Friday, March 16, 2012

Jealousy by Lili St. Crow

From Goodreads: Dru Anderson might finally be safe. She’s at the largest Schola on the continent, and beginning to learn what it means to be svetocha—half vampire, half human, and all deadly. If she survives her training, she will be able to take her place in the Order, holding back the vampires and protecting the oblivious normal people. 
But a web of lies and betrayals is still closing around her, just when she thinks she can relax a little. Her mentor Christophe is missing, her almost-boyfriend is acting weird, and the bodyguards she’s been assigned seem to know much more than they should. And then there’s the vampire attacks, the strange nightly visits, and the looks everyone keeps giving her. As if she should know something. 
Or as if she’s in danger. 
Someone high up in the Order is a traitor. They want Dru dead—but first, they want to know what she remembers of the night her mother died. Dru doesn’t want to remember, but it looks like she might have to—especially since once Christophe returns, he’ll be on trial for his life, and the only person who can save him is Dru. 
The problem is, once she remembers everything, she may not want to..
My Thoughts: So, after discovering that the Base Library has a pretty nice collection of YA, I headed over there to see if they had the third installment in Lili St. Crow’s Strange Angels series. And I was in luck because they did! Saved me $10 :) Well I completed it in about two days-these novels are wonderful reads that keep you wanting more. And since I’m going to be reading all of them (just not sure in what time frame because the library doesn’t have them all and I’m definitely not made out of money) I decided I’d focus on one aspect of the book each time I review one-instead of continuing to go over the same things I like about all the novels and Crow as an author. And I’m going to do this without any spoilers, so it’ll be pretty basic. 
Well, the third novel, Jealousy heats up in a good way. The romantic tension is amped between the three main characters-Dru, Graves, and Christophe-and there is plenty of mixed signals being whipped around. In this book Dru is also growing and breaking in an astonishingly brilliant way. In some parts of her life she has never been stronger but in others she is completely clueless and the best part is-she admits it! Dru is a phenomenal character that I love to follow around. She is a badass and yet she is endearing and discovering those lovable characteristics within her is my main focus for this novel review. 
Crow uses character interaction to teach readers about who her characters are-I’ve discussed this in past Strange Angels reviews-but today I’m going to focus on Dru. I found myself loving her from page one of the first novel but as I finished novel three, I realized I not only love her, I’m routing for her and worrying about her at the same time. This may seem natural, but it actually is a hard thing to accomplish for an author without any “telling.” Crow successfully portrays Dru as both a tough-girl with an attitude and a young teen yearning for guidance as she’s placed in dangerous situations she has no control over. Unraveling the many layers of Dru-we discover her most endearing characteristics through flashbacks, dreams, and the frequent voices of her dead father and grandmother that sound in her head. These voices are my most favorite part about learning/figuring out who Dru really is. They surprise even her and they pop up at random times-could be when Dru is feeling lost, could be when she is in mortal danger-but either way these distinct voices shed light on what Dru is really yearning 
This is an interesting notion sense on the surface she has all the capabilities of functioning and surviving on her own, but readers get to learn how much companionship really mean to her. The fact that she lost two of the most important people in her life (three if you count her mother but that was when she was almost too little to remember) leaves Dru desperately clinging to anyone she deems trustworthy, which unfortunately isn’t too many people. There are countless characters trying to kill her at any given time and she really never gets a break. It’s exhausting, but in a good way. In a way that makes you want to read more. 
I’ve said in past reviews of Crow’s work that Voice is one of her strongest talents. The character Voice in this novel that shows us the most is the voices of Dru’s past loved ones, sounding in her head as a sort of coping mechanism, and in doing so they reveal more about Dru’s character and her needs than any other device would. 
Jealousy is full of many more great voices, as well as awesome action scenes, beautifully written descriptions, and a love triangle that continues to get more tangled. There is much to love about these novels and if you enjoy break-neck speed supernatural stories, this series isn’t to be missed. 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Betrayals by: Lili St. Crow

From Goodreads:
She’s no angel...

Poor Dru Anderson. Her parents are long gone, her best friend is a werewolf, and she’s just learned that the blood flowing through her veins isn’t entirely human. (So what else is new?)

Now Dru is stuck at a secret New England Schola for other teens like her, and there’s a big problem—she’s the only girl in the place. A school full of cute boys wouldn’t be so bad, but Dru’s killer instinct says that one of them wants her dead. And with all eyes on her, discovering a traitor within the Order could mean a lot more than social suicide...

Can Dru survive long enough to find out who has betrayed her trust—and maybe even her heart?

My Thoughts:
Betrayals, the second novel in Lili St. Crow’s Strange Angels series is a wonderful follow up to the first novel. It picks up right where readers were left in the first book. It doesn’t start off as fast paced at the first novel did, but rather it offers a slow build to an upcoming event-like a volcano. Crow’s use of anticipation and tension within the start of the book add to the build, making readers anxious to get to the next chapter. 
The story is still told from main character Dru Anderson’s perspective-and thank goodness for that! She has such an incredibly strong voice and it is completely authentic to the YA genre. In this novel we find Dru in quite a predicament-she is totally out of her element in this one. Dru’s good at handling the strange, weird, and creepy things that go bump in the night (fight off a hoard of vampires? no problem. Run from a demented shape-shifter? piece of cake) but settling into a reform school for supernatural beings like herself? Not so simple. For one-the classes they place her in are useless and cover subjects she already knows-they in no way help train her to battle the uber-vamp that is currently tracking her down and chomping at the bit to kill her. Secondly-the professors there are sketchy at best and keep her isolated as much as possible. And thirdly-Dru isn’t getting answers about her past, answers she was assured she’d find here. This, plus conflicting feelings between two interesting male lead characters, leaves Dru trapped in a world she doesn’t quite no how to function in.
All supernatural intrigue aside, this storyline should be easily relatable to anyone going through high-school adolescence. It’s similar in the sense of being tossed into a new world and having people just expect you to understand how to operate within it. Dru doesn’t disappoint either, she carries her strong-willed, sharp-tongued attitude with gusto, never letting anyone temper her passion. This, to me, is a wonderful example for young readers, showing that you don’t have to conform to be accepted and that staying true to who you are (no matter who that may be) is always a better option than faking for the masses. 
The pace of the novel picks up in the middle and mimics the break-neck speed of the first book-one disaster after another pile up around Dru and each time she learns something new about herself and the people around her. Crow’s use of revealing character through action is phenomenal and a much more enjoyable discovery than if she simply told us who these characters are and what they stand for. 
The romantic tension is amped up slightly in this novel but not as much as I would prefer (hey what can I say I love romance) but I feel that Crow is using her skills of building tension in order to keep readers panting for more from the relationships between Dru, Graves, and Christophe. The love triangle is present, but not the driving force in the novel, so it isn’t as cliche as it has become in the market. It is offered in a natural way as opposed to a forced one. 

The language and voice stays true to the original and continues to make me laugh and gasp at different times. Following Dru through the many obstacles she is presented with (whether that be boy problems, supernatural beings trying to kill her, or attempting to uncover the mystery of her past) is a thrill ride-one I can’t wait to continue throughout the rest of the series