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Book Review: Pentimento by Cameron Jace

Goodreads Synopsis
The day Iris Beaumont turns seventeen, she is threatened to be taken by the Beasts, the rulers of the new America. After the destruction of the world, the Beasts provide citizens with whatever they need in exchange for the one teenage girl they enslave every week. They call them the Brides, and they never comes back. Iris isn’t the worrying type though; she’s been defying the system since she was ten and never cared for the Beast’s rules.

Then she meets Colton Ray, who is not like any other boy she’s ever seen. His confidence and dominance are otherworldly she can’t rationalize the attraction she feels for him. Colton had one slight problem though. It’s rumored he is one of the Beast, and Iris could be the next on the Beast’s list.
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Review:
 

I hate myself. Do you know why? Because I was supposed to write the review for this book a week ago. No, not because I was on a deadline, but because I loved it so much that I should have written the review immediately, when my impressions and emotions were fresh. On the other hand, maybe it is better that I’m reviewing it now. I might actually be able to explain why it was such a good read. Anyway, first things first: I started reading it at about 8 PM, I read one or two chapters, then I took a break because I was supposed to finish some work, and then I picked it up again, and I stayed awake until 3 AM because I couldn’t put it down. That’s right. I couldn’t go to bed and wait a couple of hours to continue the story. I had to find out how it ended right then.

The action takes place in a dystopian world, where people live in a city made of metal, in a country called the Second United States. The Second is ruled by the Beasts, who, it seems, have saved the Earth from destruction, and now they keep everyone safe by watching them from above, their space ships looming over the city just out of people’s sight. In exchange for their protection, the Beasts demand that one seventeen-year-old girl is sent to them every one or two weeks. The girl becomes a Bride for the Beasts, and she is never seen again. Iris Beaumont is one of the few who dare to speak against the Beasts. She often breaks the rules, she skips school, and, once in a while, she goes beyond the Great Wall to see the Ruins of the world that was, and practice her secret hobby – Pentimento.

Iris is very easy to like as a character. She is curious, she’s not willing to take everything as it is, and she’s constantly looking for answers. She is the only one who is brave enough to defy the Beasts, and when her best friend, Zoe, is taken by them, she is ready to do absolutely anything to save her. She doesn’t even care that by rebelling against the Beasts she won’t be able to see Colton anymore, the boy she is in love with. I don’t know about you, but I’ve always liked the characters that don’t consider love the most important thing in the world. When so much is at stake, Iris knows that hiding in Colton’s arms and enjoying the short time she can still spend with him is not an option.

Of course, it’s Cameron Jace’s style to introduce a huge twist when you least expect it. Because it’s not the first book I’ve read by him, I was sure something like that would happen, and somehow I was ready. Still, he did it in a very clever way. Practically, you realize what’s actually happening when you reach the last two or three pages. Until then, you can’t be quite sure.

The ending was what I liked best about Pentimento. I thought it was perfect. Once again, Iris’s actions prove she has a strong personality, and that she will never let herself influenced by anyone. Compared to Zoe, Iris stands her ground even when she understands that things have always been completely upside down. She will never give up on her beliefs, and, most importantly, she will never accept anyone’s pity, something that all the other girls who were turned into Brides did.

At the end of the book the author says that his intention was for Pentimento to be a stand-alone, thinking that it doesn’t need a sequel. To some extent, I believe the ending was perfect, and a second book might ruin the whole thing if it’s not done properly. But, on the other hand, I would love to read more about Iris and what she’ll do now that she knows the truth. I sense a nice love triangle, one that would probably develop in a good way, not in a cheesy, clichéd way as it does in most YA novels. So, yes, I do want a sequel! I am ok with open endings, really. But this one is too open. It demands a sequel!

 

 

 

Book Review: Hellbound by Tim Hawken

Goodreads Synopsis
“You look very confused when I say I’m just trying to help these lost souls make their way to Heaven,” he said. “The reason you’re confused is that you think I’m speaking metaphorically. Well, my dear friend, take it very literally. You see, I may have introduced myself as Asmodeus, but let me run off a few of my more well known aliases. Now, let’s see, we have Mephistopheles, Beelzebub, Bafomet, Iblis, The Fallen One, Lucifer, The Morning Star, Lord of the Dark, The Devil, oh and my favorite; Satan.” 
Face to face with Satan, Michael has awoken in the bowels of Hell with no memory of who he is, or why he has been damned. Hell, however, isn’t what he expected. Rather than the fires of torment, he finds a hedonistic city of gambling, sex, murder and revenge. With the Devil as his guide, Michael embarks on a quest of self-discovery and self redemption. But will he get a second chance at salvation? And why is Satan helping him? 
Hellbound is a contemporary view of Hell, exploring today’s idea of sin and religion, through witty dialogue and bursts of descriptive prose. Dark, funny and philosophical.
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Review:
 

Disclosure: My copy was offered by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Now… why did I wait so much time to read this novel? I read it in two sittings, which says a lot about how much a liked it. I think I should turn this into a criterion after which I rate my reads – how many times I had to pick up the book until I finished it. If I read it in one or two sittings, then it deserves a 5-compasses review. More than three sittings… oh well. It might get difficult with books that have more than 400 pages.

Back to Hellbound! I liked it way more than I expected to like it. By the end of it, I realized I liked it more than I had expected to like it after going through the first half. It was just getting better, and I loved how everything was wrapped up. Let me try to explain. First of all, Tim Hawken showed a lot of imagination and creativity in building his vision of Hell. I must admit I was a bit concerned at first that Hell would end up drowned in clichés, but it didn’t happen. I liked the author’s idea of Heaven, Hell, and the Creation. The fact that Hell is a place destined to the rehabilitation of corrupted souls was interesting and unique. The “system” the author imagined made every bit of sense, and I liked that my questions about it were answered in the end. The Devil’s city is the perfect image of fun, sin, debauchery, and total freedom to do as one pleases. It’s not a surprise that many souls fall even deeper into sin, surrender to it, and become demons. However, the Devil has a weapon that helps him make sure Hell doesn’t become overcrowded: The Guilt. Every hour, the souls are torn apart by their guilt, and are forced to remember the terrible things they did on Earth. This torture makes them regret their sins, obtain forgiveness, and eventually go to Heaven.

The main character is Michael, an ex-fighter who ends up in Hell after being killed by a God fanatic. But I can’t say I liked Michael that much. Actually, my favorite character was the Devil. That may be because I’m always curious to see how authors depict the Devil, and I was glad to see that Tim Hawken made him a fun, witty, and tricky character. He helps Michael get revenge, but, of course, he has his own agenda. It was great to follow this character and try to guess what he really wanted. I mean, yes, he obviously wanted to find out God’s secret and throw him off his throne (he even said so), but I could feel there was more than that.

I usually take notes when I read a book and a certain thing draws my attention. For instance, in the second half of the book I was annoyed that the Devil was contradicting himself. One moment he says that he hates God for trapping him in Hell and that God created humans for his own amusement, and the next he says that God is love, and His love and forgiveness are what truly make life on Earth matter. I mean… what?! Bipolar much? Oh yes, and he had a good reason for it! This is one of the things I loved most about this book: every detail made sense, even those that didn’t at first.

I can’t wait to read the next books in the trilogy. I hope they are at least as good as the first one. If I didn’t know what to expect from Hellbound, now I sure know what to expect from I Am Satan and Deicide.