Monday, March 11, 2013

Spellcaster: Claudia Gray

For a long time now I've always found the way that sometimes the book reviewing on Goodreads goes a little too in depth with how they rate and review books, pointing out how this book would be rated a 3.3 or 2.5 as opposed to a 3 or 4--I mean it all seemed so pointless and slightly pretentious--and though I still hold that some people do go way overboard on the staring system, I'm about to become a major hypocrite by rating Spellcaster a 3.5.

For Spellcaster I feel that it is very important to point out that though I didn't really, really like this book--I did REALLY like this book, it was really close to being 4 stars but didn't quite make it, yet it is better than just a simple 3--creating for the first time ever the spot of 3.6.

Spellcaster (Spellcaster, #1)

After her mother's sudden departure from their lives, Nadia and her family decide to make the move to Captive's Sound, but the move isn't off to a great start. Right as they try to enter Captive's Sound Nadia, her dad, and her little brother are involved in a major car wreck. Of course her and her family were actually pretty lucky because Mateo, tall, mysterious, stranger was standing by, waiting for them. 

Spellcaster--first off I want to thank HarperTeen and Goodreads for the ARC of this book, and also take a moment to realize that I am thanking companies for this--really seems absurd doesn't it? 

Characters and plot
The characters seemed to waver between feeling real, and feeling like just characters (and all us bookish types know that a good story needs to have characters that feel real). At times each of the characters seemed to be nothing more than just characters, but than there was the rare occasion when they really seemed to come alive. 

The plot wasn't complicated, it was easy to guess, a good book to give to any younger teens, as they will really love the relationships, friendships, and will really identify with the main character. And honestly I think that the message in this story is one that everyone would benefit from hearing, in my opinion, the main message of this book was something as old and wise and cheesy as the Doctor; never, ever give up.

Being nineteen years old I may have liked this book more had I been younger, that being said, being nineteen, I still really liked this book. 

I'm trying really hard in this review to keep out any and all spoilers so I will just say this: the unlikely antagonist was pretty manic and frightening at times. As in there were some parts that made me cringe.  

Now, there were several things about this book right off the bat that I didn't like. 
  • Nadia's attitude was slightly annoying--but it was realistic (her feeling so responsible for her family--but I felt that it wasn't portrayed right, also she seemed to accept and even want the responsibility) 
  • It was hard to get into the story at first, it feels like we came in too late at times, it felt as if the majority of the story had already occurred and we were just jumping in. Right away Naida is casting spells and taking on this mother/protector role, and at first I felt pretty caught off guard because of this
  • The story was leaning toward the cliche, supernatural character, meets handsome boy, they fall in love 

Though, I will admit that Nadia's attitude in regards to her family didn't really change all that much, it did improve as Nadia became close friends with Mateo and Verlaine. 

At the beginning Nadia seemed to be a very rigid, very flat character. She didn't really have much depth to her, even as the story goes on, because of how little she grew and changed, I think that there is a whole lot of possibility for the sequel of this book to be great! There are so many ways in which her character can grow, and I'd love to see that happen in the follow up. 

Mateo and Verlaine on the other hand I felt were well-rounded characters, they were quite comfortable with who they were, they also seemed to be one of the biggest sources of strength for Nadia when she hit rock bottom. I'd also like to point out how awesome Mateo was, he worked part-time at his dad's Mexican restaurant, wore a letter jacket  rode a motorcycle, and was part Spanish.  

Another thing about this book I didn't like--warning there is a spoiler coming up--was the idea that Nadia convinced her dad and her brother to leave her in Captive's Sound while they went away to the city, it is just seemed incredibly unrealistic that her dad would leave her alone after she created the idea. Besides, I don't know any kid that can convince their parent to take the family on a vacation, and it is even less likely that the parent would leave said child behind. But Nadia is seventeen so obviously being home-alone isn't really all that big a deal. 

Spoilers passed, you may continue reading.

Right from the beginning you can see Nadia is a strong witch, one who is still pretty messed up from the betrayal of her mother. She's an unwilling, scared hero that decides to look into the powerful magical barrier around Captive's Sound, and one who distracts herself from pain by taking care of everyone else. She nearly gives up when she finds out how deep the problem surrounding Captive's Sound truly is. 

What made this book good was the unlikely relationships that developed for one-- though I will refrain to going into too much detail because...well...

And the second aspect of this book I love and have to mention (again) is the messages, whether intentional or not, the subtle messages in this book are what made it so good. 

The idea of giving up was never an option for Verlaine or Mateo, Verlaine was a victim of some pretty tough stuff, the school population either ignored her, or bullied her, and yet throughout the book see how she stays strong. We also see how she is incredibly skilled at looking ahead, focusing on what she wants out of life. But her character never gives up, never considers it an option, and that whole message is something I loved about this book.

As well as that, throughout all of this each of the characters stay very much true to themselves, and are very optimistic. Except Nadia, funnily enough. In some ways I think that Verlaine could almost be considered the strongest out of the entire cast of characters, with Mateo makes it a tough call though. 

If you liked the House of Night series by P.C. and Kristen Cast, this is SO much better, and you will love it even more. If you liked/loved Twilight, you will probably like this as well. I recommend this for a certain age group--about 13-18, anyone in this age bracket I imagine would really love it, providing they aren't scared easily, like anything with a supernatural theme, or like unlikely-romantic books. 

My hopes for the next book:
  • Nadia's mother to make a comeback
  • Verlaine to get what she really wants
  • Nadia's brother to find out about witchcraft 
  • Nadia's dad to continue being awesome, but to become more involved with Nadia's life

And now, I take my leave, leaving you with a dancing Ood. 

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