Monday, April 7, 2014

REVIEW: "Unbound" by Georgia Bell (Xpresso Book Tours)

After her father dies, Rachel realizes she is scared and stuck. Scared of heights, of cars, of disasters harming the people she loves. Stuck in a life that is getting smaller by the minute. Stuck with a secret she has kept all her life: Someone has been watching over her since birth. Someone who tends to show up when she needs him the most. Someone she believes is her guardian angel. 

Eaden is a 1,500-year-old immortal who wants to die. Drained by a life stretched too thin, he has requested his final reward – a mortal sacrifice bred specifically to bring him death. But something went wrong. Rachel’s ability to grant death has mutated in ways that threaten to upset the uneasy alliance between mortals and immortals. And utterly beguiled, Eaden discovers that although Rachel is the key to his death, because of her, he no longer wants to die. And he will do anything to protect her. 

Swept into a world of legends, caught between the warring political factions of immortals, and carrying the future of mortal kind in her flesh and bone, Rachel must risk everything to save her world and the man she loves.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR - Georgia Bell (don't you just love her name?)
Georgia Bell was raised on a steady diet of science fiction and fantasy, courtesy of her father, a man who loved his family, fishing, scotch, and science (although not necessarily in that order). Georgia is an avid reader of young adult fiction, and a lover of good wine, music, children, and cats (although not necessarily in that order).


I received an ARC of this book in exchange for a thoughtful and honest review, which follows:

Have you ever felt as though someone were watching you?  Not a malevolent someone, just someone who seems to show up at odd times and help you out?  Someone you generally see in times of trouble?  Someone who helps quell the anxieties that make you double check everything?  What if that someone isn't an angel?

Boy meets girl.  Girls meets boy.  Boy is 1500+ years old.  Girl is 18.  Boy has been drawn to girl her entire life.  Girl has noticed boy here and there, always seeming to be around when her life is in danger or something scary is about to happen.  Boy is plagued with...something behind his eyes that to hint to an immense sadness.  Girl is plagued with near-crippling anxiety and a desperate need for structure, order, routine.  Boy flips girl's world upside down.  Is it for the best?

This is a marvelous book about immortals and other supernatural beings which is expertly written in an engaging, frank style that is just as endearing as the main character - Rachel.  Bell brings readers on a roller coaster ride where we are never quite sure what happens next, endings are merely beginnings, the unexpected delights in popping up all over the place, and people and other beings are not quite what they seem.  Unbound is a delightful, surprising read that is sure to please your imagination with vivid settings, endearing characters, gut-wrenching drama, and a timeless love story....or is it?

I've said before on this blog that I consider the mark of a good book to be that I continue to think about it when not reading....I thought about this book quite a bit between page-turning episodes.

Just to warn you - this book is a bit of a tease.  :)

Overall, on an ascending scale of 1 to 5, I give this book a 4.

The Good
I've been reading voraciously ever since I was knee-high to a very short cricket.  I know what makes a good book and what makes a stinker.  This is a very good book. 

Rachel is a young lady who intentionally leads a very ordered, structured life.  After enduring the physical loss of her father through death and the emotional loss of her mother through detachment, Rachel has become an expert at avoiding people...they'll just leave her with hurt anyways.  She also avoids frightening situations...kind of (spending mornings reading the world news is not exactly shielding oneself from the frightening situations in the world).  Mom pressures her to apply for university and to give a particular boy a shot at happiness.  A friend pressures her to get out an do stuff.  She pressures herself to stay safe. 

Safe?  What is safe when one is plagued by anxiety that is near crippling, prompting one to double check the lock on the door at least half a dozen times? To take a job that is utterly predictable and routine?  To prefer to live in a world of books rather than the real world, because the ending is already determined in a book and is the same each time one reads the same book?

To know that you've been followed your entire life by a dashing fellow with gray eyes who always seems to show up when your life is in danger?  A number of months after Rachel turns 18, she decides to see a therapist about her....issues.  Shortly after this, she decides to confront the imaginary figment that seems to always rescue her at the right moment.  

Little does she know that Eaden is not imaginary, and he carries issues of his own....1500+ years of them.  He is drawn to Rachel like a fly to a light, though his attraction to her is not merely physical in a visual sense but also rather, um, genetic due to a certain major literary/historical figure who shall remain nameless here because your jaw needs to drop like mine did when his/her identity was revealed.  Eaden has followed Rachel since the day he watched her family playing in a park when she was a tiny tot.

