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The Soul Ripper (Twisted Souls #1): A Zombie Paranormal Origins Tale
The Soul Ripper (Twisted Souls #1): A Zombie Paranormal Origins Tale
Price: £0.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What If Souls Were Given and Could Be Taken?, 18 Nov. 2012
Set in the very distant future, The Soul Garden is the first in a new series by Cege Smith. We are only given a few details about this world and the rest is left pretty ambiguous. The past is know as Before, where some apocalyptic event occurred that humanity had to drag itself out of, or so I imagine from what we're told.

In this world, babies are born soulless. When a human has no soul their appearance is different; they have grey skin, don't smile, don't generate warmth and have red-rimmed eyes that get redder with age, eventually taking over the entire eye. For babies (or adults) to get a soul they must go through the Soul Distribution Day, where the lucky chosen receive a soul from the Soul Fountain. Souls can also be extracted and this is often a punishment for criminals. Murder results in soul extraction, but as souls are in short demand the extracted souls are "rehabilitated" and re-used.

This era is very "protocol" heavy, adults are assigned jobs at a ceremony, women are expected to give up their jobs once married and even having children is heavily monitored. Couples are selected out of a lottery. Any couple that wants a child applies and then hopes for the best. The population is regulated because there is a shortage of souls. If a couple disobeys the rules and have a child outside of the system, their souls are extracted and the child is left, soulless, in the Soulless Asylum.

An interesting concept for a book. There are aspects of the Soul Ceremony that I found similar to baptism. I'm not sure if it was intended, but before the ceremony at the fountain, babies are soulless, unloved and are seen as unnatural. Then a visit to the fountain with a gathering and incantations gives them a soul. It was an interesting similarity that I saw, maybe just me though.

The story is narrated from the points of view of five people and (given the amount of time we get we each of them) they are relatable, we care for them and the switching of characters adds to the tension that starts to build when we realise the inevitable.

I enjoyed the start of the Twisted Souls series and look forward to the next part. I recommend this to anyone interested in apocalyptic worlds, the supernatural, magic or anyone who is intrigued by the synopsis.

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author. This is not a sponsored review. My opinions are 100% my own.

The Mystery of Smugglers Cove (The Mystery Series Book 1)
The Mystery of Smugglers Cove (The Mystery Series Book 1)
Price: £1.94

3.0 out of 5 stars Famous Five Meets Tintin, 17 Nov. 2012
Famous Five Meets Tintin

The Mystery of Smugglers Cove by Paul Moxham is the first in his new The Mystery Series. Set in 1950's England, we follow a group of four children (Joe, Amy, Sarah and Will) on their adventures.

The first book starts it all off. Three siblings meet a fourth member and together they explore the local caves and get a greater adventure than even their imaginations could have thought of.

Reading the first book is very reminiscent of the Famous Five series by Enid Blyton. The author himself states that he took inspiration from it and it really shows. I was a huge fan of the 1995 tv series and it was a large part of my childhood, so reading this book has the rosy tint of nostalgia added to it. Anyone familiar with the Famous Five will know what to expect from these books. Great childrens' adventure stories that never disappoint.

I recommend this series to any younger readers, any readers nostalgic for the good old days and especially any fans of the Famous Five series.

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the author. This is not a sponsored review. All opinions are 100% my own.

Girl on a Mission
Girl on a Mission
Price: £6.13

3.0 out of 5 stars For All Those Who Have Ever Doubted Themselves, 14 Nov. 2012
This review is from: Girl on a Mission (Kindle Edition)
For All Those Who Have Ever Doubted Themselves

Girl on a Mission by Cindy Ellis

Starring Emery Craig, our 13-year-old leading lady (or girl), this story revolves around helping those less fortunate and showing what a difference someone can make to another's life, with just the smallest actions.

On her first mission trip, going to Crawley, West Virginia, Emery starts out as a shy girl who eventually grows into her skin and gains confidence through people she meets, situations she's put in and confirmation of her beliefs. She watches real suffering, feels real pain and experiences her first real romance.

I was very fascinated with the character of Mr.Suitor. He is so very human and his story is deeply moving and well told. For me, this book has two main characters, Emery and Mr.Suitor. Together they carry the story well and, once into the second half of the book, they really shine. The plot is simple enough, but written so that you feel what the characters do, you experience the same fear, dread, happiness, love and it's all down to the writing.

Now the religious elements were done well enough. I myself am not religious and older readers or those like myself (without religion) may find certain parts of the book a little preachy or even condescending. However, I enjoyed this book, so it's not distracting enough that I couldn't appreciate the storyline.

