Sunday, 23 November 2014

Endure by Carrie Jones

The Need Series

Published: May 8th 2012
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Website: Series website

            The final book of the tetralogy, Endure is about avoiding Ragnarok and driving the evil pixies out of Bedford. Betty is still missing and the pixies are even hunting girls now. Some interesting gods become involved and Zara has to rise to the occasion and become a leader. But now that Nick is back with them, he complicates everything by detesting what Zara has become to save him: a pixie.
Zara has to decide who her heart wants, but he might not love her anymore.  
            The other covers are beautiful and relate to the story; the cover of Endure just seems lazy to me. Instead of gold glitter, there is a single gold eye on a face that is horizontal. Aside from battles when girls are knocked down, when is anyone ever laying down? At some point Zara jumps into something, but as far as I know, she didn’t just jump and position herself horizontally midair like in a Bugs Bunny cartoon. Is the gold eye supposed to resemble pixie-dom? Because I don’t recall pixies having unusual eye colours.

            The pixie queen of crazy came back to mess everything up. I wish she was in more of the series, as she is powerful and nuts. Jones should write a tetralogy on her life and shenanigans. She is only in this book for a few pages and then gone forever, but she has a lot of knowledge and strength that could be used for other books.

            For the protagonist, there was a lot of character growth in this book. She has to step up as a leader, not just as a pixie queen, but as a leader of an army against Frank and Isla. The last time, in Entice, when she tried to give a speech to her own pixies she ran away. In Endure, she has to convince beings she doesn’t know to help protect Bedford and the rest of the world. It seems like the last three books had her changing and leading up to this point.

            Hel, as the place and the goddess, is very cool and handled in a way that is accurate enough, even with the artistic liberties that Jones took. Not a bad place, not glorified like Valhalla, not a good goddess, but not evil or malicious either. It is a place where the dead go if you don’t die in battle, ruled by someone who just has to, who didn’t make the rules. This is another character that I wish received more presence.

Spoilers Ahead!
            Who could still be team Nick by this book? He says he can’t stand Zara’s smell, she has no soul, etc. How is choosing between Astley and Nick difficult? Yes, I’d be heartbroken that Nick decided to be bigoted and forget what Zara did for him and that she’s getting stronger to protect everyone. Of course, Zara goes through another change and Nick is right there to tell her that he loves her.
            I also detest that he doesn’t like that she has gotten stronger and, yes, killed pixies. But he kills pixies to protect people too. He is so hypocritical it is mind-boggling. I’ve said it before, but everyone grows and changes. People who can’t accept change should be avoided in the long-run, because change is a part of life.
            So, after all this, who is still team Nick? Show of hands, please. Anyone who raised their hands needs a crash course about what an abusive relationship looks like, because that’s what Zara would be getting if she ended up with Nick.

Spoilers Ahead!
            Loki’s, “Oh, my wife and I forgot that I could have escaped centuries ago, derp.” and Astley’s betrayal and then not-betrayal was asinine and seen a mile away (though it still infuriates me).
            Then Zara jumps into the Hellmouth like it’s an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer to stop the apocalypse. The book can’t decide what Zara is at this point, or what she’s becoming as she jumps in. But apparently getting pixie-kissed is more like getting friend-kissed, I guess, because the end is love is magic, and by extension, platonic love (friendship) is magic.
             Then it is three or four months later and everyone is sitting on the grass, talking about mundane stuff. Astley is taking high-school classes, which seems pointless. Wouldn’t he have a post-secondary education by now, or at the very least have already graduated high school? What bothers me the most is that Nick and Zara talk about their relationship right in front of Astley and everyone, including Astley, is ok with it. This doesn’t happen in real life. Your new partner does not want to hear about the details of your past relationship. I’m not saying that you can’t explain stuff (example: an ex didn’t let you have a credit card, drive, go to school, or have a job, all the scary stuff that can affect you now that needs an explanation), but don’t talk about the good times. Most people don’t want to hear it. Maybe if they ask about it, then sure, if you want to talk about it. Otherwise, no one is that cool that they can listen to their partner talk with their ex about their relationship in a positive light.     

