Review: Conjured by Sarah Beth Durst
by: Sarah Beth Durst
Publication Date: Sept. 3, 2013
Publisher: Walker Childrens
Age Group: Young Adult
Source: e-ARC received from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Page Count: 368 pages
Order Links: Amazon | B&N
My Rating: 2/5 stars
I was first drawn to this book due to the simple, yet striking cover. I thought the heart with pin needles stuck through it was quite intriguing and the title Conjured got me very excited to read about magic! However, the blurb makes it sound a lot more exciting and gripping than it actually was. 150 pages in and I was still left waiting for something spectacular to occur. I found I couldn't connect with any of the characters and I found them to be quite dull and lackluster. The plot, while original and beautifully descriptive, just did not captivate me enough. It took a lot of pushing on my part to keep reading. The story did pick up, but it was very late in the novel before I was actually interested enough to care what would happen to the characters and how this twisted tale would play out. Because it was seriously twisted.
Eve, our main character, is suffering from memory loss. She has no recollection of who she is, where she came from. She just knows she is under the direction of a guy named Malcolm and a woman she calls Aunt Nicki, and she has been placed in the witness protection program. Her safety is their number one priority, but they are also trying to acclimate her by encouraging her to have some sort of semblance of a life. Eve was a difficult character to relate to, because she couldn't even relate to herself. She is literally a blank slate- She has no memories, only visions of scenes she doesn't understand. She ends up taking a job at a library, another safe haven, which will hopefully help her adjust to her new identity. It is here she meets Zach, the quirky but sweet boy who ends up being a source of strength for Eve.
"Allergies? I'm allergic to cats. Not cats themselves, per se. Hairless cats are fine. It's the cat dandruff, caught in the fur. Need serious anti-cat-dandruff shampoo." His hair had slid over his eyes as he talked; he shook it back and smiled at her. "Glad you didn't freak out when I said I want to kiss you. I'll wait for an invitation, of course, but I believe in being up front about these kinds of things. Prevents misunderstandings later. I don't want you thinking that we can ever just be friends. Unless it's friends with benefits." (e-ARC 28)
I supposed I liked Zach's character. He was quirky and strange with his babbling, which Eve ended up liking. However, after kissing Eve for the first time and realize that they're flying due to her magic, he doesn't freak out or act like she's some kind of freak herself. The way Zach handles her having magic just wasn't very believable. After he learns how Eve's magic works, it almost seems like he wants to kiss her to make magic, not because he truly has feelings for her. However, as the book wears on and we see the choices Zach makes, I felt that if he didn't have feelings for her, he would not have made those decisions or put himself on the line for her safety.
However, getting a new job isn't the only thing in the cards for Eve. Malcolm brings her to the office so she can interact with some other kids her age, who have magic. Aidan, Topher, and Victoria seem nice enough- until they begin testing her to see what she can do with her magic. It is after their encounter we discover that Eve's visions and memory loss are tied to her using her magic. This is where I really began to feel for Eve. She is starting to make new memories and associations and then she has time ripped away from her, where she doesn't remember her own actions or what she was doing. I did not care for Aidan, Topher, or Victoria. They were not developed enough and what we did see of them wasn't anything to write home about. They were vindictive and only had their own agenda to consider. Victoria and Topher do not play as a great a role as Aidan does, however. After a blackout, Aidan shows Eve affection and I groaned at the thought of there being a love triangle. Aidan is the gorgeous, bad boy who oozes confidence and sexuality, where Zach is the nerdy kid who works in the library. Luckily, Eve's relationship with both boys did not take the love triangle route. Aidan's affection for Eve is only there to serve a higher purpose.
Malcolm is my favorite of the two agents. He really cares about Eve and wants what is best for her. He does not want his superiors pushing her to remember and access her past memories. He wants her to be able to remember them on her own in hopes it won't be too overwhelming for her. However, the agency is on a timetable. Eve's memories are the key to stopping a serial killer from killing more innocent kids. The more Eve uses her magic and blacks out, the more likely she is to remember her visions. Aunt Nicki was a complete bitch. She was rude to Eve and clearly did not want to be the one to baby-sit her and take care of her.
As I said earlier, it wasn't until the last part of the book where things actually picked up and I was interested. Seeing Eve put together the pieces of her visions/memories, finding out who the serial killer was, and discovering the true nature of Eve as a whole (Which, I'll be honest- I never saw coming.) managed to perk me up enough to push through to the end. I kept hoping Eve would end up developing her own personality, but that wasn't something I really saw occur. After discovering her true nature, she just gave up. It is Zach, who is the one to encourage her to fight and remind her of all the things he liked about her.
Unfortunately, this wasn't the book for me. Lackluster characters, lack of character development, and a slow moving plot were all negatives for me, though I did think Durst has a beautiful writing style and her descriptions were very well done, especially of Eve's scrambled visions. While I would not personally recommend this one, it is certainly one you would have to gauge for yourself.