Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Haven by Kristi Cook

2 Stars. (Young Adult - PNR)
**Potential Spoilers Ahead**

Had potential but was disappointing in the end.

This book started out well enough, after reading Richelle Mead's Vampire Academy series I was intrigued by a new book that took place at a boarding school in New York. Turns out this is a book with very little originality that relies on books already in print for inspiration.

The main character Violet is sent to WinterHaven academy when her stepmother - her only remaining relative besides her aging grandmother - gets a job in New York and decides to move. Violet was immediately attracted to the posh boarding school but couldn't figure out why until she arrives and realizes its a school for "gifted" kids. Teenagers who have mental gifts, like Violet, who gets premonitions. So the book moves forward. We meet her roommate Cece, sweet but nothing unique about her, Cece's friends Kate, Sophie and the surly Marissa.
Then there's the required love interest, Aidan, who from the first minute he sees Violet, recognizes her in some weird way and decides they're soulmates.
This always bothers me, this use of the term soulmates as if it will absolve the author from having to create anything meaningful between the hero and heroine. I have nothing against people being soulmates, I actually believe that there is a special someone for everyone, but that doesn't mean that you can just meet someone for 5 minutes decide it's meant to be and call it a day. There has to be a connection, interaction, dialogue, understanding. Everything that could make these two a credible couple is skipped over in Haven. The author cuts to the chase - these two are clearly lost lovers and have to be together but can't because there's some HUGE secret between them.

Turns out Aidan's a vampire. Suddenly he's speaking likes he's living two centuries ago and he's all worried about hurting Violet even though according to him she's a "strong girl". Funny, Edward Cullen thought that about his chick too but she was just a weepy mess. (You can tell I have no love lost for Twilight)
The thing that aggravated me the most was the way the author continually made these grand statements about characters or situations and readers are left saying, 'what really?' because she never fully explains anything or actually shows readers through dialogue exchange or description that relationships of situations are evolving. Everything seems really rushed and severally skipped over. It reads like one long summary of events.
I never really felt much chemistry between Aidan and Violet, didn't really understand why they were attracted to one another. Violet thinks Aidan is really hot - the "Aidan effect" as she and her friends call it. Aidan makes one reference to how Violet is part of his past and his future, again I was like "What??, When??" There definitely needed to be a lot more explanation and characterization for this story to work.

To discover that this book had vampires, which to be honest I wasn't in the mood for (I picked this out thinking it was a different paranormal track. That it would be unique..jokes on me I guess) was kind of annoying but I continued reading.

Honestly, there wasn't too much to this book. I fit into all the little boxes of standard YA books, nothing adventurous, clever, or unique in it's premise. The characters were all washed out, even Violet's friends had the same overall personality and I kept trying to figure out which one was which - bad sign. Violet also aggravated me in some scenes. She's different, she knows it and yet even at WinterHaven where she's surrounded by kids just like her she keeps referring to herself and others as "freaks". She can't get over that fact and it really bothered me. I could accept it ones, maybe twice, but she mentions it quite a few times and I wanted to scream at her to get over it! It just seemed odd that she comes to this place where she knows she'll be accepted for who she really is and yet can't accept her gift herself. The whole thing seemed contrived, like Cook thought it was a prerequisite to make Violet so disbelieving when she discovers what WinterHaven actually is. When she learns the truth, Violet starts to cry and hyperventilate. Baby.

I stopped reading about 3/4 of the way through and I wouldn't really recommend this to anyone.

Like I said above, it had potential. The idea was there, but the author just didn't bring it all together. Instead, Cook relied on previously written books for inspiration which is always a huge pitfall for new books. I was never a fan of Twilight so it's hard for me to get on board a knockoff.

The only reason this gets two stars instead of 1 is because I saw the potential of the book and really hoped even while I kept reading that it would redeem itself.

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