Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Chloe and the Half-World: Neon May

Title: Chloe and the Half-world (Slumberland Station Book 1)
Author: Neon May
Stand Alone or Series?: Series (Chloe and the Hollow House - Due out in Spring 2013)
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: House of Subdivisions
Publish Date: August 10. 2012
Pages: 142 (pdf)
ISBN: 0615671098
Obtained: Review Copy obtained free from Library Thing.
Synopsis Obtained from Amazon.com: If her father finds out Chloe plays with ghosts after school, she’ll be grounded forever. Why? Because for Chloe, playing with ghosts means racing them from rooftop to rooftop across the Manhattan skyline. Not to worry; when you’re fourteen, you’re immortal, so what could possibly go wrong?

Well, let’s see…

Being asked by a ghost for directions and becoming the target of a seventeen-year-old assassin? Having to ride an actual ghost train and save a friend who never existed? How about befriending the scariest clowns you’ve ever met or learning your father may be a mad scientist and your life a lie?

Now Chloe is left with only one choice: enter the Half-World and seek out the truth that lies beyond reality—if there’s such a thing as reality, of course.

This review contains spoilers.
Wow, just wow. This book is excellent. Now the fact that I'm saying that surprises me a little bit since there were a lot of small, admittedly personal, things that annoyed me about how this book was written. However in spite of that I found myself having a lot of fun with this book. Now it could be of course my love for Lewis Carroll and the references this book is laden with but regardless this book was a great read aimed at younger teens. 

Now it took me awhile to get into this book but I'm aware that's a personal issue and not so much a failing of the author. It always takes me a bit to get into books that are written in a first person narrative. Overall I found that the books had a few false starts when it came to really getting into the actually which was a little irritating to me, but once the book hits its stride it drags you along for the ride and doesn't let you go. The story is a thriller to be certain as the main characters Chloe and her closest friend Alice start uncovering the layers upon layers of intrigue that surrounds both them and the company their parents run. In the beginning the ghostly figure leaving mysterious messages for them really helped me get through the first rocky chapters by leaving many questions for the girls (and the reader to solve).

Now I say the first couple of chapters were rocky for me personally because of a few annoyances that appeared in the writing style. As a rule I usually dislike list descriptions, (ex: she had red hair, and was wearing a shirt from Forever 21, etc, etc)  especially of characters as I personally feel there are better ways to describe the appearances of things. I also had a love/hate relationship with some of the author's descriptors. More specifically -- pop culture references as descriptors. I mean, I did really get a kick out of all the references to Japanese pop culture, Alice in Wonderland among other things -- because I knew and understood what the things the author was referencing. However I also feel that Neon May relied too much on outside sources as a form of description. For example he compared the look of one character to that of a Vocaloid. Know what that is? No..? Well I guess you're out of luck. Some of the references also made the story feel a little more cliché or cheesy than it should've. That said, it was a minor annoyance but worth mentioning.

I appreciated the fact that this complex, imaginative story took the time to recap and explain some aspects as the characters pieced together the mystery. What's great is that each time a question was answered the more complex things got and the more questions that needed to be answered. What's more is the author managed to achieve this without bringing me irritation (like some shows, coughcoughLostcough).  

This novel was very fun overall, if you've seen any Hayao Miyazaki (or Satoshi Kon) movies then you'll like this book as it's a nice mix of the paranormal, the bizarre and fantastical set in an ultra urban, modern setting. If you like fantasy or Sci-fi you're going to love this book. If you like Alice in Wonderland -- you'll like this book. If you read or watch anime/manga -- chances are you'll like this book. Once the action gets going the author has surprises on every corner and employs a few misdirections that really set me up to be surprised when the twists actually hit. The most major was the book's ending. The ending had me flailing (and outraged in the best sense of the word) and clinging onto every word and left me needing the next book in the series. I cannot wait.

 Rating: 8/10 stars

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