Saturday, November 30, 2019

DNF&Y [23]

DNF&Y is used to explain why I gave up on certain books, and what about them just didn't work for me. What I disliked about a book might be something you love, so it helps to share your thoughts even when they're negative! If you would like additional information, please click on the DNF&Y tab at the top. If you want to join, you can link up at the bottom!

When the Stars Lead to You 
by Ronni Davis
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Eighteen-year-old Devon longs for two things.

The stars.
And the boy she fell in love with last summer.

When Ashton breaks Devon’s heart at the end of the most romantic and magical summer ever, she thinks her heart will never heal again. But over the course of the following year, Devon finds herself slowly putting the broken pieces back together.

Now it’s senior year, and she’s determined to enjoy every moment of it as she prepares for a future studying the galaxies. That is, until Ashton shows up on the first day of school. Can she forgive him and open her heart again? Or are they doomed to repeat history?


From debut author, Ronni Davis, comes a stunning novel about passion, loss, and the power of first love. *I originally reviewed this book on November 10, 2019.

DNF at 45%

I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.

I really liked the concept for When the Stars Lead to You, but felt like the story was poorly executed. Devon is an eighteen-year-old that wants to be an astrophysicist, but her voice was very juvenile (unless she was talking about space and the stars). I sometimes forgot she was in her senior year of high school, and mentally pictured her as a fourteen-year-old obsessively in love.

When I say obsessively, I'm not exaggerating. Devon and Ashton's relationship was instantaneous and heavy. They fell in love literally at first sight, and their relationship only got more intense the longer it continued. I just cannot imagine Devon sitting on a porch for an entire day and night just because he ghosted her on their last day at the beach together. Their relationship was suffocating and unhealthy. Yes, teenagers fall in love hard and fast, but this felt different.

I also dislike it when a character throws everything away for their love interest. College and astrophysics have been Devon's dream for years, but she starts slipping as things heat up with Ashton for a second time. He's dealing with depression and family issues, so his presence is very time-consuming and emotionally draining for Devon. She doesn't know how to help him, but tries to be understanding and available. It just felt like she was too easily derailed from her lifelong plans and aspirations.

We go from insta-love, to second-chance-insta-love, to heavy and very intense, to all-consuming love. Questions like, "Do you love me?" started popping up pretty early on, and even discussions about marriage. Marriage. "I told my cousin I was going to marry you someday." (Ashton said this the first time he saw her on the beach.) "I still think about marrying you someday." (Ashton said this shortly after they reconnected over a year later, even though he'd previously been dating someone else.) "I feel like if anyone could take you away from me, it's her." (Devon's feelings on love and marriage with Ashton.) I hate that Devon felt so insecure after giving her heart to him and having him leave her without a word. I understand her feelings, but her willingness to fall back down the rabbit hole with him was disconcerting.

It really did feel like an obsessive relationship -- on both sides -- that I had trouble rallying behind. I wish there had been more secondary characters to offer their perspectives and opinions, but Blair only warns Devon vaguely about her happiness. She also threatens Ashton, but there wasn't much fire behind it. It felt like Devon and Ashton were in their own little bubble, which felt unrealistic and didn't offer much variety to the story. I also dislike it when a book does more telling than showing, which I think added a lot of unnecessary dialogue.

Their accidental run-in a year later didn't feel realistic either. They spent an entire summer together on the beach and never discussed their hometowns or schools? Yes, they talked about college, but never about where they went to high school? They mentioned maintaining a relationship once the summer was over, but didn't talk about how that would work? Where they would each be living? Ashton was very cagey during some of their conversations, which might be why that didn't come up, but it still felt off.

I did like the biracial representation, and how the author showed Devon dealing with other people's microaggressions throughout her life. Offhanded comments that are said one way and perceived another -- very well done. The discussions about depression and suicidal ideations was well-represented as well. The author's note at the end is definitely worth reading, and lets the reader know this was an #ownvoices story.

Overall, I enjoyed certain aspects of When the Stars Lead to You, but after skimming through to the end, I know that quitting when I did was the right call for me. A lot of other people really resonated with this story, so check out other reviews before making a final decision!


Poison Princess (The Arcana Chronicles, #1)
 by Kresley Cole
Synopsis (via Goodreads): #1 New York Times bestselling author Kresley Cole introduces The Arcana Chronicles, post-apocalyptic tales filled with riveting action, the dark mysticism of Tarot cards, and breathtaking romance.

She could save the world--or destroy it.

