Thursday, January 26, 2017

Historical Romance Done RIGHT | Top 7 Authors You Need To Check Out

One of my favorite romance genres is historical. There is just something so compelling about the setting, about the lords and ladies, about the rules that are both ridiculous from a modern point of view but create the most delicious tension between the characters.

But you gotta know how to write them well, you know? Same as any other genre, it's very easy to write a bad historical romance, and much harder to write an excellent one.

Here is a list of seven woman who know how to create the perfect historicals, in no particular order

This lady is one of my auto-buy authors. Whenever I need a good historical, I always check to see if there's anything new of hers I can get.

Her historicals are just so damned fun, and the swoon if off the charts! She also does sweet fantastically well, and you'll believe her damaged heroes and strong yet vulnerable heroines can heal each other without an ounce of doubt in your mind!


The Lord of Ian Mackenzie was one of the first historicals to really steal and move my heart, and made Ashley an instant buy for me. Her Highland Pleasures series (also known as Mackenzie series) is one of my favorite historicals romance. She knows how to make unique heroes (such as the titular Ian), tantalizing romances and heroines you can root for full heartily. 

I haven't read any of Ashley's contemporary or paranormal, but if they're half as good as her historical romances, they're definitely worth a shot!


I have been very vocal in the past about my love for Banks' historicals. While I genuinely dislike most of the contemporary romances of hers that I've read, I love her as a romance writer. Something about the setting allows Banks to focus less on the sex, and more on the story. And when she does that, it's simply magic. I have read Never Seduce a Scot three times now, and I cry every time

Banks has that magical quality to make you connect to her heroines and heroes, and make you root for them to the depth of your soul. 

Also, her brand of romance happens to be the kilted kind. Yum!


Courtney Milan is one of the more unique authors on my list, because she really tackles tough subjects in her historicals, especially the Brothers Sinister series, although her Tuner series doesn't lack for thought provoking content. 

She looks at the historical settings through the eyes of characters that have to deal with prejudice, expectations and rules that they do not agree with. Females fighting to enter "male" professions, women who rebel against the institute of marriage, rape (although in a short novella)... So many interesting situations through the lens of the time period they're in.

And of course, the fantastic romances that will make your heart thump and swoon. 

 I found her by complete accident when The Duchess War was free on kindle and I have thanked my lucky stars since.


Lisa Kleypas is a pretty new discovery, but boy is she a landslide. I have enjoyed every single novel that I have read by her. Some of them tackle unique situations for historical romances, such as a romance between a Gypsy and a lady, or a Governess and her lord. But she does it in such a fun, heartwarming way.

She really does write such enjoyable historicals that lighten the heart and make you smile non-stop.

Julia Quinn is the historical romance writer for you when you need a fun romance. I always know that when I want to read something fun and light (with some angst, brooding and tormented pasts), Quinn's my girl. And damn if her books are not super readable. I start them and suddenly I look up and the book is over and it's three a.m. and there's work tomorrow but oh well.


Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake was the historical that made me love historicals. The romance, setting and characters proved to a judgmental me who didn't think she'd enjoy the Victorian setting and woman oppression that HISTORICALS ARE SO DAMNED WONDERFUL!

McLean's books are fun and light, but also have very deep undertones about female equality and acceptance, so they have a very nice balance to them.

What about you? What are some of YOUR favorite historical authors that you think I should check out? Did you find new authors to sink your teeth into in this list? Tell me all about it bellow! 

Monday, January 23, 2017

Second Chance Summer by Jill Shalvis | Book Review

Second Chance Summer by Jill Shalvis
First Published: 2015
Kindle
Adult, Contemporary Romance
Rating:
Re-Readability:
RESCUE ME
Cedar Ridge, Colorado, is famous for crisp mountain air, clear blue skies, and pine-scented breezes. And it's the last place Lily Danville wants to be. But she needs a job, and there's an opening at the hottest resort in her hometown. What has her concerned is the other hot property in Cedar Ridge: Aidan Kincaid-firefighter, rescue worker, and heartbreaker. She never could resist that devastating smile . . .
The Kincaid brothers are as rough and rugged as the Rocky Mountains they call home. Aidan has always done things his own way, by his own rules. And never has he regretted anything more than letting Lily walk out of his life ten years ago. If anyone has ever been in need of rescuing, she has. What she needs more than anything are long hikes, slow dances, and sizzling kisses. But that can only happen if he can get her to give Cedar Ridge-and this bad boy-a second chance . .
Y'all must already know I adore Jill Shalvis. She is a queen of romance - and Second Chance Summer has all her signature traits - great characters that are fun to read of, whether it be the main characters or the supporting cast, funny banter and great small town setting.

