FACE IN A BOOK | Book Reviews: "Prototype" by M.D. Waters and "The Lost" by Sarah Beth Durst

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Face in a Book is my weekly mini-review feature. From the buzzworthy conclusion of the Archetype duology, to the latest by Sarah Beth Durst, you'll get lost in these reads.

Prototype (Archetype #2) by M.D. Waters (Dutton; on sale July 24, 2014)

Emma looks forward to the day when she can let go of her past—both of them. After more than a year on the run, with clues to her parents’ whereabouts within her grasp, she may finally find a place to settle down. Start a new life. Maybe even create new memories with a new family.

But the past rises to haunt her and to make sure there’s nowhere on the planet she can hide. Declan Burke wants his wife back, and with a little manipulation and a lot of reward money, he’s got the entire world on his side. Except for the one man she dreads confronting the most: Noah Tucker.
Emma returns to face what she’s done but finds that the past isn’t the problem. It’s the present—and the future it represents. Noah has moved on and another woman is raising their daughter.

In the shocking conclusion to M.D. Waters’s spectacular debut, Emma battles for her life and her freedom, tearing down walls and ripping off masks to reveal the truth. She’s decided to play their game and prove she isn’t the woman they thought she was. Even if it means she winds up dead. Or worse, reborn.

I read this back to back with the first in the series, Archetype. I couldn’t believe it was a debut – it’s incredibly well-written, thrilling, and “unputdownable.”

Emma has left her “family” – the love of her life Noah, and her “daughter” (hard to explain, but boy, is the biological process interesting!) to find her parents, who she believes are rebels on the run. However, her desire for independence and an escape from a ethically confusing life is thwarted when her ex-husband, Declan, puts out a reward for her “rescue.”

Yes, there are a lot of words with quotations – and that’s because in the Archetype series, nothing is what it seems.

When Emma returns, she faces an uphill battle. She needs to regain Noah’s trust, get to know her daughter, and deal with the fact that another woman will do anything to keep up the status quo.

Not only was this a exhilarating thrill-ride, you’ll be turning the pages to see who Emma ends up with – and whether Declan still has the power to make her life a living hell. Who is Emma, really? Is she the “old” Emma, or is she simply entirely herself? Not even Emma knows.

The characters are deftly drawn, with motivations and thoughts beyond the cliché, which turns this from a sci-fi romance to one with major teeth. Honestly, I’m sorry the series is over, and I’ll be looking for more from M.D. Waters.

The Lost by Sarah Beth Durst (Harlequin MIRA; on sale May 20, 2014)
It was supposed to be a small escape. A few hours driving before turning around and heading home. But once you arrive in Lost...well, it's a place you really can't leave. Not until you're Found. Only the Missing Man can send you home. And he took one look at Lauren Chase and disappeared.

So Lauren is now trapped in the town where all lost things go-luggage, keys, dreams, lives-where nothing is permanent, where the locals go feral and where the only people who don't want to kill her are a handsome wild man called the Finder and a knife-wielding six-year-old girl. The only road out of town is engulfed by an impassable dust storm, and escape is impossible.... 

Until Lauren decides nothing-and no one-is going to keep her here anymore.

I moved a little bit out of my comfort zone on this one – it wasn’t something I would typically read, but the description sounded intriguing, and the premise reminded me of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, which is one of my favorite novels. So, I dove in.

The writing was a little unsettling for me – first person present in short, terse sentences that I can only describe as “choppy,” and which could sometimes be confusing. I would have to re-read lines of text, because I wasn’t exactly sure what the author meant. However, it fit the atmosphere of the book – Lauren is going through some sort of trauma, and is lost in multiple ways.

I enjoyed that Lauren wasn’t always likeable; she can be stand-offish, and sometimes cruel. She abandons her ailing mother at first because she can’t handle taking care of her, or the very idea that she’s sick. She’s also incredibly paranoid.

The conceit that this is a town where you go to “find yourself” was very unique, but I didn’t enjoy the creepy love interest, or the romance, and I didn’t feel invested in any of the characters. Time passes without any sort of recognition, and overall I just felt an interesting plot line was poorly executed.