Author: Vanessa Garden

Carrier by Vanessa Garden | Book Review

Posted May 26, 2014 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 4 Comments

Carrier by Vanessa Garden | Book ReviewCarrier by Vanessa Garden
Published by Harlequin Enterprises, Australia Pty Limited on March 1, 2014
Genres: Dystopia, Post-Apocalyptic, Romance, Science Fiction
Pages: 175
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
Amazon Add to Goodreads
2 Stars
From the day she was born, Lena has viewed the world through the jagged window of a razor-wired fence. The hundred-acre property she shares with her mother in the Australian outback may keep her safe from the Y-Carrier disease, but it is no longer enough to hold Lena’s interest, and her mother’s increasingly tight grip on her free will is stifling.

Just as her curiosity blooms and her courage rises, she meets a boy through the fence — the first boy she has ever laid eyes on. His name is Patrick and he comes with a dangerous yet irresistible invitation of adventure beyond the fence, an invitation to which Lena cannot say no.

But Lena’s newfound freedom is short-lived and she soon discovers that the Y-Carrier disease is not the only enemy she faces on the outside. Her new enemies want something Lena has, and they are willing to do anything to get it...

After LOVING Vanessa Garden’s debut novel, Captivate, I was beyond thrilled to hear of her next novel. Carrier, a post-apocalyptic dystopian set in the Australian outback, and is completely different from Captivate. While it was an enjoyable read, I did not feel the same magic I did when I read Captivate. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. I LOVED reading a book set in the Australian Outback. And I loved all the Aussie words like “dingo”. It was just fun to read a book from an Australian author, as I got a tiny glimpse of a place I would LOVE to visit (although the Outback is not my number one go-to Australian locale. Hehe.). I suppose there’s only so many ways to describe a vast and desert-like place, but I would have loved more scenic details that specifically pointed to the Outback. This story could have taken place anywhere.

2. The worldbuilding was minimal. I would have enjoyed more information about the disease. Where did it come from? How long has it been there? How was it discovered? How did everyone end up scattered all over the place? How much of the human race is left? I just felt let in on the story way too late. If things had started earlier, or we were provided a flashback or prologue explaining the events that led up to this story, I would have been much happier. I’m very detail-oriented, and I was a bit disappointed.

3. I was not the biggest fan of the sci-fi twist, which did end up answering some of my questions, but in an unsatisfying way. The last 10-15% of the book was like a detail dumping, but it was a little too late and a little anti-climactic.

4. A lot of time was spent on a very luke-warm insta-relationship. Patrick is the first boy Lena has ever seen in her life, so naturally they would fall in love almost instantly and start risking their lives for one another, right? I did not believe their love. They barely talked about anything important, and I really think they were more awe-struck at seeing a human of the opposite gender than they were in love with each other. There was just no development.

5. Lena’s mom is very abusive, both verbally and physically. And Lena decides she wants to run away. But not permanently. Just a day or two. And then when times get harder, everything is all of a sudden sunshine and roses. There is no discussion of how horrible Lena’s mother has been, and no reconciliation or amends made. I have a hard time believing that no feelings needed to be shared in order to establish a healthy mother-daughter relationship.

6. I did not connect with any of the characters because I never got to know them well enough. They were all flat and uninteresting to me.

7. The book just felt unorganized. It’s like towards the end the author realized there were some unanswered questions, so she just started throwing out answers. Some of them did not make sense, some did not seem believable, and some were unsatisfying. I think this could be faulted by the book’s length. This is a huge story, shoved into a very tiny package. It was not given enough room to grow, and that hurt it.

8. The ending was super unsatisfying. There’s no indication of any kind of sequel, but after ALL THAT we’re left with a ton of questions. Truth be told, I did not even know what to think when it was over. It just ended abruptly. It was kind of like someone slammed on the breaks and told you to get out of the car before reaching your final destination. I was just confused and let down.

All in all, the premise and the setting were the two strong points. The execution was disappointing, and I don’t even feel like this book is from the same author as the one who wrote Captivate. There was no magic, and I guess that’s what I was looking for. I’m still a fan of Vanessa Garden, though, and cannot wait for the next book in the Submerged Sun series!


