Book #1: The Flame Never Dies By Rachel Vincent
Published August 2016 by Random House Children’s Books|241 pages
Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library
Series: Well Of Souls #2
Genre: YA Dystopia/Paranormal/Post-Apocalyptic
What It’s About: For fans of Cassandra Clare and Richelle Mead comes the unputdownable sequel to The Stars Never Rise, a book Rachel Caine, author of the bestselling Morganville Vampires series, called “haunting, unsettling, and eerily beautiful.”
ONE SPARK WILL RISE. Nina Kane was born to be an exorcist. And since uncovering the horrifying truth—that the war against demons is far from over—seventeen-year-old Nina and her pregnant younger sister, Mellie, have been on the run, incinerating the remains of the demon horde as they go.
In the badlands, Nina, Mellie, and Finn, the fugitive and rogue exorcist who saved her life, find allies in a group of freedom fighters. They also face a new threat: Pandemonia, a city full of demons. But this fresh new hell is the least of Nina’s worries. The well of souls ran dry more than a century ago, drained by the demons secretly living among humans, and without a donor soul, Mellie’s child will die within hours of its birth.
Nina isn’t about to let that happen . . . even if it means she has to make the ultimate sacrifice.
What I Thought: I liked it, but not as much as I thought I would. I think a lot of it is that things were resolved pretty well in the first book, and it did work well as a stand-alone. I don’t regret reading it, because The Flame Never Dies answers some questions and resolves some loose threads that came up in The Stars Never Rise. But at the same time, it worked so well as a stand-alone that while I liked it, I’m also sort of meh about it. What I think surprised me with this book is that, like the first book, things are resolved, with some loose threads and unanswered questions. From what I can tell, there will be only two books, so at least the overall story is resolved. But things are open enough that there really could be another book in the series to answer those questions.
I was kept on the edge of my seat, though, and there were several times where you’re reading it, knowing that something is about to happen, and you’re just waiting for it to actually happen. There weren’t a lot of surprises, but there were a few, and she does have a way of making you WANT to keep going. There is part of me that wants more, but at the same time, I feel like, with this series, Vincent knew her stopping point and where things were headed. It is nice knowing that the idea won’t get old because it’s being spread out over all of these books, and it easily could have gone that way. But it didn’t, and I really appreciate that.
My Rating: 3 stars. It’s enjoyable and fun, but I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as the first book.
Book #2: Behold The Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue
Published August 2016 by Random House|380 pages
Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library
Genre: Adult Fiction/Adult Literary Fiction
What It’s About: Jende Jonga, a Cameroonian immigrant living in Harlem, has come to the United States to provide a better life for himself, his wife, Neni, and their six-year-old son. In the fall of 2007, Jende can hardly believe his luck when he lands a job as a chauffeur for Clark Edwards, a senior executive at Lehman Brothers. Clark demands punctuality, discretion, and loyalty—and Jende is eager to please. Clark’s wife, Cindy, even offers Neni temporary work at the Edwardses’ summer home in the Hamptons. With these opportunities, Jende and Neni can at last gain a foothold in America and imagine a brighter future.
However, the world of great power and privilege conceals troubling secrets, and soon Jende and Neni notice cracks in their employers’ façades.
When the financial world is rocked by the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the Jongas are desperate to keep Jende’s job—even as their marriage threatens to fall apart. As all four lives are dramatically upended, Jende and Neni are forced to make an impossible choice.
What I Thought: I ended up really liking it! Behold The Dreamers was a really good look at what it’s like to be in immigrant in the U.S. Things like the Great Recession and the collapse of Lehman Brothers really does have an effect on EVERYONE, and that was something I never thought about before. They came here for a better life, and they ended up not being able to stay, for a lot of different reasons- the biggest reason being their lawyer. Their lawyer didn’t seem all that great, or interested in truly helping them. I can easily picture families or people like the Jongas hiring a lawyer who seems more interested in the money they’re getting than actually helping their clients.
I felt for them, and how hard they both worked to have a better life for them and their children, only to have it change so much. They do end up going back to Cameroon, and it seems like they’re set financially over there, but they tried so hard to stay here. I felt like Behold The Dreamers showcased how desperate people are to come here and stay here, and how they will do anything to have a life here.
I definitely thought Jende and Neni were a lot more sympathetic than Jende’s employers. I get they were affected by it to, but it was hard to sympathize with a family who seemed to be more interested in maintaining their lifestyle than actually trying to work on themselves. They do seem to have their issues, but they were far more unlikable. The Edwards family were much meant to contrast the Jonga family, and you see how different things are for the privileged and those who come here, hopeful and wanting a better life. Perhaps that is what Mbue was going for, and I did feel for all of the characters, even when it was hard to care about them and like them.
My Rating: 4 stars. I really liked seeing Jende and Neni come to the U.S., full of hope and optimism, only to have their dreams dashed. It’s such a great read, and I really recommend it!