I think I need to lower my standards. I really do. This wasn’t a horrible book. Was it meh, definitely. So meh in fact I didn’t finish it. But it’s not like it’s the worst thing I ever read which actually has me feeling sort of, well, weird. And what’s weirder is the press that this piece of…okay, I’ll calm down now and review the book.
General Summary: So a girl finds out she’s a special snowflake on her seventeen birthday and two hot guys are totally after her and she acts like a total Bella. Yeah, that’s pretty much it.
Whenever I read books like this I can only think hamster wheel. Because I’ve read this story thousand of times before. I’m just going to give you a brief guide on how to write a YA PNR via Embrace:
Step One: Introduce your whiney protagonist. Protagonist should look like a Disney princess but not know it (like that Dove study says, women are their own worst critic especially in YA girl world). She should also have a dead parent and should be approaching that age where something more is about to happen. Also, it’s great to bring in some dark secret (in this book the heroine gets sexually assaulted by a teacher), but don’t spend much time on it since, you know, these books really don’t care much for character development and the aftermath of an assault.
Step Two; Introduce Drippy Love Interest One–this is usually the endgame (though it can occasionally differ). Love interest one should be our Edward. Classically handsome, has a secret, is eons old, and probably be partners in some class with our little Wannabe Disney Princess. Oh, and they share a special connection (usually soul mates).
Step Three: Whiney protagonist finds out she’s special. Usually this is either through the following a) she’s a princess or lineage, b) the last member of her paranormal race, c) a powerful cute paranormal creature that she later finds out she’s special. These can vary. Loose research should be done on said mythology. In the case of Embrace Shrivington shows us that she’s different by making her grigori (half human/half angel). Never mind that a girgori is actually a watcher and a half angel/half human is referred to as a nephilm.
Step Four: Introduce another love interest. He needs to be a little bit more edgy than the other love interest. Or if the other one is edgy make him the quote quote, see Jacob Black who’s not really a good boy but passes as one when compared to Eddie Boy. It also helps if there’s a past or some unknown connection that throws Disney Princess Wannabe and Second Interest together. A quest can also help here too.
Step Five: Have some random person trying to kill your MC. Because, you know she’s special.
Step Six: Have the MC go over her choices of guys over and over again where you feel like you’re on a merry go round and are going to vomit-note to readers, don’t eat Skittles when you read it the Technicolor vomit is guaranteed to make you vomit again.
Step Seven: End with a cliff hanger because we always got to have a sequel.
Note, I only read about half of Embrace so I didn’t get to see how step seven played out, but given that there are like four sequels I’m betting it ends in some sort of cliff hanger. The problem with this book is that it follows this format to a T it doesn’t divert at all. And it really is more focused on Violet’s love life than finding out she’s an angel or whatever it is. It also capitalizes on the cliches. We have a character, Love Interest 2, described as a Calvin Klein underwear model. Yeah, she uses those actual words. I’ll be honest, I have a character in a WIP I’m writing described that way. But he’s not a love interest, he’s the main character’s egotistical best friend and it’s said in jest. But here, it’s said seriously. And then there’s the main character, we’re told how perfect she is complete with a creamy complexion, perfect hair, and big boobs. Which is fine and all, but really who describes themselves that way and then does the whole I’m not particularly beautiful act.
Do you see my problem with this?
I’d like to say that the characters actions and dialogue made up for these cringe worthy descriptions, but nope. They were just cliche as the descriptions. The main character really was a bore. The one thing I know about her, besides the fact she likes to dress like a hooker at five star restaurants with her dad (and no not a sugar daddy, but her actual dad), is that she never goes to school. And as far as I know this book didn’t take place in the summer.
Really, there is nothing likable about her. Her reactions to finding out her secret heritage and reaction to those who are telling her is childish at best. Her connection to Love Interest 2 is eye roll worthy. Not to mention he has hair the color of an opal. How can one have opal colored hair?
Best Feature: I don’t know. I really don’t know. It was readable and easy enough to get through, but not interesting enough to finish it. The cover arts pretty too. Sometimes it’s really hard being nice.
Worst Feature: Meh Plot. There were lots of things about this book that bothered me, but I think what made me throw it back in the library bin was that there was nothing interesting about it. I’ve seen this story over and over again. Most of the angel mythology was adapted from other works-Blue Bloods, Fallen, Hush Hush, A Beautiful Dark, and even Halo. Yeah, if you’re using Halo as a source of your research then we have issues. And maybe I could’ve even gotten over the poor mythology if the characters were interesting. But we had essentially a Disney Princess in the driver’s seat with two Edward Cullen wannabes-well, maybe a quasi Jacob there too. Do you see how this could get annoying? Honestly, I don’t expect a lot when it comes to YA PNR (a genre if done right I really love), but this was just sheer laziness.
Appropriateness: Um, no. The character briefly mentions being sexually assaulted but nothing comes of it. I think sensitive issues like this should be treated delicately. This is not treated with kid gloves at all. Then there’s also the fact that the MC makes some pretty stupid life choices. Language is alright, I guess. There’s some teen drinking in it as well.
Blockbuster Worthy: It’s actually being developed into a show for the CW. I have no words. I really don’t. Only that the producers can do whatever the hell they want to this and it will be okay because this book has no personality. I really feel no emotion to the characters to cast, but I’ll do my best.
Violet: Kristen Stewart. Because yeah…Violet is essentially Bella in disguised and described looking like Snow White. And since Stewart infamously portrayed Snow White it’s a perfect fit.
Lincoln: Chord Overstreet. Yeah, he looks enough like Lincoln Log.
Phoenix: I can’t find anyone with opal hair, unfortunately. We’re not even told how old we are I’m casting Brandon Barash. Because at least I can look at something pretty when I watch Opal head and What’s Her Face flirt. Note to Brandon, I don’t know how you’re going to dye your hair opal colored.
Overall Rating: I’m giving it a two. It’s not awful enough to be granted a one, but God. She ripped off Alexandra Adornetto. Alexandra Adornetto whose books if I were to make a top ten worst YA books ever (and yeah, I’m tempted to make that list) would undoubtedly end up on it. I’m in Halo Therapy class right now and this has caused a definite relapse for me.