Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Review: Isle of Night by Veronica Wolff

Title: Isle of Night
Author: Veronica Wolff
Genre: N/A, Paranormal
Series: The Watcher #1 

Paperback, 302 pages 
Publication: September 6, 2011 by NAL Trade 

Source: Personal library, for my own reading. 

Is life offering fewer and fewer options? Then join the dead.

When Annelise meets dark and seductive Ronan, he promises her a new life-if she has the courage to chance the unknown. Now, she's whisked away to a mysterious island and pitted against other female recruits to become a Watcher-girls who are partnered with vampires and assist them in their missions. To survive and become a Watcher, Annelise has to beat out every other girl, but she's determined to do so, because to fail doesn't mean dishonor-it means death.

Isle of Night popped on my radar years ago when it was first published in 2011. It was pitched as the next Vampire Academy series, and while the VA series is my favorite YA series…I was hesitant to try t because I didn't want to read a knock-off. However, a few months ago the book appeared in the ‘bargain bin’ on Amazon and I thought what the heck? It’s only four bucks, going to give this book a try.

I am happy to say this book didn't disappoint. I mean there were a couple of annoyances here and there but nothing drastic that made me want to quit. Our main heroine is 17-year-old Annalise Drew, who is seriously down on her luck. She’s been living with her drunk and abusive father and her evil stepmother for her entire life, and she thought she’d finally be able to leave the hellhole she calls home for college (graduated from high school a year early). But when she arrives at the Florida University she discovers that she can’t enroll because she hasn't fulfilled all the requirements to receive her diploma. With no money, job, or a place to return to Annalise literally hit rock bottom, until she meet mysterious Ronan who says he can change her life and take her far, far away from Florida. With nothing else to lose, Annalise agrees to go with Ronan to the Isle of Night, an all girls’ school for the gifted.

The only thing Isle of Night has in common with the Vampire Academy series is the aspect of Watchers.  Girls are chosen for the school based on two criteria: 1) They posses something unique/ability 2) when they have nothing left to live for (rock bottom). Girls are trained to become Watchers (body guards) for Vampires. While there are about 30 girls to begin with, in the end only 5 will be chosen. The vampires are made up of only males and each male will be paired with a female watcher.  There are also boys at the school, training to become a vampire. For more than half of the book; the author is setting up the world and introducing the readers to the characters. Readers don’t learn much about the vampires, so I can’t really comment on what makes them more unique from other books’ vampires. We’re basically learning the rules of being a Watcher alongside Annalise.

I’m still not quite sure how I feel about Annalise. I liked her but at the same time was annoyed by her. Annalise ‘unique ability’ is being super smart, she apparently has the highest IQ in her school/ or for her age. She may be smart but she doesn't have any common sense what-so-ever. I mean if a stranger asked you to board a plane to god-knows-where…the logical thing to do is not to go. Annalise boarded the plane anyways. In the book she kept saying Ronan mesmerized her into going but at the same time she’d say she knew at the back of her mind it was a bad choice and even Ronan says his ‘powers’ didn't work as well on her. Annalise excelled when it came to school related work but when given a situational life task, she failed miserably.  She literally did and said the stupidest things, which goes back to the beliefs that blondes are dumb. Yes, Annalise is blonde. There was also a combat match in the book; pitting girl against girl for a reward at the end of the year. Annalise’s character showed a bit of growth but her fierceness and combative skills during the match seemed unreal. And while she won matches, it wasn't because she was smart (in my opinion)…it was sheer luck. The rest of the characters didn't make a lasting impression. I felt like I didn't really have the chance to get to know them. I think if the characters had more page time, they’d seem more developed.

All in all I thought Isle of Night was a good introduction to a new series. I am interested in seeing what happens next; especially because this book ended abruptly on a cliffhanger. The book was a short and quick read, so it left a lot of questions but with the foundation already set; I hope there will be more character growth/development and vampire answers in the next book. 

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