Author: Sarah Beth Durst
Publisher: Walker Books for Young Readers (Bloomsbury)
Acquired Via: Around the World ARC Tours
Release Date (US): September 3, 2013
Eve has a new home, a new face, and a new name—but no memories of her past. She’s been told that she's in a witness protection program. That she escaped a dangerous magic-wielding serial killer who still hunts her. The only thing she knows for sure is that there is something horrifying in her memories the people hiding her want to access—and there is nothing they won’t say—or do—to her to get her to remember.
At night she dreams of a tattered carnival tent and buttons being sewn into her skin. But during the day, she shelves books at the local library, trying to not let anyone know that she can do things—things like change the color of her eyes or walk through walls. When she does use her strange powers, she blacks out and is drawn into terrifying visions, returning to find that days or weeks have passed—and she’s lost all short-term memories. Eve must find out who and what she really is before the killer finds her—but the truth may be more dangerous than anyone could have ever imagined.
Sometimes, a book can surprise you. I was surprised by Conjured by Sarah Beth Durst because I actually finished reading it. The book wasn't bad, but I went into it blind (I didn't read the synopsis), and Conjured really wasn't the right book for that. The main character, Eve, had no memories or any idea of what was going on. Therefore, I had no idea what was going on until maybe the last sixty pages. However, I liked Eve enough to make the journey with her.
For the most part, the characters in Conjured didn't work for me. Despite Eve having no memories and almost no sense of self, she was not willing to take things at face value or trust easily. It was a bit annoying that she fell in love quickly (and it got too deep too fast), but it was very two-sided. Zach worked with Eve at the library, and he just came across as the typical horny teenage boy. He was funny and talked too much, so he was slightly endearing. Her caregivers were Malcolm and "Aunt" Nicki, and they were fairly bland - neither loving or nefarious. Malcolm did seem sincere, if nothing else. Aiden, Topher, and Victoria were three other special teens that Eve was thrown in with, and they were boring, too. None of the characters were fully developed, and the development that did occur was sloppy at best.
The world-building in Conjured was a problem for me, too. I did not understand where Eve was from or why she was in WitSec (the witness protection agency) for the longest time. I did not get the whole carnival thing, and that didn't even begin to make sense until the end. The occasional portions of the book that were in italics made matters even more confusing because they seemed like memories or dreams, but it was hard to tell. There were multiple worlds in the book, but the traveling between them was rather vague, and none of those worlds were really described. For that matter, I don't understand WitSec or which worlds run it. How do they all work together? While trying to figure out Eve, it would have been a lot easier to read Conjured if I wasn't trying to figure out everything else as well. We are given a huge info-dump at the end of the book, and the story wrapping up that way was disappointing.
While I appreciate what Durst was trying to with Conjured - only giving us as much as the unreliable narrator knows - it was frustrating. There was so much potential in the world-building and characters in the novel that I think the book would have been more effective and enjoyable as a series. Since I don't get to choose such things, I can only judge it by what it is, and it didn't work for me.
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To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received an advance copy of the book briefly for reviewing purposes through Around the World ARC Tours in exchange for an honest review. The book was likely provided to the tour by the publisher or author, which has in no way affected the outcome of my review. All opinions expressed are rambling, honest, and completely my own.