Tabula Rasa by Kristen Lippert-Martin

Tabula RasaTabula Rasa by Kristen Lippert-Martin

My rating: 3.5 or 3.75 of 5 stars

Tabula Rasa takes place in a hospital like facility near the Canadian border (Oh Canada!). There, some doctors run experiments on patients by drilling holes into their heads as they try to wipe their memory. The patients don’t know who they are, what they are there for, and have no idea how they look like.

For Sarah, her time in the facility has been a blur of nothing. She doesn’t remember her past, her present is bleak. All she has is the hope that her surgeries, which she has to be awake for, works so she can be blessed with a new life.

But Sarah feels like something is missing and she isn’t just talking about her memories. It isn’t until her final surgery is cancelled that everything slowly comes back to her. When she gets back to her room, she finds pills, some clothing, and a piece of paper. Naturally, she takes the pill after reading the paper and thus starts her journey in getting back her lost memories. Memories she may not want back.

Aided by her fellow patients, a genius hacker, and some PTSD soldiers, Sarah will find the truth about her life, the hospital, and a few other secrets that could change everything. She’ll have to work fast though, because someone wants nothing more than to see her dead and they’ll stop at nothing until that happens.

Sarah isn’t your typical YA heroine. She’s tough, she’s resourceful, and she’s vulnerable without it seeming over the top or contrived. I mean, some of it may be, but it doesn’t ever feel forced. They do refer to her as a special snowflake, but as the story continued it did start to make sense why. It wasn’t because of some grand prophecy or anything, just other things.

And even though this sounds shallow, I liked that she was Mexican, yay, for having visible minorities as main characters. I feel weird pointing this out here and in other books where this happens, but as someone who is also a visible minority it’s nice seeing someone different as the lead character.

I also loved the hospital that Sarah was from. In the beginning we get to meet another patient, Jori, who seemed interesting and depressing all at the same time and the scenes with the soldiers, was my favourite part of the novel. The patients were great and the general feel for the institution was creepy and off. I loved reading about it and liked how the story mainly took place there.

In fact, the plot (for the most part) and the characters (all except one) were well written and fleshed out nicely.

Surprisingly, I didn’t even mind the romance subplot here. It is a bit of an instalove, especially since only 48 hours passed and they were into each other, but it was so small that it never really took away from the story. There was an attraction between the two of them and the high intensity of the situation made their hormones flare up once, so it was understandable. Plus, Sarah never let her feelings stop her from remembering the bigger picture. Staying alive and trying not to get shot at.

Did the romance have to be in the story? As someone who isn’t big on YA romance, I don’t think so. But I also understand that this genre will almost always have it as a plot point, so I would rather it be done well than to have a love triangle, instalove, cheating romance instead. Thankfully, I feel like it was done well here, so I was fine with it.

There are a lot of great things about the book, but it does have its downsides too. One of them happened at the very end of the novel, in the epilogue sort of chapter. I was with it, but then I felt a bit meh about what happened. Without spoiling anything, I feel like the beginning portion of the chapter wasn’t really needed if a paragraph undid everything. I didn’t really like that as I felt like it was a cheap way to add some emotional distress, only for it to not really matter.

I also didn’t like the main bad guy. They seemed to have no redeeming qualities and were bad for….what exactly? Some things were mentioned, such as being poor and having a hard life, but I don’t think it justified a lot of the stuff that happened here. The hatred made sense, the extremity of it didn’t. At the end of the day, the bad guy was a stereotypical, one dimensional, crazy person who despite meticulously planning every single detail of their plan was still foiled by a couple of teens.

Not that I’m a villain or anything, but if I was I’d shoot first, then a couple of times after that before moving on to other things. Then I’d make sure that the person I want dead is actually dead, by checking their pulse and then shooting a few more times for good measure. I know this sounds excessive, but considering the amount of ‘dead’ but not really dead proclamations in this novel, you can never be so sure as to who is dead without making sure that they are really dead.

Now granted, the bad guy could have the personality type where they are so egotistical to the point that they think nothing can stop them, but that goes against what we learned about them. They climbed their way to the top and were willing to do whatever it took to get there. Even killing people in cold blood to make sure that happens. So an elaborate plan that doesn’t involve a few headshots or even some poisoning seems to be bit out of character for them.

Also, their rant in the end explaining why they did what they did kept going on and on and on.

Overall: Tabula Rasa is exciting, suspenseful, and really, really cool novel. Sarah is a strong character and when she isn’t, it’s understandable due to what has happened to her. She’s not weak though and doesn’t let her experiences and past stop her from fulfilling her tasks. The other characters, save one, are also fleshed out well.

