Monday, December 20, 2010

Review: Blood and Flowers by Penny Blubaugh

Blood and Flowers
Author: Penny Blubaugh
Publisher: HarperTeen
Series: N/A
Pages: 352
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: March 1, 2011
How Received: Star Book Tours

SummaryThree years ago, Persia ran away from her drug-addict parents and found a home with the Outlaws, an underground theater troupe. With time, this motley band of mortals and fey, puppeteers and actors, becomes the loving family Persia never had, and soon Persia not only discovers a passion for theater but also falls in love with one of the other Outlaws. Life could not be more perfect.

Until an enemy makes an unfair accusation against the group and forces them to flee their world and hide in the neighboring realm of Faerie. But in Faerie, all is not flowers and rainbows. With bloodythirsty trolls, a hostile monarchy, and a dangerous code of magic, the fey world is far from the safe haven the Outlaws had hoped for. 

My Thoughts:
There was a connection lacking with this book. I just couldn’t get connected – to the characters, to Faerie, to the plot, to anything. Perhaps it was because there were too many characters to even develop a connection with one, or that this book, like the Outlaws, was similar to organized chaos. But in any case, that was the books downfall: lack of connection and description.

The characters were mostly inconsistent half of the time. A character would do or say something that would totally ruin my initial impression of them; they went out of character a lot. I think the only consistent character was Lucia, and only because she “looked as if she wanted to cry” all the time. The thing that bothered me, though, was that I couldn’t get connected to Persia as a character. I didn’t feel for her, and I didn’t even care about her romance to Nicholas. Her narrative just seemed like she was in the audience (or reader’s perspective), watching a play unfold before her. She threw in a couple of lines every so often, but she never really did anything substantial.

Going back to the romance, it was so lackluster. I felt like the romance was just tacked into the storyline just so Persia could have a romance. There was no build-up to it. Persia just states that she loves Nicholas, and Nicholas, despite showing no prior signs whatsoever to liking Persia, coincidentally starts loving her, too.

The plot was so stale. I had no idea what the plot even was for half of the book. At times, it seemed like they were running away from Major and the big baddies, and other times, it just seemed like a book focused on theater production. The idea of having Outlaws as a theater troupe was cool, and it would have been better if it had been executed better – we weren’t even given insight to the shows, or the emotions running through the characters while they put it on. I just saw a lazy plot, with nothing but shows and the eventual “show-down” to drive it forward.

I saw no point in the Outlaws going to Faerie, other than to progress the plot. The summary says that they were fleeing for their lives, but it didn’t feel that way at all. They weren’t in mortal danger – it didn’t even happen until about 150 pages in. It felt like their reason for going to Faerie was just not thought out at all, and that the author was groping for any reason to get them into Faerie. There are so many other options that the group of Outlaws could have utilized, or at least tried, before going to Faerie (which they claimed was a “last resort”).

Faerie bothered me. When I think of faeries, I think of magic. The Faerie depicted in this novel didn’t give me a magical vibe, at all. Also, there was a repetition of how dangerous Faerie was, but I didn’t feel the danger at all. I wasn’t scared for anyone, or their lives, and Penny Blubaugh gave us no reason to feel endangered in her world of Faerie. I just felt like everyone was holding hands and everything was sunshine and flowers. The scariest part of Faerie? A big troll who is supposed to be bloodthirsty, but really doesn’t do anything, and blood on the grass. Very dangerous. Also, I have never heard of faeries who would willingly have a democracy, but there it was. If I didn’t know about faeries beforehand, I would have been lost.

Nothing is truly explained in this book. Faeries are never explained, nor are their pink and red drinks (other than the darker the color, the more dangerous it is). There were barely any character descriptions. The only description I had for Lucia was her scarred hand. Floss has dandelion fluff yellow hair. Max is black. And that was it. The author kept using the word “dax” in conversation, which made me think it was a word specialized for the world she created, but it’s never explained. The use of “dax” in context kept changing, too, so I could never guess what it meant. Does someone know what “dax” means? I’d really love to know.

Lastly, the ending. Ugh. I could break down the ending into at least 4 more paragraphs, but I’ll just summarize it with this: I hated the ending; it was so choppy and... well, lazy. Not only was it abrupt, but we were also supposed to assume that these crazy dangerous forces, Feron and Major, would give up just like that. Yes, those dangerous forces that forced (truly, there was no force) the Outlaws to go into Faerie. Ugh.

Cover Musings: The cover on the arc I received bothered me. Mostly, the pollen on the model’s face bothered me. It looks so out of place and splotched into the cover. But other than that, it’s... Interesting. I kept getting weirded out every time I walked in my room and had that pale face staring at me, haha.

