ACE OF SHADES, by Amanda Foody, Harlequin Teen

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Welcome to the City of Sin, where casino families reign, gangs infest the streets…
and secrets hide in every shadow.

Enne Salta was raised as a proper young lady, and no lady would willingly visit New Reynes, the so-called City of Sin. But when her mother goes missing, Enne must leave her finishing school—and her reputation—behind to follow her mother’s trail to the city where no one survives uncorrupted.

Frightened and alone, her only lead is a name: Levi Glaisyer. Unfortunately, Levi is not the gentleman she expected—he’s a street lord and a con man. Levi is also only one payment away from cleaning up a rapidly unraveling investment scam, so he doesn’t have time to investigate a woman leading a dangerous double life. Enne’s offer of compensation, however, could be the solution to all his problems.

Their search for clues leads them through glamorous casinos, illicit cabarets and into the clutches of a ruthless mafia donna. As Enne unearths an impossible secret about her past, Levi’s enemies catch up to them, ensnaring him in a vicious execution game where the players always lose. To save him, Enne will need to surrender herself to the city…

And she’ll need to play.

Out April 2018

MY THOUGHTS:

I received this book in Owl Crate, and will provide my honest review.

So… despite the comparative marketing ploy, which should NEVER happen, to Six of Crows, we have Ace of Shades…

After we take a moment to ponder the bright and beautiful cover… which is exclusive to Owl Crate… <sigh>

Let’s discuss this… treasure…

I had highly anticipated a great book based on Foody’s former publications and can honestly say…. that didn’t happen.

Sure, sure, the premise sounded fascinating and rather exciting… it didn’t pan out.

One of the key elements in this genre (YA Fantasy) is character arc development.

Usually, the MC’s actions, decisions and dialogue push the story forward, keep the reader anchored to the plot-line, and give the reader tension build-up until the climax where the MC achieves his/her goals. You need good, well-fleshed out characters who do what they’re supposed to do when developing a story… the characters in Ace of Shades… were more well-flushed out, than fleshed-out.

Annoying, regrettable, disbelieving, unrealistic, and BORING! I read these comments in other reviews and thought… come on, it can’t be THAT bad?  Ya, well…

The MC… the mc… What was Foody thinking? Did she really believe someone so annoying, flighty, airhead, would be capable of carrying off the critical responsibilities of a MC?  She does grow, but then, does nothing with this growth, so seriously, is that really character growth?  She grates on the nerves with all her stupid and unrealistic choices that she makes (would a teen her age seriously make these decisions that the MC does in the book? If yes, then get her in to counseling right away).

Love tropes… ugh!  Love at first sight… ugh!  Let’s call it for what it really is, shall we folks… It’s LUST at first sight… but that would be promoting “risky” behavior in a teen book, so let’s just dress it up all pretty-like and shhhh, not tell <wink> <wink>, what it really is–maybe no one will notice.

Info dumps… man oh man.  Being creative with supplying backstory and necessary information to fully develop setting and goals, situations and character responses to such, need to be creatively delivered in such a way that the word ‘dump’ cannot be applied to it.  More and more books I’ve read lately seem to show a lack of understanding on the author’s part/editor’s part when it comes to this important factor in writing books.  You want to bore the reader? Then ‘dump’ away!

Picture writing the book as a roller coaster with the characters and the reader riding in the cars.  Then picture with each info dump the cars must come to a complete stop regardless if they’re on a hill, upside down, in a loop, going up, or, going down–a full stop to collect all of the info dumps.  So the cars are racing along the track, INFO DUMP! Then slowly the cars start rolling again, INFO DUMP! Again, the cars start rolling, going up and over a hill and INFO DUMP!  Get the picture?

ZZZZZZ Reader puts down book, hates the story, tells their friends…

Next, let’s tell everyone that this book is like the “Six of Crows!” A book that was a huge hit! Got lots of sales and did amazing with reviews!

THEN IT’S NOTHING LIKE THE SIX OF CROWS (Well maybe a bit is) BUT NOT ENOUGH FOR ALL THE HYPE! What do YOU think will be the results?

Why must some teen girls be portrayed as the no-brain, impossibly THAT annoying, snobby, chickie wannabe bad ass big girl?  Seriously? Bad ass and whiny just don’t go together… and if she goes from just a whiny kid to a bad-ass chickie, who is also still whiny… nope doesn’t work, unless it’s a joke? Didn’t work for me.

Ha! Okay, so we have crappy info dumps, annoying, unreliable, unrealistic characters you just can’t relate to because they make no sense… terrible, plot twists and turns and cliff dives landing in holes, that just lose you to the land of incredulous,  but there is that beautiful cover!

Then… there’s the dialogue/slang/curse words.  When reading this part, I kept visualizing Tinker Bell talking, yup the blonde hair, green leaf dressed fairy from Disney. It felt like the whole book slipped IQ points each time the characters spoke. This too was such a turn-off.  You can’t have bad-ass mixed with cutesy sayings. It’s bad ass or it’s cutesy. Or, it’s a whole lot more cleverly written, expertly written, to include both. If not, then putting both in one character ruins the believability of the character’s personality, especially when used during a bad ass moment.

A good mockery of this faux pas is used during Shrek I, where Princess Fiona is fighting Robin Hood and his gang of thieves. She’s kicking their asses with some bad-ass moves which in itself is highly entertaining; but then, to add an element of humor, she freezes mid-air, notices her hair is a mess and fixes it, before finishing her split kick sending two thieves flying. This deliberately was done to add humor.

In Ace of Shades, there are no set-ups for this bad-ass to cutesy moment. When used, it wasn’t funny. So was it the author’s attempt at humor? Nope, don’t think so! The author just combines the two at the worse moments, further annoying the reader.

Holes in plot, if left unedited, could be very detrimental to the story.  The reader should never be left with confusion, lack of understanding, or unanswered resolutions in plot.  There are many such occurrences in this book.

Could this be attributed to the recent push of quantity over quality I’ve seen happening with publishing houses lately? Of course, this isn’t happening with all publishers, but it is for some.  The book market is a hugely competitive monster and as smaller houses struggle to keep up with global publishing giants, more and more quantity is pushed over quality.  Books are coming out less edited, or edited quickly and published in terrible condition.  They are putting the additional responsibility on the author to edit more prior to submitting the manuscript to the company.

There’s diversity galore in this book, which is great to see, but please remember, diverse characters need to be developed just like all the others.  They must have realistic character traits to match their roles. They need to have “show don’t tell” elements as well.  If you are going to add a diverse character in a story, then they will need the proper arc development.  Just adding a diverse character is not enough. Avoid stereotyping too.

This was sadly lacking in Ace of Shades.

I left pace for last.  The pace of this novel was slow.  With all the other issues, I feel pace was affected by them the most. The start and stall problem just annoyed the crap out of me. You can have a great magic system, but if explaining it slows the pace to a turtle crawl, then you’re doing it wrong.  The magic system was complicated, unique and original, but often hard to understand or follow. This caused the pace to jump and stop, bounce all over the place, go fast then slow down.  I was exhausted reading it.

Overall, this book would be sooooo much more if edited to fix the things I’ve noted.  The author has a great voice and writing style, not to mention talent. This talent would shine brighter if matched with stronger editing prowess, and the editing process would be less tedious, if the author followed the rules of writing for the genre chosen.

Lots of potential, sadly disappointing.

I gave this book:

5_Star_Rating_System_2_and_a_half_stars_T

 

 

 

 

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