By Ruth Silver
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Join forces with a parallel universe.
Dark forces, magical creatures, and the world Lil thought she knew collide when a dream transports her to the strange world of Orenda. Stunned and terrified, Lil comes face to face with her doppelganger, Willow, who possesses the ability to travel between the two worlds. Everything Lil knows logically says that Orenda can’t exist, but a small clue may be proof that it was more than an ordinary dream. With the threat of her sister in danger, Lil crosses dimensions but it may cost her even more than she bargained for.
A sword wielding girl, the eternal suit, and a parallel universe come together in this action- packed Young Adult fantasy adventure that will keep readers of all ages turning the pages. Orenda is the first novel in the Orenda series.
My Thoughts: All right, I have to be totally honest in my review. Even if it kills me.
So this book had so much potential in my eyes. Seriously. A bunch. I was dying to read it right when I got the email and I was so ecstatic to be chosen to review. But honestly? I could have passed this one and been okay.
It's not that the book wasn't good; it was. It just had some huge things that irked me to no end. That being said, I really really enjoyed the plot. It is such a good idea and I love how the story was put together. It was interesting to go through the parallel world with Lil and her friends. Also, the beginning was great. Seriously set the standard for Orenda.
Now, having said that the plot was good, I'll move on to some things I disliked. I mentioned that the standard was set pretty high from the start. The start was oh-my-gosh crazy and plot-twist-y and simply put, great. After that, the story fell short of my expectations. Again, not because of plot, but because of style, mainly. And a few other key things.
Detail. Detail, detail, detail. It is needed, and a whole lot more than was used. We are thrown into a new world and I couldn't visualize the place well, besides the very obvious sky changes. I wanted so much more thrown into this. Pack it with detail, not unnecessary detail, and it will improve so much. It would also make the characters more realistic, as they are a little vague right now.
I needed more realistic reactions between characters. This is my nitpicky editing here, but the one instance where something really stuck out was when one character's little brother goes somewhere and almost dies. He is healed and then his sister lets him go back in. Wait, what? Yes, she let him go BACK, and only later does she say she'll never let anything happen to him. I'm not so sure about everyone, but if my family member just almost died, they wouldn't be going back there ever, or escaping my arms. Same thing happens later. Lil (who was reported to the police as being kidnapped) returns home and her best friend just hugs her and seems slightly happier than usual. Lil's younger sister does the same thing. I feel like if someone had been kidnapped, the first reaction upon their return would be tears and sobbing and sniffling and embracing. Not just "Hey, you're back!"
There are certain instances in Orenda where characters "reveal" something about themselves or others that, if true, should definitely have been expanded on in the book. Like it's revealed Rawlie is in love with Willow. He didn't even act like that until it was mentioned. Same with this guy telling Lil that her best friend is in love with her. After the initial WHAT?! I got, I got a second WHAT?! because Bray never acted like he even remotely was romantically interested in Lil. She seemed to get some stirrings in the beginning, which greatly bugged me because they weren't explained later, at all.
That leads me into my next point. Love triangle. Okay, some books can pull them off in a way that makes everyone smile and cry with joy. The Infernal Devices trilogy, for me. But usually, I hate them. Ew. Love triangles. This one definitely did not pull it off, because it was thrown in randomly and then never put into play. Hudson tells Lil that her best friend, Bray is in love with her. Then attempts to kiss her. In one scene. What. Yeah, and then it's never ever seen again. Bray and Lil are just friends. No need to make it something it's not so that the other guy has fake competition.
Last thing is really minor, but big to me. At one point, Lil realizes that if she likes Hudson, she will possibly hurt him, and her. So she literally says, "I decided not to have a crush on him." Um, what? As far as I know, and from what I've heard from so many others, you don't just decide if you don't want a crush on someone. That's why they are so annoying. Because you can't control it.
Overall, I actually didn't mind this book as much as it probably looks, but I didn't love it. I may or may not pick up the sequel when it arrives. Not sure yet. It won't kill me to leave the series now. But honestly, Ms. Silver, I hope you see this more as editing than tearing Orenda down, because I really think that a few things, especially detail, will make it a killer series.
Rating: 3 stars