The Originals by Cat Patrick

Cat Patrick’s books are nothing but original.  The best way I would describe her books are teen romance with a science fiction twist.  Forgotten is about a girl whose short-term memory is erased each night and she can only “remember” events from her future.  She falls in love and has to write notes at night to remind her about her boyfriend in the morning.  Revived is about a girl who was one of the first subjects in a covert programme that tests a drug called Revive. She has died and been Revived five times, but in order to live a normal life and have relationships, she has to escape from the programme.  Cat’s latest book, The Originals, is equally as original and gripping.

OriginalsTo the outside world, Elizabeth Best is a model student. She’s a cheerleader, gets straight As and holds down an after-school job. But what the outside world doesn’t know is that Elizabeth Best is actually three girls. Lizzie, Betsey and Ella are no ordinary triplets. Born as part of an illegal cloning program, the girls were forced into hiding when the program was uncovered. To avoid being taken away, the girls have lived as one girl ever since. Living a third of a life can suck. Imagine having to consult your sisters before choosing your clothes, or hairstyle, or boyfriend. So when Lizzie is forbidden from seeing Sean, the amazing guy from her English class, she and her sisters decide they’ve had enough. But for a chance at a full life, they’ll have to risk everything they know.

The Originals is a genre-bending novel that draws you into the lives of three very different girls who share one life.  Romance, science fiction, mystery, suspense, secrets and lies are all mashed-up in this very cool story.  One of the things I like the most about Cat Patrick’s books is that she keeps surprising me.  Just when you think she couldn’t possibly top her previous book, she does.  I love the way that Cat weaves science fiction into her stories and it’s this element that really draws me to her stories.

Cat’s characters are always memorable and this is certainly the case with the Best girls.  The story is narrated by Lizzie so you get to know her the most and get inside her head, but Cat really fleshes out the characters of Betsey and Ella too.  Through Lizzie you get a sense of how frustrating, confusing, and unfair it is to live a third of your life.  You are stuck taking the same subjects (even if you’re no good at them), if you’ve got the first or second part of the day you can never go out at night, and if two of you like two different guys you all have to decide which one you’ll date.

I’m not a huge teen romance reader but one thing I really like about Cat’s books is that the love interest isn’t some super hot guy that drips testosterone.  Sean in The Originals, much like Luke in Forgotten and Matt in Revived, is an average guy who is intelligent, talented and caring.   As a teenage guy reading this book I would have found Sean alot easier to live up to than many other males in teen fiction.

If you haven’t discovered Cat Patrick you don’t know what you’re missing.  Read The Originals and you’ll be hooked.

Revived by Cat Patrick

One of the things that excites me the most as a reader is finding new authors, especially ones that blow you away with their originality.  Cat Patrick is an exciting new author I discovered last year when I read her debut YA book, Forgotten (read my review here).  Forgotten is one of those books that sticks in your mind long after you’ve read it because it’s totally original and stands out.  Cat’s latest book, Revived, is just as amazing as Forgotten and hooked me in from the blurb.

Daisy has died five times.

She’s a test subject for a government super-drug called Revive, which brings people back from the dead.

Each time she is revived, Daisy has to move cities and change her identity to avoid suspicion.  Daisy has always got a thrill out of cheating death, but her latest move has come with unexpected complications: a new best friend, and a very cute crush.

As Daisy’s attachment to her new home grows, she discovers secrets that could tear her world apart.  And the more she learns, the more she feels like a pawn in a sinister game.

When the stakes are life and death, someone’s going to get hurt.

I had high hopes for Revived after loving Forgotten and it totally lived up to them, and more.  It’s difficult to try and put Cat’s books into a category or genre because they’re mostly a real-life story, but with a touch of science fiction thrown in.  Daisy first died in a bus crash when she was four, after which she got taken into the Revived program and now lives with two agents who pretend to be her parents.  Her and the other ‘bus kids’ have to undergo regular testing to make sure they are healthy and to ensure the drug is doing its job.

I thought that the background and structure of the organisation behind Revive that Cat created was really clever.  At the top there’s God who makes all the decisions and is in charge, then there are the agents who work for God called Disciples, and at the bottom are the Converts, those ‘bus kids’ who are part of the program and are given Revive to bring them back to life.  God thinks that he can do whatever he want and that nobody will stop him, which raises some interesting ethical questions in the story.

