So, I’m going to call a hiatus until November. I’m in Mexico right now, and I just don’t have the willpower to get myself together to read or write reviews. It’s sad but true. I might be able to cobble some things together every so often, but I’m not going to promise anything. Thanks for understanding, everyone 🙂
JUST LET ME SLEEP
So, I’ve been reading more lately. And I’m trying to catch up on a few reviews, and this one is the latest. Now, I was really excited for this book, especially because it came in a dry spell of releases I wanted. Once again, I found myself disappointed. This book is HUGE. Not, Game of Thrones huge, but for a YA novel, it was a monster. Therefore, I expected even more.
WHAT I ACTUALLY GOT
First of all, there were immediately way too many characters and way too much filler. I understand that you’ll have that sometimes with a large family scene, but Jane Austen’s Elizabeth had four sisters, and it never felt flat or boring to read scenes where they all conversed. There was too much information and backstory being poured into that first few pages/chapters, and even when I got to the Fives race, my attention waned. And the characters didn’t spark anything in me- they were all irritating, and I didn’t feel like they would get any better. I didn’t get through the Fives race- and that was why I stopped. When I couldn’t even get through the event the book seemed to be named for, or the preliminary trials for it (I really don’t remember) I decided that I had better things to read. I’d give it 1.5 stars, maybe two because it may have gotten better and the world-building had some solid elements, but I didn’t stick around to find out more.
Never date your best friend.
Always be original.
Sometimes rules are meant to be broken.
Best friends Dave and Julia were determined to never be cliché high school kids—the ones who sit at the same lunch table every day, dissecting the drama from homeroom and plotting their campaigns for prom king and queen. They even wrote their own Never List of everything they vowed they’d never, ever do in high school.
Some of the rules have been easy to follow, like #5, never dye your hair a color of the rainbow, or #7, never hook up with a teacher. But Dave has a secret: he’s broken rule #8, never pine silently after someone for the entirety of high school. It’s either that or break rule #10, never date your best friend. Dave has loved Julia for as long as he can remember.
Julia is beautiful, wild and impetuous. So when she suggests they do every Never on the list, Dave is happy to play along. He even dyes his hair an unfortunate shade of green. It starts as a joke, but then a funny thing happens: Dave and Julia discover that by skipping the cliches, they’ve actually been missing out on high school. And maybe even on love.
I liked the premise, I liked the characters….but then I didn’t. It seems to linger too long on the in-between stages, with more focus on Dave- poor, conflicted Dave- getting to know another girl, and less of what I expected- a long list of Nevers, a cute best-friend romance, and a happy ending. Isn’t that what the summary implies? A story that’s almost cliche in itself, maybe akin to Finding Mr. Brightside by Jay Asher, a perfect story about how love can change you, one that makes your heart happy and leaves you excited for what’s next for the main characters? But this was not that book. This was a book for cynics of longtime love, maybe more realistic in nature, maybe more for those who have little faith in relationships, but not for those who want to escape the realistic drudgery of high school and the routines that every high school person goes through.
The ending is less than satisfactory (okay, yes, I flipped to the end to see if it was worth continuing) and DNFed at about 120 pages in. This book wasn’t for me, and I wish I could have liked it, but it just didn’t do anything for me. The love triangle was unexpected and kind of frustrating (mostly because I had no emotional investment and I hate love triangles) but it was an applaudable effort, and I can’t find any fault with the writing, just the execution.
Blackbeard the pirate was known for striking fear in the hearts of the bravest of sailors. But once he was just a young man who dreamed of leaving his rigid life behind to chase adventure in faraway lands. Nothing could stop him—until he met the one girl who would change everything. This is their story.
Edward “Teach” Drummond, son of one of Bristol’s richest merchants, has just returned from a year-long journey on the high seas to find his life in shambles. Betrothed to a girl he doesn’t love and sick of the high society he was born into, Teach dreams only of returning to the vast ocean he’d begun to call home. There’s just one problem: convincing his father to let him leave and never come back.
Following her parents’ deaths, Anne Barrett is left penniless and soon to be homeless. Though she’s barely worked a day in her life, Anne is forced to take a job as a maid in the home of Master Drummond. Lonely days stretch into weeks, and Anne longs for escape. How will she ever realize her dream of sailing to Curaçao—where her mother was born—when she’s stuck in England?
From the moment Teach and Anne meet, they set the world ablaze. Drawn to each other, they’re trapped by society and their own circumstances. Faced with an impossible choice, they must decide to chase their dreams and go, or follow their hearts and stay.
