Thursday, March 21, 2013

Book Review: Anew by Chelsea Fine

Title: Anew
Author: Chelsea Fine
Publisher: Firefall Publishing
Series: Archers of Avalon #1
Source: Barnes and Noble
Young Adult; Fantasy/Romance

So I hadn't used my Nook in well over a year, and I finally decided to charge it and update it so I could see what the new OverDrive app looked like. Much to my surprise, I had three or four YA titles I'd purchased on sale some time ago and I figured I should read them since I'd apparently thought they were interesting at some point. The first of these that I read was Anew by Chelsea Fine.

Anew is the first in the Archers of Avalon trilogy that follows the story of seventeen year old Scarlet Jacobs and twin brothers Gabriel and Tristan Archer. We meet Scarlet when she wakes up in the woods outside of Avalon, Georgia. She's fifteen and she knows her name, but nothing else. Not how she got there or where she came from. Skip ahead two years and Scarlet's been taken in by her guardian, Laura and goes to high school with her best friend Heather like any other teen girl. She meets the smart, handsome, funny, endearing, mysterious etc Gabriel at Avalon's annual Kissing Festival (!) and the two strike up a relationship. Gabriel has secrets, though, including a twin brother that might hold the key to Scarlet's missing memories and her life before Avalon. However, the closer she gets to Gabriel and Tristan and the closer she gets to unlocking her memories, she finds herself in more and more danger with less and less time.

There are aspects of this book that I genuinely enjoyed and other aspects left me looking for a bridge from which to suspend my disbelief.

That sound you hear is the bridge creaking.

I know that the whole amnesia thing is not exactly breaking new ground, but the mythos that Fine constructs is really interesting. Without giving too much away, Scarlet is the victim of a curse gone wrong, a curse that affects not only her but both of the Archer brothers. Her fate has been bound to the twins for a long, long time. What one brother needs destroys the other; what the other brother wants destroys them all. As far as angsty, dramatic set ups go, it's a doozy.

Fine also has some really snappy dialogue, especially from green-eyed brother Tristan. For example:
Gabriel glanced down. “Seriously, Tristan? You drive around with a trunk full of weapons?”
“Of course.”
“Because I’m the family bad guy.”
And also very poignant lines like this:
“Knowing death is nearby gives you a chance to live...deliberately." 
On the flip side of that, there's a lot of ridiculousness from Scarlet's best friend Heather who literally speaks in text lingo. Now, I'm guilty of occasionally dropping a "jsyk" or "brb" into a conversation, but this character's sentences are full of "O-M-G" and "Scarlet, W-T-H?" which made me want to strangle her juuust about every page. Scarlet picks this up at some point during the book, making statements like "Worst. Date. Ever."
L-O-L one more time.

Heather's character is a little over the top in the crazy fashion obsessed sense but she's fun and oddly perceptive and I feel like the text lingo is a disservice to her character. While she is over the top, she's also smart, honest, and willing to defend her friend no matter what. I liked her, but my willingness to get behind her as a character was thwarted by her charming quirk.

Oddly enough, I also liked the love triangle aspect of this story. I know, I know. Hold your tomatoes. Because of the intricacies of the curse, it puts a different spin on it. It had the potential to be really heart rending. Yup, I said had potential. One of the more frustrating aspects of the story was also the love triangle. It's fairly obvious early on which brother she's "supposed" to be with, and because of that the other brother doesn't get as fully developed of a personality.

A moment to address how Scarlet first meets Gabriel. At a town-wide Kissing Festival, a two day event in which everyone (parents and kids) in the town of Avalon randomly kisses their neighbors, the postman, the dentist... There are also events like the Kissing Sock Hop and Kissing Booths...I just...can't... A Valentine Festival with a kissing booth is one thing. An entire multi day event where one might be accosted and kissed by anyone in your community is weird. Maybe that's just me. 

I also wanted better development of the brother's relationship. There's denial and secrecy between siblings, sure, but Tristan and Gabriel seemed almost clueless about each other at points. Their main focus is Scarlet, but they've also been brothers for a long, long time. (No, they are not vampires. Or werewolves.)

The story is good and the characters are for the most part interesting. It seemed inconsistent, because there are a lot of great scenes and dialogue moments but there are enough eye roll moments that it detracted from the experience. I did finish the book wanting to know what happens next for these guys, but I'm not compelled to make the second in the series, Awry, my next read.

No movie news on this one, but you can watch a book trailer on the author's Goodreads page.

If you'd like a quick fantasy read with a bit of a little twist, you might enjoy Anew. Or, this might be a good recommendation for a reluctant young teen reader who enjoys triangles and text lingo.


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