Another set of reviews for books that I received through NetGalley (their being free in no way affects my opinion) – Entice at 3 stars, and And We Stay at 3 stars.
Entice by Erica Crouch
Title: Entice (Ignite, #1.5)
Author: Erica Crouch
Genre: YA, fantasy
Publication date: November 19, 2013
Publisher: Patchwork Press
With the aftertaste of Heaven still strong, Pen and Azael cloak themselves in their new demonic destinies, fighting for Lucifer against the angels. Pen, warring against former friends turned vengeful enemies, still struggles with defecting to Hell. But in one short battle, they go from forgotten to famous, thrust into the spotlight where she has no room for uncertainty.
Suddenly top-tiered demons, they’re tasked with seeing through hell’s new agenda: corrupting man. But tarnishing Eden isn’t as simple as they thought it would be, especially when they’re forced to work with another team of demons who are trying to claw their way up the ladder of power.
Entice is an e-novella that prequels Pen and Azael’s story in Ignite.
So I know I haven’t reviewed Ignite, the first book in this series, yet, but I’ll give you a preview and say that I gave it two stars. It was an okay book. BUT, on Chiara’s insistence, I requested Entice to give this series another chance. And you know, I actually liked this one a bit more! They’re still not going to hit my favorite books by far, but it was still enjoyable.
I think what I really enjoyed about this one was that there was no romance – and it was beautiful. That was my main issue with Ignite, so there’s that problem dealt with right away. Entice focused more on Pen and Azael’s relationship, and I’ve always been a sucker for sibling relationships. It was great to see how Pen began, and it explains a lot of her behaviors in Ignite. Azael was developed a bit more, but I still think he could be more than the sassy, demented character. I love snark (I mean, have you seen the list of book boyfriends I have? Sass masters are at the very top), but when there’s nothing else to balance it out, it just seems like too much, or the author is trying to hard. Honestly, Az gave me a bit of secondhand embarrassment. I just kept thinking, “Wow, dude, you just made an absolute fool of yourself. Time to let go of that ego sweetheart.”
Another aspect I enjoyed was how the Biblical story of Adam and Eve was woven in. It reminded me of a favorite series of mine from my childhood – the Oracles of Fire by Bryan Davis, which mixes old Bible times with dragons and fantasy. Good stuff! I still have them on my shelves. But back to Entice – I thought Crouch did an interesting job of involving Pen and Az in the fall of man.
Long story short – the novella was better than the novel. The siblings were great, and Entice explained a lot that I felt like I was missing in Ignite. Personally, I recommend reading Entice first, then Ignite. I think I might have enjoyed Ignite a bit more if I had the background that Entice brings to the mythology that Crouch has created.
And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard
Title: And We Stay
Author: Jenny Hubbard
Genre: YA, contemporary fiction
Publication Date: January 28, 2014
Publisher: Delacorte Press
“In And We Stay, Jenny Hubbard treats tragedy and new beginnings with a skilled, delicate hand. Her otherworldly verse and prose form a flowing monument to all the great storytellers of the past.” —John Corey Whaley, author of the Michael L. Printz and William C. Morris award winner, Where Things Come Back
When high school senior Paul Wagoner walks into his school library with a stolen gun, he threatens his girlfriend Emily Beam, then takes his own life. In the wake of the tragedy, an angry and guilt-ridden Emily is shipped off to boarding school in Amherst, Massachusetts, where she encounters a ghostly presence who shares her name. The spirit of Emily Dickinson and two quirky girls offer helping hands, but it is up to Emily to heal her own damaged self.
This inventive story, told in verse and in prose, paints the aftermath of tragedy as a landscape where there is good behind the bad, hope inside the despair, and springtime under the snow.
And We Stay had a lot of promise, with a lot of potential emotional ups and downs. Plus – Emily Dickinson. How can you go wrong with a good Dickinson poem? Well, apparently you can. Hubbard had a really good concept here, but the execution was a bit rocky. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it. I just kind of felt meh about the whole thing. It was a good read for the night I read it – waiting backstage at a performance. It killed the time, but when I had to put the phone down to help someone, I didn’t feel like I was being dragged away from something.
I think my favorite part of the book was how the flashbacks were 90% told in poems written by Emily – for once, I actually enjoyed the original poems. They weren’t cheesy or boring at all. In fact, I do believe they were my favorite part. Some of them gave me chills. Honestly, I just loved how poetry was intwined in this entire novel. Although, when they start involving Emily Dickinson (which gave a weird sort of paranormal touch to the book that I didn’t understand nor enjoy), I couldn’t believe that the “Hope” poem wasn’t included! I mean… the whole book is about hope and healing, right? So I’ve taken the liberty of copy/pasting it here:
“Hope” is the thing with feathers –That perches in the soul –And sings the tune without the words –And never stops – at all –And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –And sore must be the storm –That could abash the little BirdThat kept so many warm –I’ve heard it in the chillest land –And on the strangest Sea –Yet – never – in Extremity,It asked a crumb – of me.
There. Problem solved!
As far as the characters, I just felt they were a little bland. I wasn’t really connected to Emily at all, and her friends just seemed like the stock “crazy people” that pull Emily out of her shell. And the whole thing with Paul just seems unbelievable. I won’t go into detail because of spoilers, but his motivation just doesn’t make sense.
Basically, this book didn’t leave me with a lot of impressions. It was a two hour read, and when I was done it went straight to the back of my head. The poetry was beautiful, but it wasn’t enough to salvage the lack of developed characters or plot.