I would say this book is aimed at younger readers, just in their teens or tweens, because the main character is more relatable, but mostly because it's very moral heavy. There are a lot of them wedged in there, so older readers may not enjoy that aspect so much, but overall it's a nice, feel-good story about growing up, overcoming obstacles and accepting yourself. I recommend it to anyone who never really felt like they fit in, who may be afraid to let their true personalities shine through, any younger readers who just want a nice read, any older readers who want to recapture memories of their youth or anyone (especially younger readers) who doubts their belief in God. Whether or not this will help your faith I can't comment on, but it's always good to get someone else's perspective and to know you're not alone.

Disclaimer: I was sent this book in a Librarything giveaway. This is not a sponsored review. All opinions are 100% my own. If you want to learn more about Librarything, you can do so here: [...].

She Speaks to Angels: YA Urban Angel Romantic Thriller (AngelFire Chronicles Bk #1)
She Speaks to Angels: YA Urban Angel Romantic Thriller (AngelFire Chronicles Bk #1)
Price: £0.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Highschool, Romance and the Trusty Old Battle Between Good and Evil, 12 Nov. 2012
She Speaks to Angels by Ami Blackwelder is the first in a trilogy of books surrounding 17-year-old Allison (Ali) Maney. Kicking it all off in the first book is the death of a popular quarterback from her school. Together with her friends Molly and Jennifer- and a passion for journalism- they investigate the events surrounding and leading up to his death. Then things start to get interesting.
I won't give any spoilers, so I can't be too detailed with the plot, but Ali finds herself torn between two men, a battle between light and dark and truths that plunge her into the deep end and will change her world forever.

There were moments that (dare I say) were a little reminiscent of the Twilight series- emphasis on a little. There were a few a few characters and situations that had vague similarities, but I wouldn't compare them, especially once you get deeper into the story.

The writing style was what kept me hooked. Ami Blackwelder has a way of phrasing things that keeps you gripped and I found myself reading through it in a day. I just couldn't put it down. I would call this first book more of a set-up for the coming two, where we learn about the characters, the world they live in and are given enough information to get into the heavier stuff.

I would recommend this to anyone who likes young fiction, romance or the supernatural. A great read and I look forward to the next instalment.

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the author. This is not a sponsored review. All opinions are 100% my own.

Fifty/Fifty and Other Stories
Fifty/Fifty and Other Stories
Price: £2.00

4.0 out of 5 stars The Book That Has You Wondering, "What Would I Do?", 8 Nov. 2012
Fifty/Fifty and Other Stories by Matthew W. McFarland is a collection of 11 short stories. The plot of each of these ranges from a very short story of a man's love for his trumpet, a man's final thoughts as he plummets to Earth and a policeman trying to convince someone not to jump and everything in between.

The stories themselves range from only around 3 pages to 15 or so. Each one is worth reading, no matter how short. I was pleasantly surprised by this short book. The descriptive writing is fantastic and, as most of the stories can be a little ambiguous, it's the description that carries them. Even the characters themselves are ambiguous, with only 3 or so characters given names and most not even given a specific gender- though I would guess that most of the characters are male.

The tie-in that connects all the stories would be their tone. With a few exceptions, most of them deal with quite dark or disturbing topics. Not dark enough to be horror, but certainly not light-hearted. A few of them will make you laugh and a few will make your blood run cold.

A short read I would definitely recommend. Fantastic writing and realistic characters, with a very thought-provoking look into the human mind and the way we deal with different situations.

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by the author. This is not a sponsored review. All opinions are 100% my own.

A Deal with a Stranger - A Romantic Mystery Novel set in Sardinia
A Deal with a Stranger - A Romantic Mystery Novel set in Sardinia
Price: £1.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Delicious Food, Romance and a Sardinian Mystery, 7 Nov. 2012
Set in Sardinia, in the city of Cagliari, we follow the story of 25 year old Clara, as -day by day- her world destabilises a little more, starting with meeting an old man in a forest.

The plot is an interesting one, varying between predictable and completely new. Or rather there are elements that are predictable. I would say the romance was a little, just because we've seen it a million times, but that doesn't mean the plot or writing is bad. I'll come back to this in a second, but I want to talk about the plot itself first. The concept is fantastic. I think the idea of a stranger coming into your life and making this kind of deal with you (not giving anything away) is original and thought-provoking and this mixed with the consequences (and some bad luck) lead to an unusual turn of events. The nonsensical logic and unlikeliness of it all are still realistic and kept me hooked.

