The Line by Teri Hall
Series: The Line #1
Published by Dial
Genres: Dystopian YA, Young Adult
Source: Purchased myself
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An invisible, uncrossable physical barrier encloses the Unified States. The Line is the part of the border that lopped off part of the country, dooming the inhabitants to an unknown fate when the enemy used a banned weapon. It’s said that bizarre creatures and superhumans live on the other side, in Away. Nobody except tough old Ms. Moore would ever live next to the Line.
Nobody but Rachel and her mother, who went to live there after Rachel’s dad died in the last war. It’s a safe, quiet life. Until Rachel finds a mysterious recorded message that can only have come from Away. The voice is asking for help.
Who sent the message? Why is her mother so protective? And to what lengths is Rachel willing to go in order to do what she thinks is right?
Thoughts: The Line is an odd book. It has a universe with real potential, filled with political, social and (perhaps) magical intrigue. There’s no zombie apocalypse, but something peculiar sure is going on.
But The Line also has some rather significant problems.
For starters, the writing just wasn’t that great. I had to reread chunks of text just to work out what was supposed to be going on. As for the story, it featured a lot of telling and little showing. The characters were little more than plot devices – albeit a very interesting plot. Without exception, I found them extremely one-dimensional and often outright illogical. View Spoiler »There was a scene where Rachel starts screaming at her mother – calling her a coward – because she didn’t try to help some woman being arrested by the police. There was nothing her mother could have done, and even trying to help would have gotten them both thrown into workhouses. Rachel knew this. Still, Mum’s a coward. Bizarre? I think so. « Hide Spoiler
But despite my rather take-it-or-leave-it opinion of the characters, I enjoyed the politics enough to continue reading. Luckily, Hall dials up the tension for the last 1/4 of the novel. The action started rolling, whole new mysteries were presented, and the characters started seeming less like plot devices – I actually wanted to find out what happened next!
And then it was over, and I went back to being rather blasé about the whole thing.
Bottom line? Not the best book, but it is set in a fascinating universe. Hall’s writing is less than stellar, but I genuinely believe it will improve with her next novel.
Cover Note: This book is gorgeous and has a relevant cover. Honest! That beautiful greenhouse on the cover? It actually exists in the novel. Hell, if you need reason to get this book after reading my review: Get it for the cover!
Remember Me? by Sophie Kinsella
Published by Bantam Books, Dial
Source: Purchased myself
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When twenty-eight-year-old Lexi Smart wakes up in a London hospital, she’s in for a big surprise. Her teeth are perfect. Her body is toned. Her handbag is Vuitton. Having survived a car accident—in a Mercedes no less—Lexi has lost a big chunk of her memory, three years to be exact, and she’s about to find out just how much things have changed.
Somehow Lexi went from a twenty-five-year-old working girl to a corporate big shot with a sleek new loft, a personal assistant, a carb-free diet, and a set of glamorous new friends. And who is this gorgeous husband—who also happens to be a multimillionaire? With her mind still stuck three years in reverse, Lexi greets this brave new world determined to be the person she…well, seems to be. That is, until an adorably disheveled architect drops the biggest bombshell of all.
Suddenly Lexi is scrambling to catch her balance. Her new life, it turns out, comes complete with secrets, schemes, and intrigue. How on earth did all this happen? Will she ever remember? And what will happen when she does?
Rec for people who love: Page turners with a good laugh!
Thoughts: This was the first so-called “chick lit” book I have ever read. To be honest, I have always been somewhat skeptical about their quality. But after listening to an interview that Barnes and Noble did with Sophie Kinsella, I had to read something of hers. She was witty, intelligent and extremely British. So stumbling upon her book in a charity shop the same day seemed like fate. However, the summary left a lot to love.
It took about a hundred pages for me to really start liking the book. The main character, Lexi, at first seems painfully typical – the get-pissed-and-pull girl I went to school with. But I quickly realized there was a lot more to her than that, and she turned out to be a funny, bright and fiercely loyal lady.
I read the book in two sittings, which is highly unusual for me, even when I love a book. But I couldn’t help but trying to will Lexi into realizing her new life is not really hers. As if the faster I read, the sooner she would realize.
It is really easy from my point of view, of course, but Sophie Kinsella goes about the realization in a way that stays true to character. Things go from horribly awkward, to just down right horrible for Lexi (I actually cried at one point, which was extremely odd considering no one had died). Just as I was about to call my own life as miserable as Lexi’s…. Kinsella turns the mood around to brightly comic in a half page. It was genius – and it completely turned around my view about the genre.
I am not saying it is literary genius, but it was one hell of a story. Kinsella can spin a tale extremely well, and just because it happens to be a tale about a young, single woman is kinda irrelevant. If you are a fan of chick-lit, I am pretty sure you already have this on your TBR pile. But if you, like me, tend to shy away from anything with a cartoon twentysomething on the cover… well… reconsider. Kinsella spun together a story for pure escapism, and I for one plan to buy more of her tales!