Tuesday, October 29, 2013

ARC Review: Olivia Twisted by Vivi Barnes

Goodreads summary:


He tilts my chin up so my eyes meet his, his thumb brushing lightly across my lips. I close my eyes. I know Z is trouble. I know that being with him is going to get me into trouble. I don’t care.

At least at this moment, I don’t care.

Tossed from foster home to foster home, Olivia’s seen a lot in her sixteen years. She’s hardened, sure, though mostly just wants to fly under the radar until graduation. But her natural ability with computers catches the eye of Z, a mysterious guy at her new school. Soon, Z has brought Liv into his team of hacker elite—break into a few bank accounts, and voila, he drives a motorcycle. Follow his lead, and Olivia might even be able to escape from her oppressive foster parents. As Olivia and Z grow closer, though, so does the watchful eye of Bill Sykes, Z’s boss. And he’s got bigger plans for Liv…


I can picture Liv’s face: wide-eyed, trusting. Her smooth lips that taste like strawberry Fanta.

It was just a kiss. That’s all. She’s just like any other girl.

Except that she’s not.

Thanks to Z, Olivia’s about to get twisted.

My review:

Although I've never read Dickens' Oliver Twist, I've read and seen enough movie adaptations of his other books to expect a rather twisted and depressing story.  And in this, Olivia Twisted does not fail; it's very realistic and at times quite sad.

The story starts out strong with its admirably tough protagonist, Olivia.  I definitely felt empathy for her at first and admired how she had stood strong through all that she'd been through.  I was hooked from the beginning.  However, I feel that, although the book started on a good note, I never really felt drawn into it after the first few chapters.  It turned into a slow read.

Of course, Olivia's questionable new friends present many puzzling questions to the plot, which I did enjoy.  And I do think the dual points of view add plenty of intrigue.  I definitely wanted to know what Z's motives were, even though the pace felt sluggish.  And Barnes doesn't let up on her poor characters - the characters suffer a lot and the plot got progressively more and more intricate.  I felt very drawn into the whole world of hackers and the kind of life Z lives.

A few things I didn't like: Um, I didn't really care for the name Z.  It's explained later on, but it still seems kind of weird.  And the fact that one of Olivia's friends convinces her to steal a shirt from a store?  That felt out of character for Olivia.  Even though she's been treated poorly her whole life, I still felt that she had enough common sense not to do something like that.  I didn't like how Olivia's behavior and choices spiral down more and more as the story continues.  Z was too much of a bad influence to her, even though he definitely had good reasons for being the way he is.  And since I wasn't crazy about the characters, I wasn't a fan of the romance; it felt too forced.

But honestly, besides these problems, Olivia Twisted is not a bad read at all.  Its realism really makes it stand out, and it does offer a pretty bleak view of life, as is only truly fitting for a Dickens retelling.  I think it's just one of those "not my cup of tea" cases for me.  However, I'd absolutely recommend Olivia Twisted for diehard Dickens fans or people who enjoy realistic contemporary.

* I received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  Thanks!

My rating:  3 out of 5 stars

~ Kaitlyn

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