Seventeen-year-old Luce is a new student at Sword & Cross, an unwelcoming boarding/reform school in Savannah, Georgia. Luce's boyfriend died under suspicious circumstances, and now she carries the guilt over his death with her as she navigates the unfriendly halls at Sword & Cross, where every student seems to have an unpleasant--even evil--history.
OPINION: 5 STARS
Okay you all know I was disappointed in Hush,Hush- Nora herself really bothered me and while I try not to let the dislike of a character ruin a book for me, it did on that one. Many of reactions seemed out of sync to me, her rationalizations fell short, etc. But this book certainly did not disappoint. It was well worth the read and though it took me awhile to read it, that is more because I have been feeling pretty sick lately and haven't gotten any reading done. There was worry of appendictis but that is on the wayside for now but who knows. So, I blame that for the fact that I didn't finish this book in a day or two but rest assured, if I was feeling up to par, I would have.
Mysterious is certainly one of the first words that comes to mind- not just the mystery surrounding Daniel but also several other characters. Things seemed off but in a setting like a reform school, why wouldn't they seem weird? In that sense, the setting was perfect and was also a unique way to thrust in the high school setting so often seen (and generally needed) in this genre. While there were many things I was able to surmise while reading, there were plenty of other unexpected twists and turns that kept me interested.
Action wise, things don't really pick up until the last 150 pages or so but I wasn't bored in the 300 pages prior. There were enough little things and enough events to help build that air of mystery to keep me thinking, guessing and reading. This is a love story but it is made quite obvious towards the end of the book that it is not only a love story and there are a million unanswered questions that will guarantee me not only to read the next book, but to certainly preorder it- it comes out September 2010 and is called Torment, a title which I really like, especially after reading this first installment.
As far as first meetings for the star crossed lovers go, this one is certainly my favorite. It is unexpected and just downright hilarious. I stared at it for a few moments before I truly laughed out loud (despite being at work)- and the later reason for it made me laugh even more. As with many other fantasy type love stories, Luce was of course drawn right towards Daniel but I liked the reasoning for it- there was a solid reason for it rather than she just was. This, of course, was hinted at in the prologue although that was tastefully done to leave the reader with an idea of things but far more questions but it did help piece things together as the story progressed further. The concept behind the entire book was something I really did love- it went beyond Daniel and Luce wanting each other and had to do with more than just one fallen angel.
The reason for things to be different this time- for the events in the prologue to not reoccur, like it leads you to believe they will- is so simple yet absolutely brilliant. It is not something I would have guessed at if it had not been hinted at in one particular scene to then confirm my supsicions later. If this book ended with that explanation, I highly doubt I would have hit on the innocent reason for this time to be different and that made me enjoy the overall idea even more. It is heartbreaking, astounding and sad but also quite genius and I could see the thought that went into everything about this book, about how things will be needed to tie into later books, and about the characters and events.
Luce was a character I did like and although the book is written in 3rd person, it focuses on her- Kate didn't stray from her story to show other sides despite the freedom she had with the perspective. The reader saw and knew what Luce did, pieced things together as she did, and was shocked in the same places as she was. Her guilt over what caused her to be in reform school in the first place was prevalent in many places but her interactions with the other students helped ease that in a logical way to where she didn't simply forget it but she didn't hold onto it as much. In several ways, Luce was also witty and fun and I found her to have many different unique sides, particularly on the kind of life she lived before being forced into reform school and how such a move drastically changed so many things. In many ways, she was able to start over and change things about herself- there was plenty of character development in my eyes particularly when she brought up things about before the incident, etc.
I think what I liked even more was that although Daniel was the boy Luce wanted from the start and although many things are explained, the reader gets to know other characters far better than him. At the close of the book, there is a huge air of mystery surrounding Daniel- he was not summed up in a perfect little box with a bow on top although I imagine that was a hard thing to do to avoid the inherent writer's desire to shine a light on such a character. I applaud Kate on this facet of the story- for leaving her leading man cloaked for the time being and leaving me with more firm thoughts of Cam and even Arianne.
There was plenty of humor in the book, from many different characters rather than just one or two. I actually liked all the characters, even the ones that were 'bad'- they were well written and developed in such a way that I couldn't help hold a soft spot for them before their darker side came out.
The ending- loved the ending. It was absolutely bittersweet and beautiful and far from a fairy tale happy ending. I could picture the events of it perfectly and adored the closing lines- which also just left me with even more questions and burning curiosities. This is certainly a book I would recommend to anyone who is into the fantasy genre, regardless of age. It is an easy read although there were shining moments of perfectly serene and beautiful imagery where Kate surprises the reader with an unexpected, striking and poignant way with words that grabs you. Although the entire writing isn't filled with such instances, there were a handful and they certainly stood out for me.
I give this book 5 stars overall because the cover (I was reading an ARC which didn't have the same cover but face it, that cover is beautiful), the characters, the plot and idea as a whole, as well as those few instances of stunning writing tied together fantastically for me. I also read her first book, The Betrayal of Natalie Hartman, recently and must say, while I did enjoy that book, I loved this book. The writing is actually quite different in the two and showcases the talent Kate does have- and even if it is not the best, she does have talent, it is good and has the potential to become great.
Click on the widget on the left hand side of my blog page for access to a chapter excerpt from this book and also stay tuned, as I will soon be holding a contest for Fallen.