Another thing that I really liked in Revived, and also in Forgotten, is that Cat creates relatable male characters that aren’t douche-bags.  You won’t find any love triangles with moody, mysterious guys in Cat’s books.  The love interest in Revived is Matt, a normal, average guy who is friendly and loyal.  The relationship between Daisy and Matt progresses naturally throughout the story and they have their share of ups and downs.  There isn’t smoldering passion because there isn’t the need for it in the story and it would seem wrong between Cat’s characters.  Any teenagers who want to know what love feels like should read Cat’s books.

There’s something in Revived for everyone – mystery, suspense, romance and a touch of science fiction.  Get your hands on Revived and discover the amazing writing of Cat Patrick.

5 out of 5 stars

Claudia Gray’s NZ Blog Tour – Interview with Claudia

Claudia Gray is coming to Auckland on 31 March and in the lead up to her visit, she’s doing a New Zealand blog tour.  I was curious about romance in Young Adult fiction and in her books in particular so I caught up with Claudia and asked her some questions.

Romance is a major part of each of your books.  How do you create realistic relationships between your characters?

I think the trick to writing a three-dimensional romance between two characters is to make sure each character is three-dimensional in his or her own right. Often you read a book or see a movie where the hero is portrayed in a lot of detail — but the girl is just “the girl,” and she’s always wearing makeup and looking perfect and possessing zero personality of her own. You also see books and movies where the woman is the center of the piece and the guy is just this toneless, unthreatening slice of beefcake. You never really buy those romances, do you? But when you feel like both people in the romance are real — that they have motivations of their own, flaws of their own, humor and personality that set them apart — then it is also going to feel real when those two people “click.” My rule of thumb is that I would have to want to read a book about either member of the couple that was just about that one person, with no romance. They need to be well-developed enough for that.

Guys often get put off my romance in books.  Why should guys read your books?

First of all, I think it’s just not true that guys hate romance. Guys are told they SHOULD hate romance — and I think sometimes they pretend to more than they really do, because of this weird societal expectation that they’re not supposed to care. (For much the same reason, many girls play down their enjoyment of sports, etc. It’s all very silly.) But guys fall as deeply in love as girls do.

Also, if you are a teenage guy who is into teenage girls, a helpful hint: Spend some time exploring what teenage girls are interested in. This gives you shared interests and something to talk about. You will meet more girls, and these girls will know you’re a little different — more independent, more open, and usually way more attractive to them than the average guy. There are always a handful of guys at my signings — and they are invariably accompanied by about three to six girls each. These are good odds, people. These are the kind of odds you want.

Finally, while there’s a lot of romance in my books, they aren’t purely romance novels. Just as even thrillers and crime novels often have romances folded in, my books have a lot of adventure and action amid all the kissing.

As a teenager would you rather have fallen in love with a vampire or a werewolf?

As a teenager? Probably a werewolf, because you’d only have to deal with the scary hairy stuff one night a month. (At least, in traditional folklore.) It would have made a conflict with the prom far less likely.

When you were a teenager was there a character like Lucas that you fell in love with?

When I was a teenager, sadly, I was Lucas-free. I went to a very small school — 200 people, kindergarten through 12th grade. All of us had known each other since we were babies, which made dating a challenge; the guys all felt more like my brothers than like people I’d want to go out with. No hot, brooding loners with mysterious pasts ever transferred schools into my class, and more’s the pity.

Why do you think paranormal romance appeals so much to teens?

I think paranormal romance appeals to teens because the paranormal allows us to acknowledge the element of fear. Honestly, right now, I believe we are in this cultural place where no one gets to admit vulnerability. Nobody gets to say that they’re afraid, or they’re intimidated, without people treating it as some kind of problem to be overcome. We can’t admit that some experiences are just flat-out terrifying and being afraid of them is a completely natural reaction — and I think falling in love is definitely in this category. Falling in love is SCARY. Having sex for the first time = scary. Being that vulnerable and that open to someone = terror!  We all know it’s true, even if right now we have to pretend to be jaded, sophisticated, and so totally over it all.

So, enter the vampires. And the werewolves. And all the other scary things that have become romantic in the recent past. We’ve hung monster masks on our own fears, so that we can admit them.

Make sure you stop by these other great NZ blogs to find out more about Claudia Gray and her books:

My favourite YA love stories

Paranormal romance is one of my least favourite genres, because often the romance totally overwhelms the story.  Some of my favourite YA books from the past few years have centered around teenage relationships, whether it’s a girl who has to remind herself every morning about the guy she loves, a red notebook that bring a guy and a girl closer together, or a terminal illness that gives two teens a shared experience.  I’ve listed my favourite YA love stories below (with links to my reviews).  The characters in these books feel like real people, with real problems, who have realistic relationships.

What are your favourite YA love stories?