Captivate by Vanessa Garden | Book Review

Posted January 10, 2014 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 10 Comments

Captivate by Vanessa Garden | Book ReviewCaptivate by Vanessa Garden
Series: Submerged Sun #1
Published by Harlequin Teen on January 1, 2014
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 304
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
Amazon Add to Goodreads
5 Stars
In a glittering underwater world, nothing is as it seems...

For the past twelve months since her parents’ death, seventeen-year-old Miranda Sun has harboured a dark secret — a secret that has strained the close relationship she once shared with her older sister, Lauren. In an effort to repair this broken bond, Miranda’s grandparents whisk the siblings away on a secluded beach holiday. Except before Miranda gets a chance to confess her life-changing secret, she’s dragged underwater by a mysterious stranger while taking a midnight swim.

Awakening days later, Miranda discovers that she’s being held captive in a glittering underwater city by an arrogant young man named Marko...the King of this underwater civilisation.

Nineteen-year-old Marko intends to marry Miranda in order to keep his crown from falling into the sinister clutches of his half-brother, Damir. There’s only one problem. Miranda is desperate to return home to right things with her sister and she wants nothing to do with Marko. Trying to secure her freedom, Miranda quickly forms an alliance with Robbie — Marko’s personal guard. However, she soon discovers that even underwater, people are hiding dangerous secrets...

I was super excited when I read the blurb for Captivate, because I LOVE underwater worlds. They have always been my very favorite settings for books. I was pleasantly surprised to find that this world is super unique and gorgeous. I adored this book beyond words, and hope I can set aside the fangirling and present my thoughts in a coherent way! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. The book starts out with a major bang! First, the girls are taking a midnight swim and talking about life and all of a sudden Miranda is pulled under the water and disappears. I was captivated immediately.

2. I fell in love with the undersea world of Marin almost instantly. It is gorgeous and colorful and sparkling and so unique! At first I thought Captivate was a book about mermaids, but it’s not. These are humans living on the ocean floor in a huge city. The city has rivers and gondolas and a modern colosseum where people go to watch criminals get thrown to the sharks in a big aquarium-like tank. When the look up to the sky they see the ocean instead. Their world is lit and warmed by light crystals that sparkle, and oxygen is brought down to them through air shafts. There’s a garden and a park with real grass. I could go on and on. I’m in love with this place.

3. Miranda’s captor, Robbie, is one of my favorite characters. I’m so impressed that Vanessa was able to write a kidnapper that I ended up loving. Robbie was ordered by his best friend, Marko, King of Marin, to go to the surface and bring him a wife. Once Robbie brought her down to Marin, he was appointed her guard. As he gets to know her and her story, he begins to really care for her and her wellbeing. He has such a sweet and caring personality, and I completely fell for him.

4. There is some very interesting mermaid lore thrown in to the story, and I loved reading about it. I loved reading the history of Marin, as well as its hidden mysteries. I mentioned before that I love Marin, but it’s all because of the amazing worldbuilding in this story.

5. I really like Miranda, even though she is nothing really special. Maybe that’s why I like her! She is portrayed as a quiet little plain Jane, always in the shadow of her gorgeous sister. She was chosen at random and by accident, and brought down to a world where she is the center of attention. She is needed. She is extremely important to everyone there. She discovers that she is beautiful. I really loved watching her take to heart that she is so much more than the physical traits she wished she had. She no longer feels the need to hide herself, and even though she is captive, she acts more free the longer she stays.

6. Marko is really sexy. I did not care for him much in the beginning, but I grew to like him a lot. He has this interesting mixture of being really suave, yet completely inexperienced at the same time. I kind of loved watching him trip over himself and discover new emotions.

7. I was not totally sold on the romance, and am left a little confused as to whether or not there’s a love triangle. I think we’re supposed to be confused, though, because I think Miranda is.

8. There were some tense moments, some of which made me scared to continue on! I feel like I really latched on to some of these characters, and so when the danger set in I worried for their safety.

9. I love Vanessa’s writing. I finished this book last night, but I am still picturing Marin in my mind. I’m still picturing Miranda’s moments with Marko. I’m still picturing fearless Robbie. The words flow so effortlessly off the page that I could not quit reading!

Overall, Captivate is a new favorite of mine, and the start to what I’m sure will be an amazing trilogy! The world is one I know many readers will love visiting, and Vanessa’s writing will keep them wishing for more. I was truly captivated and thoroughly enjoyed my reading experience. I cannot wait for the next book!

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