Review: Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerill

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Ever the Hunted by Erin SummerillEver the Hunted by Erin Summerill
Series: Clash of Kingdoms #1
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers on December 27, 2016
Pages: 400
Format: ARC
Source: the publisher
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Seventeen year-old Britta Flannery is at ease only in the woods with her dagger and bow. She spends her days tracking criminals alongside her father, the legendary bounty hunter for the King of Malam—that is, until her father is murdered. Now outcast and alone and having no rights to her father’s land or inheritance, she seeks refuge where she feels most safe: the Ever Woods. When Britta is caught poaching by the royal guard, instead of facing the noose she is offered a deal: her freedom in exchange for her father’s killer.

However, it’s not so simple.

The alleged killer is none other than Cohen McKay, her father’s former apprentice. The only friend she’s ever known. The boy she once loved who broke her heart. She must go on a dangerous quest in a world of warring kingdoms, mad kings, and dark magic to find the real killer. But Britta wields more power than she knows. And soon she will learn what has always made her different will make her a daunting and dangerous force.

This book was a highly anticipated one for me. And I really enjoyed it… until I didn’t. The beginning was slow, but once it picked up, I really fell into the story. And then a little over half-way through the book, the plot and pace come to a screeching halt and it just dragged. AND THEN, 50 pages from the end, something happened and it just pushed me over the edge. It’s a tired trope that I’m sick of seeing in YA. I can’t explain what it is without spoilers, but if you’ve read the book, you’ll know what I’m talking about. And if you haven’t, you will once you DO (or if you do) read it.

There were a small number of intriguing plot twists, but other than that, there was nothing interesting about this book. I wasn’t a huge fan of the characters, either. And you guys know how character-centric I am, so that was probably the biggest reason I didn’t enjoy this book. I wasn’t feeling the love between the main characters at all. They felt more like just friends and the back and forth with them was ridiculous too. It was frustrating and unnecessary, and seemed like it was only meant to drag things out and add tension where there was none.

There were also a LOT of “duh” moments where something was SO OBVIOUS, it was impossibly to understand how the characters didn’t realize sooner – especially where Britta and her background and “destiny” are involved.

The feel and atmosphere of this book – the woods and the hunting, etc – kind of reminded me of the Grisha trilogy. Even the characters had similarities to the characters in the Grisha trilogy. But the Grisha trilogy is better, IMO. But I guess you MIGHT like this book if you liked the Grisha trilogy… Maybe?

I still gave this 3 stars because I did enjoy the first half of the book and the few plot twists that happened. The author’s writing is gorgeous, as well. But the plot and pacing were slow and drawn out and just not as enjoyable as I’d originally hoped.

Do I recommend this one? I honestly can’t say. I don’t want to turn anyone away from reading it, but this isn’t one I’d ever really suggest if someone asked me for book recommendations. If someone asked me how I enjoyed it, I’d have to be honest and say it wasn’t my cup of tea.

So.. short review was short. But that’s really all I have to say about this one. I was highly anticipating it and I feel very disappointed now. I’m not sure if I’ll read book two or not. It depends on the plot and if any trusted friends read and enjoy it.


Review: Material Girls by Elaine Dimopoulos

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Material Girls by Elaine DimopoulosMaterial Girls by Elaine Dimopoulos
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers on May 5, 2015
Pages: 336
Source: the publisher
Buy on Amazon

In Marla Klein and Ivy Wilde’s world, teens are the gatekeepers of culture. A top fashion label employs sixteen-year-old Marla to dictate hot new clothing trends, while Ivy, a teen pop star, popularizes the garments that Marla approves. Both girls are pawns in a calculated but seductive system of corporate control, and both begin to question their world’s aggressive levels of consumption. Will their new “eco-chic” trend subversively resist and overturn the industry that controls every part of their lives

Smart, provocative, and entertaining, this thrilling page-turner for teens questions the cult like mentality of fame and fashion. Are you in or are you out?

I’ve been blogging for two years. In that time, I’ve only had one book that I rated below 3 stars and still reviewed. For me, less than 3 stars usually means a DNF. But in that case – and now in this case, with Material Girls – I feel like I have a lot to say and I feel like I can say it in a constructive, respectful way. It took me a long time to start Material Girls. I tried three times – and I didn’t make it past the second page any of those times – before I was successful. But I was intrigued by the premise and I kept putting it aside, hoping I’d be in the mood for it at some point. I finally managed to read it and I was pretty disappointed. But as bad as this book was, there was obviously SOMETHING about it that I enjoyed, because I didn’t DNF it, couldn’t put it down AND I finished it in a day.

Before I begin, fair warning: This review has spoilers, both minor and major. So read with caution or, if you don’t want to be spoiled, don’t read this review until after you’ve read the book.

