BriefINK Review: ‘Cursed’ by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Book Cover Cursed by Jennifer L. ArmentroutBriefly: Ember’s little sister, Olivia, can bring back things from the dead. She knows first-hand, since she was one of those things, brought back to life after a harrowing car accident that killed their father and caused their mother to head into a mental tail-spin. Unfortunately, now Ember’s curse is the opposite of Olivia’s; any living thing that she touches dies. Suddenly, she and her remaining family are whisked away to another state where a man “adopts” kids with their “abilities.”

Can her attraction to the man’s son, Hayden, push away the gnawing feeling that something is not right about her new situation? Can he really teach her how to control her curse? Is the shadowy group known as “The Facility” behind the accident that killed her dad?

Didja Like It?: This book has the fingerprints of a high-strung indie all over it. Sometimes I feel like there’s a computer program that writers access where they insert a few details about their characters, insert plot/bad guy here, and, voilà! The printer spits out the formula’d final product where emotion is ratcheted up to the nth degree whether the situation demands it or not.

It is written in that particular style that is so common in YA – the melodramatic romance, the overly-wrought, overly-felt, overly-described novel. Words are used like a fist, a slap, a bucket of water over the head. Everything is felt in the dry mouth, the caught throat, the thumping heart, the icy stomach, the tingling ladybits. All emotions are worn on sleeves; all intuitions acted upon (whether good or ridiculous); all girls think they’re ugly (either from scars on the inside or outside), all boys are tousle-haired, long-eyelash’d, eyebrow quirking, mouth smirking hot and muscled. So, of course, it is always a surprise when that same boy is attracted to our Plain Damaged Jane. Then, it all makes sense: he is deep and flawed himself.

Ah, yes. I get it. It’s the girl version of the average Joe depicted in porn (or so I’ve been told), right? If the guy in the movie can look like Mr. Anyman, and he gets the (hot) girl, then there’s hope for the rest of us! So easy for the reader who possibly already sees herself as OK (at best), and unwanted, unattractive, unloved (at worst) to want the heroine to be that way. Especially if meeting Mr. So-Hot-That-Everyone-Wants-Him means he only has eyes for our Broken Lass? She is whole because someone gorgeous can see her soul. And he loves her. Who doesn’t like the sound of that? Well, I, for one, think that’s a theme from which we could use a well-deserved break.

Anything Else to Mention?: I really had to push myself to finish this. Unfortunately, I had already read several books that were similar to this book: Jenny Pox and The Dream Catcher series, for example, so nothing here was new or fresh. I didn’t really care about any of the characters; the little sister in this story was annoying and unreal – the kind of kid I could see Shirley Temple playing in a movie.

To Read or Not To Read: Sigh. I know that many people love the writings of Ms. Armentrout, but, in this case, I did not. So I will say whether you read this or not depends on how you feel about the rest of my review.

Cursed by Jennifer L. Armentrout was published September 18, 2012 by Spencer Hill Press. Ink and Page picked this book up from the library, so no one had a choice about whether it was reviewed.

Rating: 2

Genre: Young Adult Fiction Paranormal Romance
Ages: 12 and up
You Might Want to Know: Minor descriptions of violence.

2 thoughts on “BriefINK Review: ‘Cursed’ by Jennifer L. Armentrout”

  1. I totally get where you’re coming from, but I have to say that I don’t mind these “formulaic” elements in a story if they’re done well. I do think that most girls (and even women) can relate to the “I don’t feel very special” heroine and like to see her blossom. I agree that it’s sad when the cool guy ends up being the most important thing that makes her okay with herself, though. Not sure if I’ll check this one out or not, but I haven’t been completely talked out of it! 🙂

    1. Nicole: Absolutely, the key phrase here being “if they’re done well.” In this case, I thought the characters were mighty two-dimensional. I read some other reviews after I posted mine, and I agree with one person who said something to the effect of “there are only 7 plots under the sky and so it depends on the characters” to pump up a story.

      Do read it and let me know what you think!

      Thanks for the comment –

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