That being said, I wasn't as enthralled as I usually am by this novel. I'm not sure what it was really, because it had all those things I normally love about her.

Maybe it was because Lily and Aidan had history together that we didn't really get to see, but effected their current relationship. There was a lot of things they knew about each other that we didn't get to see them find out, and so while logically I knew they had probably learned that ten years ago, in that period we're barely privy to, it also felt like a cope-out. Like, all those wonderful parts of building a relationship were robbed from us.

Maybe it's just me.

This was probably why I felt like the "I love you"s came too early and with little basis. It's because these two characters were in love before, but we didn't get to see it!

While this will not be the first book of Shalvis I recommend someone to read, if you already love her you're bound to enjoy it. 
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Friday, January 20, 2017

Before Jamaica Lane by Samantha Young | Book Review

First Published: 2014
Paperback
New Adult, Contemporary romance
Rating:
Re-Readability:
Despite her outgoing demeanor, Olivia is painfully insecure around the opposite sex—usually, she can’t get up the nerve to approach guys she’s interested in. But moving to Edinburgh has given her a new start, and, after she develops a crush on a sexy postgrad, she decides it’s time to push past her fears and go after what she wants.
Nate Sawyer is a gorgeous player who never commits, but to his close friends, he’s as loyal as they come. So when Olivia turns to him with her relationship woes, he offers to instruct her in the art of flirting and to help her become more sexually confident.
The friendly education in seduction soon grows into an intense and hot romance. But then Nate’s past and commitment issues rear their ugly heads, and Olivia is left brokenhearted. When Nate realizes he’s made the biggest mistake of his life, he will have to work harder than he ever has before to entice his best friend into falling back in love with him—or he may lose her forever….
This book was just so much fun, which is one of my favorite type of contemporary stories. So it comes as no surprise to me that this is probably my favorite book in the series. From page one, the characters jump out at you like they're real people. You can see them so clearly in your head, that it just might make you say "they're adorable" out loud. It sure did me.

This book made me laugh, because Olivia and Nate have the best conversations. The dialogues were flowing, fun, funny and sweet... the kind of conversations best friends have--because they are.

This is another selling point for this book - it does the friends to lovers trope to perfection. I've always believed that the best relationships out there are the ones where you marry your best friend, and this book is one of those books that prove me right.

If you've read one of Young's novels, you know how fantastic she is at writing smart, funny characters, which both Nate and Olivia are, and how she manages to build such a rich environment for her characters to exist in through their relationships with their friends and loved ones. Before Jamaica Lane is a prime example of that talent.

However, don't go into this story looking for innovation. In it's essence, the story is fairly predictable. I didn't read the synopsis before buying it, having loved this series before, but immediately knew upon hearing how inexperienced Olivia was and how experienced Nate is where this story was getting.

This didn't stop the story for being hella enjoyable for me, but I did feel it was worth mentioning. 

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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

On Dublin Street by Samantha Young | Book Review

On Dublin Street by Samantha Young
First Published: 2012
Paperback
New Adult, Contemporary romance
Rating:
Re-Readability:
Jocelyn Butler has been hiding from her past for years. But all her secrets are about to be laid bare…
Four years ago, Jocelyn left her tragic past behind in the States and started over in Scotland, burying her grief, ignoring her demons, and forging ahead without attachments. Her solitary life is working well—until she moves into a new apartment on Dublin Street where she meets a man who shakes her carefully guarded world to its core.
Braden Carmichael is used to getting what he wants, and he’s determined to get Jocelyn into his bed. Knowing how skittish she is about entering a relationship, Braden proposes an arrangement that will satisfy their intense attraction without any strings attached.
But after an intrigued Jocelyn accepts, she realizes that Braden won’t be satisfied with just mind-blowing passion. The stubborn Scotsman is intent on truly knowing her… down to the very soul.
On Dublin Street is one of the first contemporary novels I read back in 2013 that truly blew me away, especially taking in how high my expectations were because of the hype. Young's first foray into adult territory is written and executed amazingly well, with a story that keeps you reading, characters you can root for and a romance that will make you swoon. 

