Masquerade  - Cambria Hebert

I received a copy of Masquerade from the author in exchange for an honest review. In all honesty I found the opening to be a little rocky, but that soon smoothed out. Though, my overall opinion is that a LOT happens in this book, to the point it seemed pretty busy, and by the end I didn’t really have a clear understanding of what the main plot was supposed to be.

Now I know a lot of peeps like to mention all the good stuff first, but I prefer to be a bit backward, simply because I like to end on the good notes. So I’m going to dive right in and get all of the ‘bugs’ out of the way first, because I felt the book had quite a few issues. Here goes:

I’m sure it’s intentional, but I’m going to mention Cole. Man, I had nooooo idea what was going on with that guy. At first I thought he just had a ‘thing’ for Heven, but then he’d change, and I went on to suspect him of being one of Sam’s housemates although Sam hadn’t said, and then I kept waiting on him to do something creepy or dodgy, but that didn’t happen. So, by the end of the book—though, don’t get me wrong, I liked Cole’s character, a lot—I still hadn’t got a decent handle on what’s with this guy.

Next thing that I think should be gotten out of the way is the editing issues. Yes, this is self-published and I commend anyone who self-publishes a decent read, but the issues were pretty in your face and bothered me quite a bit. Aside from the misuse of serious lack of commas (it was either one end of the scale or the other), and the dodgy typo (comma for coma), and the few times your and you’re were confused, I lost count of the amount of times the author got to and too mixed up. Too was used incorrectly a big percent of times throughout the book, and it got a little distracting at times.

Speech tags. In all fairness, I noticed this improve the farther into the book I read, but for around the first 40%, I don’t believe Sam once ‘said’ anything. Pretty much every one of his speech tags were ‘rasped’. Dude, this word, or variants of it, was repeated so much I ended up sniggering every time it showed up. And not to mention the amount of times Heven ‘gasped’ her words. I don’t have an issue with using reflective speech tags but when it becomes this distracting, it’s a bit of a problem.

Waffle. There’s quite a bit of it in narration. Both Sam’s and Heven’s. And some of it seemed a little contradictory or seriously repetitive. Some of this could have been mega tightened, which would have upped the pace, moved the story along faster … you get the picture.

Tense switches. Man, there were a lot of them. To begin, I only really noticed them in Sam’s scenes, but then they seemed to be everywhere, and they only seemed to get worse as the story went on. I think the book is meant to be past tense. However, there is an awful lot of narration that suggests otherwise.

And then I got to around 60% in and realised Sam’s endearments of ‘honey’ and ‘sweetheart’ were getting to me. He said them both. A lot. He’s a teenager, right? do teenagers really refer to their girlfriends like this? Plus, his stalkerish ways started to get a little creepy instead of being … well, hot, I thought to begin. Plus, at the school ball (I think it was), Heven kept making a point out of how bad a dancer she is. Um, didn’t she used to be on the cheerleading squad? Weren’t there rumours about her being asked to captain the cheerleading squad? I’m not American so I might be missing the mark, but aren’t you expected to be better than the worse dancer in school to even be considered for the squad? It just didn’t gel for me.

In all honesty, I was kinda rolling with the story and intrigued to see where it was going. And then we reached the point where something drastic happened to Heven, and she ended up somewhere else, and Sam ended up going along with her (cryptic, much?), and a whole new light was thrown on the story (no pun intended), and it was about this point that I realised I had absolutely no idea what the main point of the story was meant to me.

So onto the good stuff. Because there has to be some, right? After all, I read till the end. I rated it three stars. So you know there was something halfway decent between the virtual pages.

So let’s look at Heven. I liked her. She was a decent MC, a relatable MC, with a likeable personality. Despite the waffle, I kinda gelled with her ‘voice’ and enjoyed getting to know her. I also found her pretty believable, her actions and behaviour, too.

And Sam. Well, despite the fact he turned rather stalkerish, and his honeys and sweethearts irked me no end, I liked him from early on and those issues didn’t irk me enough to turn me away completely. I think this might be because the mystery of him early on in the book is awesome. I mused like CRAZY over ‘what’ he could be. And whilst I did skim over the right answer a few times, I still had a tonne of other ideas rolling around alongside that inside my head. I’d like to have seen more of his animalistic side when in his altered form, more reference to his senses and what delights (or horrors) those brought him, but for the most part, I liked being driven crazy by the not knowing and the then getting to know.

The side characters. We have the requisite best friend. I wasn’t that surprised by her jealousy showing its face, and I do smell trouble from that in the future. We have the aforementioned best friend’s boyfriend: Cole. I liked him a lot. But I’m not altogether sure he won’t bring trouble in the future, too. There was Heven’s gran and her mother. I loved her gran. She’s just awesome and absolutely everything Heven needed her to be without it seeming contrived. But her mother, on the other hand, left me feeling a little bit tricked. Because we see no presentiment for the way she later behaves, no foreshadowing, no hint that she might be as ‘obsessed’ as she evidently is. So when she does behave the way she does, it seems off the wall and totally out there. And not to mention China. She’s pretty much what you should expect from a power hungry bird. I did feel she could  have been pumped up a bit more though as I found her slightly understated. Either that, or I just wasn’t made to feel afraid of her quite enough.

And then there was (some of) the plot. Like I already said, I really enjoyed the unfolding plot concerning Sam, as well as the unfolding of how he and Heven ended up together. I just wish the plot had been more focused and a little less messy, then this would have been a much more solid read.

So would I recommend it? Well, I have the 2nd in the series for review, also, and I’m told it is a lot better than the first, so I’d recommend it to lay the path to what could ultimately grow into a decent series. :)