Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Novella Review Roundup

A Dawn Most Wicked
Harper Teen
June 4, 2013
150 pages
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Something Strange and Deadly #0.5

Daniel Sheridan is an engineer’s apprentice on a haunted Mississippi steamer known as the Sadie Queen. His best friend–the apprentice pilot, Cassidy Cochran–also happens to be the girl he’s pining for…and the captain’s daughter. But when it looks like the Sadie Queen might get taken off the river, Daniel and Cassidy have to do whatever they can to stop the ghosts that plague the ship.

Fortunately, there happens to be a Creole gentleman on board by the name of Joseph Boyer-–and he just might be able to help them…
This prequel gives us Daniel's back story - or some of it. We meet him while he's working on the Sadie Queen, a haunted Mississippi steam boat. If you haven't read Dennard's first book with his character, you may be lost at the start of this novella. Though it's a prequel, things start out assuming readers know who the character is . . .

A Dawn Most Wicked is listed as number zero point five in the Something Strange and Deadly series, but really it's best as a 'go back and read it after you've read the first book' prequel type of book. It's a good read if you haven't already read Something Strange and Deadly, but it's much better if you already have -- if you know Daniel already and have some interest in him.

Verdict: A Dawn Most Wicked is an enjoyable read. A prequel that assumes readers know the character (ie have read Book 1), it's likely a lot more enjoyable if you've read Something Strange and Deadly but a good story on its own.

(Features a preview of A Darkness Strange and Lovely (#2) at the end.)
Rating: 3.5/5

The Prince
Harper Teen
March 5, 2013
64 pages
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The Selection #0.5

Before thirty-five girls were chosen to compete in the Selection...

Before Aspen broke America's heart...

There was another girl in Prince Maxon's life...

Don't miss this thrilling 64-page original novella set in the world of the New York Times bestselling novel The Selection. Also features a teaser to The Elite, Kiera Cass's hotly anticipated sequel to The Selection.
After how I felt about The Selection (my review-ish HERE) it may be surprising that I read this at all, but I was curious. And I actually liked it. Told from Maxon's point-of view we get a bit of lead up into the actual start of The Selection and see how he's feeling about the whole thing.

I do feel the synopsis is a bit misleading because it makes it seem as if the novella is mainly about this 'other girl' when really she just seemed to be one part of it, to me. Not a small part, sure but not the story, either.

I did like seeing Maxon as more than just The Prince as well as some of the lead up into the Selection. It made Maxon seem like more of a whole character. I may have to see what I think of The Elite.

While this one has a preview of The Elite at the end, I think it's one that could be read before or after The Selection -- if you've read The Selection you'll understand more but with the different character POV and being set at the start, it's good for those new to things as well.

Verdict: It's nice to see a bit more of who Maxon is here; how he felt going into the Selection. This one can be read before or after Book 1.

Rating: 3.5/5

Playing Keira
Harper Teen
May 7, 2013
40 pages
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prequel to You Look Different in Real Life
From a breakthrough voice in YA fiction comes a captivating digital-original short story, starring a supporting character from the novel You Look Different in Real Life.

The premise was simple: five kids living their real lives, with a new movie about them every five years. But that was before Keira’s mother walked out, and the cameras captured every heartbreaking detail for the world to see. Now Keira doesn’t even know what “real life” means – she only knows how to pretend to be herself.

Then she meets Garrett on a bus to New York City. At first, Keira creates a fictional identity and enjoys the freedom of being someone totally different. But as their brief connection turns into something more, Keira starts to see what life could be like if she just stopped pretending and accepted the person she really is.

I adored Jennifer Castle's The Beginning of After so I have to admit to having high hopes for her follow-up - and it's prequel novella.  Lucky for me and I suppose you, Playing Keira completely exceeded all of those expectations.

I loved Playing Keira. It's a fantastic little story all on its own. We're drawn into Keira's story, her journey on the bus and this new persona, this new identity she's creating. All the while wondering both why . . . and what's going to happen at the end of the bus ride.

Playing Keira is a great short story whether it's a prequel or not. Even if you don't plan to read You Look Different in Real Life (which, really, why would you not? But if you don't), do yourself a favor and read this. In, really, just a few pages we meet such a great character and learn so much about her, while still wanting to learn so much more.

There aren't a lot of contemporary novels with prequel novellas (at least, that I have seen) so I was surprised to see this one but so glad I stumbled upon it!

Verdict: A pretty amazing short story prequel or no. Great introduction to the character and some of the story for You Look Different in Real Life.

Rating: 4.5/5

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