Wednesday, July 3, 2013

{Tour Stop} Book Review: Shudder by Samantha Durante

Title: Shudder
Series: Stitch Trilogy #2
Author: Samantha Durante
Pages: 348
Pub Date: June 15, 2013
Publisher: Self-published
Book Source: From the author for review
My Rating: 5 of 5 stars


*This review will contain spoilers for Stitch—the first book in the series!*

Shudder picks up just a few days after the final events of Stitch. Alessa and Isaac have escaped Paragon, and the mission of finding a command center for the rebels lies ahead of them. Such a task should be easy enough, but not in their world. Outside Paragon are different types of danger. Not only is here the biting cold, the possibility of starving, the ever-present danger of catching the virus that wiped out most of humanity, but also a new threat in the form of bloodthirsty creatures out on the prowl. Alessa and Isaac must watch their backs at every turn, run for their lives - while all the while, Alessa has a hole in her heart—missing the sister she had to leave behind.

And then there are her visions.

Ever since the Stitch, Alessa has been trying to piece her old life back together in her mind. On top of this struggle come strange feelings and visions. She's plagued with emotions that aren't her own, sees memories that she's long left behind her, and the worst part is she has no idea why these things are happening to her.

So with the internal and external challenges piled high, Alessa and Isaac take on their mission with full-force, hand in hand.

- - -

Can I just freaking say how much I LOVE this series?! Stitch was good. Shudder? AMAZINGLY AMAZING!!! I can't even express how much I just LOVE LOVE LOVED this book. Everything about it was perfection.

Alessa and Isaac are finally back together after being separated in Paragon, Stitched, and put on the dramas. They have their memories back and they've been tasked with finding a command base for the rebels; a place for them to begin fighting back. I loved seeing the interaction between them with their true memories back intact. I think they have a beautiful relationship, but it is flawed—as all relationships are. In this book, we see how insecure Isaac can get when it comes to his brother Joe. Joe is dead, yes, but the memory he left in his wake is a tangible thing, and Alessa can't help but think of him often now that her memory has returned (she was in love with Joe, afterall!). Isaac feels as if he is her second choice, and it's painful to see him hurting. Alessa sort of made me mad a couple of times with her Joe-obsession, but it all makes sense in the end. My point is, it was nice to see a hero who isn't all perfect and cocky. He is real. He has feelings and insecurities. I loved that about Isaac.

This book is told through multiple third-person POVs. Alessa and Isaac, of course, but also Nikhil, various Engineers (men who are responsible for the way Paragon is run and for the Stitch), and a mystery female with amnesia—dubbed “Phoenix”. I like that Samantha Durante did this, because it gives us a fantastic view of the story from all angles, as well as a better look into each character's mind. We get to know them better, feel closer to them, understand where they're coming from. It's a win-win.

One of the things I was most impressed with was the action and adventure in this installment of the trilogy. I am so happy to say that that this book does not have middle-book-syndrome. Too often, the middle book in a trilogy ends up being a dud. These books are slow, boring, pointless books to bridge us from book one to book two. Shudder is quite the opposite. Things happen in this book. This book is a big deal. There is a multitude of adrenaline-inducing, action-packed scenes. For me, the time Alessa and Isaac spent outside Paragon was the very best part. These creatures they keep encountering... these things are scary. Alessa always seems to get her strange feelings and visions when they are around, and wonders if the two things are connected somehow. It's all very intriguing and thrilling. Each time the two lovers had to outrun these creatures, I was literally on the edge of my seat being afraid for them. The author did a phenomenal job of making them horrifying, yet mysterious at the same time. She also did a phenomenal job of building up the suspense and wonder about them. By the end, I was ready to screech! I had to know—what are they? Where did they comefrom?

Many questions lingering at the end of Stitch were answered for us in Shudder. Not only do we learn lots more about Alessa's past, but about the world in general. Through the mystery that is Phoenix, we learn straight from the Engineers what happened to the planet and it's inhabitants. We learn the origin of the virus that wiped out most of mankind. We learn how Paragon came to be. We learn why the dramas were created. We learn so so so many things. I was thoroughly impressed with Samantha's skills in writing. She wove together so many different plot threads. This story is actually very intricate and layered. I am in awe, really I am.

As with it's predecessor, Shudder is packed with mind-blowing twists and revelations. The thing that amazes me most is that Samantha hides these things from us so well!! I mean, seriously... had I not been sitting down already, I'd have been knocked flat on my ass. It's jaw-drop surprising. And the best part? It's not just one thing! Nope. Samantha delivers blow after blow in the way of plot twists. I'd seriously like to peek inside her mind. It's got to be amazing in there!

All in all, Shudder blew me away. I can't even express how much I truly loved it. If you liked Stitch, you will LOVE this book. Even if you were on the fence about Stitch, you will still love this book. I am telling you, it's fantastic. Multidimensional characters, action-packed adventure, horrifying revelations, beautiful romance, superb writing, and amazing plot twists that'll leave you with your jaw resting on the floor—for hours. Samantha Durante has delivered a spot-on, perfect follow-up to Stitch. I recommend this book (and the trilogy as a whole) to anyone who is a fan of YA/NA paranormals, science fiction, romance, or just amazingly-freaking-fantastic stories that'll blow your mind. :) Thank you, Samantha, for one of the best dystopians out there! I'll be anxiously awaiting the release of Stuck!

This review is part of the blog tour for Shudder, book 2 of the Stitch trilogy.

You can also check out my interview with Samantha Durante here!