The problem is that others who are not quite as chivalrous as he are also drawn to her.  The problem is that immortality and the monumental task of remembering a world's history (the writers of history are generally those on top of the social structure, after all, and their world is barely 90% trustworthy) as it actually happened is too much even for the mind of a special human who cannot die.  

So a special breed of human was created, where they could end the life of an immortal human...but their life would end at the same time.  Each special human is only supposed to be aligned to one immortal.  Each special human is supposed to be male.  Then along came Rachel. 

Okay, that's enough plot synthesis for you.  If I go too much further, you are going to have no reason to read this really very superb book.  First, I give Bell kudos for taking a vastly overdone trope (boy meets girl, girl meets boy, kisses ensue) and giving it a rather unique twist.  Several unique twists, in fact.  I find many books to be utterly predictable - this charge can never be leveled at Unbound.  Bell kept me guessing in every chapter.  Just when I thought I had things figured out....whamo - something would come along and not go quite the way I thought it would.  

Second, Bell uses a Hebrew word in this book to refer to the special individuals who are able to be used to end the life of an immortal being.  That word is mafte'ach and Bell claims that it means "key" in Hebrew.  I sound very skeptical here because I have an inherent distrust of so-called translations of Hebrew words (I'm a Biblical scholar type person, after all, who has studied the translation difficulties of the Christian Bible and know what can be done to the Hebrew language (for example: the word in Hebrew that is often translated as "feet" in English is not always our physical feet upon which we walk....sometimes it is used colloquially as was common in the days when the Old Testament was written.  "Feet" in Hebrew can also mean "penis".   Now go back and read the story of Ruth....sounds a little different (and in my opinion makes a bit more sense) when you know this!)).  However, Bell has correctly translate this word - YAY!!!!!!!  Maybe I'm making a bigger deal of this than necessary, but you have no idea how much it means to me when Hebrew words are translated properly!!  (NOTE: The root of the word mafte'ach is the word for doorway ("more or less", according to my husband - who is the one between us that actually reads/writes ancient Hebrew)....which also works in this story.)

Third, I absolutely adore the strong characters here...especially Rachel.  Now, when you read the beginning of the book, it definitely does not sound like she is super strong.  She does, however, come into her own and discover her inner strength through the course of the book...but it isn't something that is just gifted to her, it is developed - which I frankly appreciate more in a character because that is more true to life and infinitely more relateable.  Eaden was kind of the same guy through most of the book (save the last couple of chapters), though I liked him for different reasons.  

Fourth, settings and descriptions in this work are super colorful and vivid.  Bell leaves just the right amount of work to the reader to figure out how to set a scene.  She describes things through Rachel's eyes (the entire book is Rachel's POV) and in a way that is just as endearing as Rachel herself.  I absolutely loved Bell's writing style.  : )  

Fifth, you should know there are a lot more good things about this book, but you need to read it yourself.  

Oh, I almost forgot to mention this - it can stand alone on its own merit and be a complete story line.  I say this because it appears to me that Bell is writing a sequel.  Unbound ended in a way that definitely provides fodder for a wonderful sequel (not gonna tell you how - read the darn book yourself!), but not in a cliffhanger way that makes you go "really?!" in frustration.  I adored the ending.  : )  For one thing, it is the perfect blend of unpredictable and predictable.  

The Bugly (bad/ugly)
There are a few reasons why this book is a 4 instead of a straight 5:

1) I found multiple typos: upset punctuation, missing words, etc.  Now, I nitpick on this a lot - but a book that is ready to print should have as few typos as possible.  That being said, I understand that looking at the same text (and a LOT of it!) again and again means that writers - and editors - miss things.  My fresh eyes just caught a few too many things to not be annoyed. 

2) Have you ever seen the television show "Highlander"?  If not, you should check it out - it's pretty good.  If you have, you'll understand this next phrase: this book felt like "Highlander" fan fic.  For some inexplicable reason (I really like "Highlander") this really, really bugged me.  Maybe it is because that made parts of the book just a smidge too predictable for my taste....I'm not sure.  I just know that once I realized this, Eaden began to resemble the immortal main character in "Highlander" in my head as I read.

3) There are words in other languages that are not freaking translated!!  It bugs me to high Heaven when there are words I'm reading that I can't understand - it's the reason I rarely listen to songs in other languages, and the reason I hit Google instantly when a song in English has indistinguishable lines.  If there are going to be lots of words in other languages that are not explained/translated in the text itself, there needs to be a glossary at the end of the book.  :P

1 comment:

  1. This sounds like something I would def. enjoy! Glad you liked it, Nora! Great and thorough review! :)