Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Book Review: Spellbinding by Maya Gold


Author: Maya Gold

Purchase on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Synopsis: There's more than one way to be powerful . . .

It is during a routine school project that Abby Silva--sixteen and nearly friendless--makes a startling discovery: She is descended from women who were accused of witchcraft back in 1600s Salem. And when Abby visits nearby Salem, strange, inexplicable events start to unfold. Objects move when she wills them to. Candles burst into sudden flame. And an ancient spellbook somehow winds up in her possession.

Trying to harness her newfound power, Abby concocts a love potion to win over her longtime crush--and exact revenge upon his cruel, bullying girlfriend. But old magic is not to be trifled with. Soon, Abby is thrust headlong into a world of hexes, secrets, and danger. And then there's Rem Anders, the beautiful, mysterious Salem boy who seems to know more about Abby than he first lets on.

A reckoning is coming, and Abby will have to make sense of her history--and her heart--before she can face the powerful truth.

Brought to you by TeamNerd Reviewer Annabell Cadiz

Warning: There are some spoilers.

Side Note: I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Review: There aren’t many books that leave me thinking my time would have been better spent slamming my head against a wall repeatedly instead of reading that darn book, but Spellbinding sure did make me want to! If there was ever a book completely made of clichés that you’re brain hurts from the lack of originality, this book would be it.

There is not ONE SINGLE ELEMENT to this book that separates it from the countless of YA, paranormal romance novels that plague the bookshelves like a nasty virus.

Abigail (Abby) Silva is an average looking girl who is invisible both at school and at home and only has one real friend named Rachel (who just so happens to be good at everything). Abby has been having nightmares ever since she can remember about women being accused of witchcraft and being killed. She also has a crush on the major hunk and all-American jock in the school, Travis, who happens to be dating the mean girl, Megan. Abby’s history teacher assigns the students with the task of looking into their family tree and presenting it to the class. Abby discovers her family is related to Sarah Good, one of the women accused during the Salem Witch Trials (Did I mention Abby lives in Ohio, close to Salem?). She decides she needs to have real proof before fully accepting the possibility of being a witch, so she heads off to a library in Salem where she finds this mysterious book of spells that JUST SO HAPPENS to be in her purse when she leaves even though she placed the book back on the shelf. She decides to practice one of the spells at home where conveniently enough thunder and rain show up as soon as she pops it open and realizes all the weird things she can do is because she really is a witch! *gasps* So shocking!

Does any of this sound familiar to anyone? Is your brain already connecting the dots to a number of other books with the SAME EXACT PLOTLINE?

Every overrated and overly used plot device was covered in this book. “The Chosen One” just so happens to be the girl who has no friends, a dead mother, a father who pays more attention to his jock son and a love triangle (er, well, a sort of love triangle). A best friend who is great at everything and a trio of mean girls who happen to be the popular girls in the school. The main “heroine” suddenly gets noticed by not only everyone in school but also by the popular, hunky jock when she gets a new makeover thanks to her new powers.

By the third page, I knew where this book was going. I knew EXACTLY what was going to happen. But I was hoping beyond hope the book would offer me SOMETHING different or unique or refreshing or a new twist, even a LITTLE something to keep me from nearly going into a comatose state from reading.

But there were only two elements that kept me going as long as I did: the well-written, very detailed world building and the premise of the Salem Witch Trials. 

Outside of that though, nothing else stood out. The characterization was nonexistent. Abby is selfish, inept, petty, shallow, and lacked common sense. Travis—the hot jock—is just that. Megan is the queenbe of mean girls and her two sidekicks are as stereotypical as her from their wardrobe right down to their dialogue. Rem is a hot witch but reads one dimensional and Abby’s dad played no real part in the story. He’s just there. I didn’t understand why Abby never demanded her father’s attention, why she was so okay with him constantly ignoring her.

There’s also the moment where Abby decides to get back at Megan for embarrassing her in the bathroom at school by casting a love potion on Travis so he’ll want to be with her. Now, I get that Abby is sixteen and has just discovered she has magical powers and has spent the majority of her life feeling overlooked, so it makes sense she would relish in the attention she’s getting thanks to her little makeover. But why would she want a guy who isn’t really in love with her?? She labels Megan as the mean girl without a soul but Abby is just as bad as she is in her judgmental attitude and forcing Travis to love her.

And that’s where the sort of love triangle comes in. Rem—the hot witch who talks to Abby with his mind and helps her discover who she is—Abby crushes on instantly, but can’t let go of wanting Travis, hence the love potion. So she juggles these two guys, all the while her feelings seem surface-like toward both of them. There isn’t any REAL emotion. The romance, as the characterization, falls flat. Rem also declares he's Abby's soulmate even though he knows about Abby's love potion on Travis. Apparently,  he doesn't have a problem with the love of his life betraying him and using magic to get another guy until she finally figures out she belongs with Rem . . . What guy wouldn't have an issue with that??

The ending was predictable and anticlimactic. It was a shrug type of ending. I did skim through the entire second half of this book and through various parts of the first half because Abby’s narrating just kept going on and on at times, but from what I gathered from the ending I wasn't surprised by any of it.

I think for readers who have just started venturing into the YA Paranormal Romance world would be able to enjoy this book far more or if you're a middle schooler perhaps since this book is directed for 12 year old readers. But for seasoned readers of the genre, Spellbinding offers nothing new to the table. 

About the Author: Maya Gold grew up in New Jersey, a few towns north of Diana’s home in Weehawken. Now she lives in upstate New York with her fashion–forward teenage daughter and a very friendly dog. Maya writes books and magazine articles, and in her spare time, she coaches a high school drama club. Cinderella Cleaners is her first series for young readers.

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