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on June 05, 2012 :
Phaedra lives alone with her kid sister and her crazy mother (who’s locked away to the attic so she wouldn’t injure or kill her daughters). She’s trying to handle school and keep social services away. All this while she has a doomed future of ending up like her mother, since her case of telekinesis has the nasty side-effect of the crazies. When Phaedra’s long lost (well he left) brother returns with a questionable cure to their mother’s (and Phaedra’s) condition, the book takes a turn to worse. Phaedra proves to be a whiny self-centered bastard who thinks she’s all high and mighty.
In my eyes Bittersweet had lots of problems, but the story was somewhat interesting and kept me reading. I didn’t like the main character Phaedra at all, the mystery presented in the beginning of the book had no real effect to the plot and was simply explained in the end. The secondary characters were flat without any real meaning — you see Phaedra’s friends in the beginning and they swoon over her brother and then they’re pretty much forgotten. Also sad to say, Bittersweet is in dire need of editing. There’s lots of typos and some very weird word choices as “manicured eyebrows” that snapped me out of the story.
The story had some good potential in the midway of the plot, when things really started happening, but the new crew that emerged was just blah and the explanation for the group of kids hunting hags didn’t hold water.
Since a big part of the story was that the mother is crazy and that’s what awaits Phaedra in the future as well, I think it’s fair to ponder about that a bit also. We learn that having sex with an incubus works like medicine against the condition, but in a fleeting moment it’s mentioned that also having a hysterectomy would cure you fully. Even so it’s passed as a no-go option because Phaedra thought her mother would not approve of her having one at the age of seventeen. So hmm…
option 1) losing myself and be a violent crazy
option 2) get rid of my uterus and continue being sane
Which would you choose? The hysterectomy cure was apparently known before her brother popped up with the questionable antidote. And so we come to that. Since being crazy was a better option than hysterectomy, it’s no surprise, that having sex with an incubus that your brother and mom are already sexing up is a better option as well. Phaedra would totally do it with the incubus if her mother told her so (seriously).
The end of the book was tightly done and best part of the book, and I can’t shrug off the feeling, that if the author would just have polished the beginning a bit more, it would’ve been so much better. I don’t know… I think this review came off a bit snarky, but I feel frustrated, since I wanted to like the book and it just left me shaking my head. I do think some readers might enjoy this book, so if the points I mentioned wouldn’t bother you, do give it a chance.
(reviewed long after purchase)
on Aug. 29, 2011 :
Being a teenager sucks but it sucks twice as hard when your mom is bat-crap crazy and has to be locked in the attic for everyone’s safety! So begins Phaedra’s story in Marcia Colette’s young adult novel Bittersweet. Any book which starts out with this kind of description is going to grab my attention.
The first half of Bittersweet outlines the life young Phaedra is forced to live as a result of her mother’s unique abilities. In a nutshell: Phaedra attends high school (BLECK); cares for her spunky younger sister Nadia; ventures into the attic on a regular basis to care for mom; and tries to keep her emotions in check so that her own abilities don’t bring death, despair, and destruction to those around her. Add to all of this: the regular trips to the ER to repair the bodily harm caused by mom; the constant fear that Child Services will show up; and the sudden and unexpected return of the prodigal brother, Kurt. And you thought your teenage years sucked - WIMP! Phaedra must deal constantly with her worry over her mother’s condition, the knowledge that the condition is genetic and already manifesting in Phaedra, as well as her anger at her brother Kurt for abandoning the family and then returning as if nothing happened. The first half of the book is good and there is plenty of low-level action but I found myself always feeling as if something big was coming and it never did. As a reader, I found this very frustrating.
The second half of Bittersweet was much more intense and fast-paced as Colette finally begins to unravel what she was leading up too in the first half of the book – something big, finally happens. And there are hags - HAGS! I must say, the use of hags is something that doesn’t appear in paranormal novels very often and I was quite glad to read something new. Don’t get me wrong, I loves me some vampires and werewolves but a girl cannot live on vampire and werewolf porn alone. Colette completely devotes the last half of the book to the solving of problems: Kurt has brought a not-so-ideal “cure” back with him that can help the entire family; Phaedra is admitted to the Hub – a school which specializes in the training and teaching of people like her; and the hags, who have caused a great deal of trouble for the family are dealt with handily. It is in this half of the book that we see Phaedra get over herself and start truly fighting for her future. Phaedra unleashes her abilities in order to save her family. Phaedra becomes more than an angsty teenager: she becomes a strong lead character that will play well in future novels.
Bittersweet is a typical first-in-a-series novel. That is, the author has a lot of ground to cover in terms of establishing characters, creating an interesting plot, and setting the reader up for the future of the series. This is a tall order and one that Colette fills reasonably well. While I was frustrated by the first half of the book I found the second half to be quite satisfying. By novel’s end there is a sense of resolution but also the knowledge that the series is going to continue. Bottom line: this series has potential but only if Colette allows her characters and plot to evolve. As long as there is evolution I will continue to read this series as it becomes available but I don’t see it as a series topping my must-read list.
(reviewed long after purchase)
on March 26, 2011 :
Original and interesting. At times touching, and at times thrilling, Marcia has done a great job bringing to life a tough but tortured young woman and makes us root for her as she struggles against her own anger and the frightening world around her.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)