May 18, 2012

Review: Haven

By: Kristi Cook
Published: February 2011 by Simon Pulse
Format: Hardback, 401 pages
First Reviewed: April 2011
Buy: Barnes & Noble//Books-A-Million//Amazon//Book Depository
Add it on Goodreads

Destiny brought them together. Now it will tear them apart.

Violet McKenna isn’t a normal girl with normal teenage issues; she has more to contend with than most people could handle. Violet thought she was just crazy when she had a vivid vision of her dad’s murder. Her life started falling apart when her premonition came true. She’s had flashes of other events too. The problem was nobody believed her until she found a new school: Winterhaven.
At Winterhaven, Violet finally feels like she belongs. She quickly finds a close group friends and discovers that they too have psychic ‘gifts’—as do all the students at Winterhaven. But as soon as she feels settled she discovers the most intriguing and alluring boy she has ever met, and things quickly go awry. As the attraction between them grows, intense visions of the boy’s death start to haunt her. In her premonitions the secret he is unwilling to share begins to reveal itself. And to Violet's horror, she learns that their destinies are intertwined in a critical--and deadly--way.

Rating: 1/5

Judging by the description, I'd been pretty stoked to try this out. I love anything to do with psychic abilities and bordering schools, so I figured this would be right up my alley. Turns out (a little spoiler, though some of you may want to know), it's a vampire story. Something I didn't expect and didn't care for.

When I get books dealing with boarding schools, I want to love the setting. But this was nothing special. Nothing unique. The same old boring prep school in NY, close enough to get to the city when needed. Books with this type of setup always need to bring something new to the table, but this one failed to do so.

Upon reading the first paragraph, I thought, Hey, this might be a good character. Nice, strong voice. After the second paragraph, I was annoyed with Violet. By the end of the second page, I was ready to rip her head off. She annoyed the crap out of me for the majority of the first half. Then she just became bland, boring me to death with her "Oh, woe is me, I have powers I hate and my maybe-boyfriend is a vampire." She wasn't strong at all.

As for the "alluring boy," as the description refers to him, he's anything but. It's clear that Cook was trying to go for the hot male lead that every single reader can't help but fall for, but that was most definitely not the case. He annoyed me just as much as Violet did.

Don't get me wrong, there was some good characterization in here at times, mainly with the minor characters, although some were still cliche and one-dimensional. At least they had developed personalities. The most developed were characters we never actually "met" in the story, though.

The opening paragraph has to be the most misleading in the book. After that, not only did I expect Violet to carry this strong voice, I expected a fantastic writing style. But it was nothing special. The typical commercial writing with nothing to set it apart from others. First, Mrs. Cook, please ditch the ridiculous italics. Yet another book that has ruined the use of italics for me. And again, I'm mentioning adverbs. What is it with all the unnecessary adverbs lately (ha!)? They're killing me! I think writers are getting more lazy, or publishers are growing more lazy. Or both. Anyway, for the first half of the book, I was drowning in them. As if that weren't enough, buckets of ellipses and too-simple lines were added to the pool.

Sigh. Okay, the writing wasn't that bad. It just wasn't anything special.

Now here's where I feel the book really fell flat. The plot. First of all, the romance element just didn't work. They were all "I can't stop thinking about you!" within Violet's first week at the school. Come on, seriously? I've already mentioned that the "alluring boy" wasn't very alluring, so that should be your next clue to how I liked the romance. Romance aside, I just don't think the plot worked. For one, it just moved too fast. It jumped all over the place, in my opinion. And I was bored. The majority of the book was just Aidan and Violet trying to figure out their unique situation. To be honest, it almost seemed as though this was plotless. It had a premise, but nothing propelling it forward. This needed more than interesting characters (or more like characters with interesting "gifts") and a few so-so explanations.

Maybe it has to do with the fact that I wasn't expecting or wanting a vampire book, but even so, the characters and plot just fell too flat for me. There were some okay parts, but nothing too amazing or unique. It was nothing like I was itching for, which would have been okay it I felt it delivered the premise.

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