Thursday, October 15, 2015

Surrogates Sequel
The White Rose, Amy Ewing

Recap: For me, the first book in this world was a fantastic premise delivered in a style I didn't care for (infertile royalty bid on surrogates at auction to carry their heirs, the surrogates don't like it).

Sadly, I found the second book even less enjoyable than the first.
  • I still haven't really connected with the heroine.
  • The villain from the first book is only in a single scene of Book 2...and she was the most interesting character in Book er...that wasn't ideal.
  • I still don't feel the love story.
  • The dialogue and narrative both feel very basic.  The story is: run and hide, run and hide, run and hide...and wait, a fourth run and hide before there's a real change in the programme.  I found myself seeing the mechanics of the story too much, instead of losing myself in it.  A character says, "As fun as this has been, but we need to get moving..." and I think, "Oh, is it time to run and hide, again?"  /yawn.  The dialogue felt like a Hollywood script I could ad-lib; the same way you know "be careful" is coming when two lovers part during chaos.  I knew too many lines before I read them.  I know some people like dialogue like this -- they can easily see and hear the scene, and it feels simple and real, like everyday speech.  I've heard more than one person comment that overly witty (and overworked) conversation doesn't read like life for them.  I hear that point...but time and time again, I find myself thinking, "I don't read a dystopian romance for real life, I read it for entertainment, and this conversation is not entertaining me."  John Green and Rainbow Rowell feel me; when I read their dialogue, I feel entertained.  And I choose to believe their characters really are that witty, and I want them to keep talking because of it.  Sadly, Ewings characters are more like RL -- they say very normal things, and never surprise I tire of their conversations very quickly.  
  • The good: I think the premise is so golden.  I think this book is a fantastic idea, and I really, really applaud Ewing for running with such a great idea.  
  • The narrative leap in the magical narrative in this story was hard for me to swallow too.  After reading someone like Trudi Canavan explain magic...or Patrick's really hard to digest rudimentary descriptions about pulling the life force in and then, there, that's magic. It's not enough for me anymore. I can't believe I'm saying this, but: you can slow the story down, if it helps me buy into your magic.  I know -- I'm infamous for my impatience in a book, but if I think a book lacks detail,  that's saying something.
  • Sexual references for the "companion" (escort) character are pretty heavy for young teen readers.  I get it...that is happening in our world, but I state this so if it's not happening in YOUR WORLD, you're aware that it IS in the world of this book.  The story also references the sex the 16-year-old protag had last book numerous times like it's no biggy for a 16-year-old to have sex...even when the stakes are life and death, she had sex.  I.e.  "Okay, everyone?  Yes, I needed to have sex that bad, I didn't care if we would die if we were caught." - 16-year-old.
  • Overall:  It felt like a filler.  It wasn't a waste of my time, but it wasn't what I hoped. I think I'll pass on the last installment.
NB:  Press Releases compare this series to The Hunger Games and Matched.  The latter, yes, the former...notsomuch.  Yes, there are district-type-places...but I do not think fans of THG should go into this hoping for a readalike; you will be disappointed.  Fans of Matched...might not -- you may love it.

Review copy supplied by Walker Books.

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