Monday, July 16, 2012

Wanderlove

Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard
Publication Date: March 13, 2012
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Pages: 338
Keywords: travel, art, summer
Format Read: ARC from publisher

Summary: It all begins with one question: Are you a Global Vagabond? Eighteen-year-old Bria Sandoval isn't, but she wants to be. In a quest to assert her independence, recommit herself to her neglected art, and enjoy some no-strings-attached hookups, Bria signs on for a guided tour of Central America — the wrong one. Middle-aged tourists with fanny packs are hardly the key to self-discovery. When Bria meets Rowan, devoted backpacker and diving instructor, and Starling, his outspoken humanitarian sister, she seizes the chance to ditch her group and join them off the beaten path. 
Bria's a good girl trying to go bad. Rowan's a bad guy trying to stay good. As they travel across a panorama of Mayan villages, remote Belizean islands, and hostels plagued with jungle beasties, they discover what they have in common: both seek to leave behind the old versions of themselves. And the secret to escaping the past, Rowan has found, is to keep moving forward. 
But Bria comes to realize she can't run forever, no matter what Rowan says. If she wants to fall for someone worthwhile, she has to start looking back.

I haven't truly enjoyed a book like this in a long time. No, there wasn't anything profound or monumentally remarkable about this book. But I loved it. The story flowed so well and the characters' interactions were superb. Hubbard's writing was quick but filled with detail and description to keep the reader enthralled without being overkill.

The book started out rather mediocre, with Bria getting on the plane to head to Guatemala. It referenced her friends who ditched her at the last minute, and she kept referencing them throughout the book, but it was really unnecessary to have those characters. I was frustrated with the constant mentioning of friends back home that we never met nor care about.

Then, in the airport in central america, Bria meets Rowan and realizes her tour group is all old people who are vacationing, not traveling. In the first city her purse gets stolen and then she decides to stick with Rowan and Starling instead of the tour group. Finally, it began to pick up.

I loved reading about the different cities to which they traveled, and the different hostels in which they stayed. Hubbard also gave us two perspectives of this, one from Bria as the newcomer to the whole "barely showering and sleeping with bugs" lifestyle, and Rowan's view of a more experienced traveler. It was fun that we also kind of understood his thoughts through Bria's eyes.

I was glad Bria's story was about her changing, because let me tell you, if the book was about her past personality, I would HATE it. She was dependent upon her snobbish and selfish boyfriend and pretty much didn't believe in herself at all. So I was glad I didn't have to deal with that Bria. The traveling one was a wonderful character. I loved her perspective on other people and places and what she thought of all the cities.

I don't want to go into too much detail about the trip because a lot happens in each place, but about halfway through I was totally enthralled and loved reading about everything that they were experiencing. I'm still not entirely sure why I liked this so much, but it truly was just a superb and easy read. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Pastworld

Pastworld by Ian Beck
Publication Date: September 29, 2009
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Pages: 355
Keywords: dystopia, travel, murder
Format Read: Hardcover from publisher (thank you!)


Summary: Pastworld is the greatest theme park ever devised. It's London - the real London - transformed into a living, breathing recreation of the Victorian era.
To Eve, a lifelong resident of Pastworld, horse-drawn carriages and gas lamps are modern technology. Eve doesn't even know she's living in a simulation - until she is forced to flee the only home she's ever known, and to confront the truth about her city and herself.
To Caleb, a tourist visiting Pastworld, the theme park is the perfect antidote to the stifling conformity and regulation of 2048. The gritty wildness of the past is thrilling - until he finds himself at the scene of a murder, holding the knife, and suddenly becomes a fugitive from an antiquated justice system.
And in the midst of it all, in the thick London fog, a dark and deadly figure prowls, claiming victim after victim. He's the Fantom, a creature both of the past and of the future, in whose dark purpose Caleb and Eve will find their destinies combined.


I was so excited. Let me repeat, SO EXCITED to read this book. Historical fiction is one of my very favorite genres, and I just spent last semester in England, learning about all sorts of historical time periods and events that happened throughout the course of the English history. So I was SO EXCITED to read this book. And it was a struggle to continue reading it once I started. 

From the beginning it didn't seem so bad. There was an interesting plot line developing. Eve, the child who was being taken care of by blind Jack, ran away because she didn't want to be a burden. Turns out, Jack was supposed to be protecting her, and we figure out early on it has something to do with a project called Prometheus. Sounds great, right? So then Eve runs to a circus, where she is strangely good as tightrope walking. Good, right? And then there's Caleb, and he and his father are visiting Pastworld and get caught up in a mysterious fight with 'ragged men' and Caleb ends up with a pocket watch that has an inscription on the back. Still awesome, right?

But this is how the book continued the entire way through. By page 300, I still didn't have any of my questions answered, nothing was explained, and the character points-of-view kept switching. Super frustrating. By the end of the book I was still just as disappointed. I was upset with the explanation for Eve and her super awesome tightrope skills. I was upset with the little background given for Caleb. The story seemed to involve his father and Jack more, so I was confused why Caleb got his own voice and narration in this. It also seemed like there were too many minor characters that were really unnecessary to the story. Quite frankly, I can think of about 4 that could be deleted and no one would ever know they were there to begin with. 

Overall, I was just left disappointed with everything. This book had so much potential, and it just fell short. I feel like it's a draft that somehow missed a content editing session and things weren't cleared up. I still might look for Beck's future stories just because of how interesting the premise is, but I'm not going to get my hopes up.