Let me just state before the review begins that I’m at a weird stage in my life when it comes to books. As a 22 year old I no longer fit in the YA target audience bracket. I do however still crave YA literature. I like the short books with a fast paced nature. I like the fantasy/paranormal genre, which (let’s face it) we don’t get enough of in the ‘adult’ category. But these days I am just left feeling unsatisfied when I read a YA novel. I can no longer relate to a 16-year-old protagonist. I groan at the unrealistic portrayals of men and romance. I am forever wishing that more is done with such excellent plot concepts, especially in the paranormal/fantasy genre, but it very rarely happens. It was easier to lap it up when I was younger, but now I yearn for more.
I am not fully sold on adult books either. Despite having read a lot of adult books as a teen, at the moment I’m finding them difficult to enjoy. I tend to find them dull, as they are generally longer with more detail and less action. I love the mature psychological aspects of adult fiction, which is sorely lacking in YA fiction, but a lot of adult books just feel much more drawn out for no good reason other to add some thickness to the paperback.
There aren’t that many books for people in their early twenties – in a sort of transitional period. So I’m left to potter around the YA and adult genres, fully aware that my mind doesn’t really belong to either at the moment. What I’m saying is: I think my review of ‘Masquerade’ may have been *slightly* less critical if I had read it several years ago.
Now the disclaimer is out the way, let me tell why I wanted to throw this novel against a wall. And I would have done, had it not been on my precious kindle. Beware: spoilers ahead. I don’t even care.
This is one of the worst books I have ever read and it stuns me that there are so many five-star reviews on Goodreads for this piece of shit. What’s worse is that a lot of these reviewers are adults and authors. I could have forgiven teenagers, but there are actual adults out there who gave this book a positive rating. There are published authors who enjoyed this crap and are probably out there writing their own novels filled with the same pathetic drivel.
Let’s start right at the beginning, shall we? Before we even open this mess, there is the issue of the cover.
THE HORROR. What have you done?! You have taken an Ellie Goulding look-a-like and ruined her face! What’s with the eyes? The ridiculous fake lashes? For God’s sake get that crap off her mouth! And you didn’t even bother with a decent font – just chuck some gold bubbles around it! Fancy! Is the stupid make-up even explained in the book? NOPE!
This is a prime example of why you can judge a book by its cover. I should have ran for the hills when I saw it.
Okay so we got past the terrible cover (quick, scroll down! Hide from the horror!!). What awaits us as we delve into the story? Well first of all we have to wade through 25% of trivial bullshit before anything happens at all.
We are introduced to Heven (I kid you not; that is her actual name). She has scars on her face because of a terrible accident that she can’t remember. If you want to know more about what happened to her, you can pick up the book’s prequel called ‘Before’. There’s really no way to escape it. The prequel is referenced constantly in the book. Every time that word is used, it is capitalised and in italics. Shameless bit of self-promotion right there, but it probably worked so more power to you.
So yes, Heven is disfigured and not happy about it. She basically wears hooded tops to cover her face and has lost a bit of her confidence. That’s it. We don’t get any more development on that matter. No deep prose about how her life has been affected, no crippling anxiety, no questions that torment her. The only hint I could find about what kind of girl she is was when the is described as “having to resist the urge to cry” when her boyfriend hasn’t called her. How fucking endearing. All we have is superficial nonsense from this girl. Heven spends the first quarter of the book going back and forth from school with her friend Kimber. And my god is it dull.
That’s the next problem with this book: the tedious drivel that takes up an epic proportion of Masquerade. The writing is just…so…mind-numbingly…dull. It feels like half the book consists of one dimensional characters discussing clothes and boys. There are paragraphs and paragraphs describing what different characters are wearing. The dialogue between the characters is stale and lifeless because the characters have no personalities. Facebook statuses have more depth than this.
Here are some choice lines from the book:
“OMG, that dress is gorgeous!”
“I shoved my hand in my pocket looking for my phone. It wasn’t there. Then I remembered I left it in the truck. I wondered where the truck was.”
“He made the sound a pig makes and I laughed”
Let’s move onto the love interest now, because I honestly can’t put my hatred of the writing style into words.
Meet Sam. He is “tall, well-built without being bulky, and the back of his head held shaggy, dark blond hair”. As anyone can tell by that stunning description, he is ridiculously hot (of course the love interest has to be hot). As soon as Heven lays eyes on him, and he on her for that matter, they fall instantly and irreconcilably in love. Not like. Not attraction.
