Sometimes an author’s debut novel or their first novel in a new series is just awesome. You fall in love with the characters, the world-building and the author’s writing style and you’re so eager for the sequel that you can hardly wait. You try to make sure your expectations aren’t too unrealistic but you do expect that the second book will be the same high quality as the first…except it isn’t. The writing is trite and full of purple prose, the characters do total 180s and seem to have completely lost their minds and the world-building is revealed to be shaky at best. It’s the curse of Book 2 Syndrome!
This happened to me most recently with Captive by Aimée Carter. Pawn had an unique premise, decent characters and a plot that just kept me guessing. But the sequel Captive was absolutely awful. Where the main character Kitty had been a smart if relatively naive main character who generally knew when to keep her mouth shut, in the second book she just would not shut up about anything. She kept smart-mouthing everyone, revealing important secrets she could have kept for leverage later and just generally having a bad case of verbal diarrhea in order to move the plot along. It was just awful and is one of the best examples of Book 2 Syndrome I’ve ever seen.
What I want to know now is this: Have you ever had a really bad book sequel experience? Whose book was it and why was it so awful/disappointing? Or, if you haven’t ever been disappointed by the second book in a series, what was the most disappointing sequel to a movie you’ve ever seen?
Let me know in the comments below!
(Cover picture courtesy of Goodreads.)
For the past two months, Kitty Doe’s life has been a lie. Forced to impersonate the Prime Minister’s niece, her frustration grows as her trust in her fake fiancé cracks, her real boyfriend is forbidden and the Blackcoats keep her in the dark more than ever.
But in the midst of discovering that her role in the Hart family may not be as coincidental as she thought, she’s accused of treason and is forced to face her greatest fear: Elsewhere. A prison where no one can escape.
As one shocking revelation leads to the next, Kitty learns the hard way that she can trust no one, not even the people she thought were on her side. With her back against the wall, Kitty wants to believe she’ll do whatever it takes to support the rebellion she believes in—but is she prepared to pay the ultimate price?
[Full disclosure: I requested and received a free ebook through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]
I just have one question after reading this entire book: Did Kitty lose her brain in between books one and two?!
I just have no words. I actually liked Kitty in the first book because although she was naive and kind of innocent, at least she generally knew when to keep her mouth shut and keep up the charade of being Lila Hart. In all honesty I can’t say I was her biggest fan ever in the first book, but she really grew on me and at least most of her actions were justified by logic.
But in Captive, that all goes out the window. Kitty seems to have lost her brain, particularly in the first half of the novel. She spouts off her mouth at the people who have power over her, she doesn’t know when to shut up and let Knox do his rebellion thing and even though there’s no reason for it other than to advance the plot, she reveals one of the secrets she could have used as leverage later on. So where does she wind up? Elsewhere, of course! No one, not even Lila Hart’s replacement is irreplaceable. And when she’s in Elsewhere, she promptly makes an enemy of every single person around her because she just won’t shut up. Ever. I spent most of the book wanting to slap her for being so incredibly stupid.
As for the plot, unlike in the first book it didn’t really feel like there was anything really all that new. Aimeé Carter has always used some tried and true clichés but in Captive she just lets it all hang out. There were no surprises because the whole plot of this book was like a soap opera, with mysterious lost family members and lovers betrayed—the whole nine yards. Captive suffers from a severe case of Book Two Syndrome in that practically nothing happens until a little bit at the end of the book to make you go buy the third book. After the plot twists and turns of Pawn, it was just supremely disappointing.
The world-building was really the only thing I didn’t actively dislike. I like that we saw the other side of Elsewhere, not just the ‘shoot people for sport’ side. It’s run like a prisoner of war camp (which it sort of is) and life within is pretty much just as brutal as you’d expect from a dictatorial regime. Nothing really surprising, but nothing so stereotypical that I wanted to throw my Kindle at the wall. The only thing that I was happy about was that we got to see another side of the rebels as well as see how ordinary people can end up in Elsewhere. Sure, you have your criminals and political dissidents, but you also have some pretty harmless teenagers and kids whose only crime was being born—or more accurately, not being born rich.
As someone who enjoyed Pawn, Captive really was a huge disappointment. I liked that we got to see more of Kitty’s world but I just hated that it was in such a forced way. It seemed like Carter wanted to showcase the rest of the world so she dumbed down Kitty in an attempt to force that showcase. Will I still read the last book, Queen? Yes, I think I will because despite this huge disappointment, I did enjoy the first book and I’m enjoying the overall plot arc. But really Aimeé Carter, you can do better than this.
I give this book 1.5/5 stars.
(Cover picture courtesy of Imperial Beach Teen Blog.)
YOU CAN BE A VII. IF YOU GIVE UP EVERYTHING.
For Kitty Doe, it seems like an easy choice. She can either spend her life as a III in misery, looked down upon by the higher ranks and forced to leave the people she loves, or she can become a VII and join the most powerful family in the country.
If she says yes, Kitty will be Masked—surgically transformed into Lila Hart, the Prime Minister’s niece, who died under mysterious circumstances. As a member of the Hart family, she will be famous. She will be adored. And for the first time, she will matter.
