Review: Once by Anna Carey and Signed Giveaway!

28 April, 2012 Giveaways, Reviews 38 comments

I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Once by Anna Carey and Signed Giveaway!Once by Anna Carey
Series: Eve #2
Published by HarperCollins Children's Books on July 3rd 2012
Pages: 354
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon Good BooksBook Depository

When you're being hunted, who can you trust?

For the first time since she escaped from her school many months ago, Eve can sleep soundly. She's living in Califia, a haven for women, protected from the terrifying fate that awaits orphaned girls in The New America.

But her safety came at a price: She was forced to abandon Caleb, the boy she loves, wounded and alone at the city gates. When Eve gets word that Caleb is in trouble, she sets out into the wild again to rescue him, only to be captured and brought to the City of Sand, the capital of The New America.

Trapped inside the City walls, Eve uncovers a shocking secret about her past--and is forced to confront the harsh reality of her future. When she discovers Caleb is alive, Eve attempts to flee her prison so they can be together--but the consequences could be deadly. She must make a desperate choice to save the ones she loves . . . or risk losing Caleb forever.

In this breathless sequel to "Eve," Anna Carey returns to her tale of romance, adventure, and sacrifice in a world that is both wonderfully strange and chillingly familiar.

This is a difficult review to write. Most of the things I want to talk about (good and bad) involve giving away huge spoilers. Once has a pretty big plot twist early in the story – one that I’m almost ashamed to admit I didn’t see coming – making it close to impossible for me to adequately express my thoughts. But I’m going to try really hard to give a nice little run down of the book without ruining it for you.

Once picks up a few months after the events in Eve and our protagonist finds herself miserable in Califi, missing both Caleb and Arden. In this installment Eve, despite her best efforts, ends up in the King’s clutches in the Sand City. There she is reunited with Caleb and members of the trail, who is now a wanted man for murder of New American soldiers. However, this doesn’t seem to deter Eve and Caleb from stealing moments away together. But little does she know that the King has other plans for her. Big plans.

As always, I’d like to start with the good. I was really looking forward to reading Once due to the crafty little cliffhanger at the end of Eve. I hate that nagging feeling of needing to know how things end because it bothers me over and over until I know. Thankfully, I got to find out my burning question of why the King wanted Eve so badly within the first 20% of the novel. Yay for me, but boo for you since you’ll be reading a review where I attempt to skate around all the plot twists and revelations this book seemed to be chock-full of. ;One thing that I really liked about Once was the setting. The City of Sand is in essence a restored Las Vegas and I could definitely visualize the different locations. Carey succeeds at painting the mental image of the city and bringing it to life. I expected no less considering I did enjoy Carey’s writing in Eve. I also felt myself warming up to Eve this time around too. That is partly due to her making a better attempt at helping the friends she left behind and showing more concern for others.

Unfortunately, I didn’t quite enjoy this one as much as I did Eve, but I think that is mainly because I connected with the minor characters, who for the most part, are absent in Once. (I missed the dugout boys!) Instead we are introduced to a few newbies including the King, Beatrice (Eve’s maid), and members of the trail. But most of the novel focuses on Eve and her constant struggle to break free from the hold the King has on her. And while I did start to warm up with her, after a while I found her actions to be a little too reckless (as they were in Eve) and I started feeling genuinely frustrated with both her and Caleb. It almost seemed like their decisions were intentionally poor just to move the plot in the direction Carey wanted it. For example, when Eve sneaks out the palace to meet Caleb, she’s very concerned that he may get caught, but Caleb shrugs all concerns off. I understand that some teenagers feel invincible, but this felt like he didn’t have any common sense. That surprised me because he seemed like a smarter character in Eve. He was much more cautious, but here I found him throwing all caution he used to have to the wind. By the end, he was practically flaunting a sign around his neck that read, “HERE I AM!”

