Sunday, 10 August 2014

Are You Seeing Me? - Darren Groth

Are You Seeing Me?Are You Seeing Me? - Darren Groth
Grade: YA
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

This road trip will have earth-shattering consequences . . .

Twins Justine and Perry are about to embark on the road trip of a lifetime in the Pacific Northwest.

It's been a year since they watched their dad lose his battle with cancer. Now, at only nineteen, Justine is the sole carer for her disabled brother. But with Perry having been accepted into an assisted-living residence, their reliance on each other is set to shift. Before they go their separate ways, they're seeking to create the perfect memory.

For Perry, the trip is a glorious celebration of his favourite things: mythical sea monsters, Jackie Chan movies and the study of earthquakes.

For Justine, it's a chance to reconcile the decision to ‘free' her twin, to see who she is without her boyfriend, Marc – and to offer their mother the chance to atone for past wrongs.

But the instability that has shaped their lives will not subside, and the seismic event that Perry forewarned threatens to reduce their worlds to rubble . . .

~ * ~* ~

When I started this book I didn’t know much about it, other than that the main characters were twins - one with a brain condition - and that there was a review in the paper that recommended the story to Melina Marchetta fans. I was already sold. Throw around comparisons to my favourite Aussie YA author and I’m pretty much guaranteed to pick the book up. But even without that comparison, I would have loved this book. The powerful, emotional pull of siblings supporting each other through thick and thin, the fun adventure of exploring a new landscape, and the throw-backs to the past and the speculation of the future. This is what a contemporary YA novel is supposed to be – spot on writing and storytelling.

Are You See Me? is a story about the final adventure between two twins before epic changes fall on their lives. A trip to find a mystical creature, visit the grave site of Bruce Lee and the discovery heroes in unlikely places. It is a journey of discovering who has you back, always; and finding out who you are on your own too.

I have this thing about Twin novels. I seem to be reading a few of them lately. I don’t know if it’s a new trend, or I just haven’t noticed them in the past, but they keep popping up on my radar and I feel a weird connection to them before opening because of my own twin status. It was harder to relate to this twin pairing though, because I have no brothers! The whole male-female concept is a tad foreign to me. But I loved this pairing.

Justine and Perry are 19 year old twins who have faced upheavals and struggles their entire lives, with one constant: each other. No matter what life has thrown their way, they help each other stand strong. This alone would have made me love them, but add in the fact that this is their last trip together before more life changing events and it makes every scene seem more precious. Perry has a brain condition, a disability that makes him anxious and upset around new people and situations. But don't let that sway any of your thoughts, because this teenage boy proves to be more capable, caring and selfless than any other character in this book. The way Groth captures his abilities and feelings is incredible and makes you want to jump through the pages and give him big hugs (although, make sure you ask first, because a random hug from a stranger might make Perry upset!)

I love books about siblings – there’s something fantastic about knowing you have someone to count on, and when an author portrays that to a T, I find myself loving the book more than I thought possible. Are You Seeing Me? is that sort of book. One of the main themes throughout this book was the love that can be found through your sibling. Justine tries so hard to make this trip a final fun journey for Perry before he moves into a care facility – something she doesn’t want him to do, but he chose this change for their lives – because she wants him to have a lasting memory of their time together. While on the flip side, Perry is trying just as hard to show Justine that she can be free of his extra trouble making – even though he really doesn’t want to leave her, he just wants to show her she doesn’t need to be tied to him, and if it means moving into a home away from Justine, he’ll do it. Because he loves her.

As a reader, we get to see both sides of this through the split POV sections of the book. For me, this made me think of a cross between Jennifer Brown’s Perfect Escape (with the road-trip-with-the-OCD-brother) and Marcus Sedgwick’s She Is Not Invisible (with the blind-girl-showing-she’s-not-an-invalid). But this was better, because we you got see both sides right there, not just the ‘normal’ or ‘disabled’ side alone. I loved being in both Justine and Perry’s minds. And as a bonus, we get a look at their childhood struggles and successes through sporadic journal entries from their late father. (Warning: these will make you cry!)

I think my only issue with this book was with Leonie – Justine and Perry’s mother. A mother who was fed up with not getting any attention from her loving husband – who was being the best dad to his twins – a mother who up and left when Perry and Justine were four; a mother who reached out only to her daughter, 12 years later, and who struggled to accept Perry’s challenges. This issue was not so much with how her character was presented, because it worked for the story; but oh how she frustrated me, wanting back into their lives after ditching them without contact for years and years. Perry and Justine are way more forgiving than I would have been. Maybe it’s because I have such fantastic parents though, I can’t understand that need for them to come back into my life since my own parents haven’t left; but I thought she was a real piece of work.

