Thursday, March 19, 2015

Horrorscape (Horrorscape, #2) by Nenia Campbell

Review by Tempest.


Val receives a calling card from a very dangerous boy who wants to play with her. It's a game without rules, logic, or consequence, and he'll stop at nothing to claim her as his—even if it means destroying them both.

Three years ago, Valerian Kimble got herself entangled with a burgeoning sociopath intent on adding her to his own columns of wins and losses. She managed to escape him, but at a terrible cost...

This time it's personal.

Now a high school senior, Val is a pale shadow of the girl she once was and still recovering from the terrible trauma she suffered at his hands. She is understandably reluctant when her friends receive mysterious invitations to a theme party being held in one of the old manor homes on the edge of town.

Right away, something about the party seems off. The other guests are secretive, and strangely hostile. Cell phones don't work. Doors lock and unlock, seemingly at will. And the festivities start to take a turn for the sinister as the evening progresses. Because their host loves games. Loves them so much that he's decided to make a little wager. The deadline is sunrise. The stakes? Their lives.

Let the games begin.

* * *
I started this book the night after finishing the first one. I was happy to find that many of the issues I found with book one weren't in Horrorscape. There were less grammatical errors, and the POV only switched at random one time that I found. The rest of the changes were done with page/chapter breaks, which helped the story continue to flow. The only problem I had with this was certain POVs didn't seem necessary. We got to see how much of a jerk James was, sure, but I sort of got that without all the inner commentary. And Blake? I don't see why being in his head ever was needed. I would have much preferred more of Gavin or Val. A lot of the events, their actions, etc. get sort of frosted over, and that time could have been better spent letting us delve deeper into their psyche instead. I also liked the character building more in this book. They're flushed out much better, so that they have more distinctive personalities. I found myself really liking Lisa (though there was that one reveal that then never got spoken about again...?) whereas in the first book I tolerated her at best. I also liked Val a lot more, which was nice. The author did a good job developing her paranoia, though I feel like it should be stressed in some places that it's been three-four years for Val. Because it wasn't for me, there was a time or two where I had to stop myself from being like, "Why would she be dumb enough to do that/go there?". All in all, I got swept up in the second part of Val's story just as quickly as I did the first. There were still things I didn't care for, however.

I really feel like Val would have flat out recognized Gavin. Yes, it's been three years, but no, generally people don't change that drastically. Possibly plastic surgery was jokingly mentioned, but I really would have liked that set in stone. I feel a better way around this might have been making it a masquerade time event instead. She was intimate with this guy, and then he turned into a psycho. There is no way she's going to forget his face, or go near anyone who even remotely looks like him. She would not have entered that house. Also, his voice? How did that change then? She would have recognized that I'm sure. A lot of details, like that one, were glossed over. Like, how did he find the white team? Did they all really need the money? Stuff like that. Because we don't really get to understand their situation, it's hard to relate any time they're on the page, which is often. Teams are also assumed based on color at random, almost right after Lisa and James make fun of the others for wearing white instead of black. How did they figure out this team thing then? And why would they assumed Gavin was on the white team when he's not only wearing both colors, but clearly not participating? There are a lot of moments like this that just don't make sense. Blake gets accused of being
"non confrontational" because he's not really ok with killing people. Then he actually goes into this story about how it's all because of his parents. What? I'm not ok with killing people either. Just cause. And when the first character dies...the others don't seem all that upset. I've lost a best friend before, and while obviously I wasn't being terrorized and running for my life so high on adrenaline and distracted, I spent almost all of my time thinking about it. Blake barely did at all. Right after in fact, we're in his head and he's busy thinking up other things. What?! I want emotion, which unfortunately, was something I found this book lacking a bit. Gavin says some things that come close to us really seeing emotion from him, then poof gone. Same with Val. And Lisa and Blake should have been way more messed up after that. I don't mean we get pages and pages of mourning, but at least have them mention they'll deal with it once they're safe or something. There's a part where Gavin threatens Val with the game Seven minutes in "heaven" and yet they end up playing anyway even though she does what he says. When this happens, it should be explained he's a cheat or something, because not even Val recalls the deal. Also, why would you ask the creepy guy if he's Gavin? Because he's going to tell you. Not. I wanted a smarter Val, not necessarily stronger, because I understand after what she'd been through, she wouldn't be. Weaker was a great angle, however, she should have been a bit more intelligent. And ok, she's supposed to be a bit naïve, but that much? She mouths something to Lisa, with Gavin right in front of her. Dumb. Which brings me to my biggest issue with this book: Gavin.

He spent ALL OF THIS TIME and energy, carefully planning this entire thing out (which also, the "games" could have been a bit better orchestrated and dire) then in literally five seconds decides to kill instead of keep her. I get that she almost slit his throat, but he's smart, he had to expect that. He even says himself he was curious to see how far she'd go. He was surprised, ok, but still. After all of that time, he doesn't even bother actually sleeping with her? Just kills hers? From what I understand of the third book, we'll get more of that, but I still would have liked better closure for the second. He's crazy, and I don't believe or secretly wish for him to be a good guy or anything like that, but maybe just having him be a little more invested when this entire time that's all he's come off as. He could have just done this at the beginning of the party. It's not like he really got much out of waiting. She wasn't that much sport.

Basically, some scenes/information was so important they should have gotten more time. I would have much rather read more about why Val didn't think it was Gavin, or what Gavin planned for this party event wise, than that Blake has a crush on Lisa and that Lisa is pissed she hid behind a fake plant for an hour. Some of Lisa's insight was necessary, but not nearly enough, so while it was better having the POV sectioned off, it was still a bit tedious jumping into characters who I didn't find interesting/important enough. And....whatever happened to that last guy on the white team? I mean, I assume he was in the house but...we literally never saw him. At all.

I still really enjoyed this book, just feel there should be tightening in places and better explanation in others. But there were some pretty good lines, like, shiver inducing ones that my Kindle copy kept telling me a billion other people highlighted as well. The strong moments are strong, and intense, and they're what kept me flicking page after page desperate to see what happened next. They were just too few, and often far between. More of those, more explanation, description, character building (on the two mains I mean, Val and Gavin) and I would have given this book five stars hands down. Honestly, even with everything else that bugged me, I would have given it four except for that ending. So abrupt. The enticing and terrifying thing about Gavin this whole time has been how meticulous he is, how he plans out every little detail which allows him to continuously be three steps ahead of everyone else. At the end, it was like he sort of fell apart. He wasn't as scary, or, sadly, enticing. Fingers crossed he returns to that guy in book three, which I'm reading next!!!

Oh, and one last thing, were there (Val didn't see any), or were there not (James thought he did) fish in those tanks?! I have to know! (For my own curiosities sake ;) ).


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