Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Wicked Awakening of Anne Merchant by Joanna Wiebe

The Wicked Awakening of Anne Merchant
Author:  Joanna Wiebe
Publisher:  BenBella Books
Pages: 320
Release Date: January 20th, 2015
Source: Received from author in exchange for an honest review
Life and death, light and dark, spirit and flesh-on Wormwood Island, the lines are always blurred. For Anne Merchant, who has been thrust back into this eerily secretive world, crossing the line seems inevitable, inescapable, destined.

Now, as Ben finds himself battling for the Big V and Teddy reveals the celestial plan in which Anne is entwined, Anne must choose: embrace her darkly powerful connection to a woman known as Lilith and, in doing so, save the boy she loves...or follow a safer path that is sure to lead to Ben's destruction at the hands of dark leaders. Hoping the ends will justify the means, Anne starts down the slippery slope into the underworld, intent on exploring the dark to find the light. But as the lure of Lilith proves powerfully strong, will Anne save others-only to lose herself?

DISCLAIMER: The Wicked Awakening of Anne Merchant is Book 2 in The V Trilogy. If you haven't read Book 1, I do caution you that this review could (and probably will) contain spoilers, at least where the main plot is concerned.

In The Wicked Awakening of Anne Merchant, we revisit Cania Christy, a twisted school where students fight in a life or death competition called the Big V. After a dramatic showdown in Book 1, Anne must face the consequences for her actions, and struggles with the reality she may never truly escape this island. With peers who hate her (which seems like an accomplishment when some of their PTs are to lie or seduce people), Anne has some new information that could change everything. Just winning the competition for herself isn't the goal: now she needs to protect those she cares about from more permanent plans.

On the back cover of this book, there is the line that says "behind every secret lurks one much darker". I felt like this was a good description for the progression in this series, and the turn the book tends to take. While there is plenty of page turning and mysteries, the spiral is towards a darker plot. Even Anne herself takes on a roll that makes it hard to like her until she gets a reality check.

The torture in the story, and the somewhat gruesome power struggle made this feel like a separate story at times. While there was romance and sacrifice, and a soft of helpless battle against death in book one, book two seems to be mostly driven by a sense to do whatever is necessary to survive. Anne has become just like any other student, driven by the island's dark energy to manipulate and claw her way out of trouble. The revelations about Anne herself seem to somewhat explain this, but it does make some of the messages a little hard to decipher.

I feel like the elements reserved for the last book leave a lot of I guess moral questions about book two. Anne treats her best friend like crap. She gets people expelled from the school (which has devastating consequences), and she twists the staff of the island to follow her, all to save Ben. There's something romantic, and perhaps a little creepy about all of it. We see some larger goals at play, but since most of them don't really come to pass, there isn't that feeling of redemption at the end. You know when the main character does something terrible, realizes how horrible they were and tries to redeem themselves? I guess I didn't get the feeling Anne ever goes through that. Perhaps it's just the island. But it does kind of leave a slight melancholy emotion behind as the book comes to a close.

Like book one, MOST of the main questions are answered, but there is still a lot left to wonder about. I still think it's a really good book, but you have to proceed much like the first. This is a darker turn in the tale of Anne Merchant, but I'm withholding final judgement until I see the conclusion. Until then, we have to wonder though. Is there redemption for everything that's really occurred in book two? Is Ben worth all this trouble? Is anyone ever really dead in this story?

I guess the best word to describe this series at this point is delightfully frustrating. One last book, and then perhaps, there can be a final verdict on the overall tale.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

March Update

Hi guys!

Sorry things got so quiet this last month. My plans for conquering the review request mountain have been a bit delayed by, well, life. Had some personal stuff really distract me, but I'm doing my best to get back into the swing of things. I appreciate everyone's understanding. I have one or two books I'm in the middle of, so with luck, there will be some new updates this week!

In the meantime, I'd love to hear what everyone else is reading. Or for you writers out there, what ever one is writing!