Thursday, April 14, 2016

DNF Audiobook Mini Reviews: Truthwitch & The Calling

Title: Truthwitch (Witchlands #1)
Author: Susan Dennard
Narrator: Cassandra Campbell
Publication Date: January 5, 2016
Publisher: Tor Teen
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MC's Review

In a continent on the edge of war, two witches hold its fate in their hands.

Young witches Safiya and Iseult have a habit of finding trouble. After clashing with a powerful Guildmaster and his ruthless Bloodwitch bodyguard, the friends are forced to flee their home.

Safi must avoid capture at all costs as she's a rare Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lies. Many would kill for her magic, so Safi must keep it hidden - lest she be used in the struggle between empires. And Iseult's true powers are hidden even from herself.

In a chance encounter at Court, Safi meets Prince Merik and makes him a reluctant ally. However, his help may not slow down the Bloodwitch now hot on the girls' heels. All Safi and Iseult want is their freedom, but danger lies ahead. With war coming, treaties breaking and a magical contagion sweeping the land, the friends will have to fight emperors and mercenaries alike. For some will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.

That was disappointing. Truthwitch has been on my to-read list for MONTHS! For the longest time I couldn't go anywhere without seeing this book on every kind of social media, other blogs, even Amazon wouldn't shut up about it. I even bought a hard copy of this! But I was running short on reading time and decided to grab the audio from my local library. You know, I love audiobooks. LOVE THEM. But man... when you get a boring one it is actually painful to pay attention. And this one was painful.

This book has no plot. I made it 25% of the way into Truthwitch and the only thing I know is that Safi and Iseult are being chased by a Bloodwitch for... reasons? Literally nothing is explained in the first 25% of Truthwitch and the reviews I skimmed through have told me it probably wouldn't have gotten much better. There is no world building. Random words are thrown at the reader and EVEN THE CHARACTERS don't know what they mean! The two female characters were so dull I kept mixing them up! Their special magical powers were literally just them sensing things. This book was a mess.

Honestly, Truthwitch struck me as a total ripoff of The Grisha Trilogy (and a badly done one at that). At least from the audiobook, I got the feeling that this was written with a Russian(ish) setting in mind. A few of the witches mentioned are Tidemakers Waterwitches, Squallers Airwitches, and Heartrenders Bloodwitches. Alina Safi is a Sun Summoner Truthwitch, the ONLY one of her kind. The love interest, Sturmhond Merick is a prince who is also a pirate ship captain whose brother sister thinks he's weak and not capable of ruling a country. I mean... Does this author not know about Leigh Bardugo? Honestly? Are other people not seeing what I'm seeing??

Maybe I'm overreacting, but I just couldn't force myself the other 75% of the way through this book. We all win, really. I don't have to read anymore and Susan Dennard doesn't get a 1 star rating on Goodreads! Hurray!

Title: The Calling (Endgame #1) 
Author: James Frey & Nils Johnson-Shelton
Narrator: Sunil Malhotra
Publication Date: October 7, 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
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Twelve thousand years ago, they came. They descended from the sky amid smoke and fire, and created humanity and gave us rules to live by. They needed gold and they built our earliest civilizations to mine it for them. When they had what they needed, they left. But before they left, they told us someday they would come back, and when they did, a game would be played. A game that would determine our future.

This is Endgame.

For ten thousand years the lines have existed in secret. The 12 original lines of humanity. Each had to have a Player prepared at all times. They have trained generation after generation after generation. In weapons, languages, history, tactics, disguise assassination. Together the players are everything: strong, kind, ruthless, loyal, smart, stupid, ugly, lustful, mean, fickle, beautiful, calculating, lazy, exuberant, weak. They are good and evil. Like you. Like all.

This is Endgame.

When the game starts, the players will have to find three keys. The keys are somewhere on earth. The only rule of their Endgame is that there are no rules. Whoever finds the keys first wins the game. Endgame: The Calling is about the hunt for the first key. And just as it tells the story of the hunt for a hidden key, written into the book is a puzzle. It invites readers to play their own Endgame and to try to solve the puzzle. Whoever does will open a case filled with gold. Alongside the puzzle will be a revolutionary mobile game built by Google’s Niantic Labs that will allow you to play a real-world version of Endgame where you can join one of the lines and do battle with people around you.

Will exuberance beat strength? Stupidity top kindness? Laziness thwart beauty? Will the winner be good or evil? There is only one way to find out.

People of Earth.
Endgame has begun.

I was sucked into Endgame, err... The Calling (I mean really, why is the series title larger than the BOOK title?) because it's pretty and it sounded intriguing. I'd heard the comparisons to Hunger Games. I'd heard the controversy around James Frey. None of that bothered me. I'd been in a reading slump and needed to find something amazing! When this popped up as an available audiobook through my library, I grabbed it and hoped for the best. Nope.

I only made it 25% into this book before almost losing my mind and cutting my losses. I honestly couldn't tell you how many characters I met because there are TWELVE in all. Yes, twelve main characters. Twelve players. Too damn many for me. This is told in such a way that I felt very detached from all of the characters I actually met. At 25% into a book I should know all the protagonists and should at least care whether they live or die.

My main issue with The Calling was the writing. It was all choppy sentences and random numbers and repetition. Listening to this on audiobook, I skipped a solid five minutes of seemingly random noises, apparently some other language that I don't speak. Five minutes. Of another language. Is excessive. I've been irritated by audiobooks before, but I've never had to hit the skip button, even in Shatter Me.

I'll admit, I got a little excited when asteroids started blowing everything up, but that was literally the only time I felt anything about this book other than indifference or irritation. I really wanted to love this. I wanted it to pull me out of my slump. Unfortunately that didn't happen and the search continues!