Final Verdict
            The Need series has come to a close and I will still say that my favourite was the first book, Need, followed by the last book, Endure. I still find the introduction of Norse mythology to be strange and unneeded. A saving grace for me is Astley, who is a gentleman and patient with Zara, though he is a glutton for punishment for taking on the task of saving Zara’s dead boyfriend when she is in love with him. Betty and Isla were also strong and likable characters that held my attention, and Zara is a protagonist that is stronger than most, though she is driven so strongly she might be called selfish by some. Overall, the series took a turn after the first book, so if people stop reading after the first one, I wouldn’t blame them, though I think the series is highly enjoyable either way. 

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Entice by Carrie Jones

The Need Series
Published: January 3rd 2011
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Website: Series website

            Beginning right where the last book left off, Zara has become a full pixie to get to Valhalla and bring Nick back. Unfortunately, getting there is still a problem. Zara and friends have to chase down leads from unlikely sources to gather the information they need. During all this, people are still going missing in Bedford, and Zara has formed a bond with Astley, even though she loves Nick. As his queen, she also has to step-up to the responsibilities of the role.

             There are two possible covers for this book. This cover is the one I own. I think of touching between two people that creates a bond (mother/child, lovers, rulers). I think of intimacy and heightened physical sensation. It looks like she is touching her own face, and then I get a sense of loneliness, like she is longing for someone’s touch. 
This cover has a more “magical” feeling to me, and I like it the most. The blowing out of gold dust can symbolize speeches, in front of pixies, good and bad, and humans. It can also have connections to life and the concept of a soul, which comes up in this book and the last, Endure. From your mouth, lips, and breath can also bring words of love, or the opposite. In this book, I think this cover definitely relates to Zara, as she is now a pixie queen that exudes power, but not necessarily evil. She has to use her words and her strength to win her battles.

Story and Characters
            There is more plot here than in Entice. There are a lot more places that they travel to that make the story feel like an urban-fantasy, but then it switches to straight-up fantasy. The creepy factor is still gone, and I miss it.
            However, there are some touching moments in this book. Astley is developed here from many angles, and the reader gets to know him more than Nick. I was rooting for Astley to get Zara, though the way that he would risk his life to save her boyfriend is unrealistic. If you liked Astley from Captivate, read Entice.
            I really enjoyed how people are dealing with the fact that Zara has turned pixie. Not everyone is accepting of it, and Zara knows that Nick might not love her now, but she still continues on to save him. That takes guts.
            Someone’s mother is introduced. I won’t write her name or who they are a mother to, but she is amazing, because she is absolutely nuts. She is more interesting and detailed than most of the characters that were introduced in Need and onward. In Entice and Endure, she was a shining force of a character that I wanted to see more of.

Chapter Headings
            This book has social media status updates from people in Bedford/Sumner, News Reports, blog posts, and Tweets. Yes, some of these will date her book, and maybe in 30 years no one will know what a Tweet is, but unless the world goes ka-blewie, you’ll still be able to research it. People will probably always have similar forms of communication. We still know what Morse code is, or post cards, smoke signals, or floriography is because we have records of it and can research it. I enjoyed these chapter headings, though they didn’t add much to the book. I liked reading about what other people in Bedford/Sumner were thinking during this time, especially because the characters weren’t solely focused on saving everyone.

Character Deaths
            Some established characters die in this book. I’m alright with that; mildly sad about it, but ultimately ok. I was more moved by the reactions of the remaining characters. Some people (on the playground that is the internet) do not like that these characters died.
Did you know that people do, in fact, die? This is real life that I’m talking about. If a work of fiction is to emulate real life, it is reasonable that characters will die. Characters that you like are totally capable of dying, just like in real life. It isn’t only un-liked characters or people that die.
In fiction, characters die for plot, to get emotional reactions from the readers, or both.   

            The anti-iron pills are very convenient. Too convenient. No one else had these in the last books? What about the pixies that drove and took the bus and were in the school surrounded by computers and cell phones and everything else that is metal?
            Saving Nick is too much of a focus for the group at this point. How many people have gone missing because of the evil pixies? And no one goes to look for them. Why?! In Need, it was imperative that the pixies be stopped and the kids saved, if they weren’t dead already. It’s unrealistic that they don’t focus more on saving the people of Bedford.
            There are a lot of descriptions, in Entice and Captivate, of people sucking in their lips and pressing their lips together. That is terribly repetitive. Also, people are constantly touching one another in this series. Constant hugging, hip bumping, rubbing, and elbowing abound. This isn’t a family-friendly television show from the 90s; no one touches their friends that much.

