2014 Debuts: Mini Reviews #1

I utterly failed at the 2014 YA Debut Author Challenge. I didn’t read any during 2014 and I didn’t review any. But then that made me incredibly sad, so I decided to remedy the matter in some small way. I’m attempting to read 12 2014 debuts (along with 12 2015 debuts) this year. They will all get at least a mini-review.

So without further ado, this is the first batch, reviewing: Alienated by Melissa Landers, Landry Park by Bethany Hagen, Half Bad by Sally Green, and Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy.

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Alienated by Melissa Landers
As far as a YA Alien Romance goes, this was a lot of what I wanted. The alien species was well-thought out, with lots of alien tech and alien world-building and alien hierarchy and alien science and alien politics and alien interpersonal relationships. I enjoyed the humor and culture clash, but the romance became progressively sappier and more annoying. The MC and her family were delightfully real, funny and flawed, but I was offended by how her friends were treated by the narrative. They abandon her and then never really make it up. Why weren’t there any awesome friends in this book? It was her and her alien boyfriend against the world and I didn’t love that. The first half of the book was much better when they were trying to understand each other and there was a lot of more hilarity. I would read a sequel.

Landry Park by Bethany Hagen
Mediocre characters and a staggeringly weak collection of sub-plots were held together by an insta-love romance. I was very interested in the social justice crusade except that there wasn’t a crusade; the MC was very upset about the slave-class dying horrible deaths but then never did anything except worry about what the love interest actually thought about her. She expended more effort finding out who graffitied her house than on helping anyone. The rationale for why the world runs on nuclear power only made absolutely no sense. I would not read a sequel.

Half Bad by Sally Green
Book blurbs often claim that the book will “keep you on the edge of your seat” or that it’s a “fast-paced thriller” but rarely have I needed to read the next page as fast as in Half Bad. Wow-wow. I was trying to analyze what about it made me care so much so fast but I kept getting distracted by social prejudice, mortal peril, chases, torture…etc. The MC is one of my absolute favorite survivor characters, and all of the characters are tricky about their motivations, which I also love. The magic system is really complex and I want to know more. I need a sequel like air.

Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy
This is sicklit, which is not a genre I usually read, but the premise of NO CONSEQUENCES, WENCH DON’T CARE led me on. Nothing about this book was fun. Both of the leads are constantly miserable, either because of the MC’s illness or their dysfunctional relationship or both. All of the different relationships were really complex and interesting, whether familial, friendship, or romantic, with some good characterization. The plot was mediocre. It was a fully-contained story so it doesn’t need a sequel and neither do I.

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