Thursday, July 26, 2012

Book Review: Once by Anna Carey

Once by Anna Carey

Reading Level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins (July 3, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0062048546
ISBN-13: 978-0062048547
Series: Eve #2
Source: ARC provided by publisher
Cover: This is a cover that I'm not wild about on its own but I've discovered that when it is paired with Eve actually looks really good. I get why the cover is the way it is, I'm just not as in love as I was with Eve's cover.
First Sentence: "I started over the rocks, clutching a knife in one hand."

Mini-Review: Once combines splendid settings, high stakes and a story full of twists.

When you're being hunted, who can you trust? 
For the first time since she escaped from her school many months ago, Eve can sleep soundly. She's living in Califia, a haven for women, protected from the terrifying fate that awaits orphaned girls in The New America. 
But her safety came at a price: She was forced to abandon Caleb, the boy she loves, wounded and alone at the city gates. When Eve gets word that Caleb is in trouble, she sets out into the wild again to rescue him, only to be captured and brought to the City of Sand, the capital of The New America. 
Trapped inside the City walls, Eve uncovers a shocking secret about her past--and is forced to confront the harsh reality of her future. When she discovers Caleb is alive, Eve attempts to flee her prison so they can be together--but the consequences could be deadly. She must make a desperate choice to save the ones she loves . . . or risk losing Caleb forever. 
In this breathless sequel to "Eve," Anna Carey returns to her tale of romance, adventure, and sacrifice in a world that is both wonderfully strange and chillingly familiar.

Once proves that all the glitters is definitely not gold in the City of Sand. Combining splendid settings, high stakes and a story full of twists, it is an easy read that will keep its audience glued to the last page.

I like to think of Eve as a fairy tale gone wrong. It's an epic love story set against a decayed background that shows the worst of people. I'd mentioned in my review of Eve that the Americas truly felt like a character on their own and Once stays true to this form, only it is in reverse. We've got the fairy tale setting with lush gardens, glittering building and pretty dresses but it is a story of love being splintered apart and crammed back together all wrong. While Eve and Caleb feel in love amongst the rotting shambles of forgotten homes and crashed helicopters in Eve, Eve is trying to be forced into an unwanted marriage amongst gorgeous flowers and lavish feasts in Once. It reminded me a lot of one of Fitzgerald's stories since glitter among trash was one of his favorite themes.

While I enjoyed the setting immensely, I did have a minor problem with Eve. After being forced through so much in the first novel and growing leaps and bounds from the girl who was frightened of boys, I expected a stronger Eve. She was seasoned, she'd been touched by love and had it ripped away from her once. So I didn't understand why she was so passive when reasoning with the king. She kept reminding herself about her friends stuck in the birthing houses and kids like Caleb being forced to work for nothing but she never really pushed the king to do anything about it. Even when she was at her most desperate, she didn't even fight and I wanted to see that so much. Eve had so much spirit in the first novel but I feel like she was weakened in this one for no apparent reason. However, I was glad to see that she was still very clever and bold when it came to sneaking around.

I'd have loved to see more interaction between Eve and Caleb, especially since I really love them together. I did understand that the plot didn't allow it but I'd have welcomed a few more embraces. The time they did have together wasn't wasted and I believed in them as a couple which gave me enough to hold on to for now. However, in the novel Eve bargains for Caleb's life by agreeing to marry another but I wish I would have had more push from the king before she went and offered. I mean, I knew the king wanted her to marry the other guy but it was only mentioned in passing one time and I wish it had been mentioned a lot more before she makes the bargain. It sort of felt out of the blue the way it was put in the book now.

As far as secondary characters, the City of Sand offers an entire new cast of players. I enjoyed exploring the city with Eve's charmingly bratty cousin Clara and those tender moments with Eve's new maid Beatrice. Charles was a little predictable in his being there but I like that there is more to him than meets the eye and I'm interested to see where his loyalties are going to lie when the time truly comes. The king is a larger than life character and the author did a good job crafting him as a complexly emotional character but giving us glimpses of who he really is.

It's the plot that is the real star of this book. There is a turn about 80 pages in that I really didn't see coming but that I loved. The entire book is full of enough twists and turns that it's hard to see where it is all going until the very end. And speaking of endings, Ms. Carey, what the heck are you doing to us? Seriously, I am dying (and so is someone else possibly) to figure out what is going to happen to these characters and I am not at all certain of their futures at this point.

Due to Once's engrossing plot and vivid setting, I'm definitely recommending this sequel. I feel like it excels in places Eve might have fell a little short but it isn't without it's minor shortcomings. Overall, it is such an easy and pleasant read, I can't imagine many not enjoying it. And Once truly does glitter.


Check back later today for a giveaway of ONCE!


  1. I agree with you! I thought Eve was lacking in strength at some points of the story. Though, overall, the story was great!

  2. I'm glad you liked this one! I've had EVE sitting on my shelf for uhh...a long time. But I've been sorta eyeing it, not sure if I should read it or try to trade it for something else. I'm glad that this is a series worth reading! :)

  3. So glad you enjoyed the sequel!! Eve definitely left me wanting more and more. I can't wait for more from Anna Carey. Her writing is very intriguing!

  4. Eve does sound passive. Girls in birthing places?! That's just wrong.

  5. I'm glad the romance aspect left you wanting more. That is what makes a romance work in these types of books.

  6. I haven't read Once or Eve yet, but they are high up on my wishlist. I'm glad that you liked Once. Your review makes me want to read them even more!

  7. I've been meaning to read the series for quite a while, now, but... Well, I'm a procrastinator! Right now I'm working on the Everworld series (I'm on book 11 of 12). This'll be my next series read!

  8. I am getting desperate to read this. I loved Eve and expect so much from Once. Your review makes me believe it is as good as I have hoped. I have to read this soon!


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