Tag Archive | 4.5 stars

Glimpse (Zellie Wells #1)

Glimpse by Stacey Wallace Benefiel

Glimpse (Zellie Wells #1)
4.5 out of 5 stars

Quotes: “Since we’re nearing the ever so wonderful state sanctioned standardized tests, there are thirty extra vocabulary words this week. Apparently, none of you is to be left behind.”

For Readers Who:

(1) Don’t mind a bit of teenage angst. Wait, hear me out. I am usually averse to all forms of angst (I still shudder at my experience with Holden Caulfield), but this book spins the situation in a humorous and quite lovable way.

(2) Enjoy clever plots. Benefiel doesn’t just stick a supernatural creature into a human world. Her books are far more creative.

Review: Glimpse is one of those books whose concept I would have never been able to come up with on my own. I love books that fit into that category because I read a lot of plots from many, many books.

Plot aside, what is most memorable about Glimpse is its humor and dynamic characters. When I mentioned that it was an “angsty” book, I did not mean that Zellie had the kind of angst of Holden Caulfield (gag). She isn’t having an existential dilemma. As she journeys through high school with her best friend Claire and her little sister Melody, she tries to attract the attention of the boy who always seems to catch her eye, Avery, without looking like too much of a spaz in the process.

The book’s humor comes from the sheer relatability of Zellie’s awkward encounters with the boy she likes. She may have visions, but she is still a teenager, and her inner dialogue and her interactions with Claire and Melody are memorable because they are genuine, sometimes self-deprecating, but (most importantly) fueled by their love for one another.

The supernatural element in this book is original and exciting. I will not say more, because I do not want to spoil it. However, Zellie’s visions are just the harbinger of her supernatural power.

Verdict: While this is a book about a girl with extraordinary powers, Zellie’s appeal is her very ordinariness. Her relationships with her best friend and sister are the anchor of this novel and are at the heart of its humor. While Glimpse is somewhat angsty, in the sense that Zellie is rendered as a genuine and believable 16 year old girl, it is not annoying because her inner dialogue is so funny.

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Inescapable (The Premonition #1)

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Inescapable (The Premonition #1)

4.5 out of 5 stars

Quotes:What’s up with hotness? I wonder. He looks like someone definitely broke his crayons.”

For Readers Who: (1) Want a storyline that unfolds over many books. Bartol is a writer of intricacy. There is not a singular “secret identity” (“Bella, I’m a vampire!”) stretched across four books. The Premonition series continues to become richer and her characters more complex with every book. (2) Enjoy epic fantasy. (3) Like fictional worlds that create their own mythology.

REVIEW: Once again, I have no idea when the angel genre hit the YA scene. I do, however, think that Bartol’s series is by far the best example of any series that features angels, demons, or other celestial beings (yeah, not quite sure what the “other” is, but just covering my bases here).

Reviewers have seemed to either love or hate Inescapable. Many of the 2 star-ers on goodreads have called it a Twilight fanfic rip-off. There are, of course, some parallels between Twilight and Inescapable. For example, there is a love triangle. Love triangles and what I like to call other “geometrically amorous relationships” (I feel as though I should trademark that phrase) have become all the rage – a trend as reliable in YA fiction as vampires, werewolves, angels, and (my favorite) weapon-welding heroines. However, Bartol’s series, as I mentioned before, has a complex plot, and the triangle between Evie and the two male characters (Reed and Russell) starts to unfold but also unravel in ways that are anything but formulaic.

Evie is an extremely likable character. I still can’t quite nail down what I like about her, but I think it’s that she sometimes makes remarks that I could see myself saying (and then smacking myself for speaking aloud). She is just starting college, and she tells Russell that she knows she will love Art History: ““Because I’ve never had a class like it. It will be my existential flight from the iron cage of reason,” I reply hopefully, feeling fairly excited about the prospect of something different.” Yeah. She and I would be friends. She is endearing rather than pedantic, but it becomes clear quite quickly that her naivete and optimism are both her biggest asset and her fatal flaw.

Oh, and that geometrically amorous relationship? Don’t get too comfortable with it because the ride has only begun, my friend. As the plot unfolds in the following books in the series, it works because it is woven into the plot. Take my advice and don’t call “foul” and “fanfic” (or a host of other words) because this is perhaps the only YA series I have read in which such relationships work. That Amy Bartol is a clever lady.

VERDICT: This is my least favorite books in the series, and I gave it 4.5 stars. The series only becomes progressively more unexpected, incorporating new characters with old, and weaving in the personal histories of those characters that I had come to love across many books. Over the series, Evie becomes one of the strongest and most clever heroines in contemporary YA fiction, and Bartol is on my short list of recommendations that I give to those who ask.