Back to the romance. Anyone who loves a good, light romance novel will like this. It's nothing new, but mixed with the plot it works. And no one says it has to be new to work. There's a reason the old formulas are used.

The characters themselves- I have to admit, I didn't like at the start. They seemed a bit stereotypical and could sometimes be unnecessarily cruel and harsh, but they do grow on you and become more human as the story progresses and more is revealed about them and we see them deal with the good, the bad and the ugly.

Something of a side note here, but I also enjoyed the description of the foods mentioned. Our protagonist had a bit of a weakness for delicious food and doesn't spare the details when describing them. But be warned, you will want something delicious to munch on when reading this book.

Overall, I enjoyed the story. I wasn't immediately pulled in, but I'm glad I kept reading as I got a good read out of it. I would recommend this book to anyone with an interest in Italy or a lover of romance novels. If you're travelling to Italy soon and want a light, holiday read, why not try this one out.

Disclaimer: This was sent to me by the author. This is not a sponsored review. I am not being paid for this review. All opinions are 100% my own.

Girl in the Glass (The Healer's Shadow Magical Realism Series Book 1)
Girl in the Glass (The Healer's Shadow Magical Realism Series Book 1)
Price: £2.14

4.0 out of 5 stars Shadows, Fear and a Lust For Freedom, 30 Oct. 2012
Girl in the Glass is a story about two girls, Anya and her Shadow Eva. In this world, Shadows are people who aren't human, but look mostly like us. As far as I can interpret, they look human, but give of an air that makes it obvious they aren't. They are a little reminiscent of the demons from Philip Pullman's Northern Lights series. However, not everyone in this world has a Shadow and a lot of prejudice follows them around. The main similarity is that Shadows are like a conscience, always doing the right thing and ever practical, but with no emotions to cloud their judgements. This makes for very interesting reading, watching the differences between how the two girls react and change depending on the situations they're presented. Eva is always steadfast, but Anya (in a very human way) is corrupted and can sometimes even be unlikable and cruel.

Set in the desert town of Darkan, the story starts with a 12 year old Anya and spans a few years. It's broken into three parts and in each one of these the two girls have a new identity. In the first part, Anya is dealing with the deaths of her parents from the plague and now lives with a very abusive family, with her aunt at the head. We follow her through her journey of not only growing up, but also watching her try to find her freedom and happiness.

One of the main praises I have is the writing style, specifically the descriptive writing. The scenes are laid out so well, the imagery is fantastic and the emotions weaved in are amazing. This is one of the few books I have read where I could feel the tension throughout. Whether it be from fear of a person, fear of discovery or even something as simple, but terrifying as poverty. As well as this tension, there is also a constant feel of defiance throughout, against the people who hurt her, against harsh environments and against life itself. The unwillingness to give up or give in that makes Anya such a great character to follow.

Overall, I really enjoyed this read. It is the first in a trilogy and the second (Love of Shadows) came out this month. You can bet I will be following the progress of this series to its conclusion.

Disclaimer: I was sent this book by the author. This is not a sponsored review. All opinions are 100% my own.

Lies and Prophecy (Wilders Book 1)
Lies and Prophecy (Wilders Book 1)
Price: £2.80

4.0 out of 5 stars "Lies, Damned Lies and Prophecy", 18 Oct. 2012
Set in Minnesota, in a world containing magic of many varieties- from sorcerers and wiccans to diviners and wilders. Wilders being one of the main themes of the story. I won't say much about the plot because that would be spoiling, so here are a few basic details.

We read the story from the point of view of Kim, a student studying at Welton Academy. At the start, I was reminded of the basic premise of Harry Potter. Some people are normal and some have magic. As in Harry Potter, it can appear suddenly, only in this series it can be lethal too, with a chance of developing psi-sickness.

The writing style is fast-paced and captivating and the characters are believable and individual. Towards the second half of the book we begin to get brief flashes of events from Julian's point of view. Never for very long and used sparingly. At first, they felt a little shoehorned in perhaps, with no real point to them. Until I began to realise the cleverness of them. Julian as a person is naturally reserved by nature and due to his existence as a wilder. Showing us his side of the story is letting us into his mind and allowing us to briefly see his thoughts and emotions that he rarely ever shows otherwise. Not only does this make him more relatable, but also more human.

The story and writing style remind me of a mix of the Harry Potter series and the Morganville Vampire series, both of which I enjoyed. While similar to both, this story has it's own essence and makes a great read. The ending was fantastic and left me craving more.

