All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: Slayer by Kiersten White

Slayer (Slayer #1)
Kiersten White
Simon & Schuster
2019, 404p
Copy courtesy of the publisher

Blurb {from the publisher/Goodreads.com}:

Into every generation a Slayer is born…

Nina and her twin sister, Artemis, are far from normal. It’s hard to be when you grow up at the Watcher’s Academy, which is a bit different from your average boarding school. Here teens are trained as guides for Slayers—girls gifted with supernatural strength to fight the forces of darkness. But while Nina’s mother is a prominent member of the Watcher’s Council, Nina has never embraced the violent Watcher lifestyle. Instead she follows her instincts to heal, carving out a place for herself as the school medic.

Until the day Nina’s life changes forever.

Thanks to Buffy, the famous (and infamous) Slayer that Nina’s father died protecting, Nina is not only the newest Chosen One—she’s the last Slayer, ever. Period.

As Nina hones her skills with her Watcher-in-training, Leo, there’s plenty to keep her occupied: a monster fighting ring, a demon who eats happiness, a shadowy figure that keeps popping up in Nina’s dreams…

But it’s not until bodies start turning up that Nina’s new powers will truly be tested—because someone she loves might be next.

One thing is clear: Being Chosen is easy. Making choices is hard.

I’m a part of the Buffy generation – however I watched the first episode when it aired and then never really went on with it. It wasn’t until years later when I was at university that I started watching it on a regular basis, probably from around season 4 or so. I watched right up until the end, although I never crossed over into watching Angel – perhaps because I didn’t start watching Buffy until after Angel had left.

It’s been a while since the end of the television series and although it’s continued on with comics, I haven’t kept up with it. I wasn’t sure I’d remember the details – I do remember that Buffy herself did something so that all the potential Slayers could become Slayers in order for the final battle but yeah, the details are a bit vague. That doesn’t really matter though because this book gives a bit of a brief recap enough and you could probably read it even if you weren’t a Buffy watcher and had only a very basic understanding of the Buffyverse.

Artemis and her sister Athena (Nina) are the daughters of Buffy’s first Watcher, who was killed protecting her. For this Nina has harboured a lot of resentment toward Buffy, which has festered during their years growing up in a Watchers Academy. Nina has always known that her sister was somewhat special and clearly seems chosen as her mother’s hope. Nina finds herself shunted to medical duties and so she does her best to perform them – until one day when she kills a hellhound without thinking.

Turns out that Nina is a Slayer – but she hasn’t had the training that a potential would’ve had and now she has to cram a lot of knowledge and training in, in order to take up the role. Her Watcher is Leo, her teenage crush and Nina constantly finds herself belittled and shut down. I think so many people are used to protecting her for so long, not realising that she was a potential, that they’re somewhat surprised now that she can take care of herself without even thinking about it. In fact, without thinking about it is the best way for Nina to do it. If she thinks, she panics. She needs to just let her instincts kick in and take over.

Nina feels a bit like she’s been the doormat twin most of her life. Artemis is strong and capable and she tends to boss Nina around and treat her like she’s a child. I’m not sure if this is just learned behaviour or if it’s because she truly thinks that Nina is incapable. Nina’s mother as well, has treated Nina a certain way her whole life which has led her to poor self-esteem and belief in her own self and it’s really affected the relationship the two of them have. Nina and her twin remain close but that seemed the case only as long as the status quo was maintained. Cracks appeared as soon as it became obvious that Nina was a Slayer.

I quite enjoyed the little mystery part of this, especially the demon that Nina sort of befriends and the information that she is able to gather from him by not automatically killing him or sending him back to hell or whatever one does with demons. This is used against her, to make her look weak and like she isn’t up to the task that has been set for her and Nina has to prove herself to people who are having a hard time seeing her in a new light. But Nina is quick thinking, even if she hasn’t trained hard with all the physicality yet and her enhanced abilities are enough for now. But it’s something she will have to dedicate herself to, as well as learning more about her role. No longer is she just a medic, which is a mental adjustment as well as physical.

I think for the first in a series, this was quite enjoyable. I did find a couple of the characters overly tedious (they’re supposed to be, but it just gets to a stage where it’s like too much teenage girl bickering) but I’m interested to see where it goes, especially in regards to her Watcher and the Slayer dreams that she experiences too. I hope she builds herself a core group much in the way that Buffy did with a variety of….creatures? what’s the right word there? to help her.

