Review of “Torn Apart” by Julianne Alcott

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This well-written second volume of the YA Ripmender series provides an emotional rollercoaster ride as the saga continues of ordinary, somewhat plain Cathy Slater in what’s likely to be a dead-end relationship with rock star, Nathan Jake.  As established in “The Ripmender”, Nathan Jake is a genetically engineered human whose purpose is to protect the Earth from hostile alien invasion through rips in the space-time continuum.  As such, he’s been provided abilities that are marginally in the super-power range and further magnified by a super-charged cell phone, yet he’s emotionally impaired in that he can never fall in love.

Nonetheless, he sees Cathy as his best friend and insists on her companionship. Cathy is privy to Ripmender secrets humans aren’t supposed to know, but has earned immunity to having those memories erased. This brings various awkward moments with her friends, who are all great supporting characters who add a touch of normalcy to Cathy’s crazy world. These are all developed in the first book, which I recommend reading prior to this one for full context to this story and characters.

The pace, like the first book in the series, reminds me of a (mild) PG-13 version of something you might see on the Disney Channel or Nickelodeon. It keeps moving, the dialog lively and convincing, as this saga plunges forward. The plot thickens and the Ripmender culture grows more complex with other genetically engineered groups introduced such as Fembers and Carers. As assumed from the previous story, Victor is up to no good, and Hudson’s role is expanded as well. Various internal rivalries are explained, Nathan and Cathy often caught in the middle. Some questions carried over from the first volume are answered, new ones introduced.

I found this story leaning more toward contemporary fantasy than the sci-fi flavor of the first book, but that isn’t a criticism, just an observation. The suspense is well-sustained with numerous plot twists that are unexpected, sometimes jaw-dropping, which I won’t go into since they’re well into spoiler territory. The ending is satisfying, yet leaves you sufficiently curious regarding what the next episode will provide while dragging poor Cathy along for another wild ride.

I love the characters in this story, especially the heroine, Cathy. She’s been through an emotional wringer courtesy of various traumatic experiences, yet hangs on and confronts the challenges before her. This is an enjoyable and suspenseful Young Adult series that provides plenty of action while accurately reflects the feelings and challenges confronted during those college years and beyond. It provides a great escape while sustaining credibility that such a world could exist just beyond human perception.

I was provided a complementary copy in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

You can pick up your copy on Amazon here.

Review of Elle Klass’ “The Vampires Next Door”

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This fast-moving tale is populated with engaging characters whom you feel you know personally as this intriguing story unfolds. Freshly transplanted to St. Augustine, Florida, Alison is a shy teenager with the usual insecurities inherent to her age who lives with her recently divorced mother. The two of them reside in an apartment where Alison engages in some people-watching, particularly Rodham, whom she has the hots for, as well as a bunch of young women who occupy the apartment next door. These particular neighbors are given to loud, boisterous partying into the wee hours of the night while her mother, a shift nurse at a local hospital, is typically gone. Of course the title of this story serves as a spoiler as to who and what those nuisance neighbors actually are.

Much to Alison’s horrified delight, Rodham introduces himself and the pair begin a warm friendship moving toward a cozy romance as they investigate exactly what’s going on with these weird neighbors. A variety of surprises and plot twists quickly ensue, presented in Elle Klass’ outstanding, character-driven style with which she’s developed a unique vampire culture known as Bloodseekers with whom an eternal war wages with their mortal enemy, the Slayers. Skillfully woven into the history of the USA’s oldest European-established, continuously occupied settlement, you’ll find a liberal dose of paranormal phenomena intermingled with magic that will satisfy Harry Potter as well as other fantasy fans. You’ll have to read this exciting tale to find out where the young hero and heroine fit into this fascinating tale, but rest assured you won’t be disappointed.

Even better, since you’re bound to fall in love with Alison and Rodham, this is the first volume of a trilogy which promises further exciting adventures. While this story contains plenty of action and intrigue, it’s well within the PG range and thus suitable for adolescents and teenagers. It gets creepy and a little scary, but not terrifying, just exciting. The author’s former life as a junior high school teacher comes through beautifully in her understanding of teen motivation, behavior and emotions. Nonetheless, the book contains enough substance, character development and plot twists to satisfy readers of all ages. I’m not a big vampire fan myself, yet thoroughly enjoyed this suspense-laden tale by this up and coming multi-genre author.

You can pick up your copy on Amazon here.