PLOT: I’m going to attempt, very carefully, not to swoon after every sentence I write about this book. *SWOON* Sorry. Be prepared- I don’t think I can make this non-gushing.
Let’s get one thing straight- I loved everything about this book. Everything. Except, perhaps, the ending, because I wasn’t ready for it. The plot was much different than I anticipated, and the twists, although they weren’t ridiculously huge (i.e. an asteroid is heading for the earth, ahhhh!) they were unexpected, intriguing, and absolutely fabulous. They always came just when you were ready for something new to happen, and I must admit, this is one of the only times that I recognized the excellence of the pacing in a novel. It was a constant upswing, and although there weren’t action scenes every 15 pages, there was always something to make you go
So, basically, it was amazing.
The plot didn’t get tiresome- sometimes with the historical novels set around this time, it can get repetitive. Dinner, dancing, suitor, dancing, gasp, dinner, gasp, dancing, etc. Those things are great when used to enhance the plot, but not when they’re the entire plot. Blackhearts stayed firmly away from that trend. There were dinners, yes. There was dancing, yes (and pretty dresses!!!). There was gasping (mostly by me), yes. But it served a purpose. It moved the plot forward, giving you important information and leading you to the climax very sneakily. It’s fantastic, until you reach the surprisingly quick conclusion. Then, if you’re like me, you just cry a little bit and search for the invisible last pages.
CHARACTERS: Where do I even begin? This book had everything by way of characters. The variety was stunning- each had a specific voice, and they absolutely each elicited emotions from me. Teach? SWOON SWOON SWOON. He’s strong, he’s fierce, he’s powerful- but what I loved most about Teach was that even though he was one of the darker heroes, this wasn’t a twisted YA relationship, and it certainly wasn’t insta-love. This wasn’t one of those books where the girl becomes a doormat because a hot guy gives her the time of the day- and that brings me to Anne.
Anne is the ultimate heroine- decisive, uncompromising, willing to do anything she has to so she can escape her life as a servant. She doesn’t resign herself to a life of misery, even though her only way out may be to do things she doesn’t want to do. I admired her unflinching spirit, even in the face of danger and ridicule, and I think we need more heroines in YA who think and act like Anne. Even falling in love can’t keep her from following her dreams.
Even the characters that were minor were very distinctive and very entertaining. Drummond, Teach’s father, was such a conflict for me- it was a total love-hate relationship. He’s a great layer of conflict for the story, and I loved the way you see him shift and change- a totally dynamic character. Patience, William, Mary, Margery, etc., all enhanced the book as well- enough subplots to keep the book moving and keep your brain occupied, but not so much that it distracted from the main plot line. Their characters, while not as dynamic, were entertaining and they served a purpose- they weren’t just random characters introduced as filler. Sometimes when that happens it can make me close a book for a while because it’s overwhelming, but Nicole found another great balance with her characters and their roles.
OVERALL: Did I mention how much love this book? Hit the pre-order sites, everyone, and keep your eye out for it. Blackhearts may not be a revolutionary story (it is set in the past!) but the writing and execution certainly is. Five stars, although I’d give it a thousand if I could. When I was (still am) swamped with books that just can’t keep my attention, Blackhearts grabbed my attention, my mind, and then my heart with its rich characters, driven plot, and elegant world.
What else can I say? This was one of the best books I’ve read in a long time, and I think everyone else should read it, too. This last image basically sums up how I feel about this book.
WELCOME TO ANOTHER BOOK I CAN’T REVIEW
Of course, it happened to debut at #2 on the NYT Bestseller list. Because I just can’t seem to like what OBVIOUSLY MUST BE A GOOD BOOK. (see An Ember in the Ashes, Red Queen, etc)
I’ll admit that I didn’t finish this one. I don’t know if maybe I wasn’t in the mood, or if it isn’t just me, but this one didn’t strike me. I don’t like books where the MC (and her love interest) are under a certain age, because then it becomes absolutely unrealistic to me if they fall madly,deeply in love, the kind of love that ends worlds. I was once fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, etc. That age group of people are not capable of the kind of love that is pushed in books. Now this has become the beginnings of a rant about aging, and I didn’t mean that, and I didn’t necessarily see that when I skimmed this one.
The other problem was the nature of the book- she’s called a witch, not some kind of elemental, or even just lucky, and that crosses the line for me. Maybe I should have realized that before, but there’s a difference between being some kind of mutant/having a superpower and just straight up magic, which I don’t like.
I’m sorry that I didn’t love this one, because I was really looking forward to it after the western beauty that is Vengeance Road, but I’m not going to say I wouldn’t recommend it, because I think for the right audience it would be fabulous. That audience just wasn’t me.