Rummanah Aasi
  I'm a bit behind in some of my YA reviews. Below are my reviews of The Waking Dark by Robin Wasserman and Crash into You by Katie McGarry. Please note that these reviews are based on the advanced copies provided by the publisher via Netgalley.

Description: They called it the killing day. Twelve people dead, all in the space of a few hours. Five murderers: neighbors, relatives, friends. All of them so normal. All of them seemingly harmless. All of them now dead by their own hand . . . except one. And that one has no answers to offer the shattered town. She doesn't even know why she killed—or whether she'll do it again.
 Something is waking in the sleepy town of Oleander's, Kansas—something dark and hungry that lives in the flat earth and the open sky, in the vengeful hearts of upstanding citizens. As the town begins its descent into blood and madness, five survivors of the killing day are the only ones who can stop Oleander from destroying itself. Jule, the outsider at war with the world; West, the golden boy at war with himself; Daniel, desperate for a different life; Cass, who's not sure she deserves a life at all; and Ellie, who believes in sacrifice, fate, and in evil. Ellie, who always goes too far. They have nothing in common. They have nothing left to lose. And they have no way out. Which means they have no choice but to stand and fight, to face the darkness in their town—and in themselves.

Review: I was completely out of my reading comfort zone when I was reading The Waking Dark. I'm not a big contemporary horror fan. I prefer Gothic atmosphere with the potential threat looming above the characters rather than see a person ripped to shreds with blood gushing for all to see. I've debated on picking up The Waking Dark for quite sometime but after reading some fabulous reviews, I got intrigued by the plot and thought I would give it a shot.
  The Waking Dark is a book for someone who has a sensitive stomach for violence and gore. Wasserman holds nothing back by bringing horrific situations to the citizens of this sleepy town in Kansas from a senseless mass shooting in a convenience store to a teen killing a baby. While I was appalled and felt uneasy by the violence in the novel, I was interested in the introspective horrors that the teens of this story deal with unfit parents with mental instability and homophobia, just to name a few, and this is what prevented me from not finishing the story. I liked reading from multiple perspectives, but there were just too many in this book without any smooth transitions between the two which made it a bit difficult keeping track of who is who. The book lost its steam for me when we are given the reason behind the violent acts that took place in the town. I felt the twist had a M. Night Shyamalan-ish ending that was suppose to be clever but it came off as a bit silly. Still I would recommend this book to Stephen King fans for both teens and adults.

Rating: 3 stars

Words of Caution: Strong violence, including attempted rape, and strong language. Recommended for older teens and adults only.

If you like this book try: Under the Dome by Stephen King, Scowler by Daniel Kraus

Description: The girl with straight As, designer clothes and the perfect life-that's who people expect Rachel Young to be. So the private-school junior keeps secrets from her wealthy parents and overbearing brothers...and she's just added two more to the list. One involves racing strangers down dark country roads in her Mustang GT. The other? Seventeen-year-old Isaiah Walker-a guy she has no business even talking to. But when the foster kid with the tattoos and intense gray eyes comes to her rescue, she can't get him out of her mind. Isaiah has secrets, too. About where he lives, and how he really feels about Rachel. The last thing he needs is to get tangled up with a rich girl who wants to slum it on the south side for kicks-no matter how angelic she might look. But when their shared love of street racing puts both their lives in jeopardy, they have six weeks to come up with a way out. Six weeks to discover just how far they'll go to save each other.

Review: I've adored Isaiah from the moment he appeared in Pushing Limits and have been waiting for him to have his happy ending since his heart was broken in Dare You To. I was really looking forward to reading Crash into You and hoped that the melodrama was turned down a bit.
  The plot of Crash into You is pretty much the same as the previous novels in this series, focusing on the slices of life, coming of age of gritty, urban teens in the foster care who find love and an identity. Isaiah is the bad boy, with a heart of gold, who has a broken past as much as a broken present. His mother wants back in his life and he is staying with Noah to avoid his foster family. Monetary funds are running low to nothing so Isaiah participates in illegal street racing in order to cover rent for the apartment and food.
  On the other side of the spectrum is Rachel, the good, affluent girl caught in he middle of a controlling family. She suffers debilitating panic attacks, which she hides from everyone.  Everyone, including herself, perceives her as weak when she really wants to do her own thing, and step out of the shadow of her deceased sister who went too soon from cancer.
  I thought it was a bit too convenient how Isaiah and Rachel met. Their relationship, particularly from Isaiah's side, happened too quickly for my taste. I found it strange that at one moment Isaiah is still reeling from his unrequited feelings for Beth and then the next heartbeat he was thinking about Rachel. I would have preferred if we got see Isaiah and Rachel grow as characters separately and then come together. I did like the couple enough and their chemistry in places was very cute. I loved how they bonded and shared a passion about cars.
  Unfortunately, there is not much character growth as I would have liked for Isaiah. I didn't really learn anything new about him that I didn't know from the previous books. It took me some time to warm up to Rachel as her story was frustrating because I constantly wanted her to find her footing, step up to the plate, and start saying no to all the people asking her not only to lie in the dimensions of her family, but also lie to herself. I was glad when she did grow a backbone.
  As for the side characters, I really liked Abby and Ethan and would love to know more about them. I think they would make an interesting couple. I'm not entirely sure about West, Rachel's playboy brother, but I'm willing to know him beyond his reputation and will follow his story just to see what happens next.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Words of Caution: Strong language and some underage drinking. Recommended for Grades 9 and up.

If you like this book try: Take Me On by Katie McGarry (will be released in May 2014), Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller, Racing Savannah by Miranda Kenneally
4 Responses
  1. I enjoyed CRASH INTO YOU, but I'll definitely agree with your assessment that we lacked a bit of character growth this time around. I'm really hoping that's resolved in the next installment. Great reviews, Rummanah!

  2. Candace Says:

    I know that The Waking Dark is not for me. I even talked to the author about it when she was here and she agreed, it would scare me to death! I haven't read Crash Into You yet, I read the first book and liked it, but it was a tough read for me for some reason. So I'm a little scared of reading more. Just very emotional, I guess. Which isn't bad, it just has to be read at the right time.

  3. Yea, that first one doesn't seem like it would fit me. At least the payoff would have to make sense to me (the reason why for the violence) but if it seemed silly to you, I doubt it would seem anything else to me.

    Oh and I am aware of the inherent probs in the McGarry series. I still enjoy them. You are right, not much in character growth for Isaiah, but I still enjoyed it. :D

  4. I feel a lot like you about Crash Into You. Good but not the best. Abby was by far my favorite character and I hope she stars in her own novel.

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