The novel is narrator by our main character, Jocelyn "Joss" Butler. A sexy, smart and caring young woman who has some heavy baggage from her family's untimely death. But don't worry, she's working on it. Or trying to. Unlike a lot of heroines (whom I find annoying, honestly), Joss doesn't sit around waiting for things to change. She's actively trying to get better. And sometimes, the actions she took made my heart ache, because I just wanted for her to get her HEA already.

And I wanted her to get it with Braden, our hot, rich caveman. It's very easy to err and make a douche out of an alpha male, but when you do it right, like with Braden, you get a charming mix of attitude, personality and tenderness. Braden is wickedly smart, impossibly stubborn, and somewhat manipulative, but he uses those powers for good. He follows his guts and listen to what his heart tells him, and more often that not he's right.

And most importantly - if Braden wasn't this way, his romance with Joss wouldn't have worked. Joss needs someone who can stand on equal grounds with her. Someone who won't back down until all her walls are rubble and she has no other choice but to surrender. Someone with whom she wouldn't need to put everything to words. 

As a side note... holly hawt chemistry batman! These two should stay away from flammable stuff otherwise they will catch on fire! It doesn't even matter whether they're arguing, bantering or getting along, they just heat the place up. 

My favorite side character from this installment has to be Braden's sister and Joss's roommate, Ellie. She's sweet, funny and absolutely adorable, not to mention a good friend and sister. She's a key factor in Joss's recovery, not just decoration.

So if you're looking for a good contemporary, you should pick this one. It really does have everything!
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Saturday, January 14, 2017

The Year we Fell Down by Sarina Bowen | Book Review

First Published: 2014
Kindle
New Adult, Contemporary Romance
Rating:
Re-Readability:
The sport she loves is out of reach. The boy she loves has someone else.What now?
She expected to start Harkness College as a varsity ice hockey player. But a serious accident means that Corey Callahan will start school in a wheelchair instead.
Across the hall, in the other handicapped-accessible dorm room, lives the too-delicious-to-be real Adam Hartley, another would-be hockey star with his leg broken in two places. He’s way out of Corey’s league.
Also, he’s taken.
Nevertheless, an unlikely alliance blooms between Corey and Hartley in the “gimp ghetto” of McHerrin Hall. Over tequila, perilously balanced dining hall trays, and video games, the two cope with disappointments that nobody else understands.
They’re just friends, of course, until one night when things fall apart. Or fall together. All Corey knows is that she’s falling. Hard.
But will Hartley set aside his trophy girl to love someone as broken as Corey? If he won’t, she will need to find the courage to make a life for herself at Harkness — one which does not revolve around the sport she can no longer play, or the brown-eyed boy who’s afraid to love her back.
To be completely honest, I didn't really expect much of this novel. I had actually gotten it as a freebie some time back, but I didn't really know much about it and for some reason the cover screamed "typical romance story", and though I love those, I simply have too much of them on my kindle for this one to stand out to me.

Then, by some weird twist of fate, I reached a blog post by the author and found out the main character was in a wheelchair. This changed the whole picture for me, because I had been looking for some different romance to read, and a heroine struggling with disability was just what the doctor ordered. 

This book took me by complete surprise. 

First of all, the writing is great. Yes, this should be a given, but I've been burned by so many freebies that at this point I'm kind of cynical and disillusioned about the whole thing. So I was keeping my expectations low, and it far surpassed them. There was this easy, flowing quality to the story and dialogues that made it feel very effortless. I almost forgot that I was reading

Then there was the story itself. I kind of expected an avalanche of drama like a lot of those college romances throw at you. FYI - I hate over the top drama in novels. It makes me roll my eyes and feel exasperated. 

But once again, this novel surprised me. Instead of drama, we got real, believable conflicts that didn't relay on some miscommunication between two people. Conflicts that were resolved naturally, even if it took time. What could have been a tedious and aggravating journey for our mains to finally end together was handled with such care and maturity that it was simply delightful to read.

These people, Corey and Hartley, felt like real people, their romance flawed and yet wonderful and the progression and build of it natural and captivating (btw, slow burn!). You will 100% root for these two to get together. You will want them to get their happily ever after because they just fit so perfectly with their banter and humor. 

I never expected to like this so much, and yet I am so thrilled I did
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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

When You Just Have to Break Up... With a Genre

In the last five years or so, easing up only last year, there has been an affluence of dystopians in the market. Divergent, Under the Never Sky, Hunger Games, etc, all of them were at their peek and flourishing. Everywhere you looked, the YA shelves were filled with highly recommended dystopian novels. The hype was off the roof, and naturally I bought some of those novels. And then, after reading maybe five of them, I stopped.

