While not all of these books have been explicitly labeled as New Adult, I feel comfortable throwing all four into this category as the age group of the characters perfectly fits this mold. Secret Society Girl and This Love are perhaps more traditionally New Adult, but Moth & Spark features young protagonists on the cusp of adulthood and Joyce's classic focuses largely on self-discovery prior to adulthood, covering a time span from Young Adult to New Adult.
Title: Secret Society Girl (Secret Society Girl, #1)
Author: Diana Peterfreund
Rating: 2 Stars
It seems Diana Peterfreund and I are truly meant to go our separate ways. For Darkness Shows the Stars underwhelmed me when it released, but I attributed my distaste of it to my love for Jane Austen's Persuasion, the novel Peterfreund attempted to pay homage to through her re-imagined futuristic setting. It - evidently - didn't work for me but, surely, Secret Society Girl should have. Of all my trusted reviewers, not one has found true fault with this novel. Thus, I must warn readers to take this review with a grain of salt. I am not of the majority opinion. Not at all.
While the premises of Secret Society Girl is intriguing enough - a young girl welcomed into an elite, previously boys-only, secret society - its execution falls flat. I found myself alternately bored while reading this, unable to connect with the main character or any of her friends. Although certain sections held my interest, for the most part, I found myself unimpressed - and unmoved by - the "witty" dialogue, "complex" relationships, and "secret" society happenings. But, as I've mentioned before, the fault clearly lies with me. I picked up Secret Society Girl hoping to discover a new series to label as a favorite but, it seems, we are just not meant to be.
Title: This Love (University of Branton, #1)
Author: Nazarea Andrews
Rating: 3 Stars
Title: Moth & Spark
Author: Anne Leonard
Rating: 3 Stars
Moth and Spark is fantasy-lite. While it contains a plethora of intriguing ideas, the world-building, dragons, and magical elements aren't as deeply explored as the romance is. Quite simply put, though this could have easily been molded into an intense, political fantasy novel, it remains focused on the love story at hand. For an adult novel to push aside the intriguing political machinations of its universe, keeping its best qualities - dragons and magic - at bay, only compels it to dim in light of other fantasy novels. Leonard's writing and characterization are rich, but not rich enough to warrant remembrance. Not a bad debut, just a little different from what I expected...
Title: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Author: James Joyce
Rating: 2 Stars
It took my class a lot longer to finish this book than it took us to finish Crime and Punishment. Joyce is - by no means - a bad writer. If anything, his attention to detail, the clever symbols he incorporates into his work, and the motifs that recur again and again to create a larger meaning are all deftly woven together. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is a wonderful piece of work in the sense that its subject matter is intriguing - a moral, internal struggle reconciling religion, lust, and identity - and, moreover, it remains a testament to more than just artistry, but history as well, drawing heavily upon its time period. Yet, that being said, Joyce's "stream of consciousness" prose did not sit well with me. I was unable to appreciate Stephen's character, feeling constantly distanced from the narrative throughout, and this novel's tediousness is its downfall. For modern readers, at any rate. Within my class itself, I struggle to name a single individual - with the exception of my enthusiastic teacher - who truly enjoyed this. Now, having finished the book, I am able to appreciate its significance but the experience of getting through this was far from entertaining. It's the way of classics, I suppose - you love some, you loathe others.