Thursday, 22 August 2013

Fathomless - Jackson Pearce

Fathomless (Fairytale Retellings, #3)Fathomless - Jackson Pearce
(Fairytale Retellings #3)

Grade: YA
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Celia Reynolds is the youngest in a set of triplets and the one with the least valuable power. Anne can see the future, and Jane can see the present, but all Celia can see is the past. And the past seems so insignificant - until Celia meets Lo. 

Lo doesn't know who she is. Or who she was. Once a human, she is now almost entirely a creature of the sea - a nymph, an ocean girl, a mermaid - all terms too pretty for the soul-less monster she knows she's becoming. Lo clings to shreds of her former self, fighting to remember her past, even as she's tempted to embrace her dark immortality. 

When a handsome boy named Jude falls off a pier and into the ocean, Celia and Lo work together to rescue him from the waves. The two form a friendship, but soon they find themselves competing for Jude's affection. Lo wants more than that, though. According to the ocean girls, there's only one way for Lo to earn back her humanity. She must persuade a mortal to love her... and steal his soul. (Description from Date a Book)

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Fathomless had an extra edge before I even started the book. Not only did I love the previous fairytale stories Jackson Pearce has written, but The Little Mermaid is my personal favourite fairytale - so I was SUPER excited to see how Pearce would twist the story and make it her own. And let me tell you I LOVED IT!

We start the book being introduced to the Ocean Girls. If you know Jackson Pearce's previous books well, the Ocean Girls are not new ideas, but we've never actually seen them before. Transformed into something that can live under the water, something dangerous - not quite a mermaid, but closer to a siren, luring men into the waves with the hope they will love them enough to return their souls and let them be released from the ocean. But you can't make a boy fall in love with you with just a song...and so, the Ocean Girls chose to fade away under the water, forgetting their past lives, hoping an angel will return and take them to a better place.

Enter Lo, our main Ocean Girl. She's conflicted. She loves her life under the water and after a failed attempt at taking a human boy's soul she's content to let her life fade away. I was so curious about Lo's life. She is obviously the Little Mermaid in the story, especially when she later attempts to move around on land, with pain shooting up from her feet - almost like crushing glass with new step. But she's torn between accepting her life now under the water, and trying to regain the memories of her life before becoming and Ocean Girl, her life as Naida. The conflicting people within her made for some interesting twists. You never knew which personality will take hold or what memories she'll discover.

But she has help with that, Celia Reynolds. I knew before starting the book, that Celia was part of the giant Reynolds clan, my favourite family in Jackson Pearce's series! Celia is a triplet, and unlike the males in her family, she doesn't seem to be aware that there are dangerous and supernatural beings in the world. Her sisters, Anne and Jane, believe they are the only ones which weird and secret talents - the three sisters can see the Future, Present and Past. Celia, gifted with the power to see the past, believes her talent is useless. What good is seeing the mistakes and troubles of the past? You can't change what happened before. But she can help someone who forgets to remember. She can try to help Lo remember Naida. I felt bad for Celia, she seemed so alone, despite having sisters around her all the time. Not quite like Anne and Jane, Celia stands apart and when she meets Lo, she starts to find herself as Celia and not just as a sister. I loved her trying to help search through Lo's memories and I loved how much she cared.

Like all good stories, there's a complication in the mix: a boy, Jude. Lo and Celia help save Jude from drowning, and it starts a snowball effect of drama. Jude falls in love, both girls feel a connection to him and both look for something beyond their lives when they're with him. Lo, desperate to find a way out of her ocean life, hopes that Jude might fall in love with her and release her from her water prison. Celia wants to be normal and finds a way to block the past while with Jude. But secrets and lies plague their separate relationships and that can only lead to trouble. The secrets churned me up a bit. Some I could understand keeping, others made me mental. I just wanted everyone to be happy in the end. These hopes for a new life and the mix of secrets caused a massive twist at the end - I totally didn't see it coming - but it was good. I loved it.

