So, A Burden of Choice is Stefan Ellery's debut novel in the Circle of Roses series. He also has a sequel out called A Burden of Death. We are put in the shoes of a girl named Amelia, who cool-ditz Rod has a crush on and the cheerleaders pick on her from their jealousy of it, especially the slimy head cheerleader Angela. Amelia's friend Dana invites her out to a school party one day after some terrible news about their parents abandoning them for four weeks, and the place this party is taking place is at a church that's said to be haunted after some kids vanished from it. Meanwhile, Amelia's parents are heading
The grammar is so flawed, it's almost like Stefan didn't actually read over his book and just used a software to make sure every word was spelled correctly but not for every phrase. And I'm sad to say it miserably shows and sticks out. For instance, Amelia talks about magazines as if they are the most amazing creation on the planet but earlier she says she's never going to read any of the books at the bookstore that her sister Jen skims over. There was also a moment with "kind damaged" in the sentence. Kind of damage. And there's also a moment in the hospital when it's explained Amelia wishes it could've been "a dying women rather than Angela." But Angela is a girl and she's also in critical condition.
There were also times where I didn't enjoy writing decisions. For instance, when Bree is being mauled by these tentacles from this orb, Amelia pulls her out but the book describes her as having no fear of these tentacles which I don't think she wouldn't be at least a little trembling from. And a time when a fight is going on between two guys and Amelia cannot concentrate and she's mad because of that. In different circumstances, this might have worked, but the near-death plotpoint and the fact one person has a sharp knife makes Amelia seem a little oblivious.
One of the good layers of this book is the relatibility I found, not just from the "blackened gum" reference or the reluctance to go into a restaurant on your own the first time in a big city but from Judy's tormenting and refusals to be a fair babysitter to Dana's mild problem that picks up at the end of the book to the feud of cheerleaders. The story of the different cults around the roses such as "The Flaming Rose" "The Wilting Rose" and "The Rose of Creation" calls for a fantasy story at a Marissa Meyer level. Hopefully we'll see more of that in later books.
But back to my mixed feelings about the book. Amelia is an interesting character but the book makes her out to be both the nicest girl in the world and the biggest feminist in the world, and it's hard to make a character that's both. She also has moments of being absolutely heartwrenched such as remembering a late family member, but we never knew her back story until that moment. If there was a prologue featuring the death of this person or some paragraphs throughout the novel explaining how Amelia grew from these stories, this story element might have flown better. That's not to say it wasn't enjoyable. By the time the first song came up, I could see how Stefan Ellery put his soul into those chapters and used at least a few real memories and I was devouring the book. The flaws still mildly lingered though.
The ending could've been better if you ask me. There isn't really much of a cliffhanger even though there easily could've been. Ellery has written a sequel and the actual Circle of Roses is worthy of sequels, but there wasn't much to drive me to immediately going to pick up the next book.