7/10

Book #64 of 2019

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Paranormalcy – Kiersten White

Paranormalcy had quite the hype around the Internet – blogs, goodreads, twitter, Amazon, etc. I reserved it from my local library while it was on order based on the strength of some of the reviews I’d seen. The cover is nice – attractive girl in a gorgeous dress, swirly dark paranormal type weather behind her. I had high hopes for this book.

Now that I’ve finished it, I can’t actually decide whether or not I liked it. I didn’t dislike it – but I certainly wasn’t turning every page like my life depended on it. The premise is interesting enough – 16yo Evelyn “Evie” has a gift. She can see through any paranormal creature’s glamour to what lies beneath, their true self, be it vampire, werewolf, troll, etc. She works for IPCA, the International Paranormal Containment Agency – bagging and tagging the paranormals so that they don’t harm humans. She’s a powerful asset to IPCA, given that she can immediately see what is lurking beneath the glamour and she appears to be the only person that possesses this gift. Although she wishes that life was a bit more normal for her and that she could do things like go to high school and date, she realises that life working for IPCA is better than being shunted from foster home to foster home like before they found her.

When paranormals start dying at alarming rates (IPCA don’t kill, they merely sort of…neutralise in a way that prevents the paranormal from attacking/maiming/killing humans kind of like the chip put in Spike’s head by the Initiative in Buffy the Vampire Slayer except instead of agonising pain, the ankle trackers will kill the paranormal if they try something)  Evie is drawn into strange dreams and voices and poems. That combined with the shapeshifter who broke into IPCA looking for answers and a threatening faerie who keeps trying to do sinister things to her, Evie starts to wonder if her and her odd abilities have something to do with the rash of paranormal deaths. She has to try and find out firstly just what she is and what she can do about stopping whatever is harming the paranormals.

Like I said, the plot itself was interesting and unique enough for me. I liked the idea of more paranormals being included than just the standard vampire/werewolf/fae as Paranormalcy also includes water nymphs, mermaids, trolls, hags among others. I liked the idea of an international agency that worked to contain the dangers the paranormals represented to humans and also the suggestion that perhaps they weren’t exactly taking the best actions. I think my biggest problem with this novel was character development in that there really wasn’t any. Evie, who narrates in first person, is very flippant, almost too witty. Like no one that is that sheltered, who lives their life in the IPCA compound and has no friends her own age can be that snappy with comebacks and amusing witty repartee. Reth, the fae who is sort of supposed to be Evie’s ex-boyfriend except that they never actually did anything other than dance and him trying to ‘fill her up’ with…something (which is not at all as dirty as it sounds) was sort of sinister but sort of not and I never quite knew whether I was supposed to fear him, or think that he was hot in that stalkery, paranormal love interest YA way or what. I just did not know. He lurks around in the background being all beautiful and enigmatic and also slightly threatening but also not threatening enough. If he’s supposed to be bad, make him badder. If he’s not, tone down the asshole act a bit. I like to know how I’m supposed to feel about characters. Lend, the shapeshifter who sort of inserts himself into IPCA in the search for answers about what’s happening to the paranormals was quite an interesting character but we see him through Evie’s immature eyes and I’d have liked to have learned more about him that wasn’t just about all the hot people he can shapeshift into. Because we only see him this way, he’s a bit bland – a bit too nice and cute and funny.

I also have big problems with the pacing in the latter half of the book. Without really going into anything that will spoil this novel for people that haven’t read it, there’s a section in which Evie is out in the real world, away from IPCA and it just crawls. I think it’s trying to almost show us what living a real life is like for Evie and the whole prom thing is rather cute but still, that section of the book really could’ve benefited from a bit of slash and burn. There’s just pages of nothing and then some more pages of nothing. And the ending is also oddly paced and doesn’t at all bring about the sort of interest and heart-racing that a climax should. It was almost a more huh? sort of ending and a big load of wtf. I’m aware that this is going to be at least a trilogy so I’m sure that there will be some things that will be addressed in the next novel or later novels but the ending didn’t really feel like an ending to me. It felt like there should’ve been another chapter or something that finalised the events a bit better. I felt like I was missing pages at the back of my copy but the ending wasn’t a cliffhanger that would make you want to rush about and immediately acquire the next novel when it’s published so you can find out what happens. It was kind of just a really odd place to end the novel.

Paranormalcy isn’t the worst of the YA paranormal novels out there but I definitely don’t think it’s one of the best either. Was the hype for this novel justified? For me personally, definitely not. It’s entertaining and it’s an interesting idea. Will I read the next novel? I will probably give it a chance, if I can get it from our library when it’s published. But it’s not something that’s gone on my wishlist to be awaited with anticipation.

5/10

Book #87 of my 100 Book Challenge

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