Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Review: Eve Trilogy

Title(s): Eve, Once, Rise
Author: Anna Carey
Series: Eve Trilogy
Publisher: Harper Collins
Genre: YA/Dystopian
Release Date: 2011, 2012, 2013

Sixteen years after a deadly virus wiped out most of Earth's population, the world is a perilous place. Eighteen-year-old Eve has never been beyond the heavily guarded perimeter of her school, where she and two hundred other orphaned girls have been promised a future as the teachers and artists of the New America. But the night before graduation, Eve learns the shocking truth about her school's real purpose and the horrifying fate that awaits her.

Fleeing the only home she's ever known, Eve sets off on a long, treacherous journey, searching for a place she can survive. Along the way she encounters Arden, her former rival from school, and Caleb, a rough, rebellious boy living in the wild. Separated from men her whole life, Eve has been taught to fear them, but Caleb slowly wins her trust... and her heart. He promises to protect her, but when soldiers begin hunting them, Eve must choose between true love and her life. 

-taken from Goodreads

This was another dystopian series that I picked up at random. When I first started Eve, the first book, I wasn't sure how I felt. The writing felt like it was geared to a much younger audience than, say, The Hunger Games. It threw me off, but I did like that the story appeared to be a nod to The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood (which I recently reviewed). Not only was the plot similar, but the book actually opens with a quote from The Handmaid's Tale, making it clear that Carey knew what she was doing. The first few chapters progressed much faster than I had anticipated. It felt like the author was rushing me through some key points so that she could get to the good part: ok here's your main character, she lives in a school, oh and there's this other character who's breaking out and on the same night Eve finds out the truth and breaks out too. I swear that's all just in the first couple of chapters.

However, once Eve's journey begins, the book finds a good pace. I really enjoyed all of the characters; I thought they were all well written and diverse and relatable. The way the world and the government were set up made perfect sense and I loved reading about her days spent in the wild.

Now here's where things get interesting to me: I thought the second book, Once, was the best in the trilogy. Let me repeat that. The MIDDLE book of a trilogy was MY FAVORITE. This has never happened before and may never happen again. In this book, Eve's journey takes her the Sand City (no spoilers on how or why) and there happens a major twist that I did not see coming. I'm a sucker for a good twist and I ended up finishing this book in just a few hours as a result. I also loved how much Eve grows emotionally in Once. She really starts to take care of herself and make good decisions and even when she's forced into situations beyond her control, she doesn't just lay down and take it. She makes the most of what's thrown at her and doesn't break.

On the heels of the awesomeness of Once comes Rise, ironically named as the story actually descends into blahness. The story starts to have that rushed feeling again and it's as though the author got tired and said "ok now this happens, this happens, and this happens." The most disappointing part was the ending. For the majority of the book, you pretty much know what the big climactic ending will be, and then it's almost no ending at all. It feels like a huge loss when Carey basically just cuts you off from the scene you've been waiting for. I'm trying to come to terms with it and not let the ending ruin the entire series. I keep going back to how good that middle book was and then I feel ok with imagining my own ending.

I have to give the overall series 3 hearts. That middle book kept it from falling to 2 and the ending of the third book kept it from rising to 4. And so it goes.

Buy it: AmazonBarnes and Noble

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Sunday, August 16, 2015

Review: Down the Rabbit Hole

Title: Down the Rabbit Hole: Curious Adventures and Cautionary Tales of a Former Playboy Bunny
Author: Holly Madison
Publisher: Dey Street Books
Genre: Memoir
352 pages
Release Date: June 2015

A former girlfriend of Hugh Hefner describes how her years inside the Playboy Mansion went from a fairytale of A-list celebrity parties to an oppressive regime of strict rules, scheduled sex, and a total loss of identity, so much so that she even contemplated suicide.
-taken from Goodreads

Hello, everyone! I do apologize for allowing summer to steal me away for a bit. It didn't stop me from reading but it did keep me from talking about my reading!

To get back into the swing of things, here's a review about a more recent book all about the life of Hugh Hefner's former #1 girlfriend, Holly Madison. I, for one, had marked the release date for this one in my calendar (judge if you must). When I was in college I was obsessed with The Girls Next Door on TLC and Holly, Bridget and Kendra often kept me company while I was studying or doing homework. I was fascinated by each of them as people in addition to being fascinated by their way of life - how utterly accepting they seemed of this girlfriend hierarchy they had with a man who was old enough to be their great-grandfather.

I found this story fascinating. Holly had a lot of interesting facts for us that I'd never heard before. For example, Hef doesn't own his mansion, but instead rents it from Playboy, paying per bedroom. She also talks about her time as the low girl on the totem pole, back before the tv show came around and the only people who knew much about Hef and his girlfriends (all 7 of them!) were the people in LA who would run into them when they went out on the town.

Holly paints Hef as a controlling, manipulative borderline sociopath, which honestly isn't that big of a surprise. He's certainly an odd duck. What I had the hardest time with was Holly's own story. I struggled to find empathy as she talked about how lost she got in that world and how unhappy she was and how she saw this life as her only option. I know some people in this world get trapped after making wrong decisions, but I (fortunately) am not one of those people and so I had a hard time feeling bad for her. It's also very obvious that Holly is no professional writer - I had to laugh at some of her attempts to sound like she knows how to write a book. But I'm genuinely happy to know that she found happiness in the end.

Overall, it's kind of hard to rate this book since my rating is so subjective. I personally was thrilled with the sordid goings on and the spilling of secrets and the explanation of Holly's feud with Kendra, but if you have no interest in Playboy and the people who have been involved with that enterprise, then you will care less. So I give it 4 hearts (minus 1 because of how average the writing was and because I get it won't be everyone's cup of tea).

Buy it: AmazonBarnes and Noble

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