Friday, 5 October 2012

Review: Cursed by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Dying sucks-- and high school senior Ember McWilliams knows firsthand. After a fatal car accident, her gifted little sister brought her back. Now anything Ember touches dies. And that, well, really blows.

Ember operates on a no-touch policy with all living things--including boys. When Hayden Cromwell shows up, quoting Oscar Wilde and claiming her curse is a gift, she thinks he's a crazed cutie. But when he tells her he can help control it, she's more than interested. There's just one catch: Ember has to trust Hayden's adopted father, a man she's sure has sinister reasons for collecting children whose abilities even weird her out. 

However, she's willing to do anything to hold her sister's hand again. And hell, she'd also like to be able to kiss Hayden. Who wouldn't? But when Ember learns the accident that turned her into a freak may not have been an accident at all, she's not sure who to trust. Someone wanted her dead, and the closer she gets to the truth, the closer she is to losing not only her heart, but her life. For real this time.

Jennifer never ceases to amaze me. What I liked most about Cursed was the concept of a girl having the ability to kill anything she touches. How can anyone not be curious about that? Cursed was everything I expected from Jennifer Armentrout - awesome, intense, and a whole lot of witty dialogue!

I really liked Ember's character, even though she wasn't as kick-ass as Jennifer's other heroines. I could feel her genuine love for her sister, Olivia, and the fact that she's really compassionate. I liked how she had a great sense of humour throughout the book even though her life was practically falling apart. I know that I wouldn't be as tolerant as her if I were in her place! Her chemistry with Hayden was amazing, and it kind of reminded me of Katy and Daemon from the Lux series (also by Jennifer Armentrout). Hayden seemed like a creeper at the beginning, okay even after that, but everything else about him takes the focus off of that. He's the only one who believed in Ember from the start, and stood up for her whenever the others in the Cromwell household gave her a bad time. Seriously, his faith in her never wavered. It's admirable. Even though he had a lot of reasons to dislike Ember because of what she thought of his adopted family, he still stuck by her.

It was really easy to get into this book. As I mentioned before, the concept is what drew me in (though I would have read the book regardless, since Jennifer's one of my favourite authors).

When I’d gotten home, when everything was so jacked up and felt surreal, I’d realized I hadn’t dreamt crap. Sushi had been the first victim. With his smashed-up nose and one eye, the cat happened to be the ugliest thing I’d ever seen, but I loved him. I picked him up, and he died about sixty seconds later. Several dead houseplants later, I realized something was wrong with me—very wrong.

  I stopped touching things. Just like that.

You REALLY want to know what happens in a book where the protagonist can't touch any living thing. After reading this, I could tell I was going to love this book. I thought life would be hell for Ember, not being able to touch anyone, not even her best friend, Adam. Which brings me to an unrelated point. Why are all the nice, friend-zoned guys in books named Adam? I've noticed that in a lot of books, and I don't think they're all coincidences. Maybe one author started a trend that everyone else continued. Anyway, Adam was really cool, and I wish we'd gotten to see more of him in the novel.

I have mixed feelings about the minor characters in Cursed. Some were well-developed, but others were not. Maybe they weren't meant to be. But I would've liked to have more of an insight into their minds. Phoebe was an enigmatic character, and I didn't like her much when she was introduced. By the middle of the novel I started to think she was okay. Then near the end she just ended up pissing me off. I guess it's pretty skilful of Jennifer Armentrout to make me have all these conflicting feelings about one minor character! Gabe was one that I definitely liked, and so was Parker. Kurt and Cromwell, on the other hand...  There was just something about them that didn't feel right. Like they couldn't be trusted. Especially Cromwell. And now I can never find out anything more about them... *sigh*

The plot was fast-paced, and I like that in books. Slow ones take me ages to read. I finished Cursed within a day, so that tells you how capturing the plot was. It was intense to the (almost) very end, with a huge build-up of suspense at the showdown. Even though I wasn't surprised to know who the baddie was, there were a lot of other things that shocked me, things I never saw coming. That made me love the book even more, because there are very few things that surprise me in mystery/thriller novels. Cursed has a healthy amount of that aspect as well as romance and humour, so it will appeal to most teenagers who love YA urban fantasy.

My biggest (and only) problem with this book is that THERE IS NO SEQUEL! There were so many unanswered questions at the end, and I desperately didn't want it to end there. Yes, the ending was perfect (Beyond the edge of the balcony, through the snow-touched trees, and over the rising slope of the mountains, a star broke away from the sky and fell to the earth. <- Such a beautiful last line) but I wanted to know how Ember's story ends -  how she adjusts to life with the Cromwells, her touch of death, etc. Write us a sequel, Jennifer!! At least something to wrap it all up!

All in all, Cursed reinforced my love and worship of Jennifer Armentrout's books, and if you haven't read any of them, I strongly urge you to do so ASAP! You won't regret it, trust me.

Rating: 4.5/5

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