Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Yay for YA: Once, by Anna Carey

Back in October, I reviewed a book (Eve by Anna Carey) published by HarperCollins in honor of Banned Books Week.  I must admit, I've given up a bit on the boycott of that company, because if we punish every publisher that starts making weird policies about how they handle e-books, we're not going to have anything to circulate.
So, here's a review of the upcoming sequel to Eve, Once.  It's due out next week, on July 3.

Spoilers unavoidable, if you haven't read the first book.

Checkouts: Not owned by library
Series checkouts: Not owned by library
Typical reader: Fans of the first book in the series

Synopsis: Eve made it to the safe haven of Califia, but she's unhappy without her beloved Caleb, and one night she overhears how the women running the settlement would hand her over to the King of New America if it guaranteed their own safety.  Between this troubling news and a rumor that Caleb is injured in the wilderness nearby, Eve and her friend Arden leave Califia and are quickly captured by soldiers.  Arden is taken back to school, and Eve is off to the capital and whatever fate the King has in store for her.

My Goodreads rating: 3 stars

This is a hard book to review.  There is a jaw-dropping twist shortly after Eve reaches Sand City, impacting the entire rest of the book, and it's so good I don't want to spoil it for anyone!  Argh.  So, beyond telling you that yes, Eve does meet up with Caleb again, I really can't say much about the plot beyond what I've already put in the synopsis.  The prose is still very good.

I think my biggest disappointment was with the use of the characters.  As I'd explained in my review of Eve, I really liked the supporting cast, namely Arden and Caleb.  If you liked them too, prepare to be disappointed.  Arden doesn't completely disappear after she's returned to the school, but she's barely involved.  Caleb is ... honestly, I think he ends up being a plot device and requisite love interest.  There are some romantic-yet-dangerous scenes, and a really sweet point where they get to have some fun together, pretending to be elsewhere, so it's not a total wash in that regard.

As for Eve herself ... grow a spine, girl!  I can actually forgive her gullibility; it's a product of her upbringing, and she hasn't grown cynical yet in spite of all that's happened since she left the school.  But this is the girl who escaped from all she knew, survived in the wilderness, and defended herself and those she cared about in the first book of this trilogy?  I would have been happier if she'd slapped someone, even once.

In spite of these problems, there's another twist at the end that makes me intrigued enough to wonder what the final book in the trilogy will entail.  We'll see.  I might just be a sucker for a train wreck in this case.

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