Book review · novel

Books review: the Holo duology

Since this is a duology and I hadn’t posted a review of this first book at the time I read it, I have decided to review the two books in one post! This is going to be a little longer than usual, but if you haven’t read the first one, do not read the second or you will be spoiled!
I find this might be a better solution than to post the two in separates post which could lead to people spoiling themselves. It will also give me the possibility to write about how I feel about those two books together as a series, since my feeling regarding book 1 are very different from the sequel.

Consider (Holo #1), by Kristy Acevedo

final-cover-redDescription: (from Kristy Acevedo’s website)

As if Alexandra Lucas’ anxiety disorder isn’t enough, mysterious holograms suddenly appear from the sky, heralding the end of the world. They bring an ultimatum: heed the warning and step through a portal-like vertex to safety, or stay and be destroyed by a comet they say is on a collision course with earth. How’s that for senior year stress?

The holograms, claiming to be humans from the future, bring the promise of safety. But without the ability to verify their story, Alex is forced to consider what is best for her friends, her family, and herself.

To stay or to go. A decision must be made.

With the deadline of the holograms’ prophecy fast approaching, Alex feels as though she is living on a ticking time bomb, until she discovers it is much, much worse.

Alexandra Lucas suffers from generalized anxiety and panic attack disorder. The fact that holograms suddenly appear on Earth and tell everyone they have to step on the portals they opened to be saved from a comet that will allegedly destroy the planet actually makes it worse but she does a lot to try and get better. There is also her father struggling with PTSD and a good part of the story revolves around how much Alex loves her family despite everything they went through and are going through. The story is a lot about how strength can be found in different forms and already is where we wouldn’t have thought, how decisions are difficult and can have a broader impact than we thought.

I really liked that when the story begins, Alex is already in a romantic relationship. A young adult novel, not revolving around a romance while supernatural things were happening, was quite refreshing to me.
Her relationship with her boyfriend and best friend was amazing, they both help her in different way, they know more or less about her condition and have different ways to be supportive.

I sometimes had issues with the choices Alex would make, but she always owned her mistakes and recognised what she did wrong. Being a teenager means making mistakes and figuring things out about oneself, so it was totally okay and a good portrayal overall.

All the geeky references were also a big part as to why I loved this book. Being a massive Doctor Who and Harry Potter fan, and learning the author also was and implemented that in her book was one of the reason I felt compelled to read this, and it didn’t disappoint me.

The touch of science fiction in this first book is quite light, a good balance between the slice of life and day to day activities of the characters and the things suddenly appearing to shake their reality.

The ending was an amazing cliff-hanger, the book left me wondering until the very end. The whole time I was reading I was so excited to know what was the truth, if the holograms were lying or not, what was behind those portals. It was very thrilling.


Here’s now my review of the (disappointing) second book in this series, beware the spoilers!
Conclusion can be found at the end of the post.

Contribute (Holo #2), by Kristy Acevedo

29502065Description: (from goodreads)

The holograms lied to everyone on Earth and only Alexandra Lucas knows the truth. Now she’s trapped in the year 2359 without family or friends—worse, without her anxiety medication. Alex attempts to reconcile the marvelous scenery, technological advances, and luxurious living with the knowledge that the holograms weren’t being completely honest—what else are they lying about? With a secret that could shatter her society, Alex tries to find her place among strangers, convicts, and a rebellion striving to bring the holograms down. Alex struggles to find the best way to reveal the truth and reunite with those she loves. But when surrounded by beauty and every convenience, Alex wonders if truth becomes irrelevant in a perfect world.

Expected publication: July 11th 2017.
A review copy (eARC) of this book was provided by the publisher through Netgalley. Some things might change in the final copy.

I was really looking forward for this sequel. From my above review, you can see I loved the first book and I had high expectations for this one.

From what happened at the end of Consider, it was no surprise that this sequel was going to have a much stronger Sci-Fi feel to it. I was glad because since reading the author was also a fan of Doctor Who and Star Trek, I was looking forward to her vision of the advanced society our main character was stepping in.

The technology was pretty awesome, the worldbuilding was fine and the plot kept the same recipe about a choice having to be made while not knowing every variable in play. It managed to keep me entertained and wondering, like the first book, about what was real or not, and eager to know how it would finally end.