Final Verdict
            The third installment of the Need series is far better than the second installment, and this book gets plot done. They travel, solve mysteries, get into danger, overcome danger, and the plot thickens for the third book, Endure. During this, relationships build up and break down. The creepy atmosphere is still absent, becoming an urban-fantasy and fantasy book. If a reader liked the previous two books, then I advise that no one skip this book. This final book sets the stage for Entice, the finale.    

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Captivate by Carrie Jones

The Need Series

Published: January 5th 2010
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Website: Series website

            Zara and her friends have successfully kept the pixies of Bedford in their house in the woods, keeping them from killing more boys. Zara knows that a better solution is needed, but her problem solving is cut short when a new group of pixies move in to seize the territory. She meets a new pixie who could possibly be the shining example of a good pixie, unless it is all an act. When she loses Nick and has to get him back, she will have to trust the new pixie and change herself.

Plot spoilers – read at your own risk!
            The plot here is rather small – Nick dies in the beginning of the novel, and Zara needs to get him back from Valhalla to protect Bedford from a new group of evil pixies. They have to do some internet research to figure out how to do this. To accomplish all this, Zara has to make a choice and that leads to big changes, and that’s it. The end of the book is the big change, so you have to read the next installment to get the consequences and benefits.

            The gold on the eyes and the gold tear can be interpreted as deceit and trust. There is always the threat of deceit from many sides in this book. Trust in this book and the rest of the series plays a significant role. Closing your eyes and trusting/relying on others to not deceive you is a recurrent theme in this series.

Chapter Headings
            While the first book has phobia info, Captivate has Pixie Tips, and I quite like them. Two of my favourites are:
            “Pixies can be annoyingly cryptic. Don’t talk to them. They’ll confuse you and laugh about it later like movie villains and physics teachers.”
            “Hero: you might want to be a hero if and when you and your friends are attacked by pixies. Remember, though, that heroes often die.”

Norse Mythology
More plot spoilers -- read at your own risk!
            A huge problem I have with this is the mythology. Valkyries collect souls, not bodies. Nick should not have been physically picked up and taken to Valhalla. His body should have remained, and if Zara acted quickly enough, she would have to theoretically return his soul to his body before it decomposes. Granted, when mythology is used in fiction, it has to be bent to suit the author’s needs, but it doesn’t mean that I have to like it. 
I didn’t particularly like where the new book went with the Norse mythology theme, and that says a lot from me because I adore Norse mythology.
With this series, I also think about what I consider the downfall of True Blood: too many “beings” were introduced into the world (demons, fae, vampires, weres, shifters, etc). I think the story would have been much stronger if it left out the Norse themes and just kept with the weres and pixies and another being that you meet in Captivate. Why does it need Valkyries and Ragnarok? Plus, Zara acts confused most of the time. If you know you are dealing with Norse gods, and you and your team have done the research, why would you refer to Odin, the All Father, as the “head god guy”? You’d have the vocabulary to have a discussion about this.

            I’ve seen that people dislike how she reacts to Nick’s death – that it consumed her. I wonder where the empathy is in this situation. Everyone grieves differently. I know that I would be torn apart if my partner died, and if I found out that I might be able to get him back, I too would be totally consumed in the effort. However, I have to point out that they have only been dating a few weeks, not months or years. Then again, first love.

Nick Vs. Astley
I’ll elaborate.
Do you know what Nick is? A young man with muscles who  knows how to use them. He’s not all about protection; he’s about killing too, when he has to. But he has no qualms about being merciless (and I will further rant about this in the later two books). 
According to Zara, his lack of likable personality traits doesn’t matter because he is the best guy EVAAAAR.
            Seriously though, Nick is a bit bossy for me to stay emotionally invested in. Zara and Nick constantly go back and forth about not going anywhere alone, and they both do it anyway, they both fight about it, and it gets old. Nick calls Zara “baby” all the time and that irks me to no end (and that’s not just the feminist in me either; it even sounds stupid, so get a better term of endearment).
Final Verdict
            I greatly prefer the first one over this one, but Astley is a great character that carries the series forward and makes me want to read the next two books. This book lost the creepy atmosphere that the first one had, and it is sorely missed. The story of this book feels like filler for why the next two happen, and it isn’t that thrilling. The next two books have much more in terms of plot, so if a teen enjoys Norse mythology, I recommend reading this book to get to the next two.