Sixteen year old Evangeline "Evie" Greene leads a charmed life--until she begins experiencing horrifying hallucinations. When an apocalyptic event decimates her Louisiana hometown, killing everyone she loves, Evie realizes her hallucinations were actually visions of the future--and they're still happening. Fighting for her life and desperate for answers, she must turn to her wrong-side-of-the-bayou classmate: Jack Deveaux.

But she can't do either alone.

With his mile-long rap sheet, wicked grin, and bad attitude, Jack is like no boy Evie has ever known. Even though he once scorned her and everything she represented, he agrees to protect Evie on her quest. She knows she can't totally trust Jack. If he ever cast that wicked grin her way, could she possibly resist him?

Who can Evie trust?

As Jack and Evie race to find the source of her visions, they meet others who have gotten the same call. An ancient prophesy is being played out, and Evie is not the only one with special powers. A group of teens has been chosen to reenact the ultimate battle between good and evil. But it's not always clear who is on which side...

In Poison Princess, New York Times bestselling author Kresley Cole introduces a dark and intriguing world, full of unspeakable danger and irresistible romance.

DNF at 40%

I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.

I really, really wanted to like this one. The tarot card element was unique and fascinating, but underdeveloped. I wish the author had focused more on the cards and how they related to specific people, since that was what initially drew me to the book. Instead, we're stuck with an obnoxious and whiny main character that shows very little growth and suffers from Me Me Me Syndrome. 

Evie survives an apocalypse, yet her personality leaves a lot to be desired. I was willing to overlook her bratty behavior before, but not after. Small spoiler: Her mother was seriously injured -- likely bleeding internally -- and Evie thought protein was the answer. Her attempts to grow food nearly killed her, and she used certain talents without fully understanding them or their implications. 

Jackson is supposed to be the sexy bad boy, but he's equally annoying and a pig. He toyed with Evie whenever they were together, and his motives remained unclear. Did he like her? Did he enjoy making her uncomfortable? Was he just an asshole? I didn't know, and I really didn't care. His interactions with Evie were aggressive, he's drunk most of the time, and all he cared about was getting into Evie's pants (or any girl's pants for that matter). The hate-to-love angle failed to hit its mark, and I honestly didn't care what happened to either of them. 

The audio also wasn't a win for me, so I tried switching to a physical copy to see if that made the experience better --  it didn't. The creepy guy at the start of the book made my skin crawl, and I hope something terrible happened to him before the book's conclusion. Unfortunately, the rest of the book was so uninteresting and frustrating, that I felt like skimming to the end would've been a waste of time and energy. 

There's also very little world-building, which was super disappointing. Again, an apocalyptic event happened, but there are very few descriptions of the world after the Flash. Honestly, there were hardly any details about the world before the Flash, so I guess I shouldn't've been so surprised. 

I thought Poison Princess had a lot of potential, but it's a series I will not be continuing. The characters were terrible people, the world-building left a lot to the imagination, and I felt like the story was lacking substance.

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8 comments:

  1. I usually really like Kresley Cole so I'm sorry to hear you didn't like this one.

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    1. This was my first experience with the author, but I'm not opposed to trying something else she's written. :) Any suggestions?

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  2. The relationship in When The Stars Lead to You sounds so problematic, and I can totally understand being a teenager and being swept up in your first love, but it's really not showing teens what healthy relationships are; it's kind of romanticizing the obsessive behavior.

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    1. The relationship was super problematic! He's suffering from depression, she's suffering from an identity crisis, and they're both suffering from insta-love. I hated that Devon wanted to give up her dreams (she stopped applying herself in school) for some guy. You're totally right! It was romanticizing obsessive behavior.

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  3. Ah, I'm disappointed to hear about Poison Princess! I've been eyeballing that one. :(

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    1. Do you want my copy? I'll happily mail it to you, if you still want to give it a shot! I do not recommend the audio.

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  4. Why are there so many problematic relationships in YA books? It sounds like most of your DNF ones suffer from the same syndrome (though you sometimes point at weak world-building too).

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    1. When the Stars Lead to You was ALL ABOUT their relationship. Devon was emotionally dependent on Ashton, and she starts building her life around his. It was very unhealthy and hard to read about. She had so many goals and aspirations, and she was willing to throw them all away for a guy that wasn't 100% invested in their relationship. Yes, he struggles from depression and other issues, but he was also unreliable and not always kind. He left her without an explanation after their summer together, and then when they ARE reunited, he's with someone else. It felt very clingy and I wish an adult or friend had stepped in sooner.

      The second book was just hard to read in general. The characters were unlikable and annoying, and the plot and world-building were underdeveloped.

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