I liked that there were a lot more side characters, they were very interesting and a great addition, since the cast of the first book was quite small (which is not a bad thing).

All the Star Wars and Star Trek references, as well as the fact that Alex brought her copy of Harry Potter with her, delighted me.

Alex’s anxiety has a big part for the whole first part but at some point it didn’t seem to matter that much anymore and I had issues with this. It felt like this side of her actually ended up bothering the author and kept her from moving the plot so she had to tweak things? In the end it negate the fact that she’s trying to show you can be heroic even with anxiety… Maybe I’m over-reading things but that’s how I felt.

Another problem for me was that Alex never confront her privilege. At some point it is hinted at, and I really thought the book was going to address this issue a bit more but it didn’t. I know the fact that she has anxiety can *excuse* a little bit how self-centred she is but at times I really wished she would think deeper. She’s 18, not 14 or 15 (and I feel like I’m insulting 14/15 yo people who are aware of these issues there…). I don’t understand why everything was “them” and “me/us”, why she didn’t tried more to understand why people didn’t want to return to Earth, that Earth can be a nightmare for some people. I really think there could have been a little more of a social commentary with this story.

In the end, I felt like the author wanted to rewrite Katniss with anxiety (which, if you read the Hunger Games, you can see that Katniss also has some mental health issues so it’s redundant…)
I kept having flashbacks of things being said or happening in the Hunger Games but being rewritten here for a main character with anxiety. I like the idea that you can be a hero even with anxiety, but it wasn’t very well handled in this sequel, in my opinion.

What disappointed me the most was the way some characters were handled.

Here are five paragraphs with BIG SPOILERS on what really pissed me off:

I loved the relationship between Alex and her best friend during Consider, but in Contribute it was totally different. Obviously for a big part of the novel Alex is separated from her friends, but when she finds them again she gets mad at them, then only mad at her BFF, and then GUESS WHAT said BFF dies at the end. While the boyfriend doesn’t. I saw this tweet the day after I finished reading Contribute and it was totally how I felt when reading this passage. I couldn’t believe this was happening:

Don’t do that. Don’t kill the people that matter to the main character and only leave the boyfriend, even if he’s nice and cute and geeky. I guess that’s because the BFF isn’t as geeky as them and if it had been the BF who had died Alex couldn’t have said fun geeky references anymore? I’m still angry.

Another thing, more of a detail. There is one point where Dominick kisses Alex to stop her from talking. DON’T. I just hate this so much, it doesn’t matter if it comes from a good intention because Alex was freaking out because of her anxiety, don’t kiss people to shut them up. I know romance novel and tvshows and movies have tried to make us believe it is sexy but He could have held her hand, done anything else to catch her attention, but he had to do that. I don’t care that they were separated for a month or so, you don’t force-kiss people.

There is also a very graphic suicide scene. While I don’t need trigger warnings personally, I found this scene very hard to read, especially since it is so sudden. While looking through other reviews, I found that a reviewer emailed the publisher about it and recommended to add a TW on the book to which they answered that “it would be a disservice to readers because scenes can be interpreted in many different ways.”… I obviously don’t agree. (I’d recommend reading this review since it spotted some stuff I hadn’t)

And the thing that bugged me the most. Her brother also dies. Her brother who is happily married to another man. Those two are the only openly gay characters and one of them ends up dead??? wtf. I wasn’t expecting that from those books, from this author. I was really angry. How many time the last year have people written about the “bury your gays” trope? Too many, and I was sad to see this happen here. Especially since this book is listed on the “2017 YA Books with (Possible) LGBT Themes” on goodreads, so I hope people won’t read this book hoping for LGBT+ themes and characters to root for, they’ll be very disappointed…

End of Spoilers

As a whole, I’m not very happy about this duology. This is mostly the sequel’s fault because I enjoyed the first book a lot. It meant the world to me since I related deeply to Alex.
But I loved Consider and would definitely re-read it with pleasure, the nominations and awards received are well deserved.
While Consider ends on a big big cliff-hanger, I don’t see myself recommending Contribute unfortunately.


2 thoughts on “Books review: the Holo duology

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