Book Review – ‘Cursed’ by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Another great addition to the JLA collection…

Cursed Book Review Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle.jpgGenre: Y/A, Contemporary, Mystery

No. of pages: 384

From Goodreads:

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.

Page border by Casey Carlisle

Cursed’ hooked me from the first page. A great premise, well-paced, and a fast read. I could see this as a start of a series, though currently it is sold as a standalone. There were plenty of elements introduced that weren’t tied up which could lead to many story arcs over a series. But having said that, it rounds up well enough to leave you with some satisfaction of a fun paranormal read.

I liked the supernatural aspect with abilities, but was wishing for more of the mythology and exploration of this aspect, maybe some origin stories.

Our protagonist, Ember, came off like a big emo/goth chick at first, and I thought I’d have some difficulty relating to her, but overall, I became invested in her story quite early on. She had her girly over-acting moments, which got me a little worried over the direction of her character, though, I found her to be level headed and intelligent.

I still would have liked to have found out about how Ember and the rest of the youngsters at the Cromwell place made up a unit of some kind. It was mentioned, but never fully explored. An X-men style gang sounds like a fun direction for the novel/series.

On the romantic side of things, it had a beautiful build to love, and a cute ending for Ember. Felt like a warm hug.

Her little sister was adorable, but infuriating. It bothered me how she always got her way and was oblivious of the cost… maybe a bit more realism would have rounded her out as a loveable character, other than someone I wanted to strangle.

Cursed Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle.jpg

I was disappointed about Adam – I really liked him and wanted more… We saw so much in the beginning chapters and then… *poof* gone in a cloud of smoke.

The love interest, Hayden, is a character I had a love/hate relationship with. The “misunderstood guy” storyline was dragged out a bit too much for my liking. But fun to have such a swoon-worthy man to drool over. Some of his over-protective qualities and stalkiness were a bit creepy and set of my alarm bells *Warning Will Robinson. Warning* I was really hoping Armentrout was going to deconstruct the trope that we see a lot in in YA, but alas, it remained true to the stereotype.

I definitely didn’t like Mr Cromwell (who ran the Cromwell place,) and I don’t think that will change – the way he operates is a little nefarious and does not match what he says he is trying to achieve. We never do understand why he behaves the way he does, even though his motives are explained.

The plot was mostly predictable, felt a little contrived, where some events seemed steered by the author for dramatic flair rather than unfold organically. It was a little light in tone, and could have gotten darker, angstier with the subject matter; but a lot of those opportunities were passed up – I guess if this was a debut of a new series Armentrout would have gone there, instead choosing a fun, exciting stand-alone. It’s a pity, because with what was set up in ‘Cursed’ it could lead to a great new collection – I say this because as a standalone many things weren’t resolved to my liking, and it would take another two to three novels to explore them fully in an action packed story arc.

Shame about the cover art – it didn’t appeal to me that much – and doesn’t match the Ember described in the pages… more effort could have gone into reflecting the main character and tone of the book succinctly.

Recommend to lovers of the paranormal, Jennifer L. Armentrout. This story is in the same vein of ‘Shatter Me,’ ‘Zeroes’ and ‘Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.’

Overall feeling: Yeah. Pretty good.



Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle

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