Amazing retelling of The Little Mermaid - definitely a favourite. Can't wait for Cold Spell. I hope there are more retellings after this one, because I enjoy them too much to let go.

4.5/5 stars

(also posted on Goodreads)

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Altered - Jennifer Rush

Altered (Altered, #1)Altered (Altered #1) - Jennifer Rush
Grade: YA
Rating: 5/5 stars

They were made to forget. But they'll never forgive. 

Everything about Anna's life is a secret. Her father works for the Branch, at the helm of its latest project: monitoring and administering treatments to the four genetically altered boys in the lab below their farmhouse. There's Nick, solemn and brooding; Cas, light-hearted and playful; Trev, smart and caring; and Sam . . . who's stolen Anna's heart. 

When the Branch decides it's time to take the boys, Sam stages an escape. Anna's father pushes her to go with them, making Sam promise to keep her away from the Branch, at all costs. On the run, with her father's warning in her head, Anna begins to doubt everything she thought she knew about herself. 

She soon discovers that she and Sam are connected in more ways than either of them expected. And if they're both going to survive, they must piece together the clues of their past before the Branch catches up to them and steals it all away. (Description from Date A Book)

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I adored this book! Altered is an addictive read, I couldn't put it down!

What's strange is that you find out so much form the blurb: a lab, with 4 boys being held - boys that have been genetically altered in strange and curious ways. Stronger, more dangerous and yet unknown at the same time. And then there's Anna, a teen and daughter to the scientist running experiments on the altered boys. Why are they being tested and developed into something more than human? Well, for a secret agency with government connections, of course. But when this group, The Branch, tries to take them away and the boys escape taking Anna with them, a troubling journey to uncover the mystery of their past takes hold.

The four boys were the first part that made me curious. I loved how different they all were. Cas, with his inability to sit still too long, but a giant obsession with food. Trev, who had an incredible memory and loved to bring up quotes that matched almost every situation. Nick, who I think was the most dangerous of the bunch because of his darker attitude and harsh take on life. And Sam, a natural leader maybe, but a brilliant strategist and someone with a protective streak and an obvious hidden past. These boys drove me crazy, but in a good way. I loved their connection to each other, the way they bounced off each other, it made them seem closer. Which I guess is possible when you live in a lab with only the 4 of them for years. However, the biggest mystery behind them all was their hidden pasts. A memory loss from the time before arriving in Anna's world. And when you've got gaps in your memory the only thing left to do is search for answers.

I loved this quest to uncover the hidden pasts. The focus was entirely on Sam and his back story. After leaving himself a few cryptic clues, the groups set off to make sense of it all. It was a bit strange how easy it seemed to follow all the link, despite a bit of trouble deciphering a few of them, it did come pretty quickly. Presumably, Sam had hidden all these clues to surviving outside The Branch; and while you would assume he'd be able to figure them all out, it was a tad easy for someone who couldn't actually remember leaving the clues anywhere. But that didn't stop me from enjoying it. I loved every new discovery, and I loved that each boy, and Anna, had a part in piecing together their trip. It wasn't just Sam figuring out all the bits on his own - there was real team effort going on.

At the start you're aware that Anna has deep feelings for Sam, so I was on the look out for a bit of romance between the two of them. I was not disappointed, although there was a bit of twist that threw me off for a while. I loved their little moments together! I can't wait to see more of it.

Speaking of twists, there was more than one. I guess that makes up for knowing about escaping from the secret lab in advance and the easy trail of clues, because some of these surprise plot lines left me speechless. One in particular hit me extremely hard. I was really impressed with the twists, I just wasn't expecting them, and they changed the dynamic of the story. Everything gets darker, you question bits from the beginning - I was completely turned around.

I have no idea what to expect from the sequel, but if it has even half the twists, danger and excitement, I know I'm going to love it!

5/5 stars

(Also posted on Goodreads)