Top positive review
There is potential, but this is not epic.
on 23 April 2014
I do not usually give an author a 2nd chance after a bad first impression, but a friend gave me a nudge to continue with the series.
With book 2 & 3, a great deal of the bits below are answered - and each of the boys develop considerably.
As such, I am changing the review from 3*** to 4****
There are several things that this book could have done to earn a five-star rating.
Firstly, aside from Sang, all the characters lack depth. Her mother is a 'present-but-absent' mother who locks herself away, and then in equal measure terrifies and abuses her children with impunity. (Cardboard villian!) The father? MIA during the book, and only just alluded to.
Sang's sister is there only as a crutch to get her in trouble, or to help deliver news or a message - again, no real 'feeling' behind the character, and if she were cut from the series then there'd be little to no noticibility on the plot.
Then we get into the boys.
Kota is the most 'defined' - but then, the majority of the interactions in this book happen with Kota.
Some of the other of the 6 boys barely get a look in, and as such, you feel like you're being smothered by a claustrophobic cast of cardboard puppets.
The small blips of conflict really are resolved too easily, and it has a major element of 'escapism' towards it which make this series feel like it's aimed at the rough age of 10-12, rather then the 'kidult' market which is a much more mature and appreciative audience.
To get a 5* review, what would be brilliant is a companion spin-off series featuring one story per boy - and ONLY that boy. That way you actually feel there is depth, character and soul to each boy, rather than a huge cast of supporting characters.
Firstly it's wildly unrealistic just how 'rich' they are. The author throws around Armani suits and brand new iphones as if they were disposable - and it is unfortunate that there isn't more 'social class' issues. Any problems? 'Lets just buy this for Sang. Heck! Let's just BUY a church and turn it into a diner - and let Sang decide how it should mostly look'. Yep. That's the feel to the series.
Hunger Games had a huge supporting cast, but you stopped and felt that each character had depth, feeling, meaning, a purpose.. This series just feels like a badly constructed concoction of '90210 + LJ Smith's 'the circle' series - and it just doesn't 'fit' right.
A great example - the school that she will be attending - it's apparently so unsafe that they fear going out in the halls between classes. What. The. Heck. - and yes, no reason is given, except that it is a rather rough school. (And again, nothing to support it - no security guards, no weapons scanners at the school, nothing.) It just feels forced, rather than flowing as a good story should!
This writer doesn't seem to understand or know what audience she's writing for -
Is it the 'teen angst' market? (Abusive mother)
Is it the 'kidult' market? (Back-to-school/young again)
Is it the 'entangled-ero-romance' market? (Potential 7-way triangle?)
Is it a 'paranormal' (The Academy?)
The best and most memorable line of the entire book is about a t-shirt... says it all really.