Welcome to Mini-Reviews, a periodic feature in which I give you my quick take on a handful of recent releases.
The Hunt (Project Paper Doll #2)
by Stacey Kade
Published on April 22, 2014
Source: e-ARC from Netgalley
Synopsis from Goodreads: Ariane Tucker has finally escaped GTX, the research facility that created her. While on the run, Zane Bradshaw is the only person she can trust. He knows who-and what-she is and still wants to be part of her life. But accepting Zane's help means putting him in danger. Dr. Jacobs, head of GTX, is not the only one hunting for Ariane. Two rival corporations have their sights set on taking down their competition. Permanently. To protect Zane and herself, Ariane needs allies. She needs the other hybrids. The hybrids who are way more alien and a lot less human. Can Ariane win them over before they turn on her? Or will she be forced to choose sides, to decide who lives and who dies?
My mini-take: I'm not generally a fan of books about aliens -- I find alien beings pretty hard to warm up to. (Except E.T.) However, I really liked The Rules, the first Project Paper Doll book. I enjoyed watching half-human, half-extraterrestrial main character Ariane struggle to fit in at high school, obey the Rules that her father has given her to fit in with humans, and struggle mightily to ignore her attraction to her classmate Zane.
In The Hunt, some of my favorite aspects of The Rules were gone or diminished. As the synopsis indicates, Zane and Ariane are now a couple, and they're hiding out for the majority of the book, which I wasn't terribly excited about. The plot began to be a lot of Ariane trying to push Zane away because she felt she was putting him in danger. (The "pushing away" thing is a textbook second book romance ploy.) I was really excited to meet some other hybrids, but was hoping that they'd have more to do with the plot. Then there was a cliffhanger ending that left me ambivalent. (highlight for spoiler) I'm guessing that to save Zane's life, they'll make him part alien too. I kind of liked the whole "odd couple" thing this pair had going and making him a hybrid like Ariane would kill that. (end of spoiler) If the next book finally kicks up the action -- I'm hoping for a huge Hybrid Smackdown -- then count me in for the rest of the series!
by Kimberly Derting
To be published on April 29, 2014
by Harper Teen
Source: eARC from Edelwiess
Synopsis from Goodreads: When sixteen-year-old Kyra Agnew wakes up behind a Dumpster at the Gas ’n’ Sip, she has no memory of how she got there. With a terrible headache and a major case of déjà vu, she heads home only to discover that five years have passed . . . yet she hasn’t aged a day. Everything else about Kyra’s old life is different. Her parents are divorced, her boyfriend, Austin, is in college and dating her best friend, and her dad has changed from an uptight neat-freak to a drunken conspiracy theorist who blames her five-year disappearance on little green men. Confused and lost, Kyra isn’t sure how to move forward unless she uncovers the truth. With Austin gone, she turns to Tyler, Austin’s annoying kid brother, who is now seventeen and who she has a sudden undeniable attraction to. As Tyler and Kyra retrace her steps from the fateful night of her disappearance, they discover strange phenomena that no one can explain, and they begin to wonder if Kyra’s father is not as crazy as he seems. There are others like her who have been taken . . . and returned. Kyra races to find an explanation and reclaim the life she once had, but what if the life she wants back is not her own?
My mini-take: I got a weird sense of deja-vu while reading this as it was the second book in a few weeks I'd read that had a protagonist who was re-entering their old life after years away. But while these two books -- Noggin and The Taking --dealt with some of the same emotional issues, they ended up taking two completely different story paths. The Taking definitely falls into the paranormal/light sci-fi realm, while Noggin is a realistic/contemporary book.
The Taking got off to a strong start for me. Kyra is in a car, arguing with her father about her college plans. Angry and frustrated, she gets out of the car and then -- boom!-- just vanishes. Then suddenly she finds herself behind a dumpster at a gas station. Years have passed and she has no memory of what happened to her and doesn't know where she's been. But she's wearing the exact same clothes as when she disappeared and doesn't feel five years older. My favorite part of the book was watching Kyra navigate her new life and try to figure out what happened. Her boyfriend has moved on, her parents seem to have changed, and Kyra finds all this hard to deal with. (Just like Noggin!)
But The Taking got weirder and less enjoyable for me when I started to get some explanations. The story headed into a paranormal/sci-fi subgenre (highlight for spoiler)-- alien abduction -- (end spoiler) that I'm not crazy about, everything started to make less sense and I began to lose my connection to the story. The ending was strong, but I'm still left with overall mixed feelings. I remain a big Kim Derting fan -- I love her writing style. In this book, she does a great job of setting up an intriguing scenario and writing a strong-yet-vulnerable heroine. But in the end, this was never going to be my kind of book.
Have you read either of these?