Thursday, August 28, 2014

Tour: Review: Feuds by Avery Hastings (ARC)

 I'm so excited to be a part of this blog tour, and I'm so honored that I/Fly to Fiction was invited to be a part of this. Thank you to Paper Lantern Lit for the tour!

Feuds by Avery Hastings
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Release Date: September 2nd, 2014
For Davis Morrow, perfection is a daily reality. Like all Priors, Davis has spent her whole life primed to be smarter, stronger, and more graceful than the lowly Imperfects, or “Imps.” A fiercely ambitious ballerina, Davis is only a few weeks away from qualifying for the Olympiads and finally living up to her mother’s legacy when she meets Cole, a mysterious boy who leaves her with more questions each time he disappears.

Davis has no idea that Cole has his own agenda, or that he’s a rising star in the FEUDS, an underground fighting ring where Priors gamble on Imps. Cole has every reason to hate Davis—her father’s campaign hinges on the total segregation of the Imps and Priors—but despite his best efforts, Cole finds himself as drawn to Davis as she is to him.

Then Narxis, a deadly virus, takes its hold--and Davis’s friends start dying. When the Priors refuse to acknowledge the epidemic, Davis has no one to turn to but Cole. Falling in love was never part of their plan, but their love may be the only thing that can save her Avery Hastings's Feuds.
"The debate and experiences of integration and segregation are so complex and well-explored in the book."

"There's a really in-depth look at the gritty world of politics."

"The book honestly fell short of my expectations on the ballet front"

"Davis and Cole's almost insta-obsession with one another is just too much, too awkward, and way to quick for my taste."

"The story starts off slow, but roughly 2/3 of the way through, it starts to pick up because that's when the book becomes littered with plot twists"

Disclaimer: I received an eARC on NetGalley. This did not affect my review in any way, nor am I being compensated for this post/review.

I'm not entirely sure what I was expecting when I requested and began reading Feuds. Really, what drew me in was the cover and the fact that Davis, the main character, is a ballerina. If you know me at all, you know I'm a sucker for stories related in any way to ballet/dance. So anyway, that led me to this book. I have so many thoughts about the book, but in my mind, none of these thoughts are particularly organized. Hopefully my review will be much less chaotic than it is in my mind.

The book honestly fell short of my expectations on the ballet front. Yes, Davis is a ballerina, but it was only brought out in pieces here and there. When she wasn't in the studio or warming up or dancing, I hardly felt the dancer in her shine through. Now, for most people, that might not be noticeable, but as a passionate dancer (much as Davis claims to be), me being a dancer and more specifically, a ballet dancer, shapes the way I view the world, and it's much more prominent in my life. And I don't even dance as well or as much as Davis does. I feel like her love for the art/sport is told to us, not so much shown. I'm conflicted about whether or not she truly dances because she loves it. Parts such as the beginning of Chapter 13 make me think that she does love dance and that she does get it. But other times, it feels like she dances simply because of her mom and/or to please her father.

But moving on, there is a whole lot of 'telling,' in my opinion. Even for my taste! This also somewhat lends itself to the world building. I was somewhat confused by the setting. I could eventually piece together parts of the dystopia and could sort of figure out what things were, but it was all in completely scattered pieces that left me confused for a large portion. I'm still not entirely clear on how much more technologically advanced they are or about the history of the segregation. It took me so long to figure out terms being thrown around such as Imps, Gens, Priors, and PAs. I still only have a hint of what Narxis actually is and does. I have no idea how Priors get infected or how it spreads. I have no idea how it started or how exactly the whole genetics thing works. In terms of PAs, I'm not entirely sure what happens if you don't qualify or its entire purpose. Is there a national government? How that fit in? The entire America can't just be Columbus, can it? What about the international community? How would it play into all of the events in the book? Maybe I'm the only one with all these questions and confusions but gahh! Many of these don't get cleared up, so it was hard to get through.

Next, the characters are frustrating too. Davis and Cole's almost insta-obsession with one another is just too much, too awkward, and way to quick for my taste. Even by the end, I feel like neither of them really knew much about the other. It seemed that they were mostly just physically attracted to one another at the beginning, fueling the rest of their romance. Don't get me wrong, there are some really great scenes and some pretty swoony moments, but it just didn't work for me. (On a separate note, this is one of those multiple POV books that I actually don't mind. It worked for me!) While I think both Cole and Davis' POVs are very in depth, I felt like a lot of Cole's story was missing, even in the sections that were told from his view. But beyond the two main characters, I personally thought that a lot of the characters and character relationships weren't well-established in the book. I often had to sit and think for a moment to figure out a character's connection to another.

My last negative issue with the book was that the ending was so abrupt. I was not expecting it, and I just went, "Wait...that's it? Is there more? What?"

Speaking of the ending, however, the book progressively got better, though it introduces so much information at the end but almost right before the end of the book, making it hard for the plot twists to fully form. But the plot twists! The story starts off slow, but roughly 2/3 of the way through, it starts to pick up because that's when the book becomes littered with plot twists, some more obvious and some completely out of nowhere (in that I was completely taken by surprise).

Despite the drawbacks, one of the strongest aspects of the book was one of the central themes of the book. The debate and experiences of integration and segregation are so complex and well-explored in the book. Do I think Davis' perception has changed? Not much in terms of viewing the Imps better but definitely a lot in taking the Priors off of their pedestals. Yet, I think Davis' confusion and thoughts and opinions on the subject greatly reflect many of those in the real world. It really parallels the civil rights movement. It's really striking and well-written, and it's one of my favorite aspects of the book. It's explored from all different angles. Similarly, the theme and exploration of corruption, particularly political corruption, was really well done, particularly with Parson's dealings and his manipulation of Cole. Just, wow! There's a really in-depth look at the gritty world of politics. (It also reminds me of why I don't plan to ever get into politics and reminds me of why I hate politics so much.) On a similar note, there's a really great look into the lives and challenges of those in the public spotlight, such as the families of politicians. While these positives may seem small in comparison to the negatives above, these really span the entire book and were what me give it a more middle-grounded rating. These strengths show Hastings' strength in writing overarching themes and ideas, and that made me enjoy the book much more than I would have otherwise.

About the Author:

Avery Hastings is an author and former book editor from New York City. Avery grew up in Ohio, graduated in 2006 from the University of Notre Dame and earned her MFA from the New School in 2008. When she's not reading or writing, Avery can usually be spotted lying around in the park with her affable dog. Like her protagonists, she knows how to throw a powerful right hook and once dreamed of becoming a ballerina. In addition to New York, Avery has recently lived in Mumbai and Paris, but is happy to call Brooklyn home (for now).

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