Wednesday, March 27, 2013

REVIEW: The Holders by Julianna Scott

The Holders (Holders, #1) The Holders by Julianna Scott
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Holders was an easy, speedy read. Good things first, there was no unnecessary drama, no mean girls, no love triangle. The heroine was competent and her love interest was the definition of nice.

Now for the bad things, starting with the small issues working up to the big ones.

The Cons

+ the world building
I expected the world building to enthrall me because the book was a YA paranormal set in Ireland, a beautiful country with a beautiful culture. But nope. Didn’t get that. What I got was was more fantasy than something based in Irish myth, and it was minimal in the sense it was just sufficient.

In short, the world building was unremarkable. I wasn’t bothered by it, just mildly disappointed because I think the book could have easily done better.

+ the plot
I didn’t mind that it was unoriginal, but I did mind how black and white it was. Basically, on one side you have the good guys, the Order at St. Brigid. On other side you have the bad guys, led by Darragh who believes magical people, a.k.a. the Holders, should rule the world; think Magneto from X-Men. The good guys were all good, the bad guys were all bad. There were no shades of gray. No depth. Just clear-cut moral fiber.

The good guys were honestly too good to be believable to the point that I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. I kept wishing for Becca to be vigilant because St. Brigid might be a trap she and her little brother were walking into. But no, no, the good guys were sincerely good.

+ the romance
The romance between Becca and Alex was one or two steps short of insta-love. It progressed too fast for my liking. Towards the end, there were I-love-you’s and we’re-soulmates, as in they’re literally soulmates. I was half-expecting the couple to plan the wedding, the baby’s room, and their life forever.

The soulmate thing was interesting. It fit well into the world building and the magical element of the book, but eh. It made the romance a little contrived and somewhat bland that I skimmed some of Alex and Becca’s scenes.

+ Ryland
Ryland is Becca’s little brother. For such an important character, the book improperly treated him like a minor one. The first half of the plot revolved around him. Becca is where she is because of him. Yet he only showed up in a couple scenes and always presented like a background character. He was almost always spoken to and about. The book didn’t allow him to make his presence known, especially in at least 2 scenes when it was all about him.

The only times reader got to know Ryland were not those scenes when he was present as it should have been. Instead, the reader learn got to know him in Becca’s thoughts when she was thinking about him, which leads to my biggest issue.

In short, his character didn’t have the impact it deserved.

+ the heroine
Becca was unconvincing in her role as an overprotective sister who would do anything for her little brother. She started off strong, but as the plot progressed she deteriorated. She wasn’t focused on Ryland as much as she should have been. She was too easily distracted by her romance with Alex and her family issue with her deadbeat father. During the siblings’ stay at the school, I recall her calling Ryland on the phone once and in another instance Ryland visiting her.

What Becca should have done was visit Ryland, not once but periodically, talking to him face to face, telling him what is going on rather have other characters do it, following up on his classes, and just outright stalking the pitiful boy.

Her biggest offense was in the total two times of when she fainted, after waking up the first thing she asked was NOT about Ryland, regarding his whereabout or well-being, but something else that should have been secondary in lieu of Ryland. Talk about egregious! It punctured a huge hole in her characterization as an overprotective sister.

The only thing possibly worse was the plot hole.

+ Becca’s mother
It was not the biggest issue for me because it didn’t rear its undesirableness till the end whereas the issues with Becca were on stage all the time since she was the heroine. Still, it was big enough for me to label it as a plot hole. At the end, we find out Jocelyn’s reasons for why he abandoned his family. We also learned it was all for naught because of the traitor. The bad guys now know where Jocelyn’s family live. Becca and Ryland are at St. Brigid with the Order and Jocelyn so they’re safe as can be. Now what about the mom?

Their mother, Jocelyn’s wife, is still in back in America — unprotected, putting out the take-me-hostage vibe to the bad guys. No one at end thought to send somebody to protect her or, better yet, bring her to St. Brigid. There was not even a phone call to the mother that say, “Hey. Bad guys are after you. Watch out.” WTF? Talk about a big oversight.

Let me guess, book 2 is going to be about rescuing her. Oy.

The Pros

+ the heroine, part 2
While she may have been my biggest issue, for the most part I genuinely liked her. She was unlike the YA heroines I usually read about. She was earnest and kind. She wore her emotions on her sleeve; it was refreshing to read how self-aware she was.

Okay, so she was granted special snowflake status halfway through the book, but I didn’t mind it. I like wish-fulfillment stories. Becca was a competent protagonist so I didn’t think she was an outright Mary Sue. She didn’t cause unnecessary drama; I liked how forgiving she was. She adjusted to new situations and revelations quickly; I loved how she handled herself at the climax.

+ the BFF
Chloe was bubbly, gossipy, and overall friendly. It was refreshing reading a YA where the girls are nice to each other and there are no cat fights and the girl talks weren’t predominated by the subject of boys. I wished she played a bigger role in the book. Here’s hoping she will in book 2.

+ the love interest
Alex was a good guy through and through, so good it was hard to believe. I was suspicious of the dude for half of the book. I liked how considerate he was and how he didn’t let his sad abandoned-as-a-child past make him Mister Mopey.

The romance may have been fast and bland, but it was without angst and the ridiculous I-can’t-be-with-you shit that will only be resolved till the end of the series. No, that shit was resolved in book 1, and it was resolved in timely manner and in a talk to clear up misunderstandings. Points for Alex and the romance.

In Conclusion

I rate The Holders 3-stars for I liked it. It was linear and predictable, but it was a quick, mindless, pretty entertaining read. It could have been better, but it wasn’t bad. I recommend The Holders if you’re looking for YA that is like a palate cleanser — no stupid drama, no catty girls, no love triangle.

Goodreads | Amazon

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