Most of my currently unread hard copy novels are in fact dystopians. Divergent, Under the Never Sky, Defiance, Partials, Red Hill, Delirium, Breathe, World After... the list goes on. All should be great books, and yet something stops me from actually picking them up. They're left unread and untouched, passed over in favor of romantic tales and fantastical worlds, some of which came long after them into my possession.

Then, after reading Wither back in 2013--and when I say "read" I mean force myself to pick up a dystopian novel, any dystopian novel, because I haven't read one in weeks and they're pilling goddammit!--I suddenly realized why. For the most part, I... simply don't like reading dystopians. 
I don't believe in forcing one's self to read a genre just because it's popular and everyone loves it, when you're not really enjoying the experience of reading it. 

I'd like to clarify that I have read great dystopians and in all honesty most of the books I've read in the genre were fantastic. I just didn't enjoy reading them. Out of the books I've read, only two or three are five stars, and none of them made it to my favorites shelves (aside for the Knife of Never Letting Go). I'm not going to read any of them a second time. I'm not going to force my cousin, Yuval, to read any (the sure sign that I really love a novel) - I have, in fact, never done so with a dystopian. Ever.

The reason for this aversion? DYSTOPIANS ARE DEPRESSING.
I am a person prone to depressions. I combat them on a daily life level, some days literally forcing myself to get out of bed and face the world. I had three instances in my life that I couldn't do that, and spent the majority of three or two weeks in bed, doing absolutely nothing. It was very hard to pick myself up again after that.

And I am not considered a bad case of this disease (have never went to diagnose it, either, because that would make it far too real, and when I'm okay enough to care about diagnosis I'm also lucid enough to feel completely ashamed of that weakness, but that's a separate issue).

Dystopians are so hard for me to read. The very depressing, disturbing and cruel realities these people live in make me physically feel heavier. I feel myself drowning under the weight of realities that don't even exist (yet).
In my mind, they're associated with depression, worse-case scenarios and impossible choices. With no way out, death and loss. To put simply - they scare me. They scare me because I read to feel better, to shake off the things that bother me via a temporary foray into someone else's life, someone who gets their HEA, and dystopians do the opposite for me. They make me feel unbalanced, paranoid and moody. 

I am afraid that if I read them, it will be so much harder to get up in the morning.

So my relationship with dystopians is tumultuous to say the least. I read maybe two dystopian novels in a year, but where three years ago I was angry at myself for this, I am now okay with this reality. I am never going to have an easy time with the depressing subjects, and that's okay. Everyone have things they find harder to handle.

tbh, at this point I feel like dystopians are that ex you're still kind of friendly with and see twice a year at friends' birthdays.

What about you? Are dystopians your favorite genre, or like me you kind of elegantly avoid them and pretend you don't see the row of unread dystopians on your shelves?

Sunday, January 8, 2017

The Shade of the Moon by Susan Beth Pfeffer | Book Review

The Shade of the Moon by Susan Beth Pfeffer
First Published: 2013
Kindle
Young Adult, Dystopia
Rating: 
Re-Readability: 
The eagerly awaited addition to the series begun with the New York Times best-seller Life As We Knew It, in which a meteor knocks the moon off its orbit and the world changes forever.
It's been more than two years since Jon Evans and his family left Pennsylvania, hoping to find a safe place to live, yet Jon remains haunted by the deaths of those he loved. His prowess on a soccer field has guaranteed him a home in a well-protected enclave. But Jon is painfully aware that a missed goal, a careless word, even falling in love, can put his life and the lives of his mother, his sister Miranda, and her husband, Alex, in jeopardy. Can Jon risk doing what is right in a world gone so terribly wrong?
Part One - Prick Jon
While this book is probably my second favorite in the series, it's also the one with which I had the most complicated relationship with. 

For the majority of the first half of the novel, I hated it. Not the novel itself, per se, but the reality it was portraying. I felt angry while reading this novel, which I think was very intentional, because our protagonist, Jon, was appalling with his flawed and aggravating thought process, degrading his own family to, essentially, sub-humans. Feeling entitled when he should've been a "grub" himself. Doing all those awful things to be part of the elite, even while he knows they will never truly regard him as one of them. I wanted to literally smack some sense into him on more than one occasion.

First-Half Jon was a big, fat prick.

