The Holders by Julianna Scott
Series: The Holders #1
Published by Strange Chemistry
Genres: Fantasy YA, Young Adult
Source: Received for review from author
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17-year-old Becca has spent her whole life protecting her brother - from their father leaving and from the people who say the voices in his head are unnatural. When two strangers appear with apparent answers to Ryland's "problem" and details about a school in Ireland where Ryland will not only fit in, but prosper, Becca is up in arms. She reluctantly agrees to join Ryland on his journey and what they find at St. Brigid's is a world beyond their imagination. Little by little they piece together information about their family's heritage and the legend of the Holder race that decrees Ryland is the one they've been waiting for. But they are all, especially Becca, in for a surprise that will change what they thought they knew about themselves and their kind.
Thoughts: I have some mixed feelings about The Holders. There were some things I really enjoyed, but there was a lot that made me feel… iffy.
Let’s start off with the good, though. The Holders has a Harry Potter-esque vibe to it that I could totally get behind. Talented, magical kids whisked off to the British Isles? Say no more. Perhaps that’s a wee bit too referential for some, but I didn’t mind. I also really liked the fact that the book centred around a brother-sister relationship (I’m a Supernatural fan – siblings give me feelings).
That said, The Holders felt very much like a debut novel: there was a lot of tell with absolutely no show. The book was a series of conversations and half of the drama came from people not having the right conversation at the right time. Um, hello? That’s not drama, that’s stupidity. And add to that, you’re expecting me to believe that this girl will hop on a plane to Ireland with her brother and then wait weeks upon weeks to get all the info needed to make her final decision? Hell, even Harry Potter made sure to get all the juicy details out of Hagrid before he hopped on the Hogwarts Express. And he was eleven.
It was all just a bit too easy; it was all just a bit too simple. Maybe this book would have been better in the hands of a 12/13-year-old… someone who hasn’t already read this particular story. Especially if that kid is a girl – because, despite the somewhat rocky beginning, Scott managed to take a rather icky, non-feminist Universe and spin it on its head. Without giving away any plot twists, I do have to give a shout-out to Scott for the old-fashion “girl power” she snuck into this book.
Bottom line? Not bad but not great – don’t go in expecting anything too original.
Claire de Lune by Christine Johnson
Series: Claire de Lune #1
Published by Simon & Schuster, Simon Pulse on 2010
Genres: Paranormal YA, Young Adult
Source: Received for review from author
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Claire is having the perfect sixteenth birthday. Her pool party is a big success, and gorgeous Matthew keeps chatting and flirting with her as if she's the only girl there. But that night, she discovers something that takes away all sense of normalcy: she's a werewolf.
As Claire is initiated into the pack of female werewolves, she must deal not only with her changing identity, but also with a rogue werewolf who is putting everyone she knows in danger. Claire's new life threatens her blossoming romance with Matthew, whose father is leading the werewolf hunt. Now burdened with a dark secret and pushing the boundaries of forbidden love, Claire is struggling to feel comfortable in either skin. With her lupine loyalty at odds with her human heart, she will make a choice that will change her forever?
Thoughts: Werewolves are the new it-boys of YA – it is the Jacob effect gone mad. But if you are looking for an it-girl, Claire de Lune will be what saves you from overdosing on all that alpha-male testosterone.
Let’s start off with what I enjoyed from Claire de Lune. The verse was a great twist on your typical paranormal story. Claire lives in a world where werewolves are known and feared – there are neighborhood watch groups and crazy gun-toting activists. And for the rather a-political Claire to discover that she is one of these “evil” creatures? It enlightened her to the dangers of those die-hards pretty darn quick.
I also adored her love interest, Matthew. He came complete with a developed social conscience – despite his father’s prejudicial ways – but without direction. One of those people who knows that something is wrong, but has no idea what to do with that information. While Claire questioned the status quo because she had to, Matthew does it because he is conscientious of suffering and injustice around him. He’s not an activist, but he has the potential for it. I knew I would love him the moment he started comparing werewolf treatment to his dislike of the death penalty!
But there were some structural things I had issues with. I worked out who the killer was the moment they were on the page. The plot was a bit too much of a set up – Claire was kept in the dark at times only so that her stupidity seemed less stupid, and so that her choices could forward the action.
Oh, did I mention my lack-of-love for Claire? She is a perfectly OK character – but her defining features go from zero-to-nothing. That is, other than being annoyingly incompetent for half of the book. It was almost as if she was being purposefully ignorant to her situation, making choices which were obviously badly thought out.
But by the end, though, Claire did start to show some gumption. She became a bit more kick-ass, taking matters into her own hands and embracing her new found werewolf-ism. I think that I will enjoy her far more in the next book of the series!
Bottom line? Good start to what could be a great series. Not the best in the paranormal YA genre, but certainly a very enjoyable book. And if you are a fellow werewolf fan, it is a must!
And check out Christine’ Guest Post about Wolves and Werewolves, and enter the giveaway for some Claire de Lune goodies!