by Jennifer L. Armentrout
September 18, 2012
Spencer Hill Press
Source: Around the World ARC Tours
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 have 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. (Taken from Goodreads.)
My Take On It
Cursed is my very first Jennifer L. Armentrout book. I know, I know. I am seriously behind the times. I actually own Half Blood but haven't read it yet. And it's not like I don't hear awesome things about her Covenant and Lux series, but for some reason Cursed is my first foray into this beloved author's world. The good news is that I liked Cursed just fine. It didn't really blow me away, but it definitely made me more likely to pick up my copy of Half Blood sooner rather than later.
Ember McWilliams has had a shitty last few months. First off her entire family is in a horrific car accident which claims the lives of two of it's members: Ember's dad and herself. But Ember's little sister Olivia has a gift: she can bring back the dead. Not like traditional necromancer skills calling up zombies and then putting them back to rest skills, but truly restoring life in a dead thing. This would be great if that was the whole story. But after Ember returns she discovers that now she also has a special gift. She kills any living thing she touches. Ember's mother has also checked out mentally, leaving Ember the responsibility of caring for her young sister. The only person Ember can count in her life is her best friend Adam, but even he knows nothing about her deadly ability. Ember is severely bullied at school and is afraid of losing her sister to foster care as her dad's life insurance money begins to dry up. Into this mayhem comes hottie Hayden Cromwell. He makes a couple of random appearances at her school and then the unthinkable happens. Ember accidentally touches someone from school and everything in her world turns upside down.
From what I understand, Cursed follows a similar story line to Armentrout's previous series'. There is the heroine and the dark and mysterious male lead with a haunted past. Having not read any of her other books, I can't really make a comparison, but Armentrout does remind me of another author I have read: Kelley Armstrong, author of The YA Darkest Powers and Darkness Rising Series. And the supernatural ability to kill with your touch does sound pretty familiar (Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi.) As Cursed progresses we meet a whole cast of characters with some supernatural talents, again similar to the Armstrong series' and Shatter Me with a bit of X Men thrown in for good measure.
While the storyline may not be original and unique I think where Cursed and Armentrout shines is in the writing. Armentrout is one of those authors that can write seamless dialogue, dialogue that comes across as authentic and natural and not false or stilted. These teens talk like teens and conversation flows easily. I think this is a great talent because in my experience, dialogue isn't as easy to write as it might seem. Armentrout also inserts a good deal of wit and snark into her characters and that's always a plus in my opinion.
The pacing in Cursed is also top notch. There may not be an enormous amount of action written in but the story never drags. And while some of the plot lines were obvious to me, I was entertained throughout the book.
As far as characters go I liked the character of Ember well enough. She did come across as pretty angsty and self pitying but on the other hand, the girl has endured a LOT. I did find her to be loyal and noble and commend her for always trying to keep her family together. As for our main love interest Hayden, I liked him, although his character was really like many other male leads I have read in YA (especially paranormal YA) lately. There wasn't exactly insta-love so much as insta-connection between he and Ember, and I will say there were swoony moments aplenty in Cursed. It's pretty cool when an author can take two characters who aren't able to touch each other physically and still write some remarkably hot romantic scenes.
At the moment Cursed appears to be a standalone but the author has said she might continue the series. There are some dangling plot threads that I wouldn't mind reading more about, so I hope she will indeed carry on with the series.
In summation I liked Cursed, and although I didn't find it to be wholly original, it definitely has sparked my interest in the author and I look forward to reading more of her work.
Check out author Jennifer L. Armentrout's website HERE.
Check out more reviews of Cursed:
Fall Into Books
The Book Goddess
The YA Sisterhood