There’s only one catch. She must also stop the rebellion that Lila secretly fostered, the same one that got her killed…and one Kitty believes in. Faced with threats, conspiracies and a life that’s not her own, she must decide which path to choose—and learn how to become more than a pawn in a twisted game she’s only beginning to understand.
[Full disclosure: I received a free ebook copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]
Despite my misgivings about the Goddess Test trilogy, I actually enjoyed Pawn by Aimée Carter. The world was refreshingly unique for what seemed to be such a stereotypical dystopia and I found the main character, Kitty, to be a pretty sympathetic character. Considering I usually want to strangle the female leads in YA dystopia, this is quite a feat if I’m honest.
First off, the world-building. It seems like your typical divided society dystopian trope, but it’s not really. There are actually reasons for the division and the reasons are explained when the history of the country is presented. I found the Hart family’s rise to power surprisingly believable and how they keep their hold on power even more believable. It was rather disturbing to see what Elsewhere was because it really reminded me of the world Lois Lowry created in The Giver, but I suppose it makes sense when you have a system like that.
Kitty was not your stereotypical heroine. She was ready to do whatever needed to be done to survive, even if it meant pretending to be someone else in a family that mostly hated her. Was she a kick-butt heroine? No and her reluctance made sense given her upbringing as well as the Hart family’s reputation. How she handles herself in that complicated maze of politics was quite impressive and I cheered her on the whole way.
The pacing was pretty good, but the only thing I found a little off about this book was the plot. It wasn’t boring, per se, but it didn’t exactly keep me on the edge of my seat. Some of the plot twists were unpredictable, yes, but they felt a little off. Like Aimée Carter was departing from the whole feeling of the story, what she had been building toward previously. It was a little disconcerting, but overall I think Pawn is a pretty good read and I’d recommend giving it a try if you like YA dystopia.
I give this book 4/5 stars.
(Cover picture courtesy of Goodreads.)
Becoming immortal wasn’t supposed to be the easy part. Though Kate is about to be crowned Queen of the Underworld, she’s as isolated as ever. And despite her growing love for Henry, ruler of the Underworld, he’s becoming ever more distant and secretive. Then, in the midst of Kate’s coronation, Henry is abducted by the only being powerful enough to kill him: the King of the Titans.
As the other gods prepare for a war that could end them all, it is up to Kate to save Henry from the depths of Tartarus. But in order to navigate the endless caverns of the Underworld, Kate must enlist the help of the one person who is the greatest threat to her future.
Henry’s first wife, Persephone.
As you may or may not remember, I was sort of disappointed in The Goddess Test. It just didn’t live up to its full potential, but I saw that the sequel did have potential, so I went ahead and bought Goddess Interrupted anyway. This time I went into the novel with a completely open mind (with no expectations about how the tests would go) and I think that was what made the difference.
I found Kate a much more sympathetic character in this second book and Henry is actually trying to move on from Persephone. They actually start to *gasp* fall in love for real, not the fake teenage love that happened in the first book. The secondary characters like Ava, Kate’s mother and even Persephone herself get a lot more page time and their backgrounds are fascinating. Persephone is probably my favourite character in the novel, not because she’s especially sympathetic, but because she’s very complex.
The plot, as in the first book, was very good and the cliffhanger Aimée Carter puts at the end of the novel is brilliant. No doubt even fans who have a ‘meh’ attitude toward the book will be anxious for the last book in the trilogy, The Goddess Inheritance. Which, by the way, releases on February 19, 2013 according to Amazon.
I give this book 3.5/5 stars.
(Cover picture courtesy of Reading Angel.)
It’s always been just Kate and her mom—and her mother is dying. Her last wish? To move back to her childhood home. So Kate’s going to start a new school with no friends, no other family and the fear her mother won’t live past the fall.
Then she meets Henry. Dark. Tortured. And mesmerizing. He claims to be Hades, god of the Underworld—and if she accepts his bargain, he’ll keep her mother alive while Kate tries to pass seven tests.
Kate is sure he’s crazy—until she seems him bring a girl back from the dead. Now saving her mother seems crazily possible. If she succeeds, she’ll become Henry’s future bride, and a goddess.
If she fails…
I love the Greek myths, so I thought I would love The Goddess Test. It had an interesting premise, with the promise of a good light read. But I have to say my overall impression of the book can be summed up in one word: meh.
Kate is an interesting protagonist and a decent enough character, but I had a hard time getting inside her head. Aimée Carter truly needed to add more emotion to her writing to pull off a romance like this one, but she didn’t. The chemistry between Henry and Kate was thoroughly unsatisfying because there was little to none of it. Henry remained too distant and enamored with his lost love, Persephone, and it still seemed like Kate was only there out of a sense of duty, even toward the end when she supposedly ‘loved’ him. For me, the characters and the romance they had just didn’t ring true.
The whole premise of the book had a lot of promise, but it too fell flat. I was expecting actual test, rather than just completely secret ones that weren’t really obvious until the end. This is a spoiler, but Kate actually failed one of the tests, but still got to be a goddess because of a loophole. It is probably my own fault for expecting The Goddess Test to be more like Ever by Gail Carson Levine, but I feel like I was let down when I read this.
If you love fast-paced plots and romance, you will love The Goddess Test as long as you don’t pay much attention to the characters.
I give this book 3/5 stars.