Monday, September 9, 2013

Conjured

Conjured by Sarah Beth Durst
3.5/5 stars
Walker, 2013
358 pages
YA Horror Fantasy

Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I feel like I saw a lot of wildly varying opinions for this book before starting it. Personally I was drawn mostly by the reputation of the author, someone I think of as writing very atypical books that don't fit a YA mold. And now that I am finished with this, I stand by that assessment. I'm not really sure where to go in my review or how to sum up this remarkable book.

Eve is in the witness protection program with no memories, which is a problem as it seems that she is the only one who could bring a serial killer to justice. Adding to her woes is her mysterious ability to do magic, which completely saps her of energy leading to days or even weeks with memory loss. Meeting Zach though changes all that as he seems to be a way to channel her magic. But the forces after the serial killer cannot afford to let Eve rest and will push her until the killer is caught, no matter the cost.

My summary may make this book seem a bit more focused than it felt while reading; personally I felt like it meandered a bit and then gave us loads of details before everything came into view (basically when Eve gets closer to the killer, not long before the end.) Man, did those pages drag! I tried to be patient, having read some reviews and wanting to trust in the author but that is just not the kind of reader I am.

The bright spot was definitely Zach, a total chatterbox and bookworm, filled to bursting with imagination and knowledge. He's not going to bring the swoon to the blogosphere because he's not dark and mysterious; instead he's remarkably open and honest and completely loyal to Eve through all her uncertainties. I wish we had gotten some more development of him though as I feel he started and ended as the same.

There are a ton of mysteries here (Why can't Eve remember? Why does she keep passing out? What is her history? Who has been killing people? Will Eve survive the forced remembering or succumb to the serial killer?) and I'm not really sure anyone could solve them. As the pieces were revealed, I was gasping at some of the revelations and I really enjoyed how everything played out. This book gets pretty dark and horrific, drawing many gasps from me.

Overall: A refreshing divergence from the usual YA fare despite not quite being to my taste. The reader who perseveres through the slow beginning is definitely rewarded though so don't be put off by my assessment of that-see if this one sounds to your taste!

Cover: Not really sure how I feel about this though my initial thought of what to put on the cover would be pretty spoiler-y.

Other Opinions:
Books and Things
Inspiring Insomnia
Jen Ryland/YA Romantics
Once Upon a Twilight
The Book Smugglers

26 comments:

  1. It sounds interesting, but I really can't stand stories of memory loss if they end up remembering everything at the end. The build up of the story is just because the character can't remember, so I just feel like skipping to the remembering part.

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    1. There's a really good reason for her not being able to remember-does that still grab your interest?

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  2. I don't know if I'd be able to get into this story but it does sound like it could be a good suspenseful read by the end anyway. Too bad the pacing is uneven. Zach definitely sounds like a character I'd like and I do like trying to figure out mysteries. Maybe I will get this from the library to give it a chance.

    Thanks for your review!

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    1. Zach was such a sweetheart-he seemed a bit unrealistic in that way.

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  3. I've actually heard a lot of good things about CONJURED, but I really haven't paid it a lot of mind until now. I think that a pacing issue would really throw me off, but I'm definitely intrigued to give it a go sometime. Thanks so much for your honest review!

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    1. I've heard a lot of good things as well-the ending really helped redeem what, for me, was a very slow start.

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  4. I think I would like this one. Zach sounds like a good character too. Great review.

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    1. I hope you do like it should you pick it up!

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  5. I haven't read anything by this author before, but I do like mysteries...but the mixed reviews overall have me sort of worried. Thanks for your honest review, though--I'll probably still have a look sometime, especially if you think it's worth 3.5 stars!

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

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    1. I think the story can really cause a lot of feelings in the reader (what a way to phrase that!) and for me, the horrors revealed near the ending really paid off.

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  6. I was not really expecting what happened in the book and wasn't the biggest fan of the last 1/3 of the book, but I enjoyed it up until then (and even during the last 1/3 -- I just didn't love what happened to her...)

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    1. Whoa-I loved the last 1/3. I thought that was when the story really took off and got me engaged. Love our differing perspectives!

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  7. You liked this better than I did, so yay for that! One of my biggest problems with the book was one character's recapping of the entire plot near the end of the book. I was left wondering why I had to bother reading the rest of the book. Perhaps it could have worked better as a short story. The ending was so wild and unexpected, but it made me do some inadvertent laughing, just imagining the visuals.

    I think I get your reference about the cover, and if I'm right, then I understand why it would be too spoiler-y.

    Stephanie @ Inspiring Insomnia

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    1. I think the short story idea is a good one-the ending had so much tension and I think that point could have been reached in less time.

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  8. Yep, you and I agreed on this one. I found the first two-thirds really confusing and draggy, and then things got a LOT more creepy and interesting. I wasn't crazy about Zach at first (weird!) but he really grew on me!
    Thanks so much for stopping by! Jen @ YA Romantics

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    1. The ending was so good. Zach is super weird at first-he says he wants to kiss her right away but he grew on me fast.

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  9. I've heard mixed things, but I'm still pretty curious to check this one out at some point. It sounds different and that can definitely be good. Zach sounds fantastic; I like guys like that over the broody type most of the time!

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    1. I can't stand a broody hero-Zach's open honesty was refreshing.

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  10. I don't think I really knew what this one was about. I'm concerned about the slow bits but the story over all has me super curious!

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    1. I wasn't sure either-I thought there would be a lot more about a circus than there actually was.

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  11. I agree about this cover. It doesn't really say anything at all, and doesn't fit how you described the book. The witness protection definitely draws me into this story and the way you describe the book makes it sound great. I also really like reading about the nice boys, so Zach sounds like a winner for me. It also sounds like this book surprised you, which is always a plus. But I'm worried about the meandering unfocused storyline. I'm getting the sense that it took too long to get to the good parts and that didn't really make up as well for everything else. Is this a standalone? Wonder if it would be worth the effort if the series improves?

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    1. It is a standalone as far as I know and the ending feels quite resolved. I think the last 1/3 of the book or so really brought things together but I also wish that had happened a bit sooner so it didn't feel so meandering to me.

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  12. I have this one too, and yeah, I've been seeing mixed reviews. But I love the premise: serial killer, psychic leanings, witness protection--all themes I LOVE. Good to hear that this Zach guy is a great addition. I'm more curious then ever to start and see what my thoughts will be.

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    1. Well Jen Ryland mostly agreed with me so if you trust our recommendations, check it out.

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