It’s EPIC. UNIMAGINABLE. STUFF OF LEGENDS. LOVE.
So I imagine plenty of teens and tweens will squeal over Sam. Why? Well his only descriptors are that he is buff, blond and hot. This vague description lets readers instantly imagine their favourite actor who is in at the minute to play the part of Sam. There are probably more than a few Josh Hutchersons floating around in young girls’ minds when they read this. Sam’s only personality trait is how in love with Heven he is and how beautiful he finds her, despite her disfiguring scars. That’s it. That’s his entire personality.
Well, what are his hobbies? Stalking Heven, of course.
Where does he work? He has a job as Heven’s full-time body guard, and occasionally he works in a gym.
What does he like? Heven.
What are his dislikes? People who hurt Heven.
Well, who wouldn’t want that? A man who seemingly has no purpose in life other than to love me and compliment me and protect me (cuz bitches need protecting) and buy me presents, etc. That’s the dream right there. I’m swooning in my seat.
I blame Disney and books like ‘Masquerade’ for a whole generation having unrealistic expectations of men. It is misandry, pure and simple.
So yeah, Heven and Sam become a couple in the blink of an eye and they are head over heels in love with each other. We go through more chapters of dull bullshit, changing tenses, teenage angst. The narrative switches between four characters, which is a technique I usually don’t mind. It’s no surprise that the author doesn’t do it well in ‘Masquerade’. I wouldn’t care so much, but we sometimes go through entire chapters in Heven’s POV and then read through the exact same chapter from Sam’s POV. And then again from ‘The Hate’s POV. Dude, just move on! I do wish there was more from the perspective of ‘The Hate’ and ‘The Hope’ as they were marginally more interesting, even though we never really find out who the hell they really are (‘The Hate’ was meant to be China, I think…)
It’s not until the halfway mark that stuff really starts happening. Until then it’s all about school, friends, relationships. There’s some shady shit going on with Sam, but we don’t even have a clue what it’s about. There’s a couple of pages where he fights a monster. What is this beast? What does it look like. We don’t know. It’s just a monster. That’s fine; don’t bore us with the details – I want to see what Heven’s wearing now! Let’s have a look at what kind of details we are treated to in the time it takes for the plot to pick up.
“I gasped. The thought of the bracelet being damaged was heartbreaking”
At least spell your over-exaggerated adjective correctly. It’s two words or a hyphenate, and a broken bracelet is not the end of the world.
“If I was a normal person I would be in a comma.”
Who the fuck is your editor?
“The only jewelry I wore was the whistle”
Aaaaand another spelling error
“His arms wrapped around me and towed me up against his chest. All the breath wooshed out of me and my heart thudded. “Hey beautiful,” he rasped.”
I actually laughed out loud at this. I can’t help imagine Bonnie Tyler playing the part of Sam when Heven describes his raspy voice.
“He lifted me back off the ground and covered my mouth with his”
“You’re mother called”
I honestly think that you should have to pass an apostrophe usage exam to call yourself a writer.
“I’m so sorry. You didn’t deserve this. But it was you or Heven. I won’t let this happen to her. So it had to be you.”
This guy is a psychopath – why are you swooning??
So then we finally find out Sam’s deal. Turns out he’s a hellhound werewolf whatsit. Heven is scared of him for a bit, sure. But do you know what happens right after that? When she’s only just found out what he is? It is a stunning turn of events, and it is still too soon for me to laugh about it.
Heven’s ultra-religious mother believed Heven has been “marked by evil” because of her scars. She wants to send her away to church camp for a little while so that they can exorcise the evil out of her. Very calmly, without much of an explanation or without picking up a bag of any of her stuff, Heven just opens the back door and runs off with her hell demon boyfriend (who is waiting right there).
A terrifying shape shifter makes her feel safer than being sent to church camp.
Let’s just say from here on out I speed-read through the rest of it.
In a nutshell: Heven gets used to the idea of hellhounds and her impending death remarkably quickly. She is swiftly is murdered. The grim reaper lets Sam lay down his life to save her. Then she brings them both to life because Heven happens to be a ‘supernatural treasure’ with magic powers and Sam needs to protect her. They can now read each others’ minds. Heven can now see auras. They find this ancient map – this incredible celestial map that was lost for centuries that Heven just happens to stumble upon. So now that opens the door for the sequels. Will I read them? Um….no. Nope. I am out of here.