I look forward to the next instalment in the Wilders series and would recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of magic, fantasy or adventure.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: The Trilogy of Four: A Trilogy in Four Parts
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: The Trilogy of Four: A Trilogy in Four Parts
by Douglas Adams
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.08

4.0 out of 5 stars Tenacious Vogons, Time Travel and the Search for a Good Cup of Tea, 3 Sept. 2012
I'm going to warn you all now- this is going to be an immensely long review. There are 6 (or 5-we'll get to that later) books after all.

So a little background to start with. The Hitchhiker's series started out as a BBC radio show written by Douglas Adams. The broadcast was so popular that Pan Books commissioned Adams to create a book equivalent (published on the 12th of October, 1979), which immediately became a #1 best seller.

Through the years the media forms increased, through more books, tv series and a couple of films.

And for those wondering, the Hitchhiker's book was named after the 'Hitchhiker's Guide to Europe' that Adams was carrying when backpacking. The idea for the actual series formed when Adams was drunk in a field in Innsbruck, Austria. He then passed out and forgot about it for 6 years.

There are 6 (again we will go into that later) books in the series:

1. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
2. The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
3. Life, the Universe and Everything
4. So Long and Thanks For All the Fish
5. Mostly Harmless

6. And Another Thing...

Instead of doing individual reviews for each book, I'm going to do a more general review of the series. So let's get into it then.

Our main character is Arthur Dent, who is pretty much your "Average Joe" and is cynical, but has a good heart. He is our vessel of discovery. It is through him that we first view Space and all the crazy things that happen in it. When things are explained to him, we learn through his revelations. He is also amazingly unlucky and never seems to be able to catch a break.

Having Arthur as someone we can relate to is a key element in the series. Mostly nothing makes sense or even exists in the world as we know it. The writing style is clever enough though, to describe and phrase things in such a way that your mind never stops to think, "Hang on, this is all gobble-de-goop", which of course it is. It evens makes sense that nothing makes sense. But, having Arthur there helps us assimilate into the world. If he's confused, we must be too. Human is as human does.

I personally think that Adams was spot on with Arthur's character. He is so deliciously sarcastic and, throughout a majority of the series, just wants a nice cup of tea. And I really think he takes all the events pretty well considering all he goes through and has to endure.

Also in the group of main characters are Ford Prefect (named after a car), Trillian (Tricia McMillan), Zaphod Beeblebrox (ex-president of the galaxy) and Marvin (the manically depressed robot) and a couple more that don't appear until later and would be considered spoilers. All the characters are very well written and you really do care what happens to them. They all have their own character traits and are far from generic. And (though only 2 of the main characters are) they are all so intrinsically human. Or more rather, realistic. They have good qualities, but they also have vices and can even be annoying at times. Sometimes, they can even be childlike, whether through lack of self-control or just through various antics.

It can sometimes be hard to understand the characters' relationships with one another and their intentions though. As an example, sometimes Ford seems to care about Arthur and his safety and at other times it's like he couldn't care less.

Most of the characters in this series (and definitely all our main characters) are so wonderfully sarcastic. The banter that goes on between them is very cleverly written. In fact, the entire book is written very cleverly.

On a quick side note, some of the aspects in this series are a little dated (for example, everyone thinking digital watches are the latest big thing), but that's to be expected and they don't occur frequently.

The writing style is charming in its ridiculousness, and also incredibly well done. There are numerous seemingly random side-stories that may occasionally tie into the main story later and it's almost impossible to know which ones will.

Just a little point, I'm not the biggest sci-fi fan. I like some aspects of the genre (like Futurama and Doctor Who), but I haven't seen more than two Star Wars movies- just so you can see where I am on the sci-fi love scale. But this series is so perfectly written the I can't help but love it.

Now, the way the books are written is very English (I mean in what the characters do and their views of the world, etc.), but will still work universally. Adams gives a very interesting and insightful look at humanity through this series. With his cynical, yet somehow positive, writing that is so enjoyably odd. We get phrases such as :
"It's unpleasantly like being drunk."
"What's so unpleasant about being drunk?"
"You ask a glass of water."
and you can see how clever the wording is. Adams has a brilliant way of combining seemingly insignificant events that last for less than a page and then come back as a key part of the story. And all without letting you know there was even something to guess. So much randomness goes on that you never know if any of it is significant. It is so intricately done. For example, something as mundane as looking for a cup of tea can cause a monumental occurrence, whilst being a perfectly sensible and believable outcome.