Are You Seeing Me? is an incredibly emotional read, and a powerful look at struggling siblings showing just how strong they are alone – but also how they’re even stronger knowing they’ve always got each other.

4.5/5 stars

(Also posted on Goodreads)

Sunday, 15 June 2014

The Fault in Our Stars - John Green

The Fault in Our StarsThe Fault in Our Stars - John Green
Grade: YA
Rating: 4/5 stars

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten. (Description from Goodreads)

~ * ~ * ~

I don't know if this is smart, writing a review so soon after finishing, but if I don't get something down now I probably won't try again later.

I have been avoiding reading The Fault in Our Stars for many reasons. Originally, it was because my grandfather had just passed away from cancer, and I couldn't take the idea of bringing back cancer-death emotions. Then is was online articles overdoing the awesomeness that was (apparently) John Green. And finally, I was scared of all the hype. When a book is blown up so much, I get a bit nervous that I won't enjoy it - or at the very least I'll go in with huge expectations and spend the majority of the book waiting for the moment when I scream: "OMG, this really is an epic book!"

But I was always determined to read the book before seeing the movie; and a friend from work wanted to share it with me. So here I am, less than 24 hours later, a survivor of The Fault in Our Stars. I say 'survivor' because this book basically crushed me, ripped out my emotions and yet I'm still standing.

I have to hand it to John Green, his love story - because this book IS a love story at it's heart - was full of all the emotions I needed it to have. The awkward beginning, cute flirtations and heartwarming declarations of love. The fact that it had such a tragic twist just gave it a stronger hold on my emotions. Even without all the warnings about needing tissues (which I managed to ignore and ended up kicking myself when the tissue box was so far away) you knew there wasn't a lot if hope being left on hold for the end.

The only thing I didn't really enjoy in this book was probably the thing that made the love story come about. Hazel and Augustus bond over Hazel's favourite book - AN IMPERIAL AFFLICTION - and without this one book, an international journey, a last wish and love story might not have come about. But I was sort of annoyed by all the philosophical crap that came about because of it. Then endless questioning of life, love, the crisis of wanting answers. It's strange, because I know this was all an important feature of the story and I know it's not unreasonable for people dying to want to question their existence or to even want to know more about their favourite stories because there's that chance they won't live long enough to find out the answers. But, for me, it made the beginning drag a bit.

But, without all the philosophical questioning, without Hazel's obsession and Augustus' determination to seize answers, it wouldn't have been the book that made me bawl; the book that made me say 'okay' like a hundred times before I could psych myself up to keep reading.

I can see why The Fault in Our Stars has taken the world by storm. Is it as epic as I was lead to believe? Probably not quite as epic, but it is an emotionally tragic and powerful book.

4/5 stars

(Also posted on Goodreads)

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Secret - Brigid Kemmerer

Secret (Elemental, #4)Secret (Elementals #4) - Brigid Kemmerer
Grade: YA
Rating: 4.5/5 stars


Nick Merrick is stretched to breaking point. He's trying to keep his grades sky-high or he won't get in to college. He's trying to keep his brother's business afloat or the Merricks will be out on the street. He's trying to keep the secret of where he's going in the evenings from his twin brother Gabriel - or he fears he'll lose his family. And he's trying to keep his mind off the hot, self-assured dancer who is his 'girlfriend's' partner.

And then Quinn takes to hanging around his sworn enemy, and an Elemental Guide is counting the hours until he can try again to kill the Merrick brothers. Storms are brewing. On all sides.

SECRETS IN THE WIND. DANGER IN THE AIR (Description from Goodreads)

~ * ~ * ~

And the Merrick boys do it again!

I can't express how happy I was when I found out there were going to be more books to this series, especially when I was so sad that two of the fabulous Merrick brothers didn't get their own books. But then this happened and I could jump for joy again. It's definitely worth extending the series.

I had a rocky relationship with Nick. I loved him in Storm, was so damn pissed at him in Spark, was learning to love him again in Spirit...and then his novella happened and I was back in the OMG! NICK! fan club for good. Secret only made that stronger. I love how vulnerable he becomes, when we're inside his head; and how loyal he is to his family - despite the sometimes rocky relationship with Gabriel. But, as a twin myself, I know it happens. You like to think your twin is you in another body, but they don't always do things the way you would.

