Book Review | Night World by LJ Smith

Never have I ever read an LJ Smith novel before… until now. 

Look, I love a good paranormal romance (thanks Twilight) so I don’t know how LJ Smith’s work flew under my radar for so long. Like, I don’t even know how long she’s been writing books, but she’s published at least 20 that I know of. Basically, it’s all thanks to my friend, Becky, that I bought this author’s work. Becky’s the one who turned me on to The Vampire Diaries (television series) hence forcing me to want to read the books to see if they’re any good. 

Wow. Rambling aside… Night World Book One (i.e. Secret Vampire) ended up on my TBR for September by chance. (I decided to randomize my TBR again, for fun). I picked this one up first because my idea was to front load my month with YA so I can read all of the adult books after my classes end. 

This was a doozy. 

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

The diagnosis for Poppy was death. there was no hope–until James, her best friend and secret love, appeared in the hospital. But this was a James she didn’t know. He offered Poppy eternal life. Only he could open the door to the Night World. They’re soulmates–but can she follow him into death and beyond?

Character Development

It’s a yikes for this one, guys. Honestly, the only fully developed character here is Poppy (one of the main characters). I can’t even pretend like James (the other main)  is also fully developed because I don’t feel like there’s enough we learn about him in this short novel. What we learn about James is he knows how to turn people into vampires because he accidentally almost turned someone when he was a child. He can stop aging whenever he wants because he’s a born vampire. He doesn’t have a good relationship with his parents, and he hates his cousin, Ash.

Poppy is more developed in that we get to see into her life before she turns. We know more about her by design. Actually, now that I think of it, I’m not sure if I can consider Poppy fully developed because we don’t actually get to see much of her backstory – just that she and James have been besties since they were five and now she has cancer. 

The side characters almost didn’t even have a need to be in the story. For instance, Phillip (Poppy’s twin brother) was basically only there to help either stop Poppy’s transformation or help move it forward. The part in the story where he threatens to kick James’ ass is laughable. I honestly didn’t see a point for this, or any, side characters. 

Even Ash as a side character was only there to cause chaos. Which brings me to my next point. 

The Plot

Poppy gets a terminal cancer diagnosis and the only way to save her is to turn her. Ok, I’m on board, but that’s a little boring. 

Ok, how about we turn her, but it’s illegal. Even better.

But wait? Who’s going to KNOW it’s illegal? 

Better add in a character to stir the pot. 

This is basically the plot of the novel. It doesn’t reach a boiling point until page 193. How? In this sense, this book was a shorter, less interesting Twilight. I mean, wow. 

The plot of this book had me rolling my eyes so hard I thought they’d get stuck. 

General Thoughts

Would I read more of this series? Probably.

Does this fall into a specific category of book? Yep. Love to Hate. Cringe. Eye Roll worthy. To name a few.

Overall, I can totally see this being a book that a younger version of myself would love. It was easy to get through, cringey, and laugh out loud worthy as an adult. Smith’s writing took only a few chapters for me to get used to and ultimately, I found it enjoyable. 

While I would describe this as eye roll worthy and cringey, I don’t think these are bad traits in books. In fact, these factors almost make the books more enjoyable for me as an adult YA reader. It’s literally why I bought the entire Twilight series as an adult. Books like this are fun to read and talk about. Besides, I want to be a YA librarian, so there’s that…

Rating: 🌟🌟💫

I didn’t hate this, but I also didn’t love it. The plot really was a bit too boring for me to give this a higher rating. I did like Poppy and James though so I guess that’s the saving grace of this book. I’d say someone who’s around 13 would probably really love this book, but it definitely wasn’t for almost 30 year old me. 

Let’s chat! 

Let’s talk about paranormal romance in the comments! Love it? Hate it? You tell me. Don’t forget to let me know why! 

Book Review | The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

I like a lot of books that fall into a series. I think I’ve been pretty open about that. Anyway, the Mara Dyer trilogy has been sitting on my TBR for well over a year and I decided I wanted to read something… paranormal – which is the category this trio is most often sorted into on Goodreads.

For the longest time, I couldn’t figure out why. Sure I understood that Mara sudden developed powers over the course of the first book, but still… She just seemed so… normal, I guess. Or rather, as normal as a sufferer of PTSD can be.

Spoiler alert: I actually really liked this book, so let’s talk about it!

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Mara Dyer believes life can’t get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.

It can.

She believes there must be more to the accident she can’t remember that killed her friends and left her strangely unharmed. 

There is.

She doesn’t believe that after everything she’s been through, she can fall in love. 

She’s wrong.

Let’s talk about Mara

I went through a kind of tumultous relationship with Mara in this book – first I liked her, then I didn’t, then I did again. She annoyed me a lot – which isn’t unusual for a YA heroine, but at certain points I couldn’t bear how annoyed I felt with her. Honestly, I think one of the few redeeming qualities of Mara is that her family seems to keep her grounded.

Otherwise, she seemed like an average girl. There was nothing spectacular about her – other than the fact that she, you know, might have accidentally murdered some people.

Also, one thing I really didn’t like was the immediate hatred toward Mara simply because the “HoTtEsT bOy In ScHoOl” was instantly attracted to her. Jealousy isn’t cute – in real life or in fiction – so I could totally do without that. I get it. They’re teens, but I feel like the “I can only be friends with boys because there’s less drama” is so overdone and cliched. Give us some powerful girl on girl friendships, please.

Noah Shaw – The Bad Boy

Ask me if I know what Noah looks like – the answer is only kinda. He didn’t exactly leap off the page for me. Sure, I understand that he’s typical wonder bread and I guess that’s fine. I just can’t picture him in my head, but I sure can hear him.

Nearly every review I’ve read describes Noah as a jerk. It’s true. He is. But when it comes to Mara, it becomes very clear that he cares about her. A lot of reviews I read indicate a point in a restaurant where Noah orders for Mara. She seems annoyed then, but quickly changes her attitude when the food arrives and it’s actually delicious. It might be rude. It might be inconsiderate. All I’m saying is – I wouldn’t mind so long as the food was good.

I didn’t hate Noah and I actually refuse to hate Noah because he seems like a typical teenage boy. He’s an exciting love interest for a somewhat boring heroine. Nothing really stands out to me about Mara other than she may have a mind ability so it was at least nice to have someone interesting around.

General Thoughts

Overall, I thought Michelle Hodkin’s writing was addictive. Maybe a few mediocre points, but we all have those, right? The book had decent pacing and I was invested from the start. Like I said, I didn’t necessarily hate anyone in the book – except maybe Jude which is too bad because I like his name and Anna because I have no room for mean girls – and overall thought the concept of the story was interesting.

As I write this, I’m preparing to read the next book and if that’s as captivating I’ll continue binge reading the trilogy (and maybe even jump into the Shaw confessions!).

Rating: 4

It fit everything I was looking for when I decided to read it.

Let’s chat!

I know people either love these books or they hate them so I’d like to know your thoughts. Do you have a review that goes in either direction? Leave me a comment (and link your review if you have one!) so I can hear more from you!