So, yeah, I wasn't too thrilled about that. And if that's not enough, we have yet another insta love in this installment, this time between Jon and a newbie named Sarah. A le sigh. At least this time I somehow shipped the two of them, even though they were fighting about 90% of the time.

And how could they not? Sarah was a lovable character who stood for what was right and wasn't afraid to say and do the hard things, and Jon was... still prick-Jon. And a prick-Jon who followed orders to keep his position (while still somehow thinking he's above everyone else), so I guess he needed to get a fix somewhere... I hope my bitter isn't showing too much.

The only upside to the first half of the novel was that I finally shipped Alex and Miranda. It took seeing their relationship through someone else's eyes and knowing in the back of my mind that they've been together for about three years at this point for me to finally buy it. Too bad the really interesting conflict between them happened off screen.

On the family front, two things happened. First, can we just talk for a second about how Hal deserved better than being a footnote in this story?? Second, Carlos is a major a-hole. In the last novels, I was kind of disappointed we didn't get to meet this character and judge him for ourselves, as he sounded kind of dick-ish, but I wasn't sure whether our image of him got distorted because we were reading Alex/Miranda's view of him. It wasn't it. He's just a dick.

Part Two - THANK GOD
Can I get an amen? the second half of the novel was wonderful. It made me love Jon--finally!--as his character developed and evolved, taking the blinders off and finally seeing. It made me cry my eyes out, smile, and respect everyone involved for being able to hold on to their hope even in the face of the worst of situations.

Warning: shit happens. Bad, bad shit. It was nice to see that while this novel wasn't about the end of the world but rather on re-building humanity... and how badly that endeavor could be screwed... this stayed the same. Or I mean, really really not nice but there you go. People die, and humans are proven to be the cruelest of animals, but so long as there are people who would fight and rebel for what's right, we can win. 

It was poignant, heartfelt, and somehow hopeful, making for a story I couldn't put down. 

Relationship Status: It's Complicated
The thing is, I'm really conflicted about this series as, well, a series. On the one hand, I kind of wish Pfeffer left it with just that first, perfect novel. Life as We Knew It worked, and arguably didn't need this saga it developed into. 

But at the same time, another part of me wants a fifth novel, about this new community and how things evolve from there, perhaps from Opal's pov, who is a character I feel was largely underutilized. 

And how could those two things exist in the same head at the same time is a complete mystery... 
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Thursday, January 5, 2017

This World We Live In by Susan Beth Pfeffer | Book Review

This World We Live In by Susan Beth Pfeffer
First Published: 2010
Kindle
Young Adult, Dystopia
Rating: 
Re-Readability: 
It’s been a year since a meteor collided with the moon, catastrophically altering the earth’s climate. For Miranda Evans, life as she knew it no longer exists. Her friends and neighbors are dead, the landscape is frozen, and food is increasingly scarce.
The struggle to survive intensifies when Miranda’s father and stepmother arrive with a baby and three strangers in tow. One of the newcomers is Alex Morales, and as Miranda’s complicated feelings for him turn to love, his plans for his future thwart their relationship. Then a devastating tornado hits the town of Howell, and Miranda makes a decision that will change their lives forever.
First and foremost, let me say this - The World We Live In is not a bad novel by any stretch of imagination. But out of the four books in the Last Survivors saga, it's the one for which I have the most complaints. Mostly because it started so good.

Right from the get go, I loved being back in Miranda's mind. It felt like - yes, this is what I was missing in the last book. The thing that makes Miranda so attractive as a character to me is that, while she lives in a post-apocalyptic universe that forced her to grow up too fast... she's still a teenager - she still throws tantrums, she still gets angry for stupid reasons, she still feels jealous and irrational and all those things that come with being a teen. That is so real and captivating to me, because this is a character that started out in a normal world, and you can't un-learn or un-know all these things.

So it was off to a fantastic start, especially since the meeting and the beginning interactions between Miranda and Alex (and Julie) were pleasantly satisfying. I enjoyed the antagonistic relationship that developed between the two, especially because I honestly find the two of them to be such different people with Alex not being the easiest person to fall in love with, so it couldn't possibly have gotten down any other way.

Not to mention, Alex seems intent on making the worst impression possible in this novel. He's highhanded, stubborn, righteous and borderline jerk-ish. Especially now when we don't get any insight into his mind to soften his manner, and Alex is a pretty introverted.

So, yeah. Off to a wonderful start, with all the new characters joining the Evans household being interesting in their own right. So where did things go wrong? Simple - the INSTA LOVE.