In terms of characters, I thought Secret was flawless. Nick, Adam, Michael - the other Merricks and their girlfriends - it was all perfect for me. While I'm still not sure I'm a fan of Quinn and I didn't totally warm to Tyler (although I liked him more than Quinn) they all had an edge that just screamed "I'm a 3D character. I have substance." But it was Adam and Nick that blew me away with their love for each other, the way they found comfort in their sexuality and just the whole exploration of self. Nick had his crazy moments, taking on so many secrets and responsibilities - I couldn't blame him for losing his cool every now and then.

But it wasn't all about Nick. I was a little surprised that the main POV switches were only between Nick and Quinn. We usually get the love interests - Boy and Girl in the past - but with Nick's growing feelings for Adam, I was a tad sad we were getting a chance to be in Adam's head too. While I found Quinn's scenes weren't really making me love her any more than before. My biggest problem with Quinn is her constant cries for sympathy. She acted like the only one with issues in the world. And I know teens sometimes need someone else to reach out to them first, to feel like someone cares enough to listen, but it just annoyed me so much.

I really liked this book, and while I LOVED the character development and relationships, I was a little disappointed with the plot. We're introduced to another new Guide at the very start of the story - surprise, surprise, the Guides are coming to town - but then there's nothing for almost the entire book. I know it was important for Nick to come to terms with who he was and what he wanted in life; but the way the Guide story was brushed over - slotted in almost as an afterthought - well, I just wanted more. I love the Merricks, but I don't read the story for them alone. I love the world Brigid Kemmerer has created and I LOVE the tension between the Elementals and the Guides. We've had four books with that tension, I just feel like the wasn't enough continued momentum for that part of the story.

I did really love the semi-cliff hanger. What a shocker! Can't wait for Michael's book, it's going to be epic.

4.5/5 stars

(also posted on Goodreads)

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Pure - Julianna Baggott

Pure (Pure, #1)Pure (Pure #1) - Julianna Baggott
Grade: YA
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

We know you are here, our brothers and sisters . . .

Pressia barely remembers the Detonations or much about life during the Before. In her sleeping cabinet behind the rubble of an old barbershop where she lives with her grandfather, she thinks about what is lost--how the world went from amusement parks, movie theaters, birthday parties, fathers and mothers . . . to ash and dust, scars, permanent burns, and fused, damaged bodies. And now, at an age when everyone is required to turn themselves over to the militia to either be trained as a soldier or, if they are too damaged and weak, to be used as live targets, Pressia can no longer pretend to be small. Pressia is on the run.

Burn a Pure and Breathe the Ash . . .

There are those who escaped the apocalypse unmarked: Pures. They are tucked safely inside the Dome that protects their healthy, superior bodies. Yet Partridge, whose father is one of the most influential men in the Dome, feels isolated and lonely. Different. He thinks about loss--maybe just because his family is broken; his father is emotionally distant; his brother killed himself; and his mother never made it inside their shelter. Or maybe it's his claustrophobia: his feeling that this Dome has become a swaddling of intensely rigid order. So when a slipped phrase suggests his mother might still be alive, Partridge risks his life to leave the Dome to find her.

When Pressia meets Partridge, their worlds shatter all over again. (Description from Goodreads)

~ * ~ * ~

I didn't know much about this book and series before I started reading it, other than a work mate loved and that the tagline said fans of The Hunger Games would enjoy the series. I'm always nervous about recommendations like that, with strong comparisons to BIG book franchises; but I LOVED this book! It wasn't perfect, but it was an addictive, on-the-edge-of-my-seat, action-packed story. One of the best dystopian/sci-fi novels I've read in a while.

We start the story with an introduction to the changed world Pure is set in. An atomic explosion has rocked the world, causing surviving humans to fuse with living and inanimate objects - dolls, birds, other humans, cars - anything they were connected to at the time of the explosion. These changes alone would have made for an interesting storyline, but not all humans faced the Detonations. Some were saving in a Dome structure set to regulate air and sustain human life. These people were protected from fusing to objects and are known as The Pure - not a single defect on them. There was so much potential drama between these two settings that my heart was soaring. Rebellion? War? Forbidden love? I couldn't decide which one I was hoping to see. In the end, rebellion and war were the one's that won out for me, especially because my chosen relationship occurred outside the Dome and Pure sphere.

