Date of Publication: May 1, 2012
Dates Read: August 15 – 31, 2015
ARICA MILLER is thrilled to begin her sophomore year at Hill Valley Private Arts Academy. Little does she know that the prestigious school holds more hidden secrets than she’d anticipated-especially with the head mistress. After she accidentally comes into contact with a mysterious gemstone necklace, she receives strange hallucinations that connect to her family’s past. Arica soon realizes that this is no regular necklace that contains power beyond her knowledge. And that’s not all. Her world unwinds as she is absorbed with knowledge of a world of sorcery.
All dating up to Halloween night, Arica must face suspicious friends, monstrous creatures, and the truth of her family’s connection with sorcery. But worst of all, she must face a powerful enemy keen on only one thing: the gemstones.
Buy It From: Chapters
Note: I met the authors before I knew they were authors, and didn’t find out about their books until a year after. It was my own choice to borrow their first book from the library. My review is my honest reaction to the book.
My rating: ★☆☆☆☆
Sigh. I really wanted to like this book. Truly, I did. But as hard as I tried to find things that I liked, in the end the cons outweighed the pros.
I’ll start with the first thing I noticed: the writing. I was not a big fan of the way this book was written at all. And while I understand that the girls were about 15/16 years old when they wrote this (hell, it reminds me of my writing when I was 15), I can’t let their age affect my feelings. The fact is that it reads like a first draft. A lot of times the same word would be repeated within consecutive sentences (example: Bunsen burner was mentioned 3 times in 2 back-to-back lines). I also noticed that they tried to use “big”/more complex words throughout the story, and while I admire the effort, a lot of times they were used incorrectly or in the wrong context, making it harder to read.
Another thing that bothered me was that some of the smaller paragraphs were really unnecessary. For example, one paragraph is devoted to Arica eating breakfast, and then the next is her doing something else. These smaller paragraphs added absolutely nothing to the story, and seemed more like filler than anything else. Yes, not every part of a book can be action-packed, but there are certain things that need not be narrated.
Oh, and during one of the last scenes of the book, the villain actually takes the time to introduce her team of sorcerers/esses and their great grandparents to Arica and her cousins. She even allows them a kind of demonstration of their power. Seriously? A villainous monologue? What good villain has time for that? Was it just to show off how powerful they are? It was (at least) five pages of show-and-tell that I didn’t think were necessary.
Alright, now to look past the writing.
A lot of the events that occur seemed kind of random and unrelated to one another. To be honest, sometimes they were even a little hard to understand. And whenever Arica ran into a problem (usually a monster/demon or something of the sort), the solution always seemed too quick, too easy. There was never really a struggle during the battle scenes, except a little bit near the end. Like, it didn’t even take her that long to learn to control her newfound powers!
And I feel like the lack of struggle didn’t do much for the already-missing character development. Everyone was pretty much static throughout the whole book. The only character that I can remember seeing grow was Joseph. We see him constantly arguing with his sisters, but the love he has for them is truly shown in the end, which just makes him more three-dimensional and the most well-developed character in the entire book.
That leads me into one of the things I did like about The Gemstone: the focus on family. Family is what makes this story, which is refreshing. There isn’t even a hint of romance, at least not as far as I could tell. Everything was about being close to your relatives, bloodlines, and having a good relationship with your kin. I don’t see that too often, so kudos to the authors for that.
Overall: The idea was there, but the execution, unfortunately, was not.