Guys I have never done a triple review before! I have oddly had two books with the same theme due to be reviewed at once, but never three. But apparently there’s a first time for everything, and these books all have main plots about foreseeing death, so here we are.The Wise and the Wicked by Rebecca Podos
Published by Balzer + Bray on May 28, 2019
Source:Copy provided by publisher for review, via Edelweiss
Ruby Chernyavsky has been told the stories since she was a child: The women in her family, once possessed of great magical abilities to remake lives and stave off death itself, were forced to flee their Russian home for America in order to escape the fearful men who sought to destroy them. Such has it always been, Ruby’s been told, for powerful women. Today, these stories seem no more real to Ruby than folktales, except for the smallest bit of power left in their blood: when each of them comes of age, she will have a vision of who she will be when she dies—a destiny as inescapable as it is inevitable. Ruby is no exception, and neither is her mother, although she ran from her fate years ago, abandoning Ruby and her sisters. It’s a fool’s errand, because they all know the truth: there is no escaping one’s Time.
Until Ruby’s great-aunt Polina passes away, and, for the first time, a Chernyavsky’s death does not match her vision. Suddenly, things Ruby never thought she’d be allowed to hope for—life, love, time—seem possible. But as she and her cousin Cece begin to dig into the family’s history to find out whether they, too, can change their fates, they learn that nothing comes without a cost. Especially not hope.
This is going to be a review in Three Acts. Because I had three very distinct experiences while reading this book, so… seems legit I guess.
Act One: Oh Crap I Might DNF
Okay I hate DNFing, we know this. But Val suggested I call it quits, because she didn’t love it, and honestly when Val tells me to DNF something I really need to listen because every time, I regret not listening, and here we go again. The problem was, I was woefully disconnected to the characters, especially at the beginning. Ruby’s obsession with her cousin was high key creeping me out, and I just kind of… didn’t like her a ton? She did grow on me as the book went on, at least.
The thing in the first 1/3 or so is, nothing seemed to happen. Ruby’s great-aunt died and I was kind of underwhelmed like… cool, an ancient lady that I have no emotional connection to died, so that’s sad, but I wasn’t exactly full of feels. The plot seemed a little stagnant- you knew there was a family secret and such, but the stakes just weren’t there.
Act 2: Things Are Picking Up!
So I started to get a bit invested! This was good news! It still wasn’t setting the world on fire for me, but at least I was starting to feel a little bit of concern for Ruby, and the plot/secret thing were being fleshed out more, so I ignored Val and kept on keeping on. There was some romance, a sisterly bond that was getting more developed, and the cousin thing started to be less creepy and more sisterly/friendly.
Act 3: Are You Kidding Me with This End?
Okay here’s where I get ragey. I was bored, then things were a little interesting, and then the end of the book infuriated me a lot. To the point where I kind of regretted reading the book. First, the ending was way too quick for the overall slow pacing of the book. But mostly, I was mad because… I’ll put this in spoiler tags, though Idk if it’s actually a spoiler, but let’s just be safe okay? Okay. View Spoiler »It doesn’t actually end? It’s like… akin to a cliffhanger, except it’s a standalone and no one asked for that. Okay, fine, maybe some people will enjoy the whole VERY open ending, but I am just not one of them. « Hide Spoiler
Bottom Line: Parts of it were good, and I enjoyed that Ruby had a lot of character growth, but other than that I was kind of underwhelmed. And salty about the end bits.
The Bone Charmer by Breeana Shields
Published by Page Street Kids on May 21, 2019
Source:Copy provided by publisher for review, via Netgalley
In Saskia’s world, bones are the source of all power. They tell the future, reveal the past, and expose secrets in the present. Each village has a designated seer who performs readings for the townsfolk, and in Midwood, the Bone Charmer is Saskia’s mother.
On the day of her kenning—a special bone reading that determines the apprenticeships of all seventeen-year-olds—Saskia’s worst fears come true. She receives an assignment to train as a Bone Charmer, like her mother, and even worse, a match-making reading that pairs her with Bram—a boy who has suspicious tattoos that hint of violence.
Saskia knows her mother saw multiple paths for her, yet chose one she knew Saskia wouldn’t want. Their argument leads to a fracture in one of the bones. Broken bones are always bad luck, but this particular set of bones have been infused with extra magic, and so the break has devastating consequences—Saskia’s future has split as well. Now she will live her two potential paths simultaneously. Only one future can survive. And Saskia’s life is in danger in both.
Oh noes, the dreaded DNF! I have only DNFed 6 books before this one, so yeah. Here’s the thing: I don’t think this one was necessarily bad, I just think try as I might, I could not get into it. And I wanted to, oh how I wanted to! This was one of my most anticipated books of the year. So I am not ruling out trying again? I got to I think 31% before tagging out which is a pretty good go of it.
My real issue was that I could not care about Saskia in either world. She was just not compelling to me as a main character, and as such I didn’t really care about what happened to her. And the world-building was lacking for me. I wanted to have some background on where we were, how this magic system worked, etc, and I had a lot of trouble with the plot because I didn’t understand why any of what was happening was happening.
It does have quite a few high reviews, so this could be a personal thing, but I gave it several chances and it just didn’t work for me. Sadness.
Bottom Line: I hate DNFing, especially books that I was super excited for, but here we are.
Missing, Presumed Dead by Emma Berquist
Published by Greenwillow Books on May 21, 2019
Source:Copy provided by publisher for review, via Edelweiss
With a touch, Lexi can sense how and when someone will die. Some say it’s a gift. But to Lexi it’s a curse—one that keeps her friendless and alone. All that changes when Lexi foresees the violent death of a young woman, Jane, outside a club. But Jane doesn’t go to the afterlife quietly. Her ghost remains behind, determined to hunt down her murderer, and she needs Lexi’s help. In life, Jane was everything Lexi is not—outgoing, happy, popular. But in death, all Jane wants is revenge. Lexi will do anything to help Jane, to make up for the fact that she didn’t—couldn’t—save Jane’s life, and to keep this beautiful ghost of a girl by her side for as long as possible.
This was a pretty fun book! I was into it from start to finish, as it was quite thrilling! Let us talk about what I enjoyed!
- Lexi was a suprisingly compelling main character. At the start, she was so closed off that I wasn’t sure I’d really form a connection to her, but wow I did. She is fabulous. I don’t want to give anything away so I am going to keep this simple, but she learns and grows so much during the book, and you really can’t help but feel compassion for her.
- Her support system is small (and sometimes dead) but mighty. She has a grandfather with the same ability to see people’s deaths and okay I freaking love Deda! He’s a grouchy old man that loves Lexi some kind of fierce and their relationship is everything. One of her coworkers (and I am not saying who!) is another character I have a huge soft spot for. And her ghost roommates? Yeah they’re kind of awesome. And maybe Lexi ends up falling for one of these people. Just saying, it’s a possibility 😉
- The concept as a whole is not only awesome, but well-executed. Like obviously this could veer into cheesy territory, but doesn’t. Lexi has strategies for not touching people (physically and emotionally, let’s be real) that make the story believable.
- The mystery itself, the “whodunit”, is so fun! I loved it, I kept trying to guess who the villain was, and it was just really fun and compulsively readable.
The only minor qualm I had was that the ending was a wee bit underwhelming for me? Definitely not a dealbreaker or anything, and doesn’t negate the good parts of the book, but worth mentioning.
Bottom Line: I’m just going to go ahead and say that if you read any of the “I see dead people” books, let it be this one!