THE THEME IS VAMPIRES. THE FIRST IS A YA SORT OF SUBURBAN FANTASY, THE SECOND IS A YA PARANORMAL DYSTOPIAN.
In the sleepy town of Northam, Massachusetts, not everyone is who they seem to be.
Take Scott Whitney, for example. A struggling high school senior, Scott wants nothing more than to have his much-divided, social-climbing family believe him when he comes to them with something important, no matter how often he disregards their rules.
One night, Scott catches his father’s beautiful colleague, Maria, drinking his father’s blood in their office parking lot. When his father has no recollection of this event, and gets weaker the more he spends time with Maria, Scott turns to his mother and sister for help. When he realizes that Maria has captured their hearts and minds, as well, Scott has to find a way to believe in himself, and become more than anyone thought he was capable of, in order to stop her.
But what will it cost him?
What We’ll Do for Blood is the first book in a series of young adult supernatural novels. If you like heart-racing action, highly-driven characters, and strong family ties, then you’ll love C.L. Mannarino’s visceral vision of a world where the supernatural is very much alive.
***I received this ebook as a gift in exchange for an honest review via the author
Let me preface this review by saying that I think someone who is looking for a more adult vampire story minus the hyper sexualization that’s found in many adult vampire urban fantasies would like this a lot. Unfortunately, I was not a fan and DNF’d this at 30% or so.
What We’ll Do For Blood features a diverse cast of characters of many ethnic groups and social classes. There’s a strongly defined line between the upper suburban and those who are more middle class. The world is thoroughly outlined, though occasionally I questioned the time period.
The pacing drove me crazy. Some points were unbearably slow and so full of description that I skimmed. Nothing happened for nearly 100 pages. The things that did happen, that caused me to throw up my guard and question Maria, were TOO subtle and really not enough to heighten the anticipation. Had they been amped up a little more, it would have increased the anxiety and foreboding. The story got lost as it lagged.
Some things made hardly any sense at all. There are references to how nice Maria is from Scott and she’s a terrible person, like a serious jerk to him. There’s one scene that was so repulsive and rude that I have no clue how Scott went from that to Maria is so nice again. Sure, Maria has some sort of hypnotic gaze or something that puts people under a spell, but like I said above, so subtle that comments and reactions like this are frustrating.
I couldn’t connect with Scott or any of the characters really. I sympathized with Scott because he is under a lot of pressure to conform to a specific image for his family, but he does nothing to help his cause. Like he knows he needs to do certain things and he’s like nope and then wonders why people get annoyed. The references to his weight really bothered me and then I laughed pretty hard because 150 pounds is massive I guess. I just…the development was hindered by the slow pace. There wasn’t much room for growth or really forming a solid connection with any of the characters. Scott’s girlfriend was there in glimpses, you couldn’t really get a solid read on her, but she seems like a nice person. It was like looking at her from far, far away.
Six hundred years after The Outbreak, the human population stand side by side with the Fae & the Vampyrs to stop the Demon King from starting a second Dark War.
Seventeen year old Adelaide Tate is in her last year of the Academy, with her eyes set on becoming part of the Red Guard.
Who cares that no female has ever joined?
When a dark force develops an unhealthy liking for her, Adelaide needs to fight for her life and figure out what makes her so different from the others.
Betrayal. Fear. Anger.
She must overcome it all in order to turn her world the right way around again.
Adelaide has one choice. Accept the help offered to her by Xander Bane, or face the Demon Hoard alone.
One thing is for sure. The descent will be bloody.
***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via the author
Descent is super short. Not novella length, but I’d say about 100 pages less than the average YA paranormal. That being said, I think that had the book been longer, it would have been far more developed. This reads like a rough draft in terms of connecting the different story arcs and relationship building. The first half of the story feels like a wholly different book than the second half. There’s an abundance of telling and leaping from one scene to the next, abruptly cutting off before the scene actually builds. It almost feels like a summary.
The world building is complex and intriguing. I love the darkness and the role of the academy. The battle scenes are INTENSE. The gore, the weapons, the feels. If the focus, as the blurb suggests, had been more on Adelaide’s quest to join the guard it would have added to this world building, but that kind of fell to the wayside with everything else going on.
I really wish that first section had been further developed because it would have been so much more special. Don’t get me wrong, the feels are pretty strong, but not sucker punch level. This heartwarming and bittersweet friendship between Adelaide and her best friend was potent and one of the best parts of the story. They’re there for each other to balance and offset, to hold each other when they’re depressed or insecure, to give each other encouragement and soothe old wounds. The friendship is powerful. For me, there wasn’t enough of it. I would have liked more of just the girls hanging out, talking about their past, their love interests, really digging in so that the emotional connection would have been 10x stronger.
There’s a serious case of instalove on one side, and on the other side is an over a decade long build lusting. That was pretty cool. This offsets the whole instalove aspect and shows something deeper and long-lasting. The chemistry is there and it’s HOT. Switching between two POVs you see the romance develop and grow into something profound. They way he cares for Adelaide is beautiful and oh so sexy. Sometimes it’s a little crude, a little blushworthy, but the sweetness makes up for it.
Some plot points didn’t make sense. I kept asking myself why certain things were happening, like a specific abduction. What was the point of the whole ordeal with minimal danger only to return the character later, no harm done? It just didn’t add up.
There are so many clues that the plot twist is expected and when it gets to the reveal, while it may be shocking for Adelaide, it certainly wasn’t for me.
I adored the bad guys. They were layered, sympathetic, multidimensional, and full of character, life, and just all around great lines. They really livened up the story and made me want to read more…even more so than the good guys.
Quite a few typos.
Overall, Descent is an engaging and enjoyable dystopian with all your favorite sorts of paranormal creatures.
If you like any of the following you’ll enjoy this: