Reviews: The Beholder + Call It What You Want

pub 6/4/19 by HarperTeen
Young Adult - Fantasy
Received ARC from pub for review
The Beholder is about Selah, the only daughter of the Potomac's leader and who needs to marry someone to be her partner in leading the future of their people. When she and her family extend a public proposal to her childhood friend, she's devastated when he rejects her and leaves her with no choice but to sail abroad approaching multiple, potential suitors. Her stepmother all but says that she shouldn't bother to return if she's not engaged and the book is about traveling with Selah and her strange, new-to-her crew to different lands as she meets these different men. The concept was intriguing and I'm almost always up for checking out new fantasy but from the start, I had a lot of problems with the world-building. It felt like the author didn't want to commit to any sort of genre so the world sometimes felt like fantasy or dystopian or historical/religious and had very little to no explanation to ground the reality of these characters. Because of that, I would feel randomly taken out of the story when certain references were made that felt too modern for what was supposed to be fantasy or vice-versa. I thought the story itself had potential with the seafaring journeys but ultimately how interactions Selah and her different suitors played out was very predictable and often frustrating. Even though I liked Selah well enough and understood that she was sheltered, her naiveté was almost a bit too much to take since she seemed to fall in love with everybody and didn't ask enough pertinent questions. In the end, The Beholder reminded me of too many other books instead of providing something unique to make it stand out on its own.

Do I recommend? I feel bad saying this because I've met the author in person and she's absolutely lovely but I don't see myself recommending this book. That said, if you're super interested in the story, you should read it and determine for yourself if you like it or not!

pub 6/25/19 b Bloomsbury
Young Adult - Contemporary
Received ARC from pub for review
In Brigid Kemmerer's contemporary novels, she tends to put her characters through the ringer. They go through these rather extreme circumstances but instead of feeling over the top, there's just something so earnest and genuine about her protagonists that shines through all the crazy. You've got Rob, whose father makes a failed suicide attempt after he's caught embezzling funds from half their town. Now Rob has gone from popular lacrosse player to hated student. With no friends standing behind him and his own family a mess, he doesn't know what else to do but keep his head down. Then Maegan was your typical good girl overachieving type until the pressure causes her to make a huge public mistake that no one will let her forget. And her sister is home from college and pregnant and she's not allowed to tell her parents. See what I mean? It's a lot. And that's only the set up for these two. When they're paired together for a calculus project, their initial iciness slowly gives way to friendship and no surprise, something more. Their quiet, slow burning romance was my favorite part. But it's not easy for them as Rob confronts his father's past and Maegan faces her own regrets. I enjoyed watching it all unravel and the big roles that family and friendship played for each of them.

Do I recommend? I love Brigid Kemmerer's book and very much enjoyed this one. So yes, I recommend!

1 comment

  1. I cried reading Call It What You Want, which tells you just how much I ended up invested in this story! It's so good, like pretty much all of Brigid's books.


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