Welcome to another edition of Better Late Than Never: Reviews of eARCs/ARCs for the Lazy!
Do you have review copies piling up? Do you have eARCs that you requested but never got to because you got overwhelmed by life? Or did you just bite off more than you can chew? (That’s me.) At some point I was still hoping I could review these books (even though my review wouldn’t really be of use to the publisher anymore) because it would be still useful to readers, and also to me, because the pile-up was giving me anxiety every time I thought about it. So since it Is the new year, I tried my best to suck it up with the promise that if I didn’t like what I was reading, I could DNF at any time. (I am not great about forced reading. 2016 was almost exclusively mood reading.) And write short reviews. That was important too. I am trying my hardest to read through these quickly, so I am most definitely going to miss subtle details. So that’s how this post was born. And any future posts of late eARCs.
After a few of these posts, I’ve decided to include ARCs as well. I try to read all the ARCs publishers send me, and I usually do, but sometimes I get them unsolicited and don’t have time to fit them into my schedule. I’ve also been to several book conferences, and unfortunately I’ve picked up quite a few ARCs there that I haven’t been able to get to. I’ve started attacking them though. Slowly, but I am trying. That said, I can’t and won’t write full reviews for all of these books. So I’m adding them here.
To see my last post of Better Late Than Never, go here!
Bad Romance by Heather Demetrios
Published by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) on June 13th 2017
Genres: young adult, contemporary
Buy on Amazon
Grace wants out. Out of her house, where her stepfather wields fear like a weapon and her mother makes her scrub imaginary dirt off the floors. Out of her California town, too small to contain her big city dreams. Out of her life, and into the role of Parisian artist, New York director—anything but scared and alone.
Enter Gavin: charming, talented, adored. Controlling. Dangerous. When Grace and Gavin fall in love, Grace is sure it's too good to be true. She has no idea their relationship will become a prison she's unable to escape.
Deeply affecting and unflinchingly honest, this is a story about spiraling into darkness—and emerging into the light again.
I’ve always been a fan of Heather Demetrios. To be fair, I’ve only read her contemporary novels, but I’ve loved all of them. I liked Bad Romance, but there was something about this one that made me like it a little less than the others.
It’s not that it isn’t written well, because it is. It’s not that I didn’t like the characters, because I really felt for Grace. But I do feel like this book was partially triggering for me and it upset me quite a bit at times, and that may have been why I didn’t enjoy it as much. There were things that happened in my life as a teenager that made this a difficult read for me. That said, this book was a great representation of a toxic, abusive relationship. Abuse takes many forms, including mental, verbal, emotional, AND physical. I daresay they were all presented here, and presented well. It may have been healthier for me to put this book down, but I wanted to finish it because I had invested so much mental energy into it.
It’s a great book, it’s just not a happy one. It’s definitely necessary though, because readers (especially teens) need to know what these relationship red flags are, and how to get yourself out of a dangerous relationship.
Replica by Lauren Oliver
Published by HarperCollins on October 4th 2016
Genres: young adult, science fiction
Buy on Amazon
From a distance, the Haven Institute, tucked away on a private island off the coast of Florida, looks serene and even beautiful. But up close the locked doors, military guards, and biohazard suits tell a different story. In truth, it is a clandestine research facility where thousands of replicas, or human models, are born, raised, and observed.
But when a surprise attack is launched on Haven, two of its young experimental subjects—Lyra, or 24, and the boy known only as 72—manage to escape. As they make their way through a new and menacing environment, they meet a stranger named Gemma, who has embarked on a perilous quest of her own. And as Lyra tries to understand Haven’s purpose, she uncovers earth-shattering secrets that will change the lives of both girls.
Gemma has been in and out of hospitals her whole life. A sickly child, she has grown into a lonely adolescent whose life is circumscribed by home, school, and her best friend, April.
But after she is nearly abducted by a stranger claiming to know her, Gemma starts to investigate her family’s past and discovers her father’s mysterious connection to the secretive Haven research facility. Hungry for answers, she travels to Florida, only to stumble upon two human models, or replicas, 24 and 72—and a completely new set of questions. As Gemma tries to unravel the mysteries of Haven, she learnes terrible truths about herself and her family that will threaten to destroy everything she loves.
Two girls, two stories, one novel.
While the stories of Gemma and Lyra mirror each other, each contains revelations critically important to the other story. Their narratives can be read separately or in alternating chapters.
This book seems really tedious and quite the undertaking if you’re debating whether you want to read it or not. It’s big, there are two actual books with two different protagonists, and you have no idea how the stories are going to come together. For some, this might seem like a challenge and I can understand why they may have passed it over. That said, for me it was a really great read and I’m glad I made the decision to finally crack it open.
You can read the stories in alternating chapters, or read one book completely through and then follow it up with the other. I did the latter because I had an eARC and it’s really difficult flipping back and forth on the Kindle, and I read Lyra’s story first and then Gemma’s. This is the kind of sci fi that takes place on earth and not in space, and I generally prefer the latter, but for some reason this was really tense and fast-paced and I really enjoyed the author’s ideas and world-building. There are some interesting twists I didn’t see coming, and because of that I went and downloaded the sequel from Edelweiss because I can’t wait to continue the story.
If I could make a suggestion, if you do decide to read it and are able to read it in alternating chapters without trouble, I would recommend doing it that way because the ending does sort of read as anticlimactic when you do it the way I did.
Replica is about cloning at a secret institute and is told from the POV of Lyra, one of the clones, who does not believe she is human, and the only life she has ever known is her life at Haven so she doesn’t realize how cruelly she has been treated. Gemma is a girl that has grown up fairly normally, but her parents have lots of secrets, and she finds out about Haven and that her father has some sort of connection to it, so she goes to Florida to solve that mystery. Lyra and Gemma eventually meet when Haven is bombed and Lyra manages to escape, running into Gemma in the swamp.
In many ways, Replica is your typical young adult novel, but it also feels like it has something more. It’s tightly plotted, it’s daring, and it’s intense. I can only hope this continues in the sequel.