Memorable Quotes:
I was rooted to the floor, stuck right in the middle of the feelings tumbling around me. It was like being caught in an earthquake. No matter which way you turned you’d lose your footing. (pg. 71)
We were a set, the six of us. Lose one and everything would start to tumble. I hadn’t been wrong when I’d said we were a family. For me, at least, the Outlaws were that proverbial place to come back to, that place where they have to take you in. But even better than that, they were my friends, in the truest sense. I couldn’t stand the thought of losing that. (pg. 96)
“Now,” Floss said, “I put them on the back porch, near the steps. Then a flyer picks up the message, delivers it, and brings the answer back.”
“How do you know when the answer’s here?” I was amazed by all of this. Fey air mail. “Does someone show up at the door or what?”
Floss raised her eyes to the ceiling and sighed. “No, Persia. The flowers die. The answer’s in the petals.” (pg. 110-111)
“Now,” he continued, “about fey food. I only meant that it can make you sleep the sleep of the just and righteous. You wake feeling rejuvenated.”
I had to agree with that. But, “I won’t have to stay here forever? Until I die and my bleached bones are buried in the far, far hills?”
He raised both eyebrows. “What have you been reading?” (pg. 164-165)
Overall Thoughts/Final Comments: There was nothing remarkable or memorable about this book whatsoever. It lacked making a connection with the reader, and there were no addictive qualities about it. To be honest, I only kept reading for two reasons: I was hoping it would get better and I had to read it because I signed up for the tour. There were no character descriptions, and no descriptions about Faerie whatsoever. The romance (if you can call it that) was so lackluster, and the characters were inconsistent. I think this book has a great starting point and that it could have been good, but it was just executed poorly.

Rating: 2/5

**I received this ARC from Star Book Tours. Thank you, Katelyn!


Danna (Bananas For Books) said...

Sorry you didn't like it. Thanks for posting an honest review, if I can't connect to the characters, book, etc, I can't read it. Thanks for saving me some $$$!

Jenny said...

Too bad on this one! That bright cover would have drawn me in, but I think I'll pass now. I hate when a romance is thrown in just to have romance in the story, I'm fine with my YA books having no romance at all, I actually find it refreshing now and then to just have a fabulous story. And I find it odd that she kept using the word "dax" but provided no explanation for its context. You'll have to let me know if you figure it out! Thanks for such a straightforward review:)

Felicity Grace Terry said...

A book people seem to love or hate. I couldn't comment on the plot or characters but I will say I hate the cover.

Melissa (i swim for oceans) said...

Oh no! I appreciate your honesty about this, Kristina. I had a WoW for this, but it was definitely going to be a hit or miss type of thing. It's too bad it was a miss. Either way, great review though! :)

Kristina Barnes♥ said...

Danna: I know, it was a shame. :( I had my hopes up, too! I absolutely felt no connection whatsoever with the characters. Persia's narrative, literally, was like a 3rd person POV coming from a 1st person POV (if that makes sense).

Jenny: I feel the same way! I prefer no romance to romance that feels like it's thrown into a book just for the sake of having a romance. From the times "dax" was used, I got either "cool" or "awesome" or "interesting". Then there were other times when I couldn't interpret its use in a sentence. Very confusing. :/ I was wondering if it was some hipster slang I wasn't aware of!

Tracy: True! I checked out the reviews of my fellow participants and I think I was one of the two who didn't like this book. =x I didn't like the cover too much, either, but it was mostly because of the pollen. I'm not even sure if that's Persia or Floss that's supposed to be on the cover. :/

Melissa: Oh, you did?! I didn't see it! :( I had my hopes up for this book (which is why I signed up in the first place), but it just fell through in the execution. :/

Erika said...

So sorry to hear this one was disappointing! I sort of had high hopes for it :\

Emi said...

Awwww, sorry to hear that you had to suffer through this book. I actually tried looking up the word "dax" and all I found was: "Dax (n) a city in SW France: mineral hot springs." All I can say is "Whaaaaaaat?" Needless to say, I don't think I'll pick up this book. For once I can thank you for NOT adding to my TBR pile. ;D

Kristina Barnes♥ said...

Erika: Well, just because I didn't like it means that you won't! :) There are a lot of other people who DID like it. I think I was only one of the two negative reviews on it. xD; I mean, the story was great and all. It just could have been BETTER.

Emi: I googled "dax", also. I got a lot of weird hits. Nothing that remotely suggested slang or anything. Haha, don't worry, m'dear - this is just ONE book; I'll pile your tbr with others. You watch. >:)

Ashley said...

I agree! The cover was definitely creepy. It's actually one of the big reasons I'm not really interested in the book.

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