Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Rec'd YA Romance: 'Captivate', 'Luminary,' 'Fates'

(from usatoday.com
by Serena Chase)

(photo by Harlequin)

Dystopian societies, royalty, worlds within worlds and, of course, romance!—you're sure to find something to tempt your imagination among these newer YA romances!

Captivate (Submerged Sun #1) by Vanessa Garden

What it's about (from publisher Harlequin Teen):

In a glittering underwater world, nothing is as it seems...

For the past twelve months since her parents' death, 17-year-old Miranda Sun has harboured a dark secret — a secret that has strained the close relationship she once shared with her older sister, Lauren. In an effort to repair this broken bond, Miranda's grandparents whisk the siblings away on a secluded beach holiday. But before Miranda gets a chance to confess her life-changing secret, she's dragged underwater by a mysterious stranger while taking a midnight swim.

Awakening days later, Miranda discovers that she's being held captive in a dazzling underwater city by an arrogant young man named Marko…the King of this underwater civilization!

Nineteen-year-old Marko intends to marry Miranda in order to keep his crown from falling into the sinister clutches of his half-brother, Damir. There's only one problem: Miranda is desperate to return home to right things with her sister and she wants nothing to do with Marko. Trying to secure her freedom, Miranda quickly forms an alliance with Robbie — Marko's personal guard. However, she soon discovers that even underwater, people are hiding dangerous secrets…

Why you should read it: I wasn't sure what to expect from this book, but it pretty much blew me away, even though I still don't really know how to categorize it! Captivate is not necessarily fantasy, paranormal, sci-fi, utopian or dystopian — and yet it's all of those combined. It is certainly YA, however, and all about coming of age … with a surprisingly delicious romance.

Vanessa Garden's world so deeply engulfed my imagination that I devoured the book in only a few hours. The world of Marin and the characters inhabiting this underwater society are, as the title suggests, utterly captivating. The intensity of Miranda's emotions is strong throughout, as are those of Robbie and Marko. From the maids to the flirtatious guards, even the minor characters are fully rounded, and their desperation, humanity, affection, and resentment are nearly tangible and add to the plot's intrigue.

Emotions will churn throughout the book, and even though a few romantic rabbit trails seem confusing for a moment or two, when the build of love finally goes for the jugular, it strikes hard and true. The ending may very well send your heart into your throat, but a few lines of hope (and the promise of a sequel!) will leave it pounding in anticipation of the next book in the series. I can't wait to be captivated again!

"Luminary" by Krista McGee.(Photo: Thomas Nelson)

Luminary by Krista McGee

What it's about (from publisher Thomas Nelson):

Thalli thought escaping to the surface would mean freedom. But is she any less of an anomaly aboveground?

After escaping an underground annihilation chamber, Thalli, Berk, Rhen, and John find themselves fleeing across the former United States, aboveground for the first time. As the defectors cross the for gotten landscape, the three youths see things the y had only read about on screens: horses, rain, real books—and a colony of unsanctioned survivors living the ancient way in a town called New Hope.

When the citizens of New Hope reveal the truth of what happened years ago, Thalli is left unsettled and skeptical of everything she's ever been told. Can she trust anything from the State, including her own feelings for Berk? When she volunteers for a peace mission to New Hope's violent neighbor, Athens, her confusion mounts as the supposedly ruthless Prince Ale x turns out to be kind and charming. Although everyone in New Hope warned her not to, she can't help but fall for him.

Meanwhile, John's unwavering faith in the goodness of the Designer begins to make its mark on Thalli's heart. But can Thalli really come to trust in a generous, protective Designer who rules over all things? Would that not be setting herself up for another betrayal?

The time for her to decide is now . . . because the State is closing in.

Why you should read it: The bigger inspy publishers may have entered the YA dystopian trend a bit late, but considering the quality of the books they're producing, we can't really complain! Krista McGee's Luminary is just such an offering and will please fans of dystopian lit as well as those who enjoy YA inspy romance. Fans of the first book will definitely want to get their hands on this exciting sequel, but if you have not yet read book one, Anomaly, please do: It will help ground you in this dystopian world.

For the first chapter or two of Luminary, I missed the innocence Thalli displayed in the first book and I was unsure if I would like her as much this time around. But considering she is escaping her scheduled execution, crossing a land in which even the air could kill her, and worried that the boy she loves is getting his heart entangled elsewhere, I can forgive what feels a little like sulking in the beginning — especially when she steps up, starts taking risks, and shows her loyalty. Don't let the slower pace of the beginning fool you: When the story picks up speed, it sprints into a can't-put-it-down race toward physical and emotional danger that will leave all the characters changed.

The introduction of new characters and evils, a pair of fresh settings and Thalli's connection to a boy who could become a powerful ally add to the stakes of the series and the romantic tension, as well. When you reach the end, you'll be eager for
the midsummer release of Revolutionary, the final book in this trilogy.

"Fates" by Lanie Bross.(Photo: Delacorte Press

Fates by Lanie Bross

What it's about (from publisher Delacorte Press):

One moment. One foolish desire. One mistake. And Corinthe lost everything.

She fell from her tranquil life in Pyralis Terra and found herself exiled to the human world. Her punishment? To make sure people's fates unfold according to plan. Now, years later, Corinthe has one last assignment: kill Lucas Kaller. His death will be her ticket home.

But for the first time, Corinthe feels a tingle of doubt. It begins as a lump in her throat, then grows toward her heart, and suddenly she feels like she is falling all over again--this time for a boy she knows she can never have. Because it is written: one of them must live, and one of them must die. In a universe where every moment, every second, every fate has already been decided, where does love fit in?

Why you should read it: Weaving concepts from mythology with alternate worlds, time travel and fantasy, author Lanie Bross has created a touching coming-of-age romance that charts a fantastic course through portals of cosmic chaos.

Corinthe is a creature of innocence, desperate to stifle the curiosity that exiled her to the human world and to complete her sentence in order to find mercy through obedience, even if it means crossing a line she has never crossed before. Her acceptance of her assigned duty is clear — until it isn't — and that waver of purpose ushers in the questions that will define her developing humanity and determine the future of the boy she has come to love.

Although there are a few predictable reveals and a couple of confusing questions that remain unanswered, Fates is a rather spell-binding tale of uncertainties faced, consequences suffered, fears realized, and sacrifices offered in the name of love.

A writer, performer and accomplished partaker of dark chocolate, Serena Chase lives in Iowa with her husband and two daughters. The first two books in her debut Eyes of E'veria series, The Ryn and The Remedy, are out now. You can find out more about her at serenachase.com.