This book was a perfect example of when third person stories work so well. Out two main characters - Pressia (a girl from outside the Dome) and Partridge (a boy 'lucky' enough to be saved by the Dome) - both have equal POV page time, showing life on the outside, the twisted system inside the Dome and the clash of worlds when these two meet. There are a couple of other POV changes throughout the story, which at times weren't really necessary, but it all worked out ok for me. I loved having these two voices and views - they were strong, detailed and made it easy to fall into their world. And what I loved more was that there was not even a speck of romance hinted between them. I'll admit, I worried at the start that there might be, especially when I decided - long before there was any obvious chemistry and before Pressia and Partridge me - that I wanted Pressia to end up with the courageous, intelligent and loyal Bradwell, another boy from outside the Dome with birds fused into his back.

But relationships aside - because they were actually a minor part of the story - I loved the action in Pure. We're introduced to the idea of a militia group on the outside, intent on recruiting any 16 year old kid and turning them into soldiers to fight against the Pure. But a twist midway through the book turns everything on it's head and we find out not everything about the Dome is quite what Pressia or Partridge have been led to believe. And now it's time to fight against the Dome - there was just so much action!

My only complaints were that some of the plot-points popped up out of nowhere. We're not told exactly what time the story is set in. You assume it's a bit in the future, because Children were being chipped with tracking devices and biotechnology developments were a lot bigger than I expect they're at now (not that I would really know). It was all a bit uncertain where the story was placed in terms of our own timeline. Pressia, Bradwell and Partridge were also very quick to figure out important changes for the story. They would have no clue what their next move should be, but someone would say one word and suddenly all doors were open again - and everything was explained like it was obvious, even though it was completely unknown 2 sentences ago. But this didn't stop me from loving the book.

I'm so happy the third book was just been released, because it means I can get my hands on books 2 and 3 as soon as I can. Looking forward to it!

4.5/5 stars

(Also posted on Goodreads)

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Eleanor & Park - Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor & ParkEleanor & Park - Rainbow Rowell
Grade: YA
Rating: 4/5 Stars

Eleanor is the new girl in town, and with her chaotic family life, her mismatched clothes and unruly red hair, she couldn't stick out more if she tried.

Park is the boy at the back of the bus. Black T-shirts, headphones, head in a book - he thinks he's made himself invisible. But not to Eleanor... never to Eleanor.

Slowly, steadily, through late-night conversations and an ever-growing stack of mix tapes, Eleanor and Park fall for each other. They fall in love the way you do the first time, when you're young, and you feel as if you have nothing and everything to lose. (Description from Goodreads)

~ * ~ * ~

This was a mix of super cute, adorable moments and painful heart break. Eleanor & Park's slow friendship and quick jump into love had me addicted from the start. I loved it.

There seems to be this growing theme in YA novels to place an importance on relationships in the past. Whether it's a storyline literally set in the past, or just characters obsessing about style, clothes, or music from an iconic era. There's something so powerfully about being set in a period where no-one is permanently attached to their phones or chatting online. Every look, every word, every action is more important. I loved how Rainbow Rowell captured this. She made you feel like no line could be overlooked. I loved it.

I also loved how neither Park nor Eleanor fit a mould. There was nothing about them that made you think they could be any old character in a YA contemporary. They weren't perfect, but they just worked we'll.

It was hard not to feel sorry for Eleanor. Described as being bigger than your average teen, she struggles with her body image the entire book, often wondering how Park could possibly find anything about her worth liking and you kind of can't blame her for doubting herself because she grew up in a horrible home situation. Sometimes I feel like this trouble family life theme is an attempt to bring extra drama to a book, but not this time. This time, all I wanted was for Eleanor to have something worth loving in her life.

Thankfully, she had Park. Park was and interesting love interest. Obsessed with music and comic books, he has a relatively happy family life and is well respected at school; although hardly Mr. Popular. He did judge Eleanor at first sight, but he fell for her almost as quickly and tried so hard to show her that people can love you, regardless of growing up in different lives.

I'll admit, there was a lot of love and kisses being thrown around; I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, wondering when the dramatic twist would pop up and change everything. It did happen, and it wasn't quite what I was expecting. The ending seemed a little rushed for my liking, and while I feel like it was wrapped up; there was still a lot left unsaid, that leaves me questioning the future for Park and Eleanor - but in a good way.

