Thursday, February 5, 2015

4 Star #bookreview Mara Valderran

Amazon blurb:
Sixteen year-old Madeline has struggled with epilepsy for most of her adolescent life, leaving her something of a social pariah. Things go from bad to worse when she wakes up from her first grand mal seizure in an extremely unfamiliar world but surrounded but familiar faces. Her hometown is in ruins, the aftermath of a Cold War turned hot. 

Thomas, the boy that stomped on her heart a year ago, and his brother Brandon have been hiding her away since the explosion that killed her parents. The Lord Commander, now running the southern territories, believes Madeline died with them and the brothers need to keep it that way. The biggest problem? The explosion happened when she was twelve. 

Madeline isn’t sure what to believe. The brothers insist her memories must be of a dream life she created while in her coma. But when she returns to the reality she knows, they insist this war-torn world must be the dream. She doesn’t know if she’s truly caught in the middle of a brewing rebellion or teetering on the brink of insanity. As she finds herself flipping between the two lives, her heart becomes torn between two versions of the same boy and the lines between her realities begin to blur.

Buy here.

My Review:
Altar of Reality has a unique concept in that the main character switches reality during epileptic seizures. Not a fun way to visit another reality, but boy, what a great way to imagine what craziness could be happening during a seizure.

I like alternate reality stories and this had a nice combination of fantasy and sci-fi. To me, the concept was more interesting than the relationships, which felt a bit off and hard to keep sorted. I didn’t feel an emotional tie to any of the male characters, so that made it hard to root for any direction. But the side relationships with Madeline and her aunt and also the girl Ana who appeared in both realities were interesting and I’ll look forward to seeing them explored. Some of the characters felt a bit like those in the Wizard of Oz, someone who had to be there, but didn’t have a solidly developed personality. Especially the uncle, the Lord Commander, who felt like a caricature set up to prove that religious people are prejudiced and anti-gay.

Madeline did a great job in the alternate reality where bombs had destroyed they world she knew. It wasn’t a pleasant existence, but rather than whine or try to trigger her return, she jumped in to not only survive herself, but help other create a new existence. The people around her, helping her, teaching her, were all great characters and I expect they’ll develop further in the sequel.

I felt the book really got into the swing of things about 10 pages from the end, which was a bit too much cliffhanger for my preferences. But the device worked, and since the writing was strong at the end, I do want to read the next book. I look forward to the sequel continuing the ramp up that worked well and starting strong and staying that way.

The formatting and grammar were all top-notch, so that gets points from me as well.

I think anyone who likes alternate reality type books will enjoy this, and those who are more into love triangles (pentagons?) will have fun as well.

Recommended, 4 stars.

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