Yes, this needed caps lock. God dammit, why did it have to rear it's ugly head in these novels?! And not one case of it... but two? Jeez. I ended up shipping Peter and Laura (Miranda's mother and her boyfriend) in book one ten times more than I ever did Alex and Miranda or Syl and Matt because it was far more based and made more sense than these two relationships ever did!

I understand searching companionship and comfort in such desperate times that you would be attracted to anyone who might give you that and not waste time about it. I get it. In fact, if any novel world could pull off insta love, it would be this one... except it didn't.

These people had no chemistry whatsoever. It was so perplexing to find them together and attracted to one another. That's never a good response to a book couple. But then there is also the element of them claiming they know each other better than anyone... when they really, really don't. I don't mind you starting to date. I could deal with the abrupt and unfathomable change from hating each other to eating each other's faces, for the reasons I mentioned before. But don't pretend you know each other. Don't tell me you're in love, because kissing does not equal love. Not when you failed to show me that in any other scene.

I wanted to ship this couple so very much. I've waited for their romance since I learned books one and two intersect in this way. We don't always get what we want.

And then... the ending happened. It kind of felt like Pfeffer suddenly remembered this was a post-apocalyptic, unstable, unfair world, and some bad shit had to go down and people had to die. So she went through all the natural disasters to find one she hadn't used and sicced it on our characters.

Now to clarify... I don't resent this happening. I'm okay with the meaningless deaths because the whole point of this novel, judging by the title, is "the world we live in". And... that's the kind of world they live in. It just kind of came out of nowhere, giving me whiplash. And I kind of, sort of, resent who she chose to kill. I don't want any of them dead, but a few are crueler than the other... and she sure chose the cruelest one.
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Monday, January 2, 2017

The Dead and the Gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer | Book Review

First Published: 2008
Kindle
Young Adult, Dystopia
Rating:
Re-Readability:
Susan Beth Pfeffer’s Life as We Knew It enthralled and devastated readers with its brutal but hopeful look at an apocalyptic event--an asteroid hitting the moon, setting off a tailspin of horrific climate changes. Now this harrowing companion novel examines the same events as they unfold in New York City, revealed through the eyes of seventeen-year-old Puerto Rican Alex Morales. When Alex's parents disappear in the aftermath of tidal waves, he must care for his two younger sisters, even as Manhattan becomes a deadly wasteland, and food and aid dwindle.
With haunting themes of family, faith, personal change, and courage, this powerful new novel explores how a young man takes on unimaginable responsibilities.
While The Dead and the Gone is categorized as a sequel to Life as We Knew It, it would more accurately be described as a companion novel as it actually follows the same time span of the original novel, only chronicling the world-ending disaster through the eyes of 17 years old Alex Morales all the way in New York.

Despite this, The Dead and the Gone is fundamentally different than it's predecessor, and all because the eyes it's told through, and the place it's being held.

Alex is a less likable character than Miranda, I'll admit that. This is the main reason that, while I enjoyed this novel, I didn't love it as much as the first. It's not that I hated him or anything, but I also didn't like how he thought and acted with Julie, and he was sometimes overly righteous. It just didn't sit all that well with me, even though God knows I don't condemn him for any of it.

Because Alex sees death, everywhere, all around him, from the very first moment things go array. His experience is much darker and traumatizing than Miranda's, especially as all the responsibility falls on his shoulders. The things he has to do and see are horrifying... and he has to do it all alone.

I do wonder how I would've felt about this novel if it had been told in the intimacy of first person pov like Life as We Knew It, instead of third person. That said, I think this distancing in perspective is done quite intentionally. 

Where Life as We Knew It is an isolated story, about a family who is cut off from everyone else, but still has each other, The Dead and the Gone is far wider in its scope and shows much greater detail of the disaster, and is far more brutal about it. And Alex himself needs to distance himself from all the horrors around him, or else he might collapse.

The one thing that really bothered me in this regard was that Pfeffer clearly relied on people having read the first novel to fully understand the natural disaster afoot. Alex very rarely focused or cared about the larger things that were happening around him - it was simply glossed over. Oh, yeah, the moon's closer to the earth. Now there are earthquakes and floods. Hmmm... volcanoes erupting ? cool.

I understand why - Alex is focused on saving his and his sisters' lives. There is no space in his life for anything else. But at the same time, this grates because of how much this novel reads like a companion novel. 
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