I really enjoyed this book and can't wait to read more of Rainbow Rowell's stories.

4/5 stars

(Also posted on Goodreads)

Sunday, 19 January 2014

The Fiery Heart - Richelle Mead

The Fiery Heart (Bloodlines, #4)
The Fiery Heart (Bloodlines #4) - Richelle Mead
Grade: YA
Rating: 3/5 stars

In The Indigo Spell, Sydney was torn between the Alchemist way of life and what her heart and gut were telling her to do. And in one breathtaking moment that Richelle Mead fans will never forget, she made a decision that shocked even her. . . .

But the struggle isn't over for Sydney. As she navigates the aftermath of her life-changing decision, she still finds herself pulled in too many directions at once. Her sister Zoe has arrived, and while Sydney longs to grow closer to her, there's still so much she must keep secret. Working with Marcus has changed the way she views the Alchemists, and Sydney must tread a careful path as she harnesses her profound magical ability to undermine the way of life she was raised to defend. Consumed by passion and vengeance, Sydney struggles to keep her secret life under wraps as the threat of exposure—and re-education—looms larger than ever.

Pulses will race throughout this thrilling fourth instalment in the New York Times bestselling Bloodlines series, where no secret is safe. (Description from Goodreads)

~ * ~ * ~

It took me a while to write this review, or to even get the motivation to start, mostly because I didn’t know how to put into words what I felt about this book. I love the Vampire Academy world, I really do. Vampire Academy is one of my favourite YA series’ and I just adore it. Unfortunately, that hasn’t really stretched over to the Bloodlines series. It’s a bit of a hit and miss track with me, and The Fiery Heart landed in the miss column. I’ve come to expect so much from this series. I may be a little swayed by Rose’s action pack adventures in the Vampire Academy series, but Sydney just doesn’t inspire the same spark within me. I love that she’s stepping out and leaving behind her Alchemist ways – becoming more familiar with the vampire world (in more ways than just accepting them *wink**wink*) But there’s just something missing from Bloodlines that makes me not as excited for Sydney’s adventures. I feel like we’re taking one step forward and twelve steps back.

There were some big changes in The Fiery Heart - not just in the storyline, but in the way the novel was told. Sydney is no longer our sole narrator, with Adrian stepping up to take over half the narration. I’ll admit this was part of the reason it took me so long to read the latest Bloodlines book. It wasn’t so much that I disliked Adrian’s potential voice – and was only partly because I felt a little shocked that the POV was suddenly changing – it was mostly because split POV screams of danger; that something so terrible is going to happen, you need a back-up narrator to keep you in the loop for what’s been left behind. And it’s true, there’s some major stuff happening at the end, but I feel like we had so much prior warning leading up to it, that it didn’t hit me as hard as I expected.

I was disappointed with this book. It seemed like the major plot-lines – Sydney’s growth with magic, Jill’s potential danger, the search for a Spirit-Cure – all took a step backwards to Adrian and Sydney’s romance. If they weren’t blowing off the rest of their responsibilities to make-out, they were sending endless “I love you” text messages that were just waiting to be discovered by the growing group of dhampirs, moroi and alchemists hanging out in Palm Springs. I’m a person who likes romance in stories, but I feel like this time, it was a little over the top. I’m happy to see Sydney grow, I’m REALLY happy to see Adrian find someone who wants to support him and love him; but what I really wanted was the intense, action and mystery story I’ve come to love from Richelle Mead. There was so much that could have been explored, but we seemed to only get a few surface glimpses at progress to Strigoi-remedies and I think only one mention of Jill’s actual danger issues. It wasn’t what I was expecting.

I found myself grabbing onto little things and probably blowing them up into bigger issues. But one of my main issues was the rapid increase of people in Palm Springs. What started off as a secret mission to keep Jill away from her own kind and protect her from any strange and unknown people who might give her away, has turned into a massive group that now needs a minivan to take them places - and to top it off, they're all mostly inexperienced teens. There are no adults at all looking out for the group. This doesn’t scream hidden and secretive to me. I feel like Jill’s apparent danger has been all but forgotten, and in its place, romance, magic and an endless supply of new tattoos have taken centre stage.

Strangely, for myself, my favourite part of this book was the small bits to do with Spirit. I’ve actually never been much of a fan of Spirit. It seems to pop up as the saviour of all things at just the right moment, and so I resent it a bit. But I really enjoyed being in Adrian’s head and seeing Spirit from his POV. I loved seeing him step up and try helping with the Strigoi-Spirit cure and I really wanted to see more of that. I think that’s what was missing most for me – some driving plot, other than the endless scenes of Sydney and Adrian’s relationship, to really kick-start the blood pumping excitement. I feel like the Bloodlines hasn’t really found its feet. Maybe it’s a magic and witchcraft series, maybe the alchemists are the main focus, maybe Spirit is making a come-back, or maybe it was always a romance series and the rest are subplots...I just can’t work it out.

I want to love this series, so I’m going to keep trying with it – and not just because I refuse to give up on it because it’s Richelle Mead – but because I think there’s something hiding beneath the surface, ready to WOW me. I really hope there’s more action in the next book. I feel like it has potential. We’re given a pretty harsh and crazy ending in The Fiery Heart so I’m definitely getting my hopes up. I don’t need or want Sydney to be another Rose, because there’ll only be one Rose in the VA world; but I do want her to be a fighter and I think she can get there. I just don’t think we’ve seen it yet, and I need to see it. We’ve seen cool, calculating Sydney; we’ve seen intelligent Sydney; we’ve seen romantic/lusty Sydney. Let’s bring on badass Sydney, please.

3/5 stars

(Also posted on Goodreads)

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Shadow Kiss: The Graphic Novel - Richelle Mead

Shadow Kiss: The Graphic Novel
Richelle Mead, Emma Vieceli & Leigh Dragoon
Grade: YA
Rating: 4/5 stars

What if following her heart means Rose could lose her best friend forever?

Rose Hathaway knows it is forbidden to love another guardian. Her best friend, Lissa – the last Dragomir princess – must always come first. Unfortunately, when it comes to gorgeous Dimitri Belikov, some rules are meant to be broken...

But since making her first Strigoi kills, Rose hasn't been feeling right. Something dark has begun to grow in her mind, and ghostly shadows warn of a terrible evil drawing nearer to the Academy's iron gates. And now that Lissa and Rose's sworn enemy, Victor Dashkov, is on trial for his freedom, tensions in the Moroi world are higher than ever.

Lying to Lissa about Dimitri is one thing, but suddenly there's way more than friendship at stake. The immortal undead are on the prowl, and they want vengeance for the lives that Rose has stolen. In a heart-stopping battle to rival her worst nightmares, Rose will have to choose between life, love, and the two people who matter most... but will her choice mean that only one can survive? (Description from Goodreads)

~ * ~ * ~

I can't talk about this graphic novel without first talking about the moment I got it. A surprise package in the mail, ripping open the cardboard casing and running around the house screaming with excitement. I can't say it was for the graphic novel itself - not being a bit reader of GNs - but if any book could push me into them, it'd be Shadow Kiss. The best Vampire Academy book ever! I think that might be the real reason Penguin Teen Australia sent me a copy - they know how much I love this series, and it was the book that really started the Australian VA obsession! (Shadow Kiss book club of '09)

What I love most about this novel is that it's short and sharp, and allows the reader to experience the great story with visual aids. Sure, it's a condensed version of the story. You don't have every line written by Richelle, especially because the story is adapted by the amazing Leigh Dragoon, but you do get the over all feel of the story and having Emma Vieceli's skilful drawings brought the story to life in a whole new way for me. I've flicked through the first Vampire Academy graphic novel, but I don't own the previous two - so getting to read the entire GN from start to finish was a whole new experience for me. I'll admit I flicked to my favourite scenes first, because it's hard not to want to see how they've been represented in this edition, but I really enjoyed going back and just reading straight through.

I had a few issues wrapping my head around the set-up for the graphic novel. Not being used to the way the boxes and bubbles flow onto each other, I had a few moments where I was reading them out of order and missing speech boxes that were tucked around the corner. But I got the hang of it, and it all flowed really well. I did miss Richelle's original text. As such a big fan of the series, I sort of wanted every word and scene to be included. So much of the series is said and done internally, with Rose's thinking taking over; so I missed that part of it. But the beauty of a graphic novel is its ability to condense a story to its main parts.

I think this was a fabulous next step for the series. I know graphic novels have started to pick up in the YA scene, for the big stories, but I love that it gives reluctant readers, graphic novel fans and just fans of the series another chance to explore one of my favourite YA series.

Very impressed. And I'll definitely have to get my hands on the first two in the graphic novel series.

4/5 stars

(Also posted on Goodreads)