Despite my bigger disappointments with this installment, I didn’t hate it and did find myself enjoying the interesting relationship between Eve and the King. And c’mon, that ending! I felt like Carey and HarperCollins punk’d me when I went to turn the page and all I saw was: ACKNOWLEDGMENTS. Cruel, I tell you!

I’d recommend this book to fans of the first book, Eve. But if you disliked Eve, chances are Once will have little to offer you.

ARC was provided by HarperCollins via Edelweiss. Thank you!



This month I had the pleasure to attend a signing featuring the lovely Anna Carey along with Veronica Rossi and Tahereh Mafi during HarperCollins’ “Spring Into the Future” tour. It was a lot of fun and those ladies were a blast to meet!

I happened to snag one of the last copies of Eve and Anna Carey signed it.


One lucky winner will receive that and… a poster signed by Anna Carey, Tahereh Mafi and Veronica Rossi!

And since I received three posters at the signing, two runner-ups will get a signed poster too! Hooray and all that jazz!

Contest Rules:

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Steph Sinclair

Steph Sinclair

Co-blogger at Cuddlebuggery
I'm a bibliophile trying to make it through my never-ending To-Be-Read list, equal opportunity snarker, fangirl and co-blogger here at Cuddlebuggery. Find me on GoodReads.

38 Responses to “Review: Once by Anna Carey and Signed Giveaway!”

  1. Carl

    Thanks for the cool giveaway and the insightful review. Regarding plot weakness, it often seems to me that second books in a series are a bit of a letdown. I have some theories as to why but it’s just too much info to put into a blog comment. But look at Tolkien’s LotR. The Two Towers was by far the weakest of that trilogy. I’m betting that a lot of what happens in Once is setting us up for a big finale in book three.

    • Stephanie Sinclair


      I completely agree. Second books are hard, so I try not to write books off after reading it. Unless it was really, really bad. I don’t think that’s the case here, so I’m still sticking around for book three. I need to know how it all ends!

  2. Christina (A Reader of Fictions)

    It would be so funny if they had, in fact, Punk’d you. Did they send it to you on April 1. That would be a great publisher prank. Just remove the last chapter.

    One of the worst aspects of book blogging is when the only stuff you want to talk about would require spoilers. It’s like ‘I didn’t like this because something ridiculous happened. BUT I did like this one character, but I can’t tell you who that was.’ Oy.

    Oh man, I do not remember how Eve ended. Good thing the giveaway is for that one.
    Christina (A Reader of Fictions) recently posted…OK – Holly ConlanMy Profile

    • Stephanie Sinclair

      @Krista R:

      I was super excited to meet them all and they were all so sweet. Anna Carey was warm and friendly. Tahereh Mafi was hilarious! I could seriously hang out with her. I was hoping to snag all three of their books signed, but they were all out of Shatter Me and Rossi made Under the Never Sky out to me personally. I was supposed to just get her to autograph it minus my name, but I was momentarily stunned by her awesomeness and forgot!

  3. Gabbie

    I reeeeally want to know why the King wants Eve! It is eating away at my brain!!! You couldn’t just tell me by.. I don’t know owl or something??

  4. Kat

    It seems like “Eve” was just published, doesn’t it? But I do have one question you didn’t cover in the review: Was “Once” not a bad middle book in a trilogy? I know many get into that awful slump…I was just curious as to whether this one was or not.
    Great review, otherwise. :]

    • Stephanie Sinclair


      For me it did seem to have the “second book slump” feel. There are a few other bloggers that I follow who really loved it, but I think they are more forgiving readers. Not a bad thing, but I’m just critical. So, I think this will likely be a hit or complete miss for readers.

  5. Alice

    WOW! Thank you so much for this amazing giveaway! <3 This is fabulous! I hope you had a fantastic time at the signing. Thanks again!

  6. iffah

    i’d love to meet them. sadly, i live in place far away from all the awesomeness.

    anyhoo, thanks for this amazing giveaway!

  7. anasthasha h.

    so glad I found your blog, I’ve become addicted to reading your humorous and completely honest reviews!

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