This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee
In 1818 Geneva, men built with clockwork parts live hidden away from society, cared for only by illegal mechanics called Shadow Boys. Two years ago, Shadow Boy Alasdair Finch’s life shattered to bits.
His brother, Oliver—dead.
His sweetheart, Mary—gone.
His chance to break free of Geneva—lost.
Heart-broken and desperate, Alasdair does the unthinkable: He brings Oliver back from the dead.
But putting back together a broken life is more difficult than mending bones and adding clockwork pieces. Oliver returns more monster than man, and Alasdair’s horror further damages the already troubled relationship.
Then comes the publication of Frankenstein and the city intensifies its search for Shadow Boys, aiming to discover the real life doctor and his monster. Alasdair finds refuge with his idol, the brilliant Dr. Geisler, who may offer him a way to escape the dangerous present and his guilt-ridden past, but at a horrible price only Oliver can pay…
I liked the beginning of this one quite a bit. I actually got a bit farther in this ARC than any of the others -- almost 60% -- but I just found my interest waning the longer (and longer....) the story went on. Alisdair is an interesting guy, the concept of the Shadow Boys, etc. are creative but I don't care about Mary or Oliver and the Frankenstein angle wasn't a highpoint for me. It also just feels too long; the 230ish pages I read felt much longer and with over 140 left, I couldn't muster the interest or desire to finish the story.
I read enough of this to feel comfortable ratingt This Monstrous Thing three stars on Goodreads because the prose is strong and Lee is a clever writer. This is by no means a DNF because it's a bad novel -- it's not the kind of novel that I enjoy reading. It took me four days to get less than 2/3rds of the novel read and then I knew to throw in the towel. I will however, keep a look out for whatever Lee writes next.
Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider
From the author of The Beginning of Everything: two teens with a deadly disease fall in love on the brink of a cure.
At seventeen, overachieving Lane finds himself at Latham House, a sanatorium for teens suffering from an incurable strain of tuberculosis. Part hospital and part boarding school, Latham is a place of endless rules and confusing rituals, where it's easier to fail breakfast than it is to flunk French.
There, Lane encounters a girl he knew years ago. Instead of the shy loner he remembers, Sadie has transformed. At Latham, she is sarcastic, fearless, and utterly compelling. Her friends, a group of eccentric troublemakers, fascinate Lane, who has never stepped out of bounds his whole life. And as he gradually becomes one of them, Sadie shows him their secrets: how to steal internet, how to sneak into town, and how to disable the med sensors they must wear at all times.
But there are consequences to having secrets, particularly at Latham House. And as Lane and Sadie begin to fall in love and their group begins to fall sicker, their insular world threatens to come crashing down.
Told in alternating points of view, Extraordinary Means is a darkly funny story about doomed friendships, first love, and the rare miracle of second chances.
I think I have to quit Robyn Schneider. And forgive me, but I am sick to death of illness contemporary books. So. Done. I had tried this because while Scheneider's first book wasn't a total success for me, it was different and creative. However, this novel is not. I found promise in the early parts of the book but the characters weren't engaging or defined enough for me. It's only 336 pages long but I grew tired of reading about Lane and Sadie and Lane + Sadie around 30% in.
I think I want to like this author's books more than I do. They try too hard and sound unlike real teens; I can't buy into more than the premise or the tropes behind the characters. Just not a novel or a type of contemporary novel for me.
Sugar Skulls by Lisa Mantchev and Glenn Dallas
Welcome to Cyrene, a city where energy is currency and music is the lifeblood of its young citizens. Everyone lives on the grid, and the residents of the world’s largest playground are encouraged to pursue every physical and emotional pleasure imaginable.
Vee is the lead singer of the Sugar Skulls, an all-girl band that is Corporate’s newest pet project. Micah haunts the city like a ghost after an overdose of a deadly illegal street drug knocks him off the grid. When Micah and Vee forge an immediate, undeniable connection, their troubled worlds collide.
Trading concert stages for Cyrene’s rooftops and back alleys, they have to evade vicious thugs and Vee’s possessive manager as they unravel the mysteries connected to their dark pasts. And before the curtain falls, Micah and Vee will bring the city to its knees in their desperate bid for love, home, and a future together.
I had a good time reading my first novel from Lisa Matchev -- (it was her novel Ticker) -- and was so intrigued by the premise behind Sugar Skulls. But the novel is... messy. Confusing. Fantasy and scifi are my favorites and sink or swim fantasy is not something I am unfamiliar with. But I made it 28% and felt like I was as lost then as at the beginning. It was to the point of frustration and I set the book down.