I do find that the series does show signs of being converted from a radio series though. There is the feeling that is was written more as one book, split into 5 separate parts. This is made even more prominent by the mini-recaps they have at the beginning of some of the books. You can almost hear the, "Previously on...". I do like that the characters do have their own side story adventures a lot and how all the characters (no matter how often they're separated) will eventually meet up again.

The first book is mostly an introduction to the settings and the characters, and is more of an "Arthur in Wonderland" story, as there is little to no plot. Mostly just a series of occurrences that the characters go through. I would almost say that the first 2 books can be read as their own contained stories, independent to the main plot. For me, this did make the 2nd book drag a little. The first as the introduction where we get to know what's in store for the rest of the series, but the 2nd book is also mainly that, just in different parts of the Universe. It's not that it isn't interesting or entertaining, it can just drag a little at times.

There were times where once I'd put the book down, I wasn't dying to pick it back up again. It wasn't that I was never going to, just that I saw no immediate need. This is mostly down to the lack of plot, mainly being a lot of mini-stories that are tied together with a few thin connections, one being the same characters that are doing something in Space. It can read very episodically, which is, of course, what is was written from.

In a way, it can be like watching Doctor Who (Adams actually helped write a few episodes for the old series). You don't necessarily want to watch every episode. Otherwise, it can feel a bit laboured and intense. You can have too much of a good thing. The series is a quirky, fun and enjoyable ride, but there's only so many mini adventures you can read about in one go.

I think another part of this is that nothing really changes in the characters themselves. They don't evolve. Sure, Arthur becomes more used to the galaxy and the things thrown at him (though not entirely), but -like I said earlier- it is mainly the same characters doing the same things in different places.

There are moments where it seems the characters will grow and change (maybe they meet someone or find something significant), but then these things just get written out of the story somehow and the characters go back to square 1. Well, not quite square 1, more like square 1.1. When you look at the characters at the start of the book, they're really not much different from those at the end. It's not that they're not well written (because even secondary or passing characters are very well written), they're all interesting, they just don't really grow.

Going back to episode-like plots, when one book ends there are no cliffhangers that will keep you reading for the plot. On a similar note, there never really feels like there's any threat to the characters in the series. I don't know why this is, you want the characters to survive, but it's almost like you don't care enough about them to find their death tragic or unsettling if it happened. Don't get me wrong, you don't want the characters to die- in fact quite the opposite, but it's almost like you never expect anything fatal to actually happen to them. They get into infinite amounts of dangerous and life-threatening situations, but you never think they won't make it out. My theory is that Adams writes the threats and tragedies in such a way that they're either an annoyance, a way to get from one scene to the next or both. It may also be that every time a threat appears we get a long explanation going off on an amusing tangent, revolving around pointless trivia that somehow connects with the threat (in the form of Guide entries). And in doing so, you almost forget there was a threat at all. It breaks up the flow of the story.

There are some genuinely sad moments in the series though. I'm not sure if I would go as far as to say they were heartbreaking, but they are nothing if not tragic moments in the lives of the characters.

The third book is more of a recap. And I don't mean that in any sense of the word recap. It's more that there's a feeling of backtracking, while going in completely the other direction. This is a very Arthur and Ford heavy book, with Zaphod and Trillian barely in it. As always, there are some new characters and the return of some old characters (even if just as a cameo).

What does change in this book is that it no longer has such an "Arthur in Wonderland" feel. By this point he's pretty used to space and the strange ways in which it works. Obviously he still gets shocked and still has the same personality, but (unlike the first two books) this one has a plot from the get-go, which I personally think is a good change. Yes, the first two books keep you interested with all the crazy, random things thrown at you, but they are predominantly an introduction to the world Douglas Adams has created and the characters that live in it.

There are still some slow-moving aspects to it, but the plot develops, thickens and, of course, resolves itself by the end.

In the fourth book we get some series backtracking, right back to the beginning of it all, going even so far as to use the exact segment from the start of the first book to begin this one. It's not that all that has happened never happened, but more like the particular place Arthur ends up has gone back in time. He's aged, while it hasn't.

Again, this book has an actual plot, with development and conclusion. There are even a few romances thrown in. And the series only continues to get better.

And again, this book is very light on Trillian and Zaphod moments and is mostly Arthur, with a few Ford moments thrown in. However, this works well because it was always Arthur's story. Besides which it would be hard to fit in what was happening to all the other characters and still have a cohesive plot.

