Bloodlines by Richelle Mead. Tip learned: conflict keeps you turning pages! Just finished this one last night, and damn, Mead has still got it! This book begins steeped in conflict with the main character put in a bad position from the get-go. A VERY dislikable and horrible person is put in charge as her superior. It’s immediately tense reading, even to the point of making it uncomfortable at times. But then, the best writers make failure seem like the only logical solution. Then, if there is triumph or success, it feels that much more emotionally powerful and satisfying. I remember first reading Terry Goodkind’s Wizard’s First Rule and how every chapter ends with some dire development in which the characters are headed forward while being certain they will most assuredly die.
Andrea Cremer’s Wolfsbane. Tip learned: NO SAFETY, ANYWHERE. The entire book is this wild adrenaline rush from one intense, life-threatening situation to the next. Even the places you think should be safe and secure may not be. This is a biggie for me. In real life, I like to have places that are safe strongholds, as do most of us. It’s healthy. But it’s a problem when it bleeds over into my fiction. No great story was ever safe!
Possess by Gretchen McNeil. Tip learned: dump the reader right into the conflict, and then make them laugh. Chapter 1, and we’re already seeing our plucky exorcist at work! This is a theme common to all three of these books I mention here (first chapter, straight to the action and conflict), but McNeil’s Possess always keeps an engaging humor at the forefront along with the action. Sometimes super-conflicty books can feel like TOO MUCH, like, hell, we need some banter to break this up and let the reader breathe! This book has great tension, but it’s also just plain fun.