Sunday, September 9, 2012

Sampling Samplers: Epic Firsts (Fall 2012)

Epic Firsts Teen Sampler
Every now and then, certain publishers put out small, free samplers of their upcoming releases. I've never thought much of them before, but now they will be part of a new feature on my blog: Sampling Samplers.

Sampler 1: Breathe by Sarah Crossan

I was already naturally averted to this novel because of its premise; the dystopian trend tires me out and this book is part of it. This three-chapter sampler, featuring a chapter from each of the three main characters' first-person points of view, has not changed my mind.

The three chapters sampled did not inspire me to care about any of the three characters and I feel like the genuinely interesting idea of oxygen being manufactured and bought isn't going to be explored. The writing is adequate and the narratives of the three main characters have just enough variation to keep themselves separate from one another, but I don't know how long that might last. I try to avoid books with multiple first-person POVs now for this reason.

Perhaps this is partially an issue of personal taste. The excerpt makes it clear dystopian cliches, romantic complications, and lots of first-person POV switches are in the future and I can't handle all three at once, nor to the level it will surely be in this novel.

Would I read on?: Highly unlikely.

Sampler 2: Defiance by C.J. Redwine

The most striking thing about this preview is that Logan and Rachel, two very different people, have the exact same narrative voice and it is too easy to lose track of who is narrating when you're in the middle of a chapter. That's a deal-breaker. I don't care for the writing, I don't like either of the main characters, and there simply isn't anything here that interests me. The nasty patriarchal dystopia and its flat leader put me off too. I can't take any more dystopians that reduce women's rights. Too stressful at the moment.

Would I read on?: If I'd read this sampler first, nooooooo. Unfortunately, a copy wormed its way into my life and I gave it a try. DNF after reading just over half the novel.

Sampler 3: Don't Turn Around by Michelle Gagnon

I liked the way it was written and the storyline (we need more hacker stories, I think), though the first chapters tended to tell more than show. Overall, I liked this and reading on would have been a definite yes if it weren't for this highly dubious quote:
"They’d become a loosely knit community of hackers with a mission: to target Internet bullies, animal abusers, sexual predators, and everyone else who took advantage of the weak. Peter’s only rule was no violence. He saw /ALLIANCE/ as a way to wreak justice by pranking the bad guys, and so far, that hadn’t been an issue: After all, the people who counted themselves as /ALLIANCE/ questers could wipe out someone’s credit history or destroy their privacy with a few keystrokes. In the end, that was a lot more effective than beating someone up."
This is simply too close for comfort right now because is sounds exactly like the absurd line of reasoning STGRB (a website I have tried not to talk or think about for very good reason) uses to justify itself and its methods. If it were anything else, I might be able to overlook it, but being asked to cheer for two protagonists who remind me too much of a site I am genuinely afraid of is too much at the moment.

Would I read on?: Quite possibly, but I won't right now.

Sampler 4: Through to You by Emily Hainsworth

I have to hand it to whoever chose how much to put in the sampler: they chose just enough. The angst will nearly drown the reader, but Hainsworth's competent prose and the hints of unusual happenings will make them wish there were more than six chapters presented as a preview. It may make them want the entire book! If the endless sea of angst weren't present, I just might go for it. It's understandable that Cam is upset over his girlfriend Viv's death, but one can only take so much.

Would I read on?: Probably not, but it's possible.

Sampler 5: What's Left of Me by Kat Zhang

This sampler, more than any of the others, drew me in immediately. Just from the prologue, Eva and Addie had my sympathies for what they had to go through. Imagine sharing your body from before birth and growing up with the other soul as your sibling, but they are expected to fade away and everyone will think there is something wrong with you if they don't. Not much is explained about what is so evil about hybrids like Eva/Addie, but that question and the emotional investment I'd put into these girls after just four chapters (prologue and three normal chapters) would have made me keep going.

Would I read on?: Yes, and I did. My four-star review of What's Left of Me posts this Tuesday.

Find this sampler and others on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, their Facebook page, and other online booksellers.