Review: Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan

Daughter of Deep SilencePublished: May 26, 2015 by Dutton Books for Young Readers
Pages: 375
Format: Kindle Edition

I’m the daughter of murdered parents.
I’m the friend of a dead girl.
I’m the lover of my enemy.
And I will have my revenge.

In the wake of the devastating destruction of the luxury yacht Persephone, just three souls remain to tell its story – and two of them are lying. Only Frances Mace knows the terrifying truth, and she’ll stop at nothing to avenge the murders of everyone she held dear. Even if it means taking down the boy she loves and possibly losing herself in the process.

“I am nothing except this: a girl reborn of the deep ocean silence, meant for nothing but vengeance.”

I had to suspend my disbelief a LOT for this book. And I struggled to do that. A lot. (But it was still awesome.)

Daughter of Deep Silence was not the book I was expecting it to be. I assumed some things based off the blurb which then confused the hell out of me when I first started the book.

First, I assumed that Frances and Libby were best friends who went on this cruise together. That is not the case. They meet on the cruise ship and their friendship develops over the course of the cruise.

Second, I could NOOOOOOOOT believe that Frances was only fourteen at first. (There is a time jump shortly after the beginning of the story, so she is eighteen during most of the book’s events, but still.) And I struggled a LOT with that because I felt like the whole thing wasn’t… I don’t know. I couldn’t buy this stuff happening to a fourteen year-old girl and having her turn out the way Frances does. I couldn’t buy 14-year-old Francis’ relationship with Grey. So that aspect of the story made things really difficult for me.

Third, Frances takes Libby’s identity (with the help of Libby’s father, but still) after only having just met her during the cruise (and then when they were in the ocean together on the life raft, of course, but still). I found that really hard to wrap my mind around… but I eventually just tried my best to accept it and kept reading. But I wasn’t expecting that AT ALL and it completely messed with my expectations, and then I felt like I spent the rest of the book trying to undo what I THOUGHT the story was going to be versus what it actually was.

Sooooo, yeah. If you can get past all that, there’s a pretty awesome story here.

This is a pretty fast read. I was hooked at the beginning, then things sloped off a bit, and then I hit the halfway point and finished it in about a day. I love Carrie Ryan’s prose and I love her characters.

I read her Forest of Hands and Teeth books and really liked them, even if I disliked the romances in them, so I was hoping I’d like this, too. I think I liked this one even more. I wasn’t a huge fan of the romance in this one for a lot of reasons, but I didn’t flat-out hate it, either.

Frances herself is complicated. At times I was rooting for her, and at other times I was horrified by her. To Frances, just about everything is a means to an end, and I wanted her to be more than that, but she’s also a product of the things that have happened to her, in a lot of ways. I liked the way Ryan crafted her character.

So basically… this book had some aspects that were really hard to swallow, but once I did, I was totally reeled in and couldn’t stop reading. I would definitely recommend it if you think the above issues wouldn’t throw you off too much. Yay, Carrie Ryan!

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Review: A Song for Ella Grey by David Almond

A Song for Ella GreyPublished: October 2, 2014 by Hodder Children’s Books
Pages: 272
Format: e-ARC

“I’m the one who’s left behind. I’m the one to tell the tale. I knew them both… knew how they lived and how they died.”

Claire is Ella Grey’s best friend. She’s there when the whirlwind arrives on the scene: catapulted into a North East landscape of gutted shipyards; of high arched bridges and ancient collapsed mines. She witnesses a love so dramatic it is as if her best friend has been captured and taken from her. But the loss of her friend to the arms of Orpheus is nothing compared to the loss she feels when Ella is taken from the world. This is her story – as she bears witness to a love so complete; so sure, that not even death can prove final.

This book has been difficult to review. I felt like a lot of it went over my head, which doesn’t help – not sure it is easy to review a book when you feel like you just didn’t “get it” – but the structure was weird, as well. A Song for Ella Grey is a retelling of the tragedy of Orpheus and Eurydice (Ella, in this story), told through the eyes of Ella’s best friend, Claire. I was intrigued but this setup, but I’m not sure it worked for me.

The writing was really lyrical, and the artwork interspersed throughout the book was pretty, but I had a hard time connecting to the characters and events in the story. The writing style seemed to take precedence over everything else – characters didn’t really talk the way I thought modern characters would, and sometimes events in the story felt very vague. I wouldn’t have minded that so much, but I did feel a bit lost throughout much of the story, and like a lot of the story’s events were going over my head, or that there was some deeper meaning of which I was unaware.

Even well over 85% into the book, I felt like the characters were strangers. I’m not sure if this is because it was a retelling or what, but having the main character distanced from so many of the events in the story was weird for me. I also felt like Claire had romantic feelings for Ella, and I wish that had been confirmed one way or the other, rather than just being left to wonder. It was hinted at several times, but I wasn’t sure if I was reading into it too much or not.

I found the last quarter of the book pretty enjoyable, but still felt like I didn’t quite get it. I’d be interested in reading another of Almond’s books in the future, though. I have a feeling this book just wasn’t for me.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for the opportunity to read this book!

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Review: I Was Here by Gayle Forman

I Was HerePublished: January 27, 2015 by Viking Children’s
Pages: 288
Format: Kindle Edition

Cody and Meg were inseperable.
Two peas in a pod.
Until… they weren’t anymore.

When her best friend Meg drinks a bottle of industrial-strength cleaner alone in a motel room, Cody is understandably shocked and devastated. She and Meg shared everything – so how was there no warning? But when Cody travels to Meg’s college town to pack up the belongings left behind, she discovers that there’s a lot that Meg never told her. About her old roommates, the sort of people Cody never would have met in her dead-end small town in Washington. About Ben McAllister, the boy with a guitar and a sneer, who broke Meg’s heart. And about an encrypted computer file that Meg can’t open – until she does, and suddenly everything Cody thought she knew about her best friend’s death gets thrown into question.

I had high expectations for this book after If I Stay and Where She Went, and I wasn’t disappointed. I Was Here definitely won’t be for everyone, but parts of it resonated with me in a way I didn’t expect. There’s a lot going on in this book, both up front and beneath the surface – about secrets, family, friendship, and forgiveness, and Forman handles it beautifully.

The romance was a huge disappointment for me, but I also felt like the focus of the main story wasn’t on that, so I was mostly able to ignore it (thankfully).

Cody’s mission to learn the truth behind Meg’s suicide really pulled me in and kept me turning the pages. Her anger and heartbreak fueled her through her journey, and the lengths she went to made me almost want to look away because the direction she went in made me so uncomfortable.

Overall, I thought this was a really strong book, if really tough to read at times, and I’m looking forward to reading more of Forman’s works in the future.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars