By: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Reported by: Julianna Helms
Source: ARC via tour
Release Date: September 18th, 2012 via Spencer Hill Press
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.
-Summary from Goodreads
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If you are a frequent reader of book blogs, you're probably more-than-familiar with Jennifer L. Armentrout. She wrote the Covenant and Obsidian series, both of which are quite the hit, especially among bloggers. So I would like to preface this review with a giant sign:
THIS IS NOT A POSITIVE REVIEW. IT'S ALSO SEMI-LONG. READ ON AT YOUR OWN RISK.
Awesome. Now that we've got that out of the way, let's continue, shall we?
Here's the thing: I love me some Jen Armentrout. She's really nice and awesome and I thoroughly enjoyed Obsidian. But Cursed just didn't meet my expectations--and though I usually would have high expectations for such a great author, this time my bars were set to "mediocre" at best, since the premise of Cursed is nothing new and I was worried about clichés. But Jen has this uncanny ability to shift clichés into something actually really, really enjoyable. So why should I be worried?
Turns out I was right to worry.
Let's take a look at the story: Ember McWilliams, she-who-lost-everything, is suddenly faced with a super hot guy who she just can't seem to resist, despite his father's extreme weirdness.
This kind of sounds like Wither, right?
Let's look at it again: Ember McWilliams, she-who-suffered-greatly-due-to-a-car-accident, is faced with a dangerous power and a terrifying secret.
Hey, why does that remind me of Unraveling?
How about one last time: Ember McWilliams's touch is fatal. She then discovers a facility of people like her. And a hot guy. She is now fighting for her life.
...Shatter Me and X-Men come to mind...
Look. I'm not saying this book isn't original. In fact, though Cursed shares a lot of elements with a lot of amazing books (just like Half-Blood did with Vampire Academy...), it also stands on its own. Ember's situation is much different than Rhine's, her secret has nothing to do with what Janelle discovers, and she's a much more spunky heroine than Juliette. Besides, there are only seven plots under the sky, right?
So, no worries. But when your material is not really unique, you have to fall hard on your characters and voice to keep the reader's attention, since now plot twists are extremely easy to guess due to previous interactions with the same situations.
Here's usually where Jen shines. Her voice is amazing. Her characters are so true-to-life. It's completely addicting. But... (you were waiting for this "but," weren't you?)
I can't really say the same for Cursed.
I don't know, maybe writing like five books in one year isn't the best thing to do when faced with detailed narration, or maybe I'm just hallucinating and weird, but the voice in Cursed was not the usual spunk but rather more... dry. The characters are really, really cliché, to be honest. They remind me so much of Twilight and a lot of other books. There were no surprises at all that I got from this book. And with its uncharacteristically mediocre narration and recycled character molds, it's an understatement to say that Cursed didn't meet my expectations.
Overall, I do love Jennifer L. Armentrout. I think she's great. Lots of people love Cursed. In fact, I'm one of only three people who rated this book with two stars on Goodreads. So maybe I'm just different. But I think it also needs to be said that I was never an extremely zealous fan, so I approached this book with a here-goes! instead of a more hopeful, optimistic push of an attitude. Maybe this is just me, but alas, I highly recommend going into this book without holding your breath.
You never know how you'll feel until you let yourself feel--without being restrained by previous, fangirling infatuations--right?