Review: Conjured by Sarah Beth Durst

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You see that book cover over there? That’s how my heart feels right now post-read. But to be honest, I was bored to death by the first half (okay, maybe three-quarters) of Conjured. I’m glad I kept reading, because the last half of the book made me laugh, cry, and fall in love with the characters and the world that Durst created. That sucks, because I can only tell you about the first half of the story – I don’t want to spoil the best parts!
 

Title: Conjured
Author: Sarah Beth Durst
Publication Date: September 3, 2013
Category: (Young Adult) Paranormal / Fantasy

 

Introduction

Eve is in a witness protection program with a new face, a new home, a new summer job, a new caretaker (codename “Aunt Nicki”) and a new name. She can change the color of her eyes and make paper birds fly, but when she uses her magic, she blacks out and has visions of carnivals, magicians, and storytellers. Each time Eve recovers from her black outs, she finds that she’s lost her memory of the past few days, weeks, and even months. The protection agency believes that Eve’s visions are clues that will lead them to a serial killer on the loose, but they refuse to tell Eve about her past. While Eve tries to reclaim her identity and her past, she meets other teens like her – people who have magic, but don’t black out after using it – and befriends Zach, a boy who she works with and who claims to never lie. Eve’s world slowly falls apart as the killer finds more victims, and as the agency gets more desperate in their attempts to trigger her memories.

Discussion

Here’s why the first half of Conjured is boring: Eve doesn’t know what’s going on, since nobody tells her anything. And since the entire book is told from Eve’s perspective, I also had no clue what was going on. I was confused when Eve was confused, and every time Eve loses her memories, I struggle along with her as she tries to act normal and secretly implodes from all the “waves of panic” she feels. Her visions don’t make sense to her (or me), she’s stuck counting ceiling cracks all night, and she literally floats when she kisses Zach.

Oh yeah, and that romance came out of nowhere. But it’s okay, because Zach is one of those sweet, honest guys with a troubled past who fell head over heels for Eve the moment he saw her. His sole redeeming quality as a supporting character is that he talks… A LOT. About random things. (I like randomness.)

“Little-known facts about apples: apples are members of the rose family, it takes energy from fifty leaves to produce one fruit, and humans have been eating apples since at least sixty-five hundred BC. Bet you’re asking yourself how a handsome guy like me who can’t seem to stop talking ended up working in a library where the talking thing is not so condoned.”

She continued to stare at him, blinking once.

“Or perhaps you’re wondering about hairless cats. They’re less cuddly than you’d think. Also prone to sunburn. And oddly prone to more earwax, due to less ear hair. But I’m boring you. Cardinal sin when talking with a beautiful girl. Not to be confused with the original sin … And I promised no obvious jokes. Sorry. Don’t hate me.”

Other than these witty monologues dialogues, I was losing my interest in Conjured fast, mostly because I didn’t understand where the plot was going and why Durst left Eve twiddling her thumbs for the first two hundred and fifty pages of the book. But then, finally, Eve took things in her own hands (with some scheming from people at the agency) and went on an adventure and IT ALL MADE SENSE. Eve’s life made sense!!! And all the characters suddenly got a gigantic dose of emotions and feels and I actually started caring about them, and everything ended with a happily ever after.

Conclusion

I understand why Durst had to keep things hush-hush for the first half of the book, but it made me wonder how many readers would be put off by the confusion and lack of apparent plot-building in the beginning of Conjured. Durst did weave a unique, enchanting tale, and I was pleasantly surprised by the end – but I wish that I was that excited for the entire book. (Can I just recommend the second half of Conjured? Is that allowed?) If you’re a patient reader who likes paranormal-meets-murder-mystery types of books, I would recommend Conjured. If you’re not that patient, maybe just skip to the end and start with the epilogue.

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