic POVs I have to suffer through. This is a book that I think that is a solid four stars in the right reader’s hands…it’s just not for me. (C)
(I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review.)
(Information borrowed from Goodreads.)
Diantha Jones was born the day thousands of turkeys sacrificed their lives to fill millions of American bellies on November 22 which also happened to be Thanksgiving Day (Her mother says she owes her a turkey). She is a Journalism graduate who wants to be a career novelist (of books, not Facebook posts). When not writing or working, she is reading on her Nook or playing the most ridiculous app games on her iPhone.
I write adult fantasy/paranormal romance under the name A. Star. Friend/Fan me at www.goodreads.com/A_Star.
Breathe by Sarah Crossan
Genre: Sci-fi, Dystopian
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Released October 2nd, 2012
Inhale. Exhale. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe . . .The world is dead. The survivors live under the protection of Breathe, the corporation that found a way to manufacture oxygen-rich air.
Alinahas been stealing for a long time. She’s a little jittery, but not terrified. All she knows is that she’s never been caught before. If she’s careful, it’ll be easy. If she’s careful.
Quinnshould be worried about Alina and a bit afraid for himself, too, but even though this is dangerous, it’s also the most interesting thing to happen to him in ages. It isn’t every day that the girl of your dreams asks you to rescue her.
Beawants to tell him that none of this is fair; they’d planned a trip together, the two of them, and she’d hoped he’d discover her out here, not another girl.
And as they walk into the Outlands with two days’ worth of oxygen in their tanks, everything they believe will be shattered. Will they be able to make it back? Will they want to?
Despite the obvious theme of the book SAVE THE TREES, Breathe never feels like it’s preaching about green living and the damage that people do on the environment every day. Instead, it tells the story about a world where people didn’t take care of its trees and thus the atmosphere no longer has enough oxygen to sustain human life. These people are forced to carry around oxygen masks and live inside pods to survive. It’s very clear early on into the book that the people in charge don’t have the best intentions at heart. I’m completely ignorant in how accurate this sort of situation was portrayed, but it made sense to me.
The book switches between three first-person narratives: Bea, Quinn, and Alina. Quinn and Bea’s narratives are so similar that sometimes it took me a page or two to figure out who was talking. I admittedly have a bad habit of ignoring chapter titles (which did explain who was the chapter’s POV) while reading. Bea is a tree-hugger who wants to excel at her schooling so that she can get accepted into the Premiums and is no longer a second class citizen. Quinn is her best friend. Despite being part of the elite class, he feels smothered by his father’s overbearing nature and high demands. Alina, meanwhile, is part of the Resistance who means to expose the dark side of those in power. By chance, the three of them meet up and despite the love triangle introduction, it is clear who will end up with who long before the book ends.
I really enjoyed the storyline and how gritty the book became at times. It was intriguing to see the lengths people will go to fight for what they believe in. I also liked how there are purely evil or good characters. Each one is unique and makes both good and bad decisions. I think my favorite character is Alina and I especially liked how her personality and outlook evolved over the course of the book. At the very beginning, she sees the world in black and white, but by the end she knows that even people with the best intention do some very bad things.
The main reason that this book wasn’t a 5 star book was because there isn’t any resolution at the end. Breathe felt like part one of a book. It has no standalone qualities. I can’t help but be annoyed that I won’t find out what happens to any of the characters for at least another year. If I knew that it was a series before reading, this might not have bothered me as much. The only thing I did like at the end was the twist involving one of the minor characters.
If you’re on the hunt for a decent YA sci-fi or dystopian novel, then you should check out Breathe.
(I borrowed a copy of this book from my local library.)
(Image and description borrowed from Goodreads.)
Sarah Crossan is Irish. She graduated with a degree in Philosophy and Literature before training as an English and Drama teacher at Cambridge University and worked to promote creative writing in schools before leaving teaching to write full time.
She completed her Masters in Creative Writing at the University of Warwick in 2003 and in 2010 received an Edward Albee Fellowship for writing.
She currently lives in NYC.Read More