Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A New Light Part II: A Book Review on Haunted by Joy Preble

Haunted once again follows Anne, Tess and Ethan, as the characters we met in Dreaming Anastasia deal with the aftermath of the last book. Ethan has returned to Anne after taking some time to explore Europe only to discover that Anne has moved on with a lifeguard named Ben. To make matters worse, Anne has been keeping a secret from her friends. A secret where a woman is following Anne, appearing wherever there is water, and she won't stop haunting Anne until she gets what she wants from her.

As it is a trilogy, it stands to reason that plot and narration devices follow the same formula as the last book. Everything follows its course and the chapters alternate accordingly (although I do kind of wish that the obnoxiously stubborn Tess could have had a say of her own once in a while).

 We still have a semblance of the Big Bad from our first book, who just doesn't seem to know when to quit really, because the damages this character wreaked upon the people in Anne's life just seem to be neverending. We do have a bit of a new villian but the circumstances surrounding said character could make that an issue for debate but overall, plot development seemed to make the coherent strides necessary to make the story an overall okay read. Once again, the themes in this book focus on family issues and relationships, this time bringing Anne's mother Laura more centrally into the plot as Anne tries to understand her family history and works with learning what her family connections have done to bring about her particular destiny.

Here's where I get to the lists again.

First of all, the big plus of this book was the new mythology. I loved the world that was explored here, the ramifications of what this new information means for Anne and what she must do with the knowledge she learns. For the sake of a non-spoilery review though, you'll have to read the book to find out what new folklore was chosen and explored in this sequel.

And now for the bad. Okay, I'll admit it. I put this book down originally because when I started reading it for the first time and I saw all these new "developments" with Anne I thought, what the heck happened to this character? Did I miss something? Was she always this frustrating? This disappointing as a lead? So I put it down for a while. Eventually I skimmed it, I think, but in my head I just always thought I'd end up finishing it once the final book was released. And now that I've read it straight through again, I remember why it was so easy to put down that first time.

Where was Anne's character development?? Seriously, I felt like Anne started at Point A in Dreaming Anastasia, she made the necessary growth to get to Point B by the end of that novel, but then when we get to Haunted Anne has not only regressed back to the Point A of the previous novel but she has managed to take things back a step further than that. She's in complete denial about everything and has been lying on a daily basis to both Tess and Ethan about the fact that things are still not resolved concerning her and her wacky abilities from the previous book, i.e. the abilities that made Anne the one who could save Anastasia and have since developed considerably. And I hated it. This girl was so good at lying to others and herself at all times. The imagery I got out of it was that Anne was this spoiled 5-year-old sitting in the middle of the playground with her hands over her ears, eyes screwed shut, humming as loud as she can and refusing to take any action. I just found it so difficult to root for a character who displayed certain instances of power continuously (and by power, I mean something other than strength of character, which would have been good thing) in front of her trusted best friend, only to deny everything afterwards. So not good

And then there's the lifeguard Ben. Why does every YA novel out there have to have a love triangle? I honestly don't see the point. When a BOOK adds the love triangle after the first release, it gives me reason to twitch a bit, especially if the previously released book worked well enough without the addition of more love interests. Perhaps if the new "love interest" was a character seen in the past book and they just now have been given a bigger role in the new release, then I would be able to understand the linear path of the plot. Because of course, if a girl feels abandoned or worse and just needs a chance to go out and have fun, I could see the development there; it's logical, reasonable, and it doesn't seem to come out of left field. But that's rarely seen with love triangle plots. Also, main character Anne didn't seem to have the time nor the interest to really consider relationships in the previous book. She felt an attraction to Ethan, of course, but that took most of the book Dreaming Anastasia to really develop naturally to the point where the reader could see the beginnings of a relationship forming between them. So then I get to Haunted and what do I find? A love triangle with what feels like some random new guy Anne just happens to know. But to make things worse is the fact that Anne, with her newfound penchant for lying, is only pretending to be in love with Ben and she knows it. At one point she makes the decision to break it off with him but by the time we get to the end of the book she still hasn't made any definitive decisions on whether or not to let him move on without her. And to that I say to Anne, "What the hell kind of person are you?"

You put those minuses together over the course of the book and you get a lot of, darnit, get over your damn denial already and accept the reality of your situation (which is ridiculous, because this is YA supernatural romance. There is no reality as we readers would consider the word to even mean!) I wanted to grab Anne by the ear and force her to face her problems head-on. I wanted the Anne of Dreaming Anastasia to come back and slap some sense into the Anne of Haunted, who just seemed to think that as long as she didn't think about her problems then they didn't exist. And I wanted Tess to finally tell Anne off because as the best friend of the story, she seemed to get the short end of the stick a lot but she still stuck by Anne's side. And that's because Tess knew all along that Anne has been lying and keeping secrets from her and yet somehow Tess manages to overlook that, so kudos to her, and a swift kick in the ass for Anne. Still, that mythology had me hooked and the plot involving said myths was NOT resolved at the end of Haunted, so damn if I wasn't waiting for the final book in the trilogy to finally come out in stores (which it did, two weeks early I might add, bwah ha ha ha ha!)

Haunted Rating: 2 Stars.

This one was hard to decide on but in the end, I wanted to like this book and that feeling was all that I was left with because when I really think about it, I DON'T like this book and that's just hmph to me. It clearly suffered from the classic middle-of-a-trilogy syndrome and it just seemed to be nothing more than a bit of well, nothing good exactly, just a bunch of problems that made the characters unlikable. And then there was the whole I put it down and almost didn't finish it so my good conscious says anything higher than this rating is not being honest.

Continue on with my review of the Anastasia Trilogy ( just FYI, I have NO idea if that's the official title, it's just what I'm calling it) by reading my review on Anastasia Forever, the latest release by Joy Preble and the final book in the trilogy, out in stores August 7, 2012.

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