Monday, 25 August 2014

Book Review: Cursed by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Dying sucks
...and high school senior Ember McWilliams knows firsthand.
After a fatal car accident, her gifted little sister brought her back. Now anything Ember touches dies. And that, well, really blows.
Ember operates on a no-touch policy with all living things--including boys. When Hayden Cromwell shows up, quoting Oscar Wilde and claiming her curse is a gift, she thinks he's a crazed cutie. But when he tells her he can help control it, she's more than interested. There's just one catch: Ember has to trust Hayden's adopted father, a man she's sure has sinister reasons for collecting children whose abilities even weird her out. However, she's willing to do anything to hold her sister's hand again. And hell, she'd also like to be able to kiss Hayden. Who wouldn't?
But when Ember learns the accident that turned her into a freak may not've been an accident at all, she's not sure who to trust. Someone wanted her dead, and the closer she gets to the truth, the closer she is to losing not only her heart, but her life.
For real this time.
All Ember wants to do is get through high school and keep her remaining family above water. After a horrific car accident kills Ember and her father, her gifted little sister brings her back with a single touch which in turn gives Ember a 'gift' of her own... although she's more convinced that what happened to her is a curse. She now has the ability to kill with a simple touch which means no touching at all. Not even for her sister or her mother who hasn't left her room since the accident.

Enter Hayden, a gorgeous guy who sees past the gloves Ember wears to protect everyone from her. He shows up, quoting Oscar Wilde and telling her that he can help her with her gift if only she'd trust him and his adopted father; a man who collects gifted children like trophies for his shelves.

When Ember learns that the accident that killed herself and her father may not have been an accident she has no choice but to stick around and figure out who wanted something so badly that they'd be willing to kill off an entire family for it. All clues are pointing in one direction but with this revelation comes a price. Does she risk her relationship with Hayden, the only guy who's ever wanted to be close to her, or does she just let things be?

It's fair to say that I loved this book considering I read it in 2(ish) days but I was slightly disappointed with a couple of things...

First things first, what I liked about Cursed. This was a quick, easy read and I found myself not being able to put the book down. Not even for sleep and I love sleep. I love whatever Jen Armentrout writes and this was no exception, it never takes me long to become a part of the world within her stories and with the characters.

Those who are familiar with my reviews know that I do not like a book when it only has one single story line - especially when that single story line is about a relationship. I do not want to read about your character's relationship for 400 pages! So I was happy to see that there were two story lines; Ember trying to control her 'gift' and her trying to figure out what happened on the night of the car accident that changed her life forever. Then, of course, there was the ever-building relationship between Hayden and Ember which took it's time and didn't rush into anything. They usually tried to put training and other things first which I really liked. I can't count on one hand the amount of times I've read a book where the main characters drop everything and start making out or something. Like, come on you animals. Their parents could be in danger of dying and there the two protagonists are just fooling around like they can't control themselves for two seconds. Keep it in your pants.

I liked Ember as a character because of how strong willed she was even after everything she's gone through. I, for sure, would have been sent to the nut house by now. She's extremely pessimistic in the first half of the novel but... she's died once so I'm sure I'd be a little down in the dumps too. She also didn't know when to shut up at times, especially when she started bad mouthing Hayden's family, the people he's lived with for years, who love him completely. She does apologise though for everything she said, even when it turns out that she was partially right. She really does grow as a person but I can't really explain why without spoiling anything which I'm trying so hard not to do. Basically, she gets her priorities in check, fights with everything she has in her and puts other people first every single time. By the end of the story I really liked her, yay!

