Duology Review: Vicarious and Ferocious by Paula Stokes

Duology Review: Vicarious and Ferocious by Paula Stokes

Action-packed and twisty, Paula Stokes creates adrenaline-fueled reads with her YA duology VICARIOUS and FEROCIOUS.

Dark and gritty, this series features a whip-smart, Korean heroine that you won't soon forget. Sci-Fi tech meshes with mystery and a very, slow-burn romance. This completed series is perfect to binge read. My individual reviews are below.

Vicarious by Paula Stokes

Vicarious by Paula Stokes
Series: Vicarious
Sale Date: August 16, 2016
Young Adult, Thrillers & Suspense
Tor Teen, 336 pages
Source: Publisher
My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Winter Kim and her sister, Rose, work as high-tech stunt girls for Rose’s ex-boyfriend, Gideon, engaging in dangerous and enticing activities while recording their neural impulses for his Vicarious Sensory Experiences, or ViSEs. Whether it’s bungee jumping, shark diving, or grinding up against celebrities at the city’s hottest dance clubs, Gideon can make it happen for you—for a price.

When Rose disappears and a ViSE recording of her murder is delivered to Gideon, Winter is devastated. She won’t rest until she finds her sister’s killer. But when the clues she uncovers conflict with the digital recordings her sister made, Winter isn’t sure what to believe. To find out what happened to Rose, she’ll have to untangle what’s real from what only seems real, risking her life in the process. 

Review of Vicarious

VICARIOUS and FEROCIOUS are my first reads with Paula Stokes and I was lucky enough to be offered the opportunity to read both books back-to-back. 

The series opens with the murder of Winter's sister Rose and the knowledge that there are many, dark twists to this mystery. 

VICARIOUS packs much more than just a murder mystery. There are high tech gadgets and adrenaline-rush action-sequences to keep you turning the pages. The protagonist Winter Kim's personality vibrantly comes alive with Paula Stokes writing. Every now and then I crave a darker read sprinkled with some grit featuring a flawed but sympathetic heroine and that's exactly what this book gives to its readers.

As each clue leads Winter one step closer to discovering her sister's killer, it also leads Winter one step closer to uncovering truths about herself. I love the two-fold mystery here and Stokes will completely twist you into knots before it's all over. 

Mixed into this terrific psychological thriller is a very, slow-burn romance between Winter and her stunt pal, Jesse. I loved seeing these two together. Winter is very protective of her emotions and I really enjoyed seeing her through Jesse's eyes and the eventual trust she gives him.  It's very subtle but swoony.

Stokes touches upon some graphic material and tough subjects in this YA thriller. Human trafficking, abuse, and psychological traumas are all talked about and play an integral role in the mystery. I thought the narrative was handled really well with an open if subtle pen perfect for older teens looking for real issues mixed in thier thriller read.

VICARIOUS delivers serious thrills while thoughtfully tackling darker subject matter.  I loved the intense twists and strong characterization of Winter while balanced out by a touch of romance in this duology opener.
 


Ferocious  by Paula Stokes

Ferocious by Paula Stokes
Series: Vicarious
On Sale Date: August 15, 2017
Young Adult, Thrillers & Suspense
Tor Teen, 352 pages
Source: Publisher
My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Paula Stokes returns to the world of Vicarious in this sequel, a high-action psychological thriller with a protagonist out for vengeance.

When Winter Kim finds out that her sister is dead and that she has a brother she never knew about, only two things matter―finding what’s left of her family and killing the man who destroyed her life. Her mission leads her from St. Louis to Los Angeles back to South Korea, where she grew up.

Things get increasingly dangerous once Winter arrives in Seoul. Aided by her friends Jesse and Sebastian, Winter attempts to infiltrate an international corporation to get close to her target, a nefarious businessman named Kyung. But keeping her last remaining loved ones out of the line of fire proves difficult, and when all seems to be lost, Winter must face one last devastating decision: is revenge worth sacrificing everything for? Or can she find a spark of hope in the darkness that threatens to engulf her? 

Review of Ferocious

PLEASE NOTE THAT THERE WILL BE SPOILERS FROM VICARIOUS WITHIN THIS REVIEW. READ WITH CAUTION!

FEROCIOUS takes readers back to the exciting world first experienced in VICARIOUS only this time the theme is revenge with Winter traveling to South Korea on a quest to avenged her sister's death and find the brother she never knew about. 

Where as VICARIOUS had a fast-paced plot and extream sense of danger and twists reveal, FEROCIOUS carefully builds upon these revealing much more character depth in Winter and her relationship with others, in particular, her growing feelings for Jesse and the loss of her sister. When Winter discovers she has a brother who is in danger from an old enemy, nothing is going to stand in her way to try and rescue him. 

One of the standout qualities in this duology is the continued growth and exploration of Winter's mental issues, namely the discovery of the alters she has. Stokes takes readers into her world and explores what it's like to have Dissociative Identity Disorder. Very much flying by the seat of her pants, Winter, step-by-step, faces these issues while navigating the first feelings of being in love, being independent, and just wanting to live a "normal" life.  Stokes doesn't shy away from Winter making mistakes but that only made me sympathize with her more. I really enjoyed how open and realistic Winter's character felt.

Winter's mission leads her from St. Louis to Los Angeles back to South Korea, where she grew up and Stokes paints such a vivid picture of Seoul and Korean lifestyle. The food, sites, and people are all brought to life. 

Revenge and Winter's quest to find her brother lead to a satisfactory, if somewhat predictable, ending. Strong characterization and thoughtful exploration of tough subjects make for a standout read.

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