[Review] The Body Reader – Anne Frasier

This digital copy of The Body Reader by Anna Frasier was courtesy of NetGalley.

the body readerStars: 4/5
tl;dr: Fast paced, compelling psychological thriller.

This was pretty damn hard to put down.

Detective Jude Fontaine escaped a 3-year captivity after overpowering her captor and making a run for it. But she was not the same person anymore. Everything about her and her life before she was kidnapped has changed – she was replaced at work, her boyfriend was seeing another woman, she was a cold shell of the happy normal person she used to be. And she gained a new ability, a bit of a super-heightened sense in smell and the ability to read body language.

Despite being plucked out of a situation and dumped into another, Jude coped and bounced back. She returned to the force and was given a new partner Detective Uriah Ashby, who had reservations on whether or not she should return to work at all. They immediately get thrown into a new case, which of course has some kind of connection to both Jude’s secret personal history and recent kidnapping. All this and how it eventually wrapped up is a little too convenient, but the writing is good and pulls you along to the next page. You really want to find out what happens to Jude and whether or not she is truly safe.

The great part about The Body Reader is that you have characters who have been through hell and are stronger for it, despite moments of human weakness. Both Jude and Uriah are compelling characters. Their partnership had a rocky start, but Uriah started to care and Jude started allowing someone to care. This didn’t lead to any romance, thankfully, because that would have been way too cliche.

I’m interested in read more from this author if The Body Reader isn’t just one  sample of a formulaic plot.

I don’t feel like this review did the book justice, but if you’re a fan of thrillers, this is a pretty good bet.

[Review] The Escape of Princess Madeline – Kristin Pulioff

 

This reading copy was courtesy of NetGalley.

madeline

Stars: 2/5
tl;dr: It’s fine if you’re in the Middle Grade (8-12) age range. Anyone better read will overthink it.

I think the thing I’m most confused about is the target audience versus the actual protagonist age and theme in this book. Isn’t Middle Grade supposed to be the pre-teen era where pimples, cracking voices and training bras are suppose to be the main problems?

On her 16th birthday, Princess Madeline is rudely surprised when her father informs her that she will pick a husband from a selection of royal suitors coming to her ball that night, not unlike how Cinderella’s Prince Charming held a ball to meet all the eligible young ladies in the kingdom. This immediately tells you why she had to be 16; another day closer to Middle Grade and this book won’t have seen the light of day.

Like all fairy tale princesses, Madeline is headstrong and wants to make her own decisions but the King was not hearing any of it because she is clearly a pawn piece to be married off for better kingdom perks. So she runs away, a plan she cobbled together in maybe an hour, and made up the rest of it as she went along. She gets kidnapped by bandits, who menaces her as menacingly as possible with readers whose average ages are just rolling over into the double digits. Which is to say they barely did anything except save her from the trouble of where to run next.

Meanwhile, her love interest is a young knight who fell in love with her at first sight. She wasn’t aware he existed until he won the role as her champion. And naturally they ended up together because he was the least repulsive choice in the end.. Sigh.

I think this novella is fine if you’re young and don’t have very sophisticated expectations in story plots or character development. Here’s a spunky princess with a problem. Here is a princess getting into deeper trouble outside her safe zone. Here comes her knight in shining armour.

I like the spunk and wanting to break out of roles assigned to you by the patriarchy. It’s just that we don’t really get to know the characters enough to sympathise or relate. Perhaps the constrains of the MG category is to blame here, because the writing was actually quite pleasant to read.

[Review] I.D. – Emma Rios

This digital copy of I.D. by Emma Rios was courtesy of NetGalley.

ID1Stars: 3/5
tl:dr: Interesting concept but could have been better executed.

The description of this graphic novel is interesting, particularly when gender dysphoria is gaining recognition, technology is close to perfecting full body transplants, and society is grappling with the ethics of it. Here’s the official blurb:

A dystopian tale that analyzes the conflict between perception and identity through the struggle of three people who consider a ‘body transplant’ as a solution to their lives.

This and the cover design was enough to perk some interest on some rather heavy topics. I appreciate where Rios was trying to go with this but a couple of things didn’t really work for me, particularly with the red-pink monochrome that the comic uses throughout (feels unfinished somehow) and the skinny text that had me frequently pinching and zooming the page on my iPad. It read better at second try, but there were parts where the panels and action was chaotic and hard to follow.

There were three main characters – Noa, Mike and Charlotte. Noa identifies as a man but feels trapped in a petite female body that will never turn into the hulking lumberjack type like Mike. Mike claims to be an ex-convict seeking a new life. Charlotte claims to be bored. On Noa’s request, they sit down after their body transplant briefing for a chat because Noa is the youngest (17) among the three and needed some hand-holding.

ID2

In the end, Noa was the only one with a fully developed story line. I won’t give away what became of Mike and Charlotte, but it does leave you wondering, especially with Charlotte.

Rios partnered with neurologist Miguel Alberte Woodward, MD for the science-y parts, including an essay at the end of the volume entitled ‘Stitching (an) I.D. Together’, which I skimmed and ultimately skipped over. Perhaps the more medical or scientific minded reader would find this more interesting.



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