More Mini Reviews: Two Paranormals I Actually Liked
Continuing my acceptance that I’m not going to write thorough reviews of everything I read, I thought I’d share my thoughts on a a couple of paranormal novels I read and liked (and we all know I’m a bit reluctant when it comes to paranormal).
Before I Wake (Soul Screamers #6) by Rachel Vincent
You’re not lost, Kaylee. You can’t ever be lost, because I’ll always know where you are. And if I’m not there with you, I’m on my way, and nothing standing between us will be standing for very long.
Despite that I liked Rachel’s Shifters series and love her Unbound series, I was hesitant to start reading her series for the YA crowd about a teenage banshee and her adventures fighting Netherworld creatures with her pals. However, six books in and I’m now a big fan. The first couple of books were mediocre reads for me, largely because Kaylee, the main character, was kind of a frustrating character in terms of maturity. However, around book three (My Soul to Keep), it dawned on me—that’s kind of the point, Kaylee’s growing up, maturing. Now that I get that, I really like how this series has unfolded.
You know I’m huge on the notion of “consequences,” and one of the things I really respect of Rachel’s YA series in particular is that in each book there are major consequences for the decisions Kaylee and her friends make. Nothing is neatly tied up with a bow. Even when they escape the worst fates, they have to suffer. I realize that sounds sadistic, but it’s one of my big issues, and paranormal YA tends to be the worst offender in terms of everyone coming out of a bad situation without any lasting ramifications.
Before I Wake is the penultimate book in the series and it sets the stage for what I imagine will be a pretty intense finale. If you haven’t caught up on this series, I have to say that these last couple installments have been the strongest.
Incidentally, I’m wondering, am I the only person whose favorite characters are Tod and Sabine? Because I love both of them so much.
Team Human by Justine Larbalestier & Sarah Rees Brennan
Also, vampires don’t eat food. You never get to eat chocolate again. Ever. I’d rather die.
Team Human is one of the smartest novels I’ve read in a long time. Linsey, who’s in the same subversive book club as Laura, Renegade and I are (we’re part of a larger club, but we don’t really read their choices), suggested that we read this satirical take on the teen vampire novel for our September book, and I am so glad she did.
I love satire, but I also think the best satire pays a bit of a loving homage to the source materials while also poking fun. Team Human hits that sweet spot perfectly. Mel, the narrator, is extremely distressed when her best friend falls in love with a vampire, and goes to great lengths to stop her. Mel’s voice is witty and also frustrating, and really fantastically developed. There are loads of shout-outs to vampire stories (I picked up on a few, but I’m told there are loads of references) that make Team Human a particularly fun addition to the teen vampire oeuvre.
The other thing that struck me with Team Human is that while it’s written by two authors, the narrative is completely seamless. There’s none of the alternating point-of-view that is common in co-written novels, and it reads as if it was written by one person. It’s very impressive. I will definitely be checking out other books by both of these authors—Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan is on my “read soon” list for sure.
Team Human is a book I’d recommend to readers who normal shy away from YA, especially paranormal, because this book is so very different.