The 5th book can be argued to be the last series, but there is another. We'll get back to that later though.
The book is written as though it was the last in the series (which it was) and so we get the finale. The gang reuniting and reach the final end of their story with a lot happening in-between. And I mean a lot. We even get a new main character who plays very well of others in the main cast.

Anyway, the first thing you notice starting the 4th and 5th books is that a fair amount of time has passed in the lives of the characters. The books do usually open a while after the end of the last book and then go back and fill in the gaps later. Mostly Harmless starts out almost 2 decades after the end of the last book. So, obviously, there are a lot of gaps to fill.

The plot can get a little confusing as there are some parallel universes present, but on the whole everything fits together nicely. It can be a little hard to discern if all of the book is set in the future, or just some areas, and there's a lot of parallel universe jumping involved, so it can be hard to figure out if all the characters are even in the same universe. Especially when the plot flits back and forth between both time and dimensions. There are also one or two parallel characters going around, which just adds to the melee.

Throughout this book, there is also a looming sense of impending doom. Slowly, you start to feel all the little things building up in a way that can't end well. Of course, the characters have all been in fatal seeming situations before, but in this book, that nagging sensation that all is not well is at its strongest.

The ending itself is pretty abrupt, but more than that, it's unexpected (at least for me). I won't spoil the ending, but for me personally, I'm torn between thinking it was a good (if ironic) ending to it all and desperately wishing it had ended any other way. There is a very clever full-circle manner to the ending. And you feel the annoyance of that along with the characters. As I said no spoilers, but the ingenuity of the 5th book's ending is amazing. It's so very clever and would be an absolutely mind-blowing ending if it weren't for one factor (that I won't mention). Anyone who has read any of the books in this series will know that Adams is the master of "Butterfly Effect" plot lines and he pulls another for the ending.

There are some questions unanswered (like the famous 42), but they were questions we never expected an answer to. Most loose threads are tied up in the end and in a very brilliant manner. The ending is pretty disheartening though and now we finally get into the 5th or 6th book ending debate.

In 2001 Douglas Adams very sadly passed away. His wife then commissioned Eoin Colfer (author of the Artemis Fowl series- among others) to write a 6th book, published in 2009.

Normally I'm pretty firm in my belief that if the original author didn't write it it doesn't count as part of the original series. Maybe as a spin-off, parody or homage (whichever it may be) at most. But, with this series I almost longed for a different ending and here was Eoin Colfer offering me one. It probably helped that I already knew and loved him, but still I was held back (and still am) from including it as part of the series.

I think you could easily argue either point and it will ultimately just come down to the individual's preferences. When I re-read the series, I do read And Another Thing after. I like the option of choosing between the two endings and continuing Arthur and co's adventures.

Anyway, onto the 6th book itself. We pick up immediately after the ending of the last book (well almost). And those who missed Zaphod in the last few books, you'll be happy to know he's back in this one.

Now one of the major issues with the 6th book is whether Adams meant for any of it to happen. Eoin Colfer has cleverly linked plot points from previous books, but there are a few continuity issues, and can it still be calle "pure" Hitchhiker's Guide?

The writing style has, obviously, also changed. I do miss Adams' ingenious writing style, but I have also always loved Colfer's. And he does try to mimic Adams' style a bit, but more in the manner of an homage than actually trying to replicate it. Which I prefer. There will only ever be one Douglas Adams and it would have been a little insulting almost to try and copy his writing.

The characters themselves also change a little- or more the way they think changes. It's not a huge difference, but it is noticeable. For example, Ford is more optimistic and Arthur is a bit more cynical. Basically, they will say and do things that I don't quite see the original cast doing. And back to consistently, in the previous books we find out that Zaphod was born with his two heads (as were his ancestors/descendants), but in this book he apparently wasn't. Nobody knows when he first got his second head and it was first the head of a woman.

And somethings are not explained. For example, Zaphod has been pretty much absent from the series for a while, so he's missed a lot that has happened. Yet he seems to instantly be up to date with everything that's happened and one particular addition ( for those of you who have read the series, you'll know what I'm talking about- hint RFFD). How does he know?

As to the ending, I felt it was a little rushed (as was the 5th book's), but not too much. Again, I would've liked a different ending, mostly because we almost get a very good (if cliche) ending, that then gets replaced only about 2 pages from the ending and leaves you almost groaning for one of the characters.

I'm aware that I haven't really mentioned the individual plots of each book, or much about them at all, but past the first book all the plots would contain spoilers. Here is the plot of the first book though, for those interested (very late into the review):

One Thursday lunchtime Earth is unexpectedly demolished to make way for a new hyperspace bypass. For Arthur Dent, who has only just had his house demolished that morning, this is already more than he can cope with. Sadly, however, the weekend has only just begun. And the Galaxy is a very, very large and startling place indeed.