I loved Hayden. He was swoon-worthy and a total sweetheart even when Ember is accusing his adopted family of awful things. He was also compassionate and loyal and even though his past had been absolutely awful and something no child should ever go through, he was still standing strong and willing to fight any battle for the people he loved. He was also willing to fight for Ember instead of lying down like a pansy-ass and waiting for her to go to him. As for the other characters, it took a lot more time to like them but that was the point. They were complete assholes in the beginning. I mean they didn't even know Ember yet they didn't want anything to do with her because of what she could do. Kind of understandable, all she has to do is lunge forwards and bam you're dead but give the poor girl a chance! In the end I did like most of them like Parker, Kurt and even Cromwell. When all was explained in the last chapter I really felt for him and everything kind of fell into place. A girl had committed suicide because of what he had allowed to happen and that's not something you can just live with. The girl also had the same gift as Ember which caused a whole load of shit when she went through those damn files! It looked like the file was about her and THAT'S WHY YOU LEAVE THINGS ALONE, EMBER. All of the questions I had about him were answered!

The build-up to Ember and Hayden's relationship was utterly adorable and innocent (mainly *wiggles eyebrows*). It wasn't instalove, more like insta-attraction which is much better in my books. The relationship didn't happen overnight and every time they were together, they explored what could happen between them a little more. They were so scared of hurting each other and every interaction, especially in the cabin, was so tender and I found myself wanting that. I want a guy like Hayden. *pouting*

My original idea about how the story would go was mainly wrong although I did suspect the right person before it became totally obvious. That was disappointing because I'd basically known the entire story half way in. There were still some twists in the story but I'd figured most of it out before it was told.

JLA made Cromwell seem super creepy without actually giving him many actions that were creepy in nature. He was just one of those characters that you know you don't want to run into in a dark alley. He never hurt her or anything but he was that character. You know, the one who the author wants you to think is behind everything but he turns out innocent in the end with only good intentions and when all the 'whys' are explained they turn out to be okay. Yeah he was that character. The author had me fooled too, for a little while, but then everything pointed to him and I just knew it wouldn't be Cromwell behind everything. It's the author's way of trying to pull of a major plot twist and unfortunately, like many others who've read this book, I figured things out too soon.

Now for the things I didn't like so much; As I said - I figured out pretty much everything by the time I was half way through which was a little disappointing. I like for there to be a major plot twist that was so cleverly thought out that it completely knocks me on my ass. I knew who would be behind all of this but there were still a few surprises like the part Cromwell played in all of this and how Kurt wasn't even remotely involved.
I am majorly disappointed that some questions were left unanswered, especially about her mum. Is that what we're leaving it at? Her mum just doesn't know she exists so the only conversations they can have are one sided. It's not such a happy ending for Ember and her mum. And there's no sequel! I love stand alone books and this one ended with an adorable little moment but I wish I had a few more answers. I feel like I need more closure. We didn't really get to see how the others acted around Ember after everything that happens. It could have done with one more chapter at least, just to explain a few more things and to show the 'family' dynamics after everything. That would have been a full happy ending! Knowing that everyone is happy under the same roof and all if forgiven would have made the ending much sweeter.

The end scene was my absolute favourite! I'm pretty happy with the closing chapter but as I said, I wish my questions had answers. I am super glad that it wasn't one of those 'pick your own ending' kind of stories. Cannot stand those! Like no, give me the happily ever after and then you can stop.

Overall I did enjoy this book and the story flew by but I felt like it lacked closure and knowing there wont be a second book is kind of a bummer. Definitely recommended for most ages though. There's some swearing but it's pretty rare and the two main characters make out a little but that's about it. Nothing R rated in Cursed!

OH! I genuinely thought the very last sentence was a kind of cross over between Cursed and Origin, being that they're set in the same place, and the ending of this book is kind of similar to how the fourth book in the Lux series, Origin, ends. I almost squealed... I'm not fully convinced that it was a coincidence. I'd like to think the star falling to the earth was the beginning of the Luxen invasion, that would be an awesome little merge of the two stories!

What about you? What did you think of Cursed? I'd love to hear your own rating and opinion so leave them in the comments:)

*I received this book as a review copy. All thoughts and opinions are my own unless stated otherwise.*

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