June 16, 2012

Review: Riser

 It is not often that I sign up for a virtual tour and find myself averse to the book. However I think it is important to understand that when we sign up for these tours, we get a short description and have no real way of promising a positive review. There is no way I can possibly know if I will like a book before reading it and unfortunately in this case, my experience wasn't even close to what I was expecting. The following review is my opinion. You may read the book and find that you like it as quite a few reviewers on Goodreads have. 

Becca C Smith
Riser series #1
Genre: YA, Dystopia, Paranormal 
Rating: 1

Chelsan is a young girl with the power to raise the dead. When tragedy strikes, she finds herself in the midst of a frightening conspiracy and discovers the truth about her past. Along with her gang of friends, Chelsan tries to uncover the whole truth and reveal it to the world.

I really thought this was going to be my kind of book. All the reviews have described it as a dark and gritty dystopia novel. While there is darkness involved, it was definitely muted by all the inane teenage drama. YA writers of science fiction, dystopia, fantasy, and paranormal romance are constantly having to balance their epic, heart pounding story lines with the everyday concerns of their teenage protagonists. Dating, mean girls, and homework are all things we expect to see these characters dealing with if they are living in a futuristic or contemporary world. The problem comes in when these things pop up in awkward moments. This happened a lot in Riser. Caught up in a life-threatening situation? Who cares! Let's go shopping! Or better yet, let's worry if my crush like, likes me. Yes, that term is actually used in this book by persons older than 11 years old. This part of the book overwhelmed the potentially gritty plot and just left me feeling like the book was just silly overall. 

The main character Chelsan is your classic Mary Sue. She lives in a trailer park with her parents, has average looks, goes to a school for rich kids, and has two hot, wealthy guys vying for her attention. Wow, go figure. I'll give Chelsan this, at least she knows who she wants and isn't ping-ponging back and forth between the two. She makes a definitive choice early on and sticks with it. For that I definitely have some respect for her. Other than that I was a bit annoyed with her inner commentary that was constantly throwing me off of the dark vibe I so wanted out of this book. She sure says "ewww" a lot for a girl who has been playing with dead things her entire life. More often than not, the light-heartedness of the dialogue and narration just ruined any grittyness the book had. Here are some examples:

"I couldn't see his face, my sight was too blurred and the angle of the light made him look like a walking black shadow of doom coming toward me."  (Black shadow of doom? Sounds like the name of some Dr. Doom wannabe)

"'Sleep.' He sounded like the wicked witch in The Wizard of Oz." (Honestly, this quote made this particular bad guy much less scary for me)

"He was so cute when he was thinking." (Oh dear lord...)

"It was like walking into a safe haven of awesomeness." (Seriously? This from a straight A student at a prestigious academy of the wealthy who managed to get in based on her academic achievements alone?) 

The characters are fairly two-dimensional for the most part and I never really felt a connection to any of them. However there was a scene with Chelsan's love interest, Ryan that got me pretty steamed. The mean girl of the school, Jill, finally gets on Ryan's last nerve. What does he do? He punches her in the face so hard she falls on her ass and has a nasty shiner the next day. Regardless of how cruel teenage girls can be, I think we can all agree that this is unacceptable behavior. So what does Chelsan do? She is totally gaga over the fact that Ryan is willing to beat on other girls for her. As this is a YA book and predominately directed toward teenage girls, I guess the thing that steams me the most is that this is teaching them (1) they do not have to fight their own battles and (2)  to romanticize violence towards women. I'm  positive this wasn't the author's intent, but the message is loud and clear. Beating on girls is sexy.

Another thing that really put me off this book was the poor editing. If there was actually any editing done on this book at all. I was constantly coming across grammar errors and incorrect vocabulary. I cringed every time I came across a sentence in which the author uses the completely wrong word. It was made even worse by the fact that I could tell exactly which word she had meant to use. Here are some examples:

"They were inhumanly pitch black and they began chanting illegible words." (Speak up! I can't read the words that are coming out of your mouth!) 

"He was going to gauge my eyes out." (Obviously she meant gouge... Unless there is some new body modification fad I'm not aware of?) 

"Would everyone stop obsessing about my bowl movements..." (Can I buy a vowel please?) 

"Perfectly coifed grass separated the parallel lined mansion-sized houses." (No, no, no, no!)

coiffedpast participle, past tense of coif (Verb)

  1. Style or arrange (someone's hair), typically in an elaborate way.
  2. Style or arrange the hair of (someone). 
As my good friend Wigs said, "What is this English? How does it work? Does it have rules?" This had to be the most frustrating, and admittedly entertaining, part of the book for me.  And before all the 4 and 5 star reviewers start jumping all over me, check out the FTC disclosure at the bottom of this review.

The Final Verdict
Riser has an interesting idea that is unfortunately executed poorly. The concept of a character with the power to raise the dead is far from new. If you want to read a YA necromancer story that balances the gritty and fluffy elements well, I would suggest you check out Kelly Armstrong's Darkest Powers Trilogy. Riser still needs some work and a thorough edit.

FTC Disclosure
I was provided with a review copy of this book by the author and IO Tours in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated for this review. All opinions are my own.

1 comment:

Melissa said...

I don't think it's right that you were asked to take your review down entirely, and I commend you for not being afraid to voice your opinion/post negative reviews.

I also have to give you credit for handling the situation well and agreeing to compromise because I've seen a lot of these negative types of situations where authors don't like reviews and things get out of hand in various parts of the blogging world lately.