So, what do I think of the series? I really love it. It was just not in my Top 10 Books barely. The characters are very likeable and believable. The plots are brilliantly clever and the writing style is enjoyably eclectic. If you haven't read the series I would seriously recommend it. If you do read it, make sure you have a nice cup of tea and a hardy towel nearby.

The End of Everything
The End of Everything
by Megan Abbott
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars And That Was When I Knew, It Was Already Too Late, 3 Sept. 2012
This review is from: The End of Everything (Paperback)
"The End of Everything", by Megan Abbott (not to be confused with Meg Cabot- who wrote the "Princess Diaries" series). "The End of Everything" was published this year, 2011.

In its most basic form, it is a coming of age story, mixed with a young girl's disappearance and the aftershock that follows, all told from the point of view of 13 year-old, Lizzie. Now, the book is all in 1st person, so normally, as readers, we would connect ourselves with the storyteller and become the main protagonist, taking their place as the story unfolds. But with Lizzie, I always felt a distance and -even though every page is filled with "I's" and "me's"- I felt like Lizzie was exactly what she was, another character. It felt very much like reading about some one's life in the newspaper or a magazine. Your presence is non-existent.

Now, for those of you who enjoy knowing (as I most certainly do) here is the blurb from the book:

"In a placid 1980s suburb in the Midwest, thirteen-year-old Lizzie Hood and her next-door neighbor Evie Verver are inseparable, best friends who swap bathing suits and field hockey sticks and between who there are, presumably, no secrets. They live in the shadow of Evie's glamorous older sister, Dusty, who, at seventeen, gives them a glimpse of the exotic, intoxicating life that might lie ahead. To Lizzie, the Verver household, presided over by Evie's bighearted father, is the world's most perfect place.
And then, one afternoon, Evie disappears. The only clue: a dark car Lizzie spotted driving past the two girls earlier in the day. As a rabid, giddy panic spreads through the quiet community, Lizzie finds herself in the spotlight, surrounded by those who want answers. Was Evie unhappy, troubled, upset? Had she mentioned being followed? Would she have gotten into the car with a stranger? Would she have gotten into the car with a man?
Lizzie takes up her own furtive pursuit of the truth, spending her days with a shell-shocked Mr. Verver and her nights prowling through backyards, peering through windows, and pushing herself to the dark center of Evie's world. Tormented by dreams of her lost friend, titillated by her own position at the heart of the disappearance and its investigation, Lizzie begins to wonder if she knew anything about her best friend at all. Haunting, vivid, and utterly unforgettable. "The End of Everything" explores the mysterious, powerful pull of young girls discovering their sexuality, and its reverberations in the world around them."

Right, now that you know exactly what the book is about, onto the review. It may seem obvious after having read the blurb, but right from the very beginning there is a strong sense of impending doom that is never shaken. A large part of it may be the subject matter, but I think it's also very much connected to Abbott's writing style. It all seems very bleak, like the atmosphere in a Tim Burton movie. You can't help but feel that something is very wrong. Another reason behind this may also be the description of every child in this book as a sexually frustrated teen or tween. I know thirteen is the beginning of the teens and all the changes that come with it, but usually it'll take the form of an innocent crush (at least for most girls) on a classmate or a member of a boy-band. But in this book, Abbott expresses her characters as almost sex-starved. Getting horny at every little thing and touching themselves at night. Maybe it's just me, but this seems a little early in their lives. I can't speak from a male point of view, but the behavior of the girls seems more fitting with girls who are a couple of years older. I know from my view, they will seem so much younger than they are. And at thirteen you do feel grown-up and life full of possibilities, but some girls haven't even hit puberty at this point. To me these scenes of the book just made me cringe. It seems wrong for it to put scenes in your head of a thirteen-year-old girl pleasuring herself. And no, it's not because I have anything against somebody masturbating or having sex (I have no issue with it in other content), but purely because of their ages. Yes, a coming-of-age story is about discovering your sexuality and noticing those of others around you, but it's the age of innocence still as well. Isn't that why they call it "Puppy Love". It should be love in its purest meaning. Or maybe I'm just being overly naive.

Anyway, the start of the novel is a little confusing. There are a lot of ideas and fragments of stories darting around the place, never settling. Frequent flashbacks make it a little difficult to tell which parts of the story are taking place in the present, but once the first few chapters have passed, the flashbacks get less frequent and the story starts to take shape.