Despite this, there are some downsides that kind of ruin what would have been an otherwise amazing novel. I do think that this was a wonderful debut though and can’t wait to see what Lippert-Martin comes out with next.

Tabula Rasa was provided by netgalley

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The 100 Society by Carla Spradbery

the 100 society
317 pages
Expected publication: September 201

 

The 100 Society isn’t a perfect book. It’s not mind blowing, it’s not revolutionary, and it’s not really all that creepy. But somehow, I found myself enjoying this. Once I embraced the campy sort of feel, everything was okay.

The book starts off with Grace and her friends trying to complete a game of sorts. The game is called The 100 Society. The mission is successfully tag 100 locations around the city without getting caught. This might not sound like a big deal, but Grace and her friends are part of Clifton Academy. A boarding school filled with mostly rich kids, where doing things like this is seen as sinfully tempting. If caught, not only are they faced with expulsion, also (maybe, but not really) risk jail time. Tagging, despite how pretty some of the artwork can be is still very much against the law.

The high stakes involved in this game doesn’t deter Grace and her friends, it only makes them more determined to complete these tasks. Grace is especially connected to this, because her older, smarter, and all round awesome brother tried to do this when he was a student in Clifton. He got bored and never finished, but Grace only has four more places to tag before she’s done.

Things do start getting out of hand, when text messages and emails appear telling Grace and her friends that nothing is as it seems and that someone is lying to them. This wouldn’t be so weird, except there’s also a stalker who is breaking into their rooms and attacking them. To top things off, the school’s Headmaster/Principal stated that if he catches another tagging, then there will be consequences.

By the end of the book, not everyone will survive. But till then, who does Grace trust when everyone seems like a suspect?

Like I mentioned before, The 100 Society isn’t a masterpiece. The characters never feel real. I didn’t connect with them and those that I did find someone interesting were hardly shown. There is romance here, but it’s the same kind of romance that you see in a lot of things. Pete loves Grace, but she sees him as only a friend. Grace loves Trick, short for Patrick, a bad boy scholarship student with tons of tattoos. Faith, Grace’s best friend, is in love with Pete.

There’s also Ed and Cassie, but they’re together and not part of this square. Well, there is this one guy named Daniel who loves Cassie, but she sees him as a creep.

In terms of characterizations, no one is really developed. I do think Cassie had potential, but after an attack she’s hardly shown again in the book. Trick does have some depth, but its pretty clichéd. He’s a scholarship student who constantly feels like he has to prove himself that he belongs at Clifton, even though he didn’t pay for it like everyone else. I feel like Grace was trying to be a fully fleshed out character, but nothing really developed in her favour. She kept mentioning how she feels like her dad loves her older brother more than her, even though we never really see this happening. She also feels like she needs to step away from her brother’s shadow, but the only thing that connects her to him is this 100 society thing. She kept saying these things, but as the reader we never really see where she is coming from.

I did want to like Grace though, because I can relate to being under an older siblings shadow. But I kind of wish the book showed us this instead of telling us.

The writing is also a bit of a miss in some scenes. For example, there’s one where Grace and Cassie are talking about a character that died. Cassie says something like, “You don’t think (said character) is….” And Grace thinks to herself that she knows what Cassie is asking. The readers know what Cassie is implying here, but Grace has to spell it out by saying. ‘Cassie was asking if said character was dead.’

I feel like you need to give the reader a bit of credit here and not have to spell everything out. But this sort of thing does happen in the novel.

Despite that, I did enjoy reading The 100 Society. I liked the plot and even though I was right about who the bad guy was, I still wanted to see where Spradbery would take the story. Things were predictable, not only when it came to the plot, but the romance as well. Still, once you stop taking the book so seriously and view it more as campy, you tend to enjoy it more.

Plus, Faith is a bit of a jerk to Grace and it was kind of fun to watch. Since Faith loves Pete, she tends to take her anger at the love being one sided out on Grace and telling her things like, “Pete deserves better.” And things like that. I kept shaking my head and wondering what she was on about. The first introduction we have to Pete is him making puppy dog eyes to Grace as she tells him, “You’re a great friend.”

Then I started to think that maybe Grace knew about Pete’s one sided love, because it was obvious, but she doesn’t. She’ll constantly tell him that he’s a great guy and a good friend, but according to Faith this is leading him on.

She did kiss him, but that was because of certain things……

Anyways….

Overall: if this was a television show I’d probably watch it, which is why I think I liked the book even though it had a lot of things that I don’t normally like. The writing isn’t the best, the characters don’t always feel like they’re really there and are clichéd, the romance is predictable, and Grace is a bit stupid. But I did like the plot and the overall campiness of the story. It’s not the greatest, but it did help pass the time.

 

Novel was provided by netgalley

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