Monday, 26 August 2013

Hangin' with my high school peeps & a review of "Never Fade" by A. Bracken

I know that it's been over a week since I've posted anything and I have a great reason.  I was getting ready for and participating in a reunion with my friends from my high school days.  It was two years in the making and it was so much fun!  Nine adults and our eleven kids, from two countries, were together for three days in beautiful Dorset, Ontario and it was spectacular!  Even Mother Nature was in a good mood and granted us beautiful weather to enjoy.

You know that you're good friends with someone when you literally pick up where you left off three years ago.  It has been 3 years since I'd seen my friend Kris and months since I'd seen the rest of my peeps but it was like we never missed a beat.  That is how I define my best friendships and I feel so very lucky that I have that with so many different friends that I've met over the years.  I am blessed.

There is nothing better than hanging with people that have been with you through thick and thin.  Some of these people have known me since I was ten years old!  That means that these people have known me through the good and the ... not so good.  We're talking about going through puberty, popularity, pinned jeans and jelly slippers.  During the Bad Perm of 1983, the flying baton of our music teacher, Mr Riches, my Richard Marx addiction (don't judge), seeing our first horror movies during our many sleepovers, our secret shopping excursions into Toronto, my first concerts and first crush which was on Steve S. (Seriously 14 year old self?  Steve S??) -- and yet they still love me anyway!!

The fact that all of our spouses mesh well is just icing on the proverbial cake.  Ya, these people are keepers.

Many, many laughs were had this weekend (Drew, my stomach still hurts from laughing with you!), lots of reminiscing of 'the good ol' days' and listening to a great 80's playlist that was put together by my friend Chris. 

All eleven of our kids (ages 1 to almost 14) bonded too as we were all disconnected from our phones, computers, videogames and TV.  And I adored that we went 'old-school' and left the world behind for the weekend.  We spent our time chatting, swimming in the lake for 7 hours, canoeing, paddle boating, hanging around a stellar campfire complete with s'mores, lots of board game action, tubing with my girlfriends and just plain hangin' out.  Yup, we had a fabulous weekend.  I think that counts as reason enough to ignore the ol' blog for a bit.

But ... I'm back.  Yuppers.  I have a new book review to share with you.  It's a Young Adult/Dystopian read called Never Fade that is the second book in The Darkest Minds series by Alexandra Bracken.  Without further adieu, here's my review ...

Author: Alexandra Bracken
Genre: Supernatural, Young Adult
Type: Kindle e-book ARC
Series: #2 in Darkest Minds series
Series Order:
  1. Darkest Minds
  2. Never Fade
Expected Published: October 15, 2013
Publisher: Disney Book Group
First Line: "The dream first made an appearance my second week at Thurmond, and it came to visit at least twice a month."

Book Description from GoodReadsRuby never asked for the abilities that almost cost her her life. Now she must call upon them on a daily basis, leading dangerous missions to bring down a corrupt government and breaking into the minds of her enemies. Other kids in the Children’s League call Ruby “Leader”, but she knows what she really is: a monster.

When Ruby is entrusted with an explosive secret, she must embark on her most dangerous mission yet: leaving the Children’s League behind. Crucial information about the disease that killed most of America’s children—and turned Ruby and the others who lived into feared and hated outcasts—has survived every attempt to destroy it. But the truth is only saved in one place: a flashdrive in the hands of Liam Stewart, the boy Ruby once believed was her future—and who now wouldn’t recognize her.

As Ruby sets out across a desperate, lawless country to find Liam—and answers about the catastrophe that has ripped both her life and America apart—she is torn between old friends and the promise she made to serve the League. Ruby will do anything to protect the people she loves. But what if winning the war means losing herself?

Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to Disney Book Group and NetGalley for providing me with a complimentary e-book copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

My Review:
Never Fade is the second book in The Darkest Minds series and while it has many of the same characters as the first book it definitely has a different feel. In this book we get to see Ruby come into her own a bit and it feels like a much darker read that focuses more on the political side of Ruby's plight.  Unfortunately the details on the government conspiracy were hard to grasp and I always felt like I wasn't quite getting the gist of it.  I really hate the feeling of not quite understanding things.  I feel like I spend too much of the book trying to figure things out instead of enjoying the story and characters. 

I think that this confusion over the general storyline really hindered me getting into the book.  While there are good characters and action (albeit much more towards the end of the book) there's just not a lot going on for the big chunk of the book.  Plus, I struggled to remember the specific details of "Darkest Minds" since it had been a few weeks since I had read it (with several books read in between).  Unfortunately the author doesn't provide much in the way of a back story to help her readers out so if you're going to jump into Darkest Minds you may want to have Never Fade waiting in the wings to continue Ruby's story.  It is a little frustrating when an author won't gently remind (not regurgitate) the gist of the previous book(s) to help the readers remember why they loved the previous book.

As with The Darkest Minds it was the secondary characters that stood out for me.  Vida and Jude shone in this book and felt much more real than Ruby and the other main characters.  I loved Vida because the girl says it like it is.  She really doesn't mince words.  She wants to get the job done but you also know there's much more of a caring person somewhere deep, deep down.  I also loved Jude.  Ahhh, sweet, innocent Jude who brought a very human innocence to the book which I loved.

Ruby is growing on me.  We see her transform from a weak, tentative girl to someone who is learning to embrace her powers and learning how to lead others.  She's tougher in this book but I'm still not 100% sure that I like her.   She's still a little wishy-washy in her decisions and with the focus being more on the political there is a lot less romance in this book than I was expecting.

Overall, Never Fade felt like it lacked focus for me.  I enjoyed Darkest Minds and wanted to see where the characters would go but the general feeling of confusion and not quite getting the storyline in Never Fade got in the way of me truly loving this second book in the series.

This book felt like the sophomoric book that it is. The bridge between book one and book three.  It has its merits but overall I was hoping for a bit more from it and less of me struggling to muddle through all of the info that is given to the reader with little back story to help remind me.

My Rating: 2.5/5 stars

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