So let’s start with the plot. I love Dystopian but, with all the Dystopian books out there, a lot of them are the same or very similar. Material Girls intrigued me because it seemed different. I’m not a huge fashion person, but I hoped it would be about more than that – that it would have a greater lesson, or something. Sadly, it was almost exclusively about fashion. For those who read Dystopian, this was basically the “rebellion” happening against the “Big Five” fashion houses instead of the entire government.

In this world, kids are “Tapped” at 13 to work in a certain creative industry, at a certain company and in a certain role. And they do that until they’re 16-19 and then they’re considered obsolete and either demoted or let go. So… You peak in your career before you’re even out of your teens. If you aren’t “Tapped,” you’re considered an “Adequate” and take on “menial” jobs like being a teacher, doctor, etc. People who are Tapped look down on the Adequate’s and treat them as lesser human beings. Basically, as with any typical Dystopian, this creates the divide that sparks a rebellion.

Marla is at the top of the food chain at one of the Big Five fashion houses, but she speaks up to defend fashions that no one else likes. This gets her demoted. Of course, getting demoted means she falls in with the group that desires to rebel and “fix the system.” Marla doesn’t have any significant character growth until 73% in to the book, roughly. She wasn’t very likable, though I did feel bad for her when she lost everything. Her story ended in an intriguing way, however, giving me hope that things might turn out okay.

Ivy is a hugely successful pop star who’s tired of her image and wants to change it up in order to get her ex-boyfriend back. Unlike Marla, she had a lot of character growth in the beginning. Unlike Marla, her character growth became stagnant roughly half-way in to the book and then tapered off until she ended up right back where she stared at the beginning of the book. Only, she was worse off by the end than she was at the beginning, in my opinion. Honestly, I had high hopes for her and the way her story ended was very disappointing.

I was incredibly annoyed and upset with the way Marla and Ivy’s friendship ended. Them working together was incredibly predictable, but I thought they’d be together at the end, fighting the good fight or something. I didn’t like the way Felix came between them. That whole weird love triangle was just… weird. And unnecessary. Ivy acted as though Marla was an evil home-wrecker, when Marla didn’t even know about Ivy and Felix’s history until after the fact.

There were a lot of secondary characters in this book and I really didn’t connect with any of them and, therefore, didn’t really care about them. Most of the were shallow and had no sense of loyalty. Marla’s best friend and boyfriend were quick to dump her and run when they thought associating with her would jeopardize their Tap positions. Everyone was mean to each other, doing anything they could to stay relevant and at the top. It was heartbreaking to see some of the things that happened. And a lot of the characters blended together, so I had a hard time remembering who was who.

My biggest beef with this book was the ending. It was disappointing, anti-climatic and left me hanging. The rebellion was snuffed out and nothing really changed. At one point, Vivienne mentioned that change doesn’t happen over night, so I understand why the rebellion fizzled and I get the point the author was trying to make – it takes years and years and constant fighting to make change happen. But as a reader reading a book, this made for a very disappointing ending. I felt jipped, like I’d spent my time reading this book for nothing. I guess the lesson is “be the change you want to see.” Don’t give up, even if you lose. It’s a great lesson, but it made the ending feel anti-climatic and unfinished.

Despite all that, there must have been SOMETHING good/interesting about this book because I never DNF’d and I finished it in roughly a day. But I honestly don’t know why. I have no clue why I held on or what intrigued me so much. I guess I connected with these characters on some level, enough to want to know how their stories ended and if they got their happily ever after. The plot/world kept me intrigued enough that I couldn’t put it down and read it super fast. But if you asked me for exact reasons why I kept reading, or what about it was interesting enough… Well, I couldn’t tell you. It was entertaining in some level, though.

I think if I knew this was part of a duology, trilogy or series, I wouldn’t mind the ending as much. If I knew that at some point, we’d get closure for these characters, that there was a point to the rebellion (and it was successful), I’d give this book the benefit of the doubt and maybe attempt to pick up the second book when it released. Who knows, if we get a second book, I might even come back and revise this review and bump it up to a 3-star rating. But until that happens, I’m standing firm with my rating and my reasons why.

I have a lot more thoughts on this book and I could discuss them all in great detail. But, as always, I hate thinking that my reviews might discourage someone from reading a book. I might not have enjoyed Material Girls, but someone else might love it. I saw a number of positive 4-star reviews for it on Goodreads. I will NEVER tell someone NOT to read a book. Though I won’t go out of my way to recommend it, I won’t tell you not to read it, either. So if you were excited for this book, give it a chance. You might love it! I truly hope you do! If you love fashion, especially, then this book is likely for you. If you DO read it and DO love it, let me know in the comments – tell me why you loved it!