As I stated earlier, there is an ominous feeling to the whole novel, with the ever so slightly creepy writing style and the speculations that the characters make. How some of the girls just look at the disappearance as delicious gossip and a way to slander their missing friend. One girl even mentions a snuff film, which takes the book to a whole new level of unsettling.

I do have to say though that, even with all the theories going on and whichever one you choose to believe, the story is told in such a way that -even when all evidence points to one fact- there is always doubt. The truth dangles just out of your reach, occasionally throwing little pieces of the puzzle at you, but never letting you get enough of the picture to see it for what it is.

Another aspect that I found uncomfortable was Lizzie's relationship with Evie's father. Yes, I know this is the time when girls get their crushes, and it's not uncommon for it to be a friend's older brother, father or even a teacher. But the way her feelings for him are entwined with the disappearance of Evie and discussions of pedophilia, well, your brain can't help but connect the two. And I started to wonder why she couldn't see the similarities. Lizzie describes why she thinks someone may have abducted Evie, says she could understand how he must have felt, describing it as an all-consuming love. But in our present, it is so deeply ingrained in us that this is wrong. The feelings alone are wrong. The word 'pedophile' often seen in the same sentence as 'sick' or 'twisted'. So how could the love be anything but? True, it's different when a young girl has a crush, but the way her feelings are described, paired with discussions of what could be happening to her friend, mix together in a way that is the epitome of "uninnocent" and disturbing.

As well as this, we see the tragic remains of a family torn apart by loss. It is raw and it is painful. There are scenes that make your heart ache. One instance in particular, where the characters are hoping that Evie has been abducted when the body of a young girl is found. I cannot even begin to imagine the frame of mind someone must be in to see abduction as a better alternative. I know the saying goes "Better to be alive than dead", but to actually get to this point, especially in these circumstances, can be nothing but heart-breaking.

On a different note, one thing I did notice about halfway through the book, was that there is very little actual dialogue. We get a few conversations with various people Lizzie meets, but almost all of the story is told through her innermost thoughts and feelings. And to do this without the readers even noticing is no small feat.

The way the tale is told draws you slowly towards what can only be described as an inevitable ending. It's almost like, somewhere in the back of your mind you knew all along. You get little whispers of it, but maybe your mind blocks you from the truth, maybe hope clouds reality, but for whatever reasons, the book could never have ended any other way. And the writing is so raw and uncompromising that you can't shield yourself against the gritty reality that is thrown at you, leaving you exposed in the dark. Never at any point in the book do you really get a sense of hope. Even if there's a break in the case, even if anything positive happens, it all feels overcast by the imposing sense of dread that never leaves, from page 1 onwards.

The book in itself is quite short, at only 246 pages, and could easily be read in a day or so. Not that this can be viewed as a criticism. In fact, the book gets across exactly what it needs to. There is no rush, no sense of urgency. The ending isn't cut short. It doesn't feel like a 250 page book. Whatever the case may be, the tale is told very well. I'm not sure if it's a book that will change your life, but you'll certainly look at the world differently once you've read it.

The ending itself is more of a conclusion in its most basic form. It answers any remaining questions, ties all the threads together and puts the last couple of pieces in the puzzle. But for me, there was no great reveal. From the very beginning, you feel like you already know the answer to the ongoing, unanswered question. Yes, there are some gaps that need filling in, but there was nothing unexpected about it. From start to finish. It's not that the book is predictable, but more that the story is told in such a way that there could never be any doubt as to how it would end.

However, apart from what I've already mentioned, while there are no real criticisms for this book, there are also no added compliments. When I think back on the text as a whole, I can't think of anything I didn't particularly like, but then there's nothing I particularly enjoyed either. It's not that the writing's bad- which is definitely isn't. Or that the story wasn't interesting. But, this book doesn't really stick out to me. It's a book that I've read, will probably reread at some point in the future, but I wouldn't feel that excitement I get when I know I'm about to read a really good book. I'm sure others will disagree and that's fine, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. But for me, I don't feel like I've gained anything from reading it, but nor have I lost anything. I'm not going to say it isn't worth the read- even if I did hate it or think it was terrible in every way. I don't think I'd recommend it to a friend though. But, to be fair, I couldn't put the book down. It is definitely a page turner. Maybe, what I should say is- if you are at all interested in the story (as I was) go and get it out of the library